Friday, November 23, 2007 

Hollister Brewing Company

Since my brother has moved to Santa Barbara, it has been an easy excuse to skip out of LA to meet him and grab a few pints. The Santa Barbara region is booming now with new breweries and brewpubs and none is better than Hollister just a few minutes north in Goleta.

I would kill for a place like Hollister in Los Angeles or even a place half of what Hollister is. Set in a shopping plaza (perhaps the only drawback), its décor is modern but not stuffy. It’s a bit more than your average brewpub but still a place you could feel comfortable catching a game and throwing back a few pints.

The brewer who’s name escapes me, formerly of SB Brew Co has big awards – most notably a GABF Gold Medal for his Santa Barbara IPA, a mighty fine beer at that. At Hollister, he shows that he can do many styles and do them well. Of there many beers, that change quite frequently I’ve tasted the gamut from Saison to DIPA, from Brown Ale to Hefe Weisen. All have been quite tasty. I’m an IPA guy at heart and his IPAs are nothing short of outstanding.

The food is a bit better than you would expect from a brewpub in a big college town. There’s some creativity in the menu – not just your traditional pub faire. The duck fat fries are a must. Yum. I’ve never made it to any of the entrées, but I’ve been compelled.

The reason we’ve stuck with a few beers and some appetizers is that the location makes it a little bit difficult to really make a night of it if you are in / staying in SB. We had some big beers and wanted to be sure we could make the drive back down the 101 out of Goleta. Again, a minor drawback, but certainly no reason to not stop and have a few beers at this fantastic brewpub.

Friday, November 09, 2007 

Do you know the HARVEST??!!!

Sierra Nevada Harvest Ale
86 / 100

Pizza Port High Tide IPA
89 / 100

Every Autumn the finest of American hops are harvested. Most of these hops are dried and preserved to last until next harvest. Notice I said MOST. Some of the fresh hops get shipped directly to brewers so that they can unearth some of the flavors lost later down the line. The result are freshly hopped ales, some have been known to call them Harvest Ales.

Sierra Nevada have been making their Harvest Ale since 1996, but this is the first year they have bottled it. Previously, it was hard to come by,
only in keg form and usually in bars close to the California source. It was always a pleasure for me as Father's Office in Santa Monica; they had in on draught every Autumn. Being a HUGE fan of IPAs, it was always the different subtleties that the fresh hops resonated that pleased me. You get the big hop profile but it's far more subtle - the balance seems just right. In a way it seems like a muted IPA - not in the flavor but in the bittering. And I don't mean that negatively - this is a fine fucking beer.

Pizza Port's High Tide takes this idea and improves on it. The flavors are more fresh and the different hops really pronounce themselves: Centennial - I getcha, citrus but now boom in your face like Cascade (think West Coast hopbombs), Chinook - I'm with ya - dry hopped to give that floral and bitter cut.

This is something I recommend to everyone. Bitter not your thing? This is so well-rounded you'll push through. Get this soon, it's not going to last. And the fresher the better.

Holiday Beers up next...