Monday, November 14, 2011

Tasting the Beers of Napa Valley

Joe, our other "man in the field" was on the west coast and reported back his beer finds in the wine country of Napa Valley:

I am sitting in front of my computer thinking, “when better to write my very first beer review then at the conclusion of a visit to California Wine Country.
But before I talk about beer, I just have to say that for anyone who is thinking about trying something different for a few days, you have to visit Napa Valey.

Our group arrived in San Fran direct from Newark around 10:30am Sunday where we rented a ten person passenger van and headed 1 ½ hours north west to our Embassy Suites hotel in Downtown Napa

Over the course of the next four days we visited around fifteen wineries covering both ends of the spectrum; from the medieval architectural marvel of the Castle Winery known as Castello di Amorisa  to the modern wonder of the underground caves of the Palmaz Vineyards.
We even ventured on a winding mountain road to an altitude of 2,200 feet above sea level to visit a “back to basics” small 1,200 case wine maker, Summit Lake. Here the entire wine making process from crushing, storing, fermenting, bottling and even tasting, takes place within the confines of a old barn on the property.        

The Wine country experience was truly captivating for the entire time we were there.  During our trip we did discover that extensive wine tasting creates dryness in your mouth that needs to be quenched.
Needless to say even the most die hard wine people need to go grab a good beer from time to time. The place of choice in Napa Valley is the Silverado Brewing Company. So at the conclusion of another full yet satisfying day of wine drinking the group headed over to The Silverado Brewing Company.  SBC has a nice menu of both tap and bottle including several of their own creations. I ordered their Pale ale. It was delicious light and citrusy beverage. It really quenched that slightly dry feeling that was in my mouth from many tasting so many wines that day. What a great way to wrap up a day of wine drinking.
My other truly amazing beer discovery came on the last day of our trip as we headed west to the Pacific Ocean.  After “dipping” our toes in the “Great Pacific” so we could all cross it off our bucket list, we stopped in a quaint little Mexican place right on Highway One in Bodega Bay called “Brisas del Mar” or “Winds of the Sea” for my none Spanish speaking friends.  Our party of eight represented Brisas del Mar’s entire patronage in the middle of a Thursday afternoon.

By this point in our trip we were clearly all “Wined out”. Unfortunately, Brisas del Mar has a much more limited beer selection then SBC. However it was here that I made one of my own most memorable beer discoveries. I selected an IPA from a local brewer Lagunitas.
Since I don’t have much of a refined palette nor a very extensive beer vocabulary I figured that the best description I could provide is “WOW” this is a really good beer. I know that isn’t the most descriptive for the hard core beer lovers so I have cut and pasted the brewers own description of the its creation from the company web site.

“This is our unique version of an ancient style, a style as old as the ocean trade routes of the last centuries Great Ships. Not as old as the equator they had to cross twice en route, nor as old as the 10,000 or so miles of Di-Hydrogen Oxide and Sodium upon which they sailed, but older than the Circulithium-4 Lentloid that binds the Lupulin Quartnate onto your taste buds. Weird. Think about it. Now stop. OK, go again, now stop. Think again, and stop. But we digress. Made with 43 different hops and 65 various malts, this redolent ale will likely float your boat, whatever planet you're on.”

So anyway that’s my first beer review of sorts. Sorry its not more beer centric but I promise to work on it and hopefully you’ll find the next one more informative.  I think I will spend the afternoon moving between a Napa Cab and the Pumking from Southern Tier.

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