Thursday, November 06, 2008


You've probably heard a thing or two about a new beer establishment called the HOPMONK TAVERN if you've been north of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge recently. This is a new beer garden-slash-live music venue located in the happy hippie town of Sebastopol, California, in what is probably of the 2-3 most picturesque counties in the USA, Sonoma. We get up to Sebastopol a bunch because we have some good friends there w/ a daughter who's my son's age, and every time my pal Jay kindly takes me to some beer place or another; Russian River, Sebastopol Brewing, etc.

Turns out HOPMONK took over the SEBASTOPOL BREWING location when the latter couldn't make a go of it. The new place was founded and is run by Dean Biersch, who made his name and his relative fortune having founded the GORDON-BIERSCH mini-empire of brewpubs & the (generally underrated) beers of the same name. Jay took me there a couple Sundays ago while the ladies and the kids were off doing who knows what. I'm here to tell you I'm glad he did. It's an inviting space, especially outside, where the Indian summer sun beat down through plastic covering amidst a panopoly of flora & fauna. Beer selection was "totally ace", as they say. It was a hard one, but then I saw their pours were 20-ounce pints, not those sissy 16-ouncers you get elsewhere. I thought a new MOONLIGHT BREWING beer I'd never heard of might help get me through the afternoon, particularly in that larger vessel. I thought correctly.

This new MOONLIGHT BONY FINGERS is billed as a straight-up "black lager", but those with discriminating smellers and taste buds can call it for what it is. This is a schwarzbier, a true-blue smoky, charcoal/chocolate schwarzbier in the German style. Like everything the brewing magician Brian Hunt touches, this one's not quite what you'd expect. It seemed to me to have very high carbonation, and of course a generous dose of hops. Fluffy and still thick. Much "sharper" than their famous DEATH & TAXES lager. I dug it. 7.5/10.

I wish I could end the story there but I'll leave you with one more aside. We both ordered up a big-ass pint of LAGUNITAS IMPERIAL RED, and I decided once and for all on this, my second try of the beer, that it belonged in the Hedonist Beer Jive 65. It's amazing. Look - look here, it's #57! Great day, great drinkin', good times.

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