Sacramento Breweries – Moksa and New Glory

Moksa Brewing

Moksa has some hype around it because it is headed by Derek Gallanosa, who brewed for Abnormal Brewing in San Diego, making a name for himself before moving to Sacramento. I stopped by to try some beers at the Sacramento location and he is continuing to brew beers of the same quality.

I started with the zesty time Saison, which was nice and dry with earthy notes and mild fruit character. The flavors were nice and balanced. Orchard Cooler IPA was decent, dry and resinous with very little hop aroma with prominent malt flavors. I did not care for this one and it seems hard to believe that it used to be a hazy IPA.

Pineapple Superfuz, a hazy IPA with pineapple was deliciously juicy with a nice light yellow haze and a creamy body with prominent pineapple character and an acidic hop bite at the finish I brought home a crowler of this beer. I finished with cold steeped, an Imperial Stout with Jamaican blue Mountain coffee. It was wonderfully balanced with a creamy body, notes of toffee and cherry from the coffee with some nice roast to balance it out. The beer hid the alcohol quite well, making it scary drinkable.

Moksa has a good-sized tasting room with plenty of seating and room for food trucks to set up outside. I also found the tasting room to be much quieter than Moonraker.

Top 2:
Pineapple Superfuz Hazy IPA
Zesty Time Saison

New glory

New Glory is fairly new at the time of this writing but they had quite the extensive availability of beers in cans. I tried three different IPAs as well as some other styles and at this time do not recommend you go out of your way to try them for the IPAs, although they show promise. I was quite impressed by their barrel aged Imperial Stout as well as the gose.

All three IPAs I tried tasted basically the same. They were all fairly muted in hop aroma and none of them were particularly creamy. The closest they resembled to me was beers from Aslin brewery in Virginia, where I also thought the IPAs could be better. Liquid Grove was the most flavorful of the three but still fairly mild in citrus character. New trick was slightly boozy in the finish. It is possible that these beers were not as fresh, which would explain the lack of hop aroma.

The bourbon barrel aged Imperial Stout hid the alcohol quite well and had notes of strong fudge and molasses with light warming alcohol on the finish. The beer was scarily drinkable for the high alcohol content. The wine barrel aged gose was slightly puckering with mild oak character and notes of lemon finishing with a hint of salt. This beer was quite nicely balanced and enjoyable. I would have considered buying cans if they were available.

I was also a little bit surprised by the price of the tasters at this brewery. They were charging $3.50 for a taster of their hazy IPA. This might seem reasonable if they were getting closer to the level of Moonraker but it seemed a bit ridiculous to me. You are much better off trying a few splashes and then ordering pints. Overall, New Glory is a worthwhile addition to the Sacramento beer scene and a great spot for the locals to enjoy. In time they may get closer to Moonraker in hazy IPA flavor.

Top 2:
BBA Imperial Stout
Wine Barrel aged Gose

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney serving clients in San Diego California.

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Moonraker Brewing Company Update 2018

When I first visited Moonraker some two years ago they were fairly new and I was quite harsh as I judged them by the same standards that I judge most breweries. However, in order to fully recognize their progress, I made another trip to Sacramento so that I could try their beers again see how much better they have gotten over the last few years. While not every beer was amazing, there were two beers that were much more in line with my expectations for a proper hazy IPA.

Cloud castles was a deliciously citrus forward beer with a light bitterness and mild hop acidity on the finish. The beer was quite delicious although not as hazy as other beers I had on the same flight. Yojo, one of their most popular beers was quite excellent this time and very close to the flavor and mouth feel of fresh treehouse green, which I have been enjoying recently. The beer was quite tropical with guava, mild citrus, and a pillowy body. I was quite disappointed that they did not have cancer that I could try this side-by-side with treehouse green.

Yojo 33 1/2 was much thinner and had notes of bubblegum and grape. While easy drinking it lacked the punch of hop aroma of the previous two beers but it was still good. Hazy Duz It a double IPA was a bit darker in color and flavors of more resinous or pine character with more prominent malt flavor as well. I felt this beer was a bit muted in the hop aroma character but still good. The cloudy judgment double IPA was much more my style, thick and creamy with light citrus notes and flavors of sweet white cake, mango, and pineapple. This was another standout for me. I finished with the double vespers milk stout with coconut and vanilla and while it tasted pretty good at the beginning, it quickly tasted like sunscreen for me and I did not care for it.

In summary, Moonraker has achieved a quality of their hazy IPAs that makes their hyped status worth it especially for Yojo. From the lineup, it does appear as if they still have not gotten to the point where all of their beers are as creamy but they are able to achieve it sometimes. This particular batch of Yojo was spot on.

