North California Beer Hunt
Recently I did a travel to north California, and had the opportunity to do some north California beer/brewery hunt. Here are some highlights:
A very popular brand among restaurants as well as supermarket there, Firestone Walker Brewery was located somewhat between San Francisco and Los Angeles. It has a distinct logo as a lion fighting a beer with 6 packs (duh).
Limited edition sour beer.
Its 805 ale is the most common beer carried by all supermarkets I visited. Malty sweet with touch of hops, not too fruity.
Besides regional breweries like Firestone Walker, US also has some smaller local breweries like this Alvarado Street Brewery at Monterey, serving beers only in that region. I tried the below Mai Tai P.A., a beer that uses Mosaic hop to show tropical fruit fragrance.
Mai Tai P.A served at a local BBQ place in Santa Cruz.
Lagunitas Brewery is another big north California beer brewery located north of San Francisco. I’ve tried the below popular Little Sumpin’ ale at Monterey. A fruity ale kind of like Sierra Nevada’s pale ale.
21st Amendment Brewery
A north California beer regional brewery based at San Francisco, 21st Amendment Brewery got its name from the repeal of American Prohibition. The brewery uses cool cartoonized classic American cultural materials for their beer labels.
Brewery sign at the dark.
Simple, classic interior.
Got a 6-beer tasting set. The Blood Orange Brew Free! or Die IPA was remarkable with its super-fresh blood orange taste. The Hell or High Watermelon Wheat was also very refreshing with its added watermelon during second fermentation.
Anchor Brewery Factory Tour
The final main show was the visit to Anchor Brewery, the iconic north California beer brewery at San Francisco. The brewery was located not far from San Francisco’s Adobe and Zynga campuses at the Design District.
Brewery seen from outside.
A cool church right in front of it.
Early 20st century interior design.
The tour began at the tasting room. After having the classic Anchor steam beer we were lectured for Anchor’s history.
Old tap machine.
All Christmas special edition ale starting from 1975, when it was first brewed.
The first (1975) Christmas edition ale.
The boss’ office??
Our main tour guy.
Classic tap machine and closet holding kegs.
Anchor’s two founders.
Then we started the factory tour, first at the malt broth preparation room. Here different malts were mixed, broiled, filtered to get the malt broth. Then yeast and hops were added.
The main malt broth preparation room. The equipment was old and made by copper rather than the modern stainless steel.
Foam from the malt broth.
Here brewers could visually inspect the broth.
Then we passed through a small chemistry lab.
Then we had two fermentation tanks. One was the tank used for rapid cooling the broth to fermentation temperature. The other one was the open fermentation room used for the classic Anchor steam beer.
All the pipes for rapid cooling.
The fermentation tank.
Open fermentation area.
Then we visited a hop display room. On the walkway was some hop bags ready for drying hopping at the second fermentation tanks at the brewery’s basement.
Hop bags for dry hopping.
Some of the second fermentation tanks at the basement.
Once the factory tour was finished, we headed back to the tasting room and were ready for some new Anchor beer products tasting.
Gigantes Mexican Style Lager
Created for the San Francisco baseball team Giant, this was a light and more sour lager.
Wheat beer brewed with mango. The tour person said fruit-added beers were the current trends in the craft beer industry.
(They also had a beta-testing blood-orange wheat that was made just a week ago! The blood-orange flavor was not as pronounced as the above 21st Amendment Brew Free! or Die, but the wheat flavor was off the chart.)
Blackberry Daze IPA
Similar concept to Mango Wheat, this was an IPA brewed with blackberry. This created this purple-ish color.
A classic, citrus American IPA