For my first "web recommendation" I would love to talk about North Coast Brewing Co. Not only one of the best that Northern California has to offer, but one of my personal favorites. North Coast will always hold special meaning to me as the brewery that "converted" me to the darkside of beer, one sip of the Old #38 on tap and I was hooked! Now 14 years later, beer is my passion Let me share a tidbit that has taken more than a decade to realize.....many beers are fantastic, but no other brewery that I know of can cover all aspects of hand-crafted beer as well as North Coast Brewing. So do yourself a favor, and pick up a Scrimshaw, Red Seal, Old #38, Old Rasputin, Old Stock, Blue Star, Brother Thelonious, or Brother David (double or triple your choice) and discover or re-discover the love and passion many of us share for the craft beers. CHEERS!
As is customary with a visit to the beer area in Sunshine Foods, I would like to share some of the wonderful history of beer that I have learned over the years. Being a "hop-head" (a person who likes exceptionally hoppy beer) I would be remiss if I didn't start with the beer style most near and dear to my heart, IPA's. From my understanding (and many can be found) the origins of this beer come from England during their occupation of India. The troops stationed there were accustomed to pale ale which gets it's name from the light or "pale" roast of the malts, but alas, that beer did not travel well and frequently was bad on arrival. Around that time, a brewing company by the name of Bow Brewing had come up with a pale ale that used an exceptionally large amount of hops which resulted in a very bitter, but aromatic beer. After sending some to the troops in India, they found that the hops, being somewhat of a natural preservative, combined with the long voyage created a wonderful combination both strong and flavorful that was a hit with the troops. Thus the birth of a wonderful style that has lasted over 100 years and become more popular in recent times.
If you would like to sample this style let me make a recommendation or two. If you are accustomed to lighter style beers this one will knock you for a loop, so best to open a 12-oz bottle between 2-4 people, if you like bite-you-back beers then my friend this is your style. One of the best available IPAs would be Pliny the Elder from Russian River Brewing, if you love hops then this is the best a bottle has to offer (Pliny the Younger is even better, but only available on tap and VERY limited) very aromatic and a bite that is strong and well balanced. For a first taste I would recommend Laugunitas IPA or Torpedo from Sierra Nevada. If it's a style you've tried and liked and Pliny is in short supply Racer 5 from Bear Republic or Stone Brewing Co Ruination IPA are both good solid IPAs. Hope this has been informative and fun and look forward to another article to share my passion for beer. CHEERS!!!