Top 2:
Yojo
Cloudy Judgment

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney serving clients in San Diego California.

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Central Massachusetts Breweries – Building 8 and Brick and Feather

Building 8

Building 8 has fairly limited hours and now after visiting I understand why. In fact, I do not recommend you make a stop by the brewery unless you cannot find fresh cans near where you are staying. They had three beers you could taste, one of the three being poured from a can. All three hoppy beers were low on hop aroma and more in the style of hop bitterness aiming for a crisp dry finish.

The session IPA was crisp with low bitterness and mild hop character. The beer was easy drinking enough but I would’ve preferred a little more hop aroma. The IPA was classic and balanced for a beer focus on bitterness over aroma. It was similarly easy drinking and delicious. The double IPA was poured from low fill cans, so it was a bit oxidized. Still, the beer had a nice balance to it and the bitterness was not overpowering such that I was still able to go back to my session IPA and tasted fully after some sips of the double.

Whether or not you enjoy the beers from building 8 will depend on whether you enjoy this classic style. With so many good options showcasing hop aromas, I don’t typically seek these out although they were quite well done and I especially could see myself drinking a bit of the session. You can find Building 8 cans all around the surrounding areas and if you can find them fresh you can get the same experience buying cans to drink at home.

Brick and feather

brick and feather only had four beers on tap when I stopped by but they were all well-made and indicated to me that the brewery is on the right track. They have a good-sized tasting room though not a lot of seating. Unlike most breweries, the largest poor you can get is 10 ounces even from some of the lighter beers. Their pricing favors growler fills.

I started with the biere de garde. It was mildly fruity with a lightly tart clean finish and notes reminiscent of a Belgian pale. I had a pint of the beer the night before and while I was expecting it to have a bit more malt character, it was nicely done. The pale ale was bursting with bright citrus and pineapple with a soft body, low bitterness, and mild hop acidity on the finish. I brought a growler of this beer back and enjoyed a few pints later the same day.

The Porter was nicely balanced with notes of birch toffee, molasses, and had a lightly bitter finish. The double IPA was an explosion of tropical fruit with a viscous mouth feel and some sweetness that could have been from the addition of lupulin powder. While I referred the flavor of the pale ale, the double IPA was still better than most in the surrounding area with the exception of treehouse. Brick and Feather is a great little brewery worth stopping by if you are up in the area. You can find their beers on tap around the area if you can’t make it to the brewery itself due to their limited hours. Though they also release the occasional small batch cans that you can only find at the brewery.

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney serving clients in San Diego California.

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Tree House Brewing Company – A Visit to the New Facility

Tree House has been a beacon for hype in the beer world for many years. In July of 2017 they officially opened the Charlton MA facility to the public, expanding the offerings of beer available for on site consumption, and greatly increasing amounts of beer available in cans. I visited the previous location in Monson just about a month before the new facility opened and am including a brief description of that visit to contrast with the experience I had recently in Charlton.

In the old facility, they would only occasionally pour draft beer after they sold out of cans. On the Saturday I drove out there I spent 45 minutes in line after driving an hour and a half from Boston to walk away with 8 cans and that was only because my husband was with me (limit 4 cans per person). In the new facility, on an extra busy Tuesday I waited in line for an hour and a half to walk away with 2 bottles and 64 cans and was able to hang out after to have a few pints. Typical Tuesday lines are much shorter according to the people in front of me in line. And if you know the right people you can get some real time updates on the lines. But since word got out that they were releasing a rare imperial stout, the line remained steady until we left the brewery around 6:30PM.

Then line from where I joined it.

With the move to the new facility, Tree House has massively expanded production so locals who want to drink nothing but Tree House can easily do so with a monthly visit to pick up cans. The expanded production has also allowed them to bring back other styles of beer and make more stouts, porters, and even an ESB and a pilsner. IPA fans can now fairly regularly show up on a Tuesday or Saturday and find hazy favorites on draft that can be enjoyed in their massive outdoor seating. On the sunny Spring day I was there, I could see many people enjoying their beers in the open air in the relaxing chairs spread throughout the facility. They limit each person to 32 ounces for on site consumption to keep it more of a tasting room experience.

Purchasing cans is one of the most efficiently run system I’ve experienced. People fill out a slip of paper with the beers they want to buy. You hand the paper to the employee at the front who quickly rings up your cans while someone else brings the cans out to you. People buying beers by the case can leave even faster because they have cases stacked up in boxes ready to pass to customers. If you buy more than 2 cases, be prepared to have a friend help you carry them or ask for a dolly. I had to stop twice on the way to the car with 2 cases in hand. They are working on making this even more efficient so that I hope my next visit will be even faster. If you plan to fly home with the beer, I suggest bringing some hard plastic six-pack or four-pack holders so they don’t move around in your luggage.

