Henhouse Brewery was our first stop on our second day. After visiting the main brewery location, I was told that they have a sour brewery location elsewhere although this is only a review of the main brewery location. They have a large building which has a decent amount of indoor seating and fairly large outdoor seating area. Like other breweries in the area, pints were a better deal than tasters so that is what I stuck to here and elsewhere.
I started with their house saison which was super dry with lingering notes of black pepper, mild bitterness, and hints of pear. After that I ordered their beer titled independent AF IPA. The beer was hazy thanks to the addition of wheat malt. It was hazy in appearance but not particularly juicy. The beer had tons of hop aroma with notes of papaya and an herbal bitter finish. I left with cans and they have been enjoyable once I returned home.
Moonlight is known primarily for their dark lager titled death and taxes. It was strangely cold in their tasting room when we stopped by and there was also a painting class going on so we didn’t stay too long although the few beers that I had were quite excellent.
I started with their Pilsner which was nice and traditional, classic and dry with notes of hay and overall easy drinking. The beer is served as a full half liter. I had tried their death and taxes beer before so when I saw that they had a beer called boney fingers, a slightly stronger version they make for Halloween, I ordered that immediately. The beer was roasting and mildly smoky with notes of dark chocolate and perfectly balanced. I grabbed a four pack before I left and am glad I did because the two I have opened so far were quite excellent.
I finished with a low alcohol saison called Wee Nibble. The beer was dry and lightly herbal with hints of lemon and banana. It was a solid version of the style. Moonlight seems to make some of the more traditional beers of the breweries I visited and so would make a good spot for someone to visit who is there for Russian River primarily.
Before leaving town, we made our way to a brewery called woodfour, known for its barrel aged beers and sours. They have a spacious indoor seating area and large outdoor deck with covered seating.
I started with their Berliner weisse, a beer that they spontaneously ferment. It was hazy yellow with subdued tartness and notes of peach and mild funk. If I had any room left in my suitcase, I would have bought some cans to bring home because it was quite excellent. Rather than having a version with fruit added, they offer you to order the beer with syrup although I prefer to drink plain.
Next was there wild Saison called Brett mother. It was intensely funky with notes of acorns, mild lemon, and grapefruit that comes out as it warms up. The first few sips took some getting used to but I grew to enjoy the beer before I finished the glass. I finished with their sour farmhouse ale which was intensely tart with notes of green papaya and peach and as you get used to the beer the funky base comes through with notes of earthy malts and hints of acorns. I don’t know if it was this particular beer or the fact that I was drinking three sour beers in a row, but I was unable to finish my third beer. I think perhaps their house yeast didn’t agree with my stomach in such large quantities.
Woodfour has a special style slightly different from other sour breweries out there so it’s hard to compare them to my favorites. They certainly have achieved a nice house yeast flavor that is distinguishable between their sours. They also had a lovely dark lager with coffee that my husband enjoyed while he was there.
Visit Woodfour if you are interested in trying some unique sour and funky beers.
It is common for people to take a trip to Russian River brewery in the Santa Rosa area. Most people will go just for that one brewery but there are many others around that are worth visiting in their own right or stopping by if you don’t feel like waiting for a table at Russian River. I decided to make a trip to the Santa Rosa area to visit these breweries and see which ones stand out to me.
Shortly after landing, I stopped by Fogbelt brewery. It was quite noisy inside as is typical for Friday nights at breweries. Their pricing made sense to order pints because it was five or six dollars a pint as opposed to two or three dollars a taster. I started with their wet hop Redwood Hill IPA. The beer had a copper color with earthy and piney hops nicely balanced with a malt base and medium lingering bitterness. It reminded me of a slightly more resinous version of blind pig and Russian River. Notes of orange blossom come through as it warms up.
