Loveland Breweries: Crow Hop

We had a rare night out when Mimi and Grandpa came to town to visit. Which meant date night! Due to procrastination and a slow recovery from a particularly vicious stomach flu (which shall be referred to as the unspeakable), we didn’t make our reservation until the day of our night out. The result was an 8:30 reservation at the 4th Street Chophouse (fantastic food and dining experience, go, see if Stacy has a table in her section, you will not be disappointed).

So what did we decide to do to kill time? Visit Crow Hop Brewery and Taproom, a very wise idea after not drinking for a week due to the unspeakable. A cozy tap room with serve yourself pretzels and water. There were board games aplenty (Rock ’em, Sock ’em Robots anyone?), which took patrons back to their childhoods in the 80s and 90s.

Flagship Beersimg_20161210_185757

  1. Loose tongue lager – aroma was of cat urine (p-menthane-8-thiol-3-one; can be the result of oxidation of beer during storage) and cooked cabbage (DMS; result of poor conversion of SMM precursor in malt to DMS – longer boil with more vigor!).
  2. Progression Pale Ale – hint of cotton candy/fruit in aroma, with a slightly metallic taste. Typical of a historic pale ale. Drinkable.
  3. Afternooner IPA – a citrus lemon drop aroma, slightly medicinal. This was not a hop bomb. Some citrus on palate, with a hint of sweetness. Mild bitterness. Pleasant and drinkable.
  4. Rado’s Red Ale – Sweet, not much hop aroma, very mild bitterness. Unoffensive.
  5. Big Water Nut Brown – What we called the most Canadian beer of the bunch – very polite, trying not to offend. Similar to the red ale, but less sweet. More toasted flavor.
  6. Sleeping Owl Stout – Coffee, coffee, and more coffee. Strong coffee aroma that translates into flavor. Roasted bitterness. A bit disappointing.
  7. Window Screen Wheat – Slight aroma of DMS and hops. Citrus on palate, did not pick up an clove-like phenolic character.

Rotating Beers

The rotating beers on tap were Orange Crush Kettle SourStinger New England IPAStandard 2016 edStandard 2015 ed*, and Barrel Aged 2015 ed*.


Orange Crush Kettle Sour – a fantastic beer. Orange flavor was present without being overpowering. Right amount of tartness – truly like the Orange Crush you would find in Dewey Beach, DE. This is the beer we would look for on our next visit.

Afternooner IPA – a pleasant surprise, especially with the slightly medicinal aroma. No Orange Crush Kettle Sour on tap? Go for this beer.

Not drinking these

Sleeping Owl Stout – just too much coffee aroma and flavor. Near impossible to identify any other aromas or flavors.

Loose Tongue Lager – maybe this keg was just a bad example of this particular beer, but wouldn’t order this again without trying it out first.


Pacific Northwest: Breweries

Brewery at Lake Tahoe

Simply, sigh. We chose this brewery because it was easy cycling distance from our campground. We tried all the beers available and were underwhelmed. The lone bright spot was the California Cream Ale – not overly sweet, nice aroma and flavor. The Alpine Amber was a good example of a specific style, but slightly heavier on the hops than we would have expected for an amber. The Wit had very little spice character and was rather bland. The food was decent, nothing to rave about.

Jack Russell Farm Brewery

Located in Camino, CA, this brewery is located in the Apple Hill region, which refers to the 55 ranches located around Camino. Originally known for pear orchards, blight forced ranchers to diversify in the mid 1960s and is become the largest concentration of apple growers in California. The area is home to Christmas tree growers, wineries, vineyards, and a spa. We weren’t prepared for this area to have so many activities and only planned enough time to visit the brewery. Despite its name Apple Hill has year round activities, so if you are going to be in the area check out this site to plan your trip!

Teri, Jess, and Alex and Jack Russell.

Back to Jack Russell! One of Jess’ master brewer classmates, Teri, works for Jack Russell, so we decided to stop in and visit. Since we didn’t do any research into the area, we were surprised to see all the people and activity surrounding the brewery (see previous paragraph). Since it was lunch time, we were especially happy to see the Hotdogger from Davis, CA! This was part of our Saturday farmer’s market routine – buy some fresh California veggies and fruit and chow down on a hot dog or Polish sausage for lunch before riding home. The Hotdogger was as good as we remembered.

The beers on tap at Jack Russell.
Where’s Alex?!

