Tag Archives: Wild Ales

Santa Rosa Breweries – Henhouse, Moonlight, and Woodfour

Henhouse Brewery

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 Brewery

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.

Woodfour Brewery

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.

Known for:
Visit Woodfour if you are interested in trying some unique sour and funky beers.

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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Olympic Penensula Breweries – Silver City, Sound, Rainy Daze, and Propolis

I visited the various breweries on the olympic penensula. You can easily visit them all in one day on your way from Tacoma to Port Angeles. Silver City has two locations but I recommend visiting the tap room where you can try some of their pilot batches and experience a more relaxed atmosphere.

Silver City

I visited the Silver City tap room and tried four beers. My typical practice is to stop after four tasters if I don’t taste anything that really stands out. So here I left after the four tasters. From what I had heard I hoped to leave with cans of their IPAs but decided not to after my flight.

I tried three of their IPAs and one of their porters. The St. Florian IPA was resinous and dank with medium bitterness and a biscuit malt base. This is a fairly standard IPA though a bit old school. The porter was solid with a nice light roast and notes of caramel.

The two hazy IPAs were not particularly impressive. The pilot batch session hazy was intensely grassy and piney and lightly acidic. The tropic haze is one that has gotten them a lot of popularity but it didn’t have much hop aroma to speak of. Instead I got notes of cashews and minerals with hints of banana bread. The strong mineral character is common with haze but this one didn’t work for me. After the four I didn’t try anything further and went on to the next stop.

Sound Brewing

Sound was recommended to me based on their Belgian style beers. I would recommend similarly that you stick to the Belgian styles. I started with their porter and Baltic porter. The porter had some light smoke, caramel, and molasses with a dry bitter finish. The Baltic porter had some strong cherry malt character with bitter chocolate and caramel on the finish. Both were drinkable though I preferred the Baltic porter out of the two.

The NEIPA was not hazy in the slightest and had some notes of grass, herbs, and pine with medium bitterness. I didn’t find the beer to be particularly fruity or juicy at all. It was an OK IPA but not remotely NE style. The double IPA was a dark brown color with sweet caramel malt notes, mild bitterness, and some apricot hop character. The beer was far too sweet and malt-forward and tasted more like a barley wine than a double IPA.


Things were more interesting when I got to the Belgian styles. The dubel was tasty with notes of dark fruit and caramel on a nice dry finish. My husband enjoyed this one as well even though he generally only likes stouts and porters. The Monk’s Indiscretion is a nice heavily hopped Belgian strong ale. It had intense herbal and grassy hops that balanced nicely with the esters and Belgian yeast character. For 10% the beer hid its alcohol well and had a nice dry finish. The Belgian tripel had notes of banana and clove over a biscuit malt base and a good dry finish.

Belgian style beers tend to be brewed overly sweet in the US but not so much at Sound. If you like Belgian styles I recommend trying some of their bottles if you can’t make it out for a visit to the brewery directly.

Top 2:
Monk’s Indiscretion
Belgian Dubel.

Rainy Daze

Rainy Daze was recommended to me by a fellow beer blogger. The Pourhouse IPA had notes of herbs and citrus rind on a nice soft body with a mild bitterness. The Goat Boater IPA had some notes of citrus and floral hops though the mineral taste on the finish. The Peace hazy IPA had a hazy appearance but hardly any detectable hop aroma to speak of.

The stout had some notes of root beer and caramel with light lemon hop character. The coffee porter was nutty with good strong coffee character on top of mild roast. Rainy Daze had a few decent IPAs but nothing that was exploding with hop aroma or particularly memorable. They were fairly standard.

Top 2:
Goat Boat IPA
Coffee Porter


Propolis focuses on wild ales and sours often adding various herbs to them. They charge $3 to $4 for each taster. I had some interesting beers but nothing that was particularly memorable or that made me want to leave with a bottle that they charger more than $20 for.

Mellow had some notes of citrus and herbs on a light sweet funk base. The spruce had notes of honey and light sweetness with berry notes from the spruce. Wild Woods had some berry character from the wine with a dry finish with bitter tannin kick. The Gordin had a light fruit character with some honey flavor.

