San Diego Beer, Local & Independent!

Going for the Hat Trick or My Trip to Northern California part 1 – Bear Republic

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I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe Independence Day!
On our recent trip to the Sacramento area to visit with close friends, our very gracious hosts suggested we take a day to go explore the area on our own and have some fun. Explore the area? Who do look like, Lewis and Clark? I know exactly where I’m going – Sonoma County, known around the world as the home to very fine wines & restaurants who continually raise the bar for culinary excellence. But screw that. It’s also home to some of the very best craft beer breweries in the state and probably country. Maybe the entire planet. The hardest part would be trying to visit as many as possible in our somewhat limited time frame.
Good thing I had a plan…
Which was shot to hell pretty much from the get go. From the long wait at the car rental place to my wife insisting she needed food immediately before jumping on the freeway, this put me a little behind on my idealized itinerary. Luckily, I am a man of unending patience. Well, most of the time at least. We had a two hour drive ahead of us, and for the most part it went very well. Eventually we made our way to the 101 Freeway and headed north. Our first destination would be Healdsburg, California, home to one of my favorite brewers, Bear Republic.
Coming here is something I’ve been wanting to do for years, ever since my first taste of Racer 5 when we moved into North Park and my beer-education truly began. That was well over five years ago, so it’s about damn time I made it up.



We walk in shortly after 12pm and the lunch crowd was at full swing in this nicely sized brew/pub. Good fortune favored us as we were able to secure a couple seats right in the heart of the bar as a group of patrons were heading back to work. The people who populate the bar and restaurant seem to cover just about all walks of life. We enjoyed conversations with blue collar locals,  motor cycle clubs, women who appeared to have just come from the spa/salon just down the street and even a couple of senior citizens who were possibly more excited about there flight of beers than I was. It was diverse crowd and a lot of fun.
Yes, please.

Yes, please.

With a day full of drinking a head of me and a lot of driving in the cards as well, I opted to go with a flight so I could sample as much as I could get my hands on. Fortunately a full belly from my breakfast would also come in handy, although that did turn in to a bit of a sore point as the food at Bear Republic looked and smelled amazing. Can you say fresh caught Fish and Chips? Yeah, I’m already plotting y next trip.
So with all that in mind we decide to skip the beers we have had before, completely forgoing such staples as Red Rocket AleBlack Bear StoutHop Rod Rye and the classic, Racer 5 itself. Fortunately, the selections of specialties on draft that day was quite impressive.
Let's turn this...

Let’s turn this…

I found all the specialty beers to be very tasty and not a single one had any sort of off-putting flavors. That’s not to say I didn’t find a few that I liked more than others. Cher-Ami, 4.7% ABV, is a Belgian style that was an immediate hit, especially with my wife, who is turning into quite the enthusiast for Belgian style beers. Global Kolsh, 4.6% ABV, had a nice refreshing quality to it. This beer reminded me of several lighter pale ales. Normally I don’t much care for pilsners but was pleasantly surprised by the Double Aught, a 4.2% ABV that had more flavor than expected. Next up we had the El Oso, an American Amber at 4.5% ABV and the Maibock which packs a little more punch at 6.7%ABV. Our next beer was one of the more controversial of our day, Crazy Ivan – a Belgian American IPA that comes in at 6.9%ABV. I thought for sure my wife would love this beer due to her absolute obsession with Stone’s Cali-Belgique. Boy was I wrong. She didn’t like it at all, while I thought it was superior to Stone’s in every way. Oh well, if we saw eye to eye all the time we might be living in Philadelphia right now. Yikes. Next we had Red Racer, a red IPA at 6.0%ABV which is part of the ales for A.L.S. charity program, so I’m always happy to have a glass from every brewer who participates. Then it was on to Racer 5000, 7.0%ABV American IPA that was very good, but I probably set my expectations a little too high, as I was expecting something to rival Cafe Racer 15 (which will be available in bottles soon!) and Racer X. We finished up with Black Racer, a 8.1%ABV Black IPA that manages to avoid most of that heavy roasted flavor that I don’t care for.  A very successful tasting with far more hits that misses. You can’t ask for anything more can you?
...into this!

…into this!

Well, I did anyways. We were having a lot of fun chatting up fellow patrons and our bartender when we happened to stumble across another group of San Diegans who had decided to make a day out of visiting breweries in Northern California. That group happened to be most of the brewing team from Mother Earth Brewing, in Vista. A fun group of guys who will factor in more than just this adventure. And since we were having so much fun how could I resist the temptation of getting a big glass of Racer 5 poured directly from the source. I couldn’t, that how.

Although my wife did insist on sharing with one of her new friends.
Bears like beer too!

Bears like beer too!

Bear Republic is located at 345 Healdsburg Ave, Healdsburg, CA 95448. I highly recommend you go and visit next time you are in the vicinity. I hope to have part 2 of this adventure up in about a week. Hope you’ll come back for more fun.




Author: hoptologysd31

Beer lover living the dream in San Diego, CA. I'm always looking to find great beers in places where I'd least expect them.

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