So beer! There were fifteen beers on the board and lockers for Alex to play in, so we ordered tasters of them all! (Note – the intent of the lockers was not for a toddler to play in them, but they were Alex sized and he found them greatly entertaining.) We enjoyed all fifteen beers. There wasn’t a bad one in the bunch, not even a meh beer by our tastes. The only beer where there was a minor difference of opinion was the Vanilla Stout. Jess wanted a smidge more roasted character to the beer, Dave enjoyed it as it was brewed. We left with a growlerette (32 oz) of the Vanilla Stout and enjoyed it with s’mores by a campfire. This was a truly minor quibble on Jess’ part over a well executed beer line up. Some other beers we found to be striking was the Pumpkin Spice Ale – it smelled like pumpkin pie fresh out of the oven, but the spice flavor was not overwhelming, just enough there to satisfy. We enjoyed the Tangerine (light and refreshing) and the Captain Boomer’s IPA (well balance malt and hop character, bitterness was not overwhelming). We left with growlerettes of the Tangerine and Captain Boomer’s IPA in addition to the Vanilla Stout. The only reason we did not leave with more was limited storage space in our fridge.

We were glad we took Abby down the hill from Lake Tahoe to visit Jack Russell. It was great to see Teri, even though the steady stream of customers made it hard to catch up. It is a fantastic brewery producing excellent beers. Located in a family friendly area, there are many activities to occupy one’s time. We wish we had planned properly, but look forward to a return trip.

Rogue Ales and Spirits

Have what it takes to be a rogue?

When we selected Newport, Oregon as a destination, it was not because of Rogue. It was a larger town that had a laundromat, an aquarium (which we did not take Alex to due to poor time management), and a state park with easy beach access (South Beach State Park). So we were excited that Google search results returned Brewer’s on the Bay – the restaurant within the Rouge brewery. It was just a 8 minute bike ride from the campground! The situation had the feel of a well executed plan!

Has Dave been making beard beer and not telling Jess?

We had to walk through part of the brewery to reach the restaurant; just a glimpse of the facility, but great to see. Upon reaching the restaurant (above the gift shop) we snagged a seat by the window that also had easy access to a power outlet so we could plug in Alex’s portable DVD player. Our taster consisted of Marionberry BraggotHazeluel ChoctaulousMocha PorterRogue Farms 4 Hop IPAChocolate StoutDead Guy Ale, and the Cherry Habenero Golden Imperial Ale. We discovered the marionberry is to Oregon as the huckleberry is to Montana. It is in everything and it is tasty (also as a sauce for their deconstructed cheese cake). We enjoyed every beer on the taster. The Cherry Habanero was intriguing with the sweet from the cherry being the first taste, followed by a heat of the habanero. Jess is a fan of heat more so than Dave, but the heat was too much for her to enjoy more than what was in the taster. We were pleasantly surprised by the 4 Hop IPA; we were more familiar with Rogue’s double chocolate stout, but found that the IPA was well balanced and very drinkable.

Inside Rogue
Inside Rogue

Northern Rockies: Breweries

We visited three breweries on this trip. Best part of our tasting notes? Done in crayon on the back of the children’s menu/activity sheet.

IMG_20160825_130425913The Grizzly Paw Brewing Company, Canmore, Alberta, Canada: Parking in Canmore is a bit challenging, especially if you have an RV. Made even harder by the the city placing signs directing one to RV parking well after the turn for downtown. Ah well.

We tried Rutting Red Elk, Grumpy Bear Honey Wheat, Powder Hound Pilsner, Big Head Nut Brown, Beaver Tail Raspberry Ale, Rundlestone Session Ale, Big Head Nut Brown, Sleeping Buffalo Stout, and the Evolution IPA. Both the Raspberry and Honey Wheat were well done without the raspberry or honey flavor being overwhelming or the beers being overly sweet. Overall, the beers were well done and were true to the menu descriptions. The Beaver Tail Raspberry Ale was our favorite.

Food was fabulous. Kid’s menu served chicken tenders with a plum sauce. Rather delicious. Shaved prime rib sandwich and elk burger were executed well. The classic poutine was rather tasty.

Take the time to find parking and stop in for food and beer.

Banff Avenue Brewing Company, Banff, Alberta, Canada: This brewery is a little odd to get to – it is on the second floor of a strip mall on Banff Avenue.

