Friday, February 18, 2011

San Francisco - Lagunitas

On the third day of our "totally not a beer trip" trip we went to our third brew pub, Lagunitas.  This one is in Petaluma, CA halfway between Moylan's and Russian River and also right off 101.  Very convenient place although it's located in what seemed to be an office park.  Lucky offices.  The sign is easy to miss as it's small, but we managed to find it.  As you walk in there are tables outside and then a tented area in front of you.
We went in and got a seat at a table inside the tent right away although it seemed pretty busy.  They are only open Thursday to Sunday so people must pack in on Friday and Saturday.  Off to the left was a band that played music most of the time we were there.
I forget what kind of music it was but it must have been fine.  The brewpub has a few food options (appetizers and sandwiches) and I think we got an artichoke dip or something that was decent but don't go there expecting a full dinner.  However, do go there expecting lots of beers including a bunch of stuff unique to the brewpub.  Considering Lagunitas is distributed lots and lots of places, it gives a great reason to visit the pub.  You can even apparently get an Imperial Stout float although I won't vouch for its quality as none of us tried it.
See, lots of stuff.  One cask, a barrel aged barleywine, and some stuff I'm pretty sure they don't bottle.  Since it's how I roll, I of course started off with a sampler.
Very impressed with the sampler mats (okay so I'm easily impressed) as it's nice being able to read the beer names.  Makes the pictures easier to identify.  From left to right, we have Gnarlywine, Fusion 5, Imperial Stout, and Maximus.

Very impressed with the Gnarlywine, a barleywine.  Hoppy nose with some sweetness in it.  Flavor begins with some hops followed by a ton of sweetness in the form of caramel and toffee.  It finishes slightly bitter but doesn't linger.  Really enjoyable barleywine and very tasty.

The Fusion 5 is a triple bock (or at least that's what the waitress told us although BeerAdvocate has it as a double IPA.  I'd have to have it again to be sure I guess.)  There wasn't much aroma but I thought it tasted of caramel, figs, plums and ending with a bit of bitterness.  Either my perception was totally off after tasting wine all day or someone is confused.  Not really sure who.

Next up was the Imperial Stout which was super tasty.  Smelled a bit roasty with some chocolate backing it up.  Interesting roast, coffee and chocolate followed by a fruity flavor came in the first sip.  Decent bit of sweetness continued throughout which I find pleasant in imperial stouts.  You can't find this outside the area so it was nice to try.

Finishing up this sampler was Maximus a double IPA.  I had a bunch of double IPAs over the course of the different breweries and found this one to have the most sweetness in it.  Hoppy nose, but there was a nice mix of hops and sweet in the flavor which was nice.  Not quite as good as Elder but enjoyable in a different way.

After that was another sampler.
Started with the Brown Shugga, next was Dogtown Sumpin on cask, San Francisco Beer Week (yes this is the name of the beer), and finally A Little Sumpin Sumpin.

After having the Gnarlywine, Brown Shugga was just wicked sweet.  I've had it before and enjoyed it, but this time it was almost overwhelming.  Has some hops in the aroma but those are quickly taken over by the sugary sweetness in the body.  Not the best to have in the middle, I'd say.

The Dogtown Sumpin was the first terrible beer I had in San Fran.  It smelled inviting, hoppy and citrusy, but ended up tasting like grassy water which is as appealing as you'd expect.  Very thin mouthfeel, very grassy and very planty.  Just kind of gross.  Guessing the flavors disappeared in the cask and just turned it blech.

However, the San Francisco Beer Week made up for it nicely.  Citrusy nose similar to the Dogtown, but it had some actual flavor following.  They started sort of earthy but were quickly supplanted by a delicious citrusy edge.  Very nice.

Finally was A Little Sumpin Sumpin.  This is one of their flagship beers and it's an American Pale Wheat Ale.  Whatever it was, it was tasty.  Mild citrus nose like the two above followed by a nice balance of hops and wheat flavors.  Not quite as sweet as the Maximus but not as hoppy either.  I can see why people like it.

Last, but not pictured, was a sample of the Bourbon Barrel Aged Gnarlywine.  Huge sweet bourbon nose.  Starts with bourbon, then some vanilla, and ends with more bourbon.  Just like some other bourbon beers, I found the beer base to be way overpowered by the bourbon aging.  Without loving bourbon it was a bit too much.
Neat cups here.  That's a picture of Jo's Farmhouse beer in a Lagunitas mason jar.  That beer was decent if you like farmhouse style beers.  Wheaty and peppery.  And here's a picture that Stina took.  She liked the name of the beer.  It took her like 15 minutes to take this picture so in honor of that effort I have to post it.  Let it be known I did not take this so it isn't creepy.  Also, if you didn't know, Hop Stoopid is the name of one of their beers not some weird slogan.
Lagunitas was a very enjoyable brew pub with lots of good beer to try.  Atmosphere wise this place definitely wins out of the three.  Beer wise, it isn't really possible to beat Russian River but for a hoppy beer lover this place is pretty good.  Lots of good choices in lots of different styles.  We had a great time relaxing here and trying all the different beers.  I like their motto and logo too.  Look Jeff, a dog!

The only disappointing thing about the place is that instead of a growler, they gave us beer in a giant Ball Jar which wasn't even personalized.  Since we collect growlers (up to like 35 or so!) it stunk.

That's it for the brew pubs outside the city.  Look for one more wrap up post with some of the beers I enjoyed in San Francisco proper, my meeting with Bryan Kolesar, the guy behind The Brew Lounge, at The Social Kitchen, and some comments on San Francisco Beer Week.


  1. Haha, that picture is awesome. Your camera is excellent. That was a great place. We have been recommending it to everyone since we went. A lot of fun!

  2. If you weren't a girl, the attempts at taking that picture would have been way creepier. =)