Sunday, April 16, 2006

SACRAMENTO SURE AIN'T WHAT IT USED TO BE

In early 2000 I spent every Monday night for a couple months staying the night just outside of Sacramento, CA on a project for work. As I so often do when I've got the opportunity to spend someone else's money, I headed to just about every microbrewery and/or brewpub in the greater Sacramento area to find out just who made the finest beer in the Capitol region, and I expensed every last dime to the man. There were some good ones -- RUBICON BREWING right near the Capitol itself was not bad -- some bad ones (one that now appears to be gone that was some upscale yuppie/fusion place on the K Street Mall), and one particular place that stood head & shoulders above the rest. I'm talking, of course, about the HOPPY BREWING COMPANY, located in a nondescript area just off the freeway & over by the massive "SMUD" (Sacramento Municipal Utitlity District) power plant. I spent a very enjoyable Monday evening there sampling some fantastic brews, & I swore I'd get there again someday.

Alas, even through Sacramento's only 2 hours from my house, I probably make it to Seattle or San Diego more often, and haven't been to the Camelia City in years. So I coerced a current co-worker who lives out there to enter into a beer swap with me. I gave him a 6-pack of BOONT AMBER (lucky bastard), which he claims to have never seen before, and he brought me a couple 22-oz. HOPPY BREWING COMPANY beers. Last night I attempted to enjoy the STONY FACE RED ALE, and I have to say that the six year interregnum has either spoiled my palate or this particular beer just ain't that great. Far too carbonated for my taste, and while it has strong hints of enjoyable mouth-pleasers like dry hops & maybe even chocolate, it's almost like drinking a beer-flavored Coke. Having just feasted on an amazing red ale a week ago (MOYLAN'S - scroll down for the good word on that one), I was a bit taken aback by how mediocre this one was. I'm queuing up the brewery's Black Ale for next weekend, but HOPPY BREWING Stoney Face Red Ale's only getting a 4.5/10 from me.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't predict much more enthusiasm for the other Hoppy beers you might try. I'm a beer lover & a Sac resident & Hoppy doesn't even merit local pride. There's absolutely no balance to their beer. It either starts OK but finishes bad or hits you immediately with some cloying flavor. Rubicon has it's ups & downs. They make a good barleywine & often when they branch out from their original "taste", they come up with something good (like Sierra Nevada, all their regular beers are kind of a variation on a theme - with the stout winning out). The mighty hangovers from their beer - sometimes after just one or two - are legendary! There are 4 or 5 microbreweries here but not a single one consistently delivers.

s. miller

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