We tried Banff Avenue BlondeLower Bankhead Black PilsnerHead Smashed IPAPond Hockey Pale Ale, and Walk a Mile ISA. Unfortunately the Blood Orange Hefenweizen and the Red Ale (supporting the local SPCA) were tapped out. Beers were average, nothing really excited us. We did like the Black Pilsner the best of all the ones we tried.

Food was good. We started with the classic poutine (gravy not too salty) and had the bison burger and venison smokie for lunch.

Check these folks out on a Friday after 4 pm. This is when they tap the cask of the week.

Ten Sleep Brewing Company, Ten Sleep, WY: We found this brewery when we discovered Clear Creek Brewing Company was closed on Wednesday, the day we were passing through. Ten Sleep’s story is intriguing so we decided to give their beers a try. After some questioning of Google Maps’ logic in route selection, we arrived safe and sound.

We tried four beers of the five beers on tap – No Name IPAPack Saddle PorterHuck and Tuck Wheat, and the Outlaw Amber. We enjoyed all the beers but were the most impressed with the IPA and Porter. The IPA was well balance with a lingering, but not unpleasant bitterness. Aroma was citrus with herbal undertones. The Porter was rich and smooth with a roasted and chocolate aromas. We left with a growler of each and discovered later that the Porter pairs very well with s’mores. Porter had a fantastic head, even after two days in a growler bumping around an RV refrigerator.

Definitely worth a visit if are in the approximate area. Owners are friendly and fun to chat with. Small family owned and run place. They also have chickens that served as great entertainment for a toddler. Check out their website, they also host concerts. Favorite brewery of the trip.

Ten Sleep Brewing Company No Name IPA with a charcuterie dinner overlooking Meadowlark Lake.
Ten Sleep Brewing Company No Name IPA with a charcuterie dinner overlooking Meadowlark Lake.

Here is a list of the breweries we wanted to visit, but were out of sync with their days/hours of operation. We will just have to check them out the next time we tour the Northern Rockies.

  1. Clear Creek Brewing Company, Buffalo, WY
  2. Flathead Lake Brewing Company, Bigfork, MT
  3. Missoula Brewing Company, Missoula, MT

2016 Colorado Move: Breweries!

We couldn’t move without trying breweries along the way. Unfortunately, we had to abort a couple of breweries as well. Alibi Ale Works in Incline Village, Nevada doesn’t like Alex’s type coming through their doors, which we respect. We had heard good things about Alibi, so we were disappointed that the logistics didn’t work out.

Due to the trials and tribulations of our journey, we only visited two breweries.

Triple Rock Brewery and Alehouse, Berkeley, CA

How did we end up in Berkeley on our move to Colorado from Davis, CA? Our geography and map reading skills are not that atrocious, really and truly. Dave’s cousin and her family, who live in New Zealand, were in the area on a college visit. It has been several years since we last saw them, so we took the opportunity to visit (Wonder why it took us 2 days to drive a net of eight miles? A side trip that was a lot of fun). They told us to chose a place for lunch, and of course we selected a brewery.

We tried the IPAX Ale and the Black Rock Porter and were pleased with both. The actual appearance, aroma, and taste were in-line with the menu descriptions of the beers. The Reuben and pulled pork sandwiches were also executed well.

Wasatch Brewery, Park City, UT

We arrived in Park City, UT around lunch time. Fortunately for us, Wasatch Brewery was nearby. After parking Abby and the trailer in a free public lot (we used up 6 spaces, thankfully it wasn’t busy), we drove the car down to the main street of Park City and parked near Wasatch. We were able to get a shaded seat on the patio and got to relax while Alex enjoyed train videos.

We tried the Polygamy Porter which had a clever tag line of ‘take some home to the wives’. The color was excellent and the aroma was robust with chocolate and roasted notes. The flavor was disappointing. Grainy at best, it was surprisingly thin, especially after the aromas were the perfect set up for a thick bodied porter. The Evolution Amber Ale was the second beer we tried. It was an improvement over the Polygamy Porter, but we have brewed better at home. Overall, beer was meh. Food was very well done and the pickled tomatoes on the steak salad were a surprise highlight.