I ended with a dark sour called Methuselah that was nicely balanced with notes of caramel and raisins with a smooth oaky finish and hints of red wine, cherry, and dates. Before I left I noticed they had some Carolina reaper hot sauce, hot sauce made with one of the spicy is peppers on the planet. When I asked for a taste, they brought me a chip and a little bit of hot sauce and it was delightfully flavorful and spicy such that I left with two bottles. If you are a fan of extremely spicy hot sauces, make sure you stop by just for that. This hot sauce has become part of my regular rotation at home and I’m glad I got two.
If you are not a fan of noisy breweries, I would suggest avoiding fog belt on Friday nights. They also came highly recommended for their food, although I did not try any because our flight was delayed quite a bit and we arrived after having already eaten. Fogbelt is worth a stop if you enjoy more traditional approach to your hoppy beers, which I expect you do if you are in town for Russian River.
After fogbelt, we went straight to cooperage brewery. They had a more open feel and dispersed the sound a bit better. Their templates seem to be almost exclusively hoppy beer focused. This should have suggested that I may not enjoy the English mild but I went for it anyways to start.
The English mild on tap was dry with notes of acorns and mild smoke. The beer was fairly lacking in flavor for the style and not impressive compared to others I’ve had recently. I finished with the beer called Wookie of the year IPA. It was excellently balanced with tons of hope aroma and notes of resin, lemon, and light pine. The beer had a soft mouth feel with mild bitterness on the finish. This is a good spot to come visit if you are looking for more IPAs.
I stopped by Archetype first because I was feeling like trying some Belgian inspired beers. They have a fairly open tasting room that doesn’t get too hot despite lack of air conditioning and the warm weather outside. All 4 beers on my flight were Belgian inspired and they all had a similar flavor.
The saison was super dry with light funk and mild cracked pepper. The beer had notes of peach white wine and mild cherry with a crisp dry finish. The farmhouse was very similar with a bit more pear white wine and subtle brett funk. The Belgian style pale ale was dry and funky with subtle herbal hops and mild bitterness, very similar to the farmhouse before it. The brett IPA was the most funky of the bunch and mildly hoppy and not too bitter. Though they were all similar, they were all subtle and balanced in a way that tells me the brewer is quite talented.
I stopped by Zillicoah by the recommendation of the bartender at Archetype. They are in a large building close to a river with huge amounts of both indoor and outdoor seating. I wasn’t immediately excited by the tap list but then I tried a splash of their session IPA and went for a full pour of that.
It was super creamy with tons of pineapple hop aroma and mild bitterness. It reminded me of Holy Mountain’s similar beers. The best part of this brewery is their $5 full pours and seating by the river. We relaxed there for a while before moving on to the next stop.
Rorschach was about a 15 minute walk from Godspeed and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had seen that they made many pastry stouts and IPAs and was quite pleased by the quality of their hazy IPAs and especially the one with tons of passionfruit. I only had a few sips of my husband’s imperial stout tasters but they were quite good as well.
I started with a beer fittingly called The Hedonist, a gratuitous flavor explosion of a milkshake IPA, and my favorite from the visit. It was creamy and exploded with tropical fruit and passionfruit flavor with the lactose just adding to the body rather than being noticeable in the flavor. This reminded me of a similar beer at Green Cheek in California that also blew me away. I followed up with a double IPA called Icarus Complex that claimed to be brewed with a similarly epic amount of kiwi. The beer didn’t have remotely similar fruit flavor and was more of a standard balanced classic resinous double IPA. It shouldn’t be surprising though that kiwi isn’t as strong in beer as passionfruit.
The Turtle Imperial stout made with pecans and cacao nibs was quite lovely with prominent cherry vanilla notes. The beer had a creamy thick body with tons of caramel, mild nuts, and roasted malts. I also had a hazy IPA called truth serum that was super tropical with a creamy body and restrained hop acidity. I may return to Rorschach later in the trip. We visited the brewery quite late (around 10PM) so it wasn’t very crowded at that time and we enjoyed some conversation with a new beer friend who was also drinking at the bar. @JasonOfOrillia on Twitter. We ended up meeting with Jason again the next day thankfully for additional adventures though sadly did not return to Rorschach.
Hedonist milkshake IPA
Turtle Imperial Stout