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Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Moylan's Brewing Co. in Novato, CA
I've been around the City of San Francisco and have been exposed a bit more to the better beer available south and east of the city. So, what's the most logical next step for exploration? Of course...head north. Wine geeks, be not offended. In case you weren't aware, the region to the north of San Francisco in Marin, Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino counties are overflowing with great suds of the barley and hop variety. Hey, I love wine too and it is a bit difficult to drive by beautiful wineries (ok, Napa's not too hard to drive through, given their Disney-ification over the past couple of decades) and the allure of the grape. However, greater expectations beckon. The first stop along this magnificent northern tour involved picking up Jay Brooks as he offered to escort us around his stomping ground of Marin County. The first stop was at Moylan's in Novato. Located just off route 101, Moylan's is extremely easy to find. And, judging from the lunchtime crowd already building at 11:30am, it's quite a popular destination as well. Moylan's is a brewery that I've previously been experienced with only while visiting California. If it's distributed to Pennsylvania, I've either overlooked it or simply passed on it out of ignorance. No longer. I was already aware that their beer was preceded by an award-winning, top-notch reputation, but now that I've been able to match the people and personalities behind the brewing, I'm a devoted fan. We chose to put off our hunger for our next stop, Marin Brewing, and opted instead for a sampler. Ok, stop for a minute here. I've had samplers of 5, 6, 7, even 8 beers. Moylan's takes the prize for largest beer sampler ever...10 beers. Yowzah, what a start to the day (which, by the way, was due to end at Russian River...so...must...pace...self...control!) The sampler was all over the style map from IPA to Scotch to Wheat to IPA to Barleywine to IPA. Ha, get the picture?! And, if you check out the picture, you'll see that we did not step timidly into the lunch hour. Worse yet, there was not a bad one in the batch. Not a wimpy, flavorless, hop-deprived, or bland one. James Costa, head brewer, was onsite wrestling with temperatures of a new batch and spent some time chatting with us. He had just returned from hops school in Yakima armed with all sorts of new information about the science of hops utilization. He beamed with pride as I listed my favorites of the sampler. First, the Hopsickle Triple IPA. Oh, for the love of all that is sweet and hoppy goodness! The Hopsickle has got to be one the tastiest hopped up beverages mankind will ever impart to its lips. Ok, I'll settle down now. Seriously, though, the freshness of the hop wallop that it delivers is truly magnificent. James, who cut his mashing teeth at Bear Republic, is certainly a shining star at Moylan's. Following in very close order of favorites were the Moylander (double IPA), Moylander (cask), Kiltlifter (scotch ale), Old Blarney (barleywine), unfiltered Wheat, Tipperary (pale ale), Pomegranate Wheat (yes, folks, I said Pomegranate and don't you forget where you heard it first!). Wait, how can I possibly put an Imperial Stout last?! Afterall, it's one of my favorite styles. It was such a rich and sinful stout with hints of roasted coffee and sweet chocolate. Ugh, trying to rank these is a futile effort. Do yourself a favor and make sure to try some of Moylan's fine brews when you're out West; you'll understand my dilemma here. The layout of the brewpub is very comfortable with a spacious bar area bordered by a large, open air dining room. Paraphernalia ranging from sports to beer to patriotic decoratively fills in the space on the walls and from the rafters. Pair this with a friendly brewer and staff (oh yeah, and great beer too), you've got a recipe for success. It's no wonder they've gathered countless awards for their many excellent brews. There was more to see of James on the next day's Lagunita's Skunk Beer Train further up north. Yes, I promise...those notes, pictures, and videos will be forthcoming....soon....I promise!