The Apricot Ostara blended apricot with chamomile nicely with a light acidic finish. The oud Bruin was thin and smoky with an acidic tart cherry finish on a mild caramel base. As far as wild ales go, I didn’t find the beers at Propolis to be particularly complex or flavorful. I finished each taster but nothing made me crave for more either on tap or in a bottle to take home.

If some of their sours sound interesting to you, you can find them as far south as San Diego in the bottles. I recommend trying a few bottles before taking the trip to the brewery directly.

Top 2:
Wild Woods
Oud Bruin

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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De Garde Brewing Tillamook Oregon – Delicious Wild Ales

Updated Visit January 2018

I don’t have a lot to update on the quality of the beer at De Garde but I found out in my recent visit that they have a nice new tasting room in the center of downtown Tillamook. This new spot has a lot more indoor seating than before and a large outdoor patio for people to hang out. This is one of the few places where it is worth coming out and staying the night so that you can fully explore their beers including trying a vintage bottle or two from the cellar.
Large outdoor seating area
Tap list with more taps than before.
Though they have now 12 taps, they had 8 of those as guest taps when we showed up. So if you really want to explore their beers you may have to try some bottles. I found out that lately De Garde has been selling out pretty fast when it hits Portland area so I had no choice but to make the drive to pick up some bottles at the source. We get their bottles in San Diego occasionally but not always the fruited sours that are the most popular.
The Lucy on tap.

De Garde continues to offer beers at great prices at the tasting room. $5 or $6 for a 12oz pour of barrel aged sours is below typical market. I really enjoyed the Lucy muscat grape sour on tap when I visited though I wish I had tried a splash of the jester king collaboration before ordering it as it was too funky for me. During warmer months I expect the patio to fill up even more than it did this day. Thankfully a lot of people make the drive mostly to pick up bottles if they have already visited, meaning crowds rise and fall quickly.


Original Visit February 2017

De Garde has a reputation for making fantastic wild ales in their brewery near the Oregon coast. To get there you will probably have to drive from Portland for an hour and a half minimum in each direction through windy roads and a pass that sometimes gets snow when it is cold enough. I visited in late February 2017 and it rained most of our drive through the pass to the west and snowed the night we stayed out there so that it was coated in white on our drive back East. This is one of the few breweries that has completely lived up to the hype for me. If you don’t want to make the long drive you can usually find their beers around the Portland area. They are even showing up occasionally in San Diego as well.

De Garde 01

In the tasting room you have a choice between paying $3 for a 6 ounce pour or $4 for a 12 ounce pour, so I naturally stuck to full pours before ordering a bottle out of their cellar. While there is outdoor seating, since it tends to rain quite a bit, if you arrive on a rainy day you might find the tasting room a lot more packed with people than it was on the day of sun when I visited. I started with the famed Bu Weisse, a 2.5% beer that is still quite flavorful thanks to the time it spends in oak barrels. The beer had a good medium body and notes of lemon and lime with oak on the finish. The brewery regularly makes fruited versions of this same beer but I much preferred its base version. They also make a stronger version that spends much longer in the barrels.

De Garde 03

I went next for the Nectarine Premiere, a fruity beer that I was quite excited to try after the rave reviews. It is not a standard stone fruit sour but instead is a soft juicy beer with minimal tartness that at times reminds me of fruit puree. It hides the alcohol well and was so delicious I had to bring home quite a few bottles for myself. With a choice on tap between fruited Bu and a beer I recently had down in San Diego, I ordered one of the bottles from the cellar, the purple kriek, a beer brewed with cherries and raspberries. This is more of the traditional lambic style beer with a strong tart finish but still plenty of prominent cherry and raspberry notes. The acidity was quite prominent so I opted to share some with people near me.

De Garde 04

De Garde 05

Before heading home I purchased some bottles of De Garde’s Saison Facile, their wild saison. In Portland I picked up two bottles of the Alt Bu Weisse, aged for 3 years in oak barrels. This is one of the few breweries outside from major cities that I can see myself visiting again for all the delicious beers they release throughout the year. It also helps that most of the bottles are priced lower than most California breweries making the same styles of wild ales and sours. If you happen to be traveling with a friend who doesn’t like sours, they tend to have a few stouts on tap from other breweries to satisfy them.

De Garde 02

Known for:
Come for wild ales, lambics, and sours. Though they usually have a few guest beers on tap.

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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