I'm always game for a trip to a new brewery or brewpub, so there I was a couple weeks ago, living large at the SEBASTOPOL BREWING COMPANY in Sebastopol, California. We have some pals that live in town there, and I was quite pleased when they suggested that we start some pre-Halloween festivities in the hallowed halls of said brewery – which meant I’d get to try out a beer that no one but those who’ve visited this location had tried before. Whoa. Sebastopol is located in the heart of California microbrew country, only 15-45 minutes away from some of your favorites like RUSSIAN RIVER BREWING, LAGUNITAS BREWING, BEAR REPUBLIC and MOYLAN’S – so you gotta figure that the folks that opened this one would have to come up with a pretty magic recipe in order to compete with the firebreathers that are all within striking distance. The great thing about this area a little over an hour north of San Francisco, though, is that great beer is the default, not the exception. I get the feeling that people who saddle up the bars in Marin and Sonoma county sneer and stomp out if the best thing on tap is Sierra or Sam Adams, whereas in other locales they’re jumping for goddamn joy. So there’s probably room for more comers to high-end beer in these parts, because that’s what the locals are drinking (remember too that California Wine Country is located in or near here as well).
I tried out SEBASTOPOL BREWING’s WHITE OWL IPA, as well as their 4-pound hamburger (give or take). This IPA was far more amber in color than I expected, and while it lacked the overpowered hoppiness of the modern American IPA, it pretty much did the trick for me nonetheless. A much more smooth IPA than most folks make, and I liked the unique tastes I was getting out of this one: not fruity, but perhaps a little grainy, like this had been fermenting next to a batch of fresh country bread or something. No complaints – I rolled the dice, and got a 7.5/10 out of the deal. The brewery itself was quite inviting – upscale enough for a date or night out with your ladyfriend, but not so much that you couldn’t take two hyped-up 3-year-olds, as we did. And the burger wasn’t bad either. If you’re headed through “the ‘Pol” (as the locals call it), I recommend a stopover here – it’s right downtown, walking distance from pretty much everything Sebastopol has to offer – and that IPA’s pretty solid too.