Soused in SanFran – Part 7: Bear Republic Brewhouse. Oh yes.

This here is Part Seven of the Grand Caliventure of November 2011.
For Part 1, make the clicking to here.

Oh Jeebus.

With the wine day finally vanquished, it was time for some BEER. And not just any beer, but a favorite of mine: BEAR FREAKIN REPUBLIC. It’s readily available on the East Coast and includes some heavy hitters as Racer 5 IPA, Hop Rod Rye Ale, Red Rocket Red Ale, and Big Bear Stout. Yowza. And here I was, where these beers were BORN.

It almost made up for stopping at six wineries earlier that day.

Sidenote: This fits in very nicely with another set of edicts for the proud dipsomaniacal lifestyle. I’ve already mentioned the source of Rule 37 as Modern Drunkard Magazine, and this list comes from their inebriated writings as well: 40 Things Every Drunkard Must Do Before He Dies. This one was Number 18: Visit the source of your favorite beer, wine or liquor.

“Make a pilgrimage to the headwaters.
Follow the river that’s fed you joy to its source.
Stand amongst the vats and barrels and absorb the knowledge
that this is the spring from which the good times flow.
Drink as many free samples as they’ll give you.
It might mean a trip to Dublin or Tennessee,
but from that moment on you can gaze into your glass and think,
‘Lad, I met your mother.'”

While Bear Republic isn’t my MOST favorite (I don’t think I have a most favorite) it’s certainly high on the list. The Lady Friend can keep her silly vineyards… for me it’s the distilleries and breweries where magic happens.

So, we put our names in as there was a bit of a wait for a table. I busied myself with snapping some shots, which worked well as BR has a lot of crazy crap on the walls. Bits of race cars (they sponsor some racecars), signs, snowboards and murals hung all over the place, boldly emblazoned with various BR logos and beers. The Lady Friend and Sissy snagged beers at the bar, and shortly after our table was ready. Sampler time! There are two flights of beers to choose from… the house ales and the specialty brews. The house sampler contains six of the well-known beers, like Racer 5, Big Bear, etc. I’d had all those before, so it was the nine-beer specialty sampler for me. Whoa. They don’t even fit on the serving paddle. THIS is going to be FUN.

Bring it.

Cher Ami Belgian Single
Nose: Nice malty grain aroma, slight yeasty fruit.
Taste: Tastes like malt extract. Some wheatiness, but NOT typical banana-clove. Clean, wet finish.

El Oso Mexican style lager
Nose: No discernible aroma
Taste: Water fountain (or “bubblah” if you’re in New England) water. Slight metallic taste, but not in a bad way. Not the copper sting of some red ales. Chewy. Finishes with a cereal sweetness.

Late Harvest Lager Octoberfest
Nose: Fruit! Cranberry! Cereal malt.
Taste: Nice sweet cereal malt. Not much to it, but finishes fruit sweet. Bitterness comes in later, fading in after the initial tastes have diminished.

Lucha Libre Lager Lager
Nose: No aroma. Darker copper color, unusual for a lager.
Taste: Sweet malt, slight bitter, but finishes with a cereal grain taste.

Jack London ESB Extra Special Bitter Ale
Nose: None. Well, a very slight malt.
Taste: Clean, watery and malty. Refreshing. Slight fruitiness from the malt.

Rebellion SMASH brew
Ok, this was a SMASH (Single Malt And Single Hop) brew. They made two batches and changed only the hop. This version used Palisade hops.
Nose: Slight citrus, but weak.
Taste: A nice bitter grapefruit citrus, with some slight pine. Nice. A bit of a roasted flavor from the malt as well.

Rebellion SMASH brew
See above. This was the Calypso hop version.
Nose: Very light. Citrus?
Taste: Sour start. Mouthwatering. Sour citrus. Watermelon. Really gets your saliva glands going. Very cool.

Café Racer 15 Golden Double IPA
! ! ! SWEET! Racer 5 is tasty, but I had a hankering for BR’s Apex dIPA which I tried at a craft beer fest earlier in the year. They didn’t have Apex around, but they DID have Racer 15 in the sampler. 100+ IBUs and ooooooooh so tasty.
Nose: Fantastic. Delicious hop citrus wonder. (That’s what I wrote)
Taste: Slight syrup mouthfeel. Bittersweet hop. Malty finish. Wonderful balance. A+ If only I could find it in MA.

Extra Delux Tripels Alley Belgian Tripel
Nose: Belgian wheaty. Slight banana.
Taste: Banana. Belgian wit. Clove, but eases away leaving banana sweet taste.

At some point during all this craziness, we were joined by my buddy, Murs, who was living in Healdsburg and working as a harvest intern (grape slave) for two local wineries, one of which was Mauritson, which we had visited that afternoon. I first met Murs a couple years ago for a surprise going-away party for the infamous Trevtastic, who lived in Boston at the time. We met again in the magical metropolis of Milwaukee, where he was roommates with ‘Tastic, complete with a doormat reading “Bust a Move.” Earlier this year, he scooted off on a wine adventure throughout France with Bybee and Ke$hia Ho (read about it here. Bybee’s version is over here. And don’t forget Ke$hia Ho’s). Returning to US soil, the three of them made their way to SFO/Sonoma to work in the wine industry, and see what it’s all about. Murs and Bybee went to work as grape slaves, while Ke$hia Ho became a cocktail slinger at Blu Restaurant.

So we caught up and he told his tales of grape slavery. Basically, it’s cleaning. Lots and lots and lots of cleaning. Cleaning everything the grapes could possibly come in contact with, then cleaning it again. Then three more times. With heavy duty corrosive, caustic, scorch-the-Earth-so-nothing-may-grow chemicals. Yikes. It seems one of the least important things about making wine is actually making the wine.

Somewhere in there some food was served (the Lady Friend had prime rib, and apparently it was excellent), but I was more concerned about getting a full pour of the Racer 15. OMFG. Heavenly. Just fantastic. Sweet, West Coast citrus hoppy, but not too malty, something I’m shying away from these days. I don’t remember what anyone else was drinking… I was in boozy oblivion. Pretty sure Murs had a pour of El Oso. All I recall is that my food was tasty (and made an awesome mini-meal when we got back to the hotel room) and my belly, and brain, were full of happy beer.

When I die, bury me at Bear Republic.

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