The serenity of the Charlton location is only going to get better. They recently announced the outdoor space will be expanded further and soon they will open miles of hiking trails in the surrounding space. They also just added a pizza oven that should be used for great things. Despite spending an hour and a half in line before I ultimately got my beers, the hour or so I spent sitting in their outdoor space sipping Julius and SSSap were revitalizing. This was my first experience of either beer and they lived up to the hype.

Me (left) hanging out with my friend who joined me at Tree House. It was his first time.

To get an idea of the progression of the new facility, they opened Charlton in July of 2017 and by September 2017 you could regularly pick up 20 cans per person in a single visit. By January 2018 they had multiple beers available with a limit of a single case. By March 2018 you could show up and buy a case of each of 3 beers. During my visit in May of 2018 I had four IPAs to choose from with a limit of a case. Of the beers I have had since I came back from my trip I am quite satisfied by the quality of the beer and they still rank up there with some of the best hazy IPAs I have experienced around the country. They are one of the few that consistently produces delicious balanced hazy IPAs at around 7% alcohol while not overwhelming the palate. The fresh batch of Green I brought back was especially delightful and had a more pillowy mouth feel than most at that alcohol percentage.

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney serving clients in San Diego California.

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Monkish Hazy DIPAs, An Experiment

With Monkish Hazy Double IPAs there are some people who say that they peak around two weeks. I did my own experiments though I didn’t choose the best beer for the experiment because the Gasket Hunter release I snagged seemed to be hopped much more than usual. I was able to verify this once I picked up some cans of Rinse in the Riffs that did not have the same green taste even a week after release.

Monkish has been hyped like crazy for their hazy double IPAs in the last couple of years and from what I have been able to try I find them to be worth the hype. The purpose of this experiment was to see two things. First, if the fans were accurate and the beers peaked around two weeks after packaging, and second if the beers hold up nicely a month or so after release.

Gasket Hunters is unique in that they ridiculously saturated the beer with hops, so much that even a month old the beer was still tasting somewhat green. I had saved one can of the beer to see how it tasted a month and a half in but it was not in my fridge when I returned from a short trip. The beer was still quite enjoyable overall with flavors of overripe tropical fruit and melon coming through at the various stages. What makes the beer green in the first month to me is the strong hop acidity at the finish and the highly noticeable alcohol character.

I am comparing this to my experience with Monkish growlers that hide the alcohol insanely well and drink like 5% alcohol though being really 8.5% alcohol. Even 3 weeks and 1 month old, various cans of Gasket Hunters were insanely grassy and acidic in a way that I typically don’t experience with Monkish beers.

In comparison, the Rinse in the Riffs beer was creamy and delightfully balanced at 11 days old based on the canning date. It stayed deliciously creamy and hoppy up through when I opened my last can at almost a month and a half old. This is consistent with what I have read reported by many people as far as when Monkish Double IPAs peak in flavor and experience. My assumption from reading fans’ discussions online is that the Gasket Hunters was hopped more like a triple IPA so that once I determined it was a bit too harsh for my palate i should have sat on the beers even longer before getting into them further.

In conclusion, my results verified what people told me on BeerAdvocate forums. Most double IPA releases from Monkish hit peak balance just around two weeks and from there get slightly more mellow but still stay flavorful for up to a month and a half. If you read a description for a beer that claims to be as saturated with hops as Gasket Hunters was, you may want to test out for yourself starting at three weeks in to see how it is tasting. Of course even when a beer is “green” some of you may prefer that flavor because it is up to personal preference.

Since writing this blog, I had the pleasure of putting together a few side-by-side tastings with Tree House Hazy IPAs and Monkish Hazy IPAs. The result, no surprise to me, was that for the double IPAs, the beers were indistinguishable. In particular, I put Waterballoon Fighters from Monkish up next to Doubleganger from Tree House (an extra-hopped version of doppleganger) and could hardly tell the difference other than one beer was a little more “green”. If you like a good hazy IPA, I haven’t found a brewery in Southern California more consistently great than Monkish is though Modern Times occasionally comes close enough and is more readily available.
With Monkish Hazy Double IPAs there are some people who say that they peak around two weeks. I did my own experiments though I didn’t choose the best beer for the experiment because the Gasket Hunter release I snagged seemed to be hopped much more than usual. I was able to verify this once I picked up some cans of Rinse in the Riffs that did not have the same green taste even a week after release.

 

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney serving clients in San Diego California.

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Exploring San Diego's Craft Breweries