Thursday, August 9, 2012


Sorry about the picture, folks - no one's ever going to compare me to Richard Avedon, especially when I've got a couple of pints at me and I'm wildly waving my iPhone at nearby beers. Over this past weekend I told the tale of my first visit to Bear Republic Brewing; well, our family stayed in somewhat-nearby Guerneville for this trip, which is one of the weirdest towns in California if you're talking about "the clash of civilizations". You have three forces colliding mightily in this burg, which is just north and west of San Francisco about ninety minutes and nestled deep into the redwoods: eco-hippies, unabashed rednecks, and homosexuals. The latter rule the roost in the limited strip of "downtown" here - and not just any homosexuals. Male homosexuals of the "bear" persuasion flock to and gather in Guerneville, so when you see a large hairy man stumbling about, you've got to trigger some mental calculations to figure out if he's bear or foe (and by foe I mean drunken, angry redneck foe, of whom I saw many here. To illustrate, one guy screamed at his dog as he passed us on the street, "Stop being such a prick!". Again, to his dog).

The cottages in which we enjoyed our short vacation were almost directly across the street from the STUMPTOWN BREWERY, a longtime brewer up here about whom I've heard little about, but have always made a mental note to visit. Compared to their North Bay brewing brethren Russian River Brewing, Lagunitas, Moonlight, Bear Republic, Moylans and the new upstart crew here, they are decidedly D-list. Didn't stop me from paying a weeknight visit, though - and what I found was even a bit surprising. Expectations were exceeded on many fronts -  I got into zero fistfights, for starters. Let's find out about the beer: 

STUMPTOWN "RAT BASTARD PALE ALE" - This had the look of a "flagship", even though these guys don't bottle. It's about what I expected it would be, which was mediocre. Initially my notes say "sour sock pale ale", but that's a little harsh, don't you reckon? It's really heavy on the malt, and is thick and viscous. Super, super bready ale - not a hop whopper at all. Grew on me a little and came out as a 6/10.

STUMPTOWN "DONKEY PUNCH" - Well stow me for a lubber, a "hopped-up lager", and a great one at that! It's crisp and creamy at the same time, and only comes in at 4.5% ABV. It's not a pilsner, just a very interesting hoppy lager that I found myself comparing to the innovative lagers that Moonlight Brewing make. I don't drink enough of these. Great beer. 8/10.

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