Brewery Tour – June 2016

The Brewing Lair

Located in Blairsden, CA, the The Brewing Lair has a superior setting (What? We should have taken pictures? We didn’t, check out the website). Tucked away in the Sierra’s along the Pacific Crest Trail, the brewery has a 9 hole disc golf course (15 acres), a slack line, and 3 BBQ grills for cooking (first come, first serve). They have several levels of outdoor seating with Adirondack chairs and picnic tables. They even have a nice selection of toys for kids (Blaze, hula hoops, Lightning McQueen, dinosaurs). The brewery is approximately a 10 minute drive from Plumas-Eureka State Park.

The Brewing Lair Sampler.

BrewingLair_02We tried the sampler that consisted of the Blair Belgian Blonde Ale, Ambush IPA, Take a Hike India Red Ale, Black IPA, and Solo Session with Mosaic hops. These, with the exception of the Blair, were hop forward. All the beers were well done and we enjoyed them, despite them being outside of what we usually order. We went back for pints of the Blair and the Black IPA. This is brewery is well worth the trip.


Woody’s Brewing Company

Fully pour of the Apricot Wheat at Woody’s and their beer selection.

Located in Redding, CA, Woody’s Brewing Company was a great spot for lunch and beer. We again opened with the sampler and there wasn’t a beer we didn’t like. Full pours were ordered of the Apricot Wheat (hint of apricot, not overly sweet) and the Pray for Powder Porter (just very nicely done). The food was also top notch – the jalapeno burger has flattened, deep-fried jalapenos on it. Very tasty. If you are in the area, it is worth the stop.

Lost Coast Brewery

Located in Eureka, CA, we first stopped at the Lost Coast Brewery in 2010 and again in 2012. Since our last visit, Eureka seems to be a bit more down on its luck. The brewery remains rather unchanged from our memory. We settled in and grabbed a sampler. We really do like the sampler as an easy way to taste all the beers. We found the 8 Ball Stout to be one of the better beers, but, were underwhelmed in general. The Famous Hot Brown was meh, and fell short regarding the description. The 8 Ball Stout Beef stew was delicious, although light on the meat. We might stop here again, but it won’t go out of our way to do so.

Six Rivers Brewery

The sampler at Six Rivers.
The sampler at Six Rivers.

Located in Mckinleyville, Six Rivers Brewery was the highlight to our day. Forced into a commercial campground for the night due to the need for cell reception for Jess’ phone interview the next day, we needed some good beer to off set the less than picturesque accommodations. Six Rivers came highly recommended by a friend and former classmate of Jess’. The sampler was ordered again, and much drinking ensued. The Chili Pepper Spicy Ale was overwhelming, the tip to mix it 50/50 with Strawberry Wheat came too late to help us. The summer sour was well done, with a hint of acid, but not excessive. The IPAs were all nicely done.

The Buffalo Chicken sandwich had nice heat to it and the burger wasn’t one to drive for, but was edible. Had a really nice Kid’s Platter with a wide selection for those little grazers.

North Coast Brewing Company

The sampler at North Coast Brewing Company.
The sampler at North Coast Brewing Company.

North Coast Brewing Company, in Fort Bragg was the last stop of our trip. Our final sampler of delicious beers. No truly bad beer in the bunch. The Red Seal beer engine sampler had the aroma of diacetyl (buttery), but the non-beer engine Red Seal was as expected. Possible the beer engine needed new lines or the beer was not moving quickly. Old 38 Stout, Brother Thelonius, Old Stock Ale, Pranqster, and Blue Star were some of our favorites.

The food was also very good. The Carolina BBQ kurubota pork was juicy, tender, and had that expected vinegar tang. The rosemary chicken was nicely cooked and was served with a delicious sauce. We sat at the bar a number of years ago, and to the best of our recollection, the tap room has changed since then (time does march on!). The tap room seemed to have a more upscale feel to it, but 6 or so years will cloud the memory.

It is a good thing we don’t live near Fort Bragg – our wallets would be quite thin from all our North Coast visits.


We enjoyed revisiting breweries and trying out new places. It is definitely a different experience with Alex in tow, but with a little help from the electronic baby sitter (DVD player), we were able to enjoy some beer.

Hands down, the Brewing Lair had the best setting. A must visit if you are in the area; also great for Alex (an other kids) because he got to play outside and there were toys.

For beer, North Coast did not disappoint. Woody’s was a nice surprise, we stopped because we needed lunch and they served food. We are very glad we did, it was quite enjoyable. The Brewing Lair beer styles were outside of what we normally seek out, but well done.