Third Street Aleworks

The Hub Pub

THIRD STREET ALEWORKS

From the industrial outskirts to the center of Santa Rosa, our spiritual journey leads us downtown to one of the city’s mainstay brewpubs. Third Street Aleworks, conveniently located on Third Street, has been around since 1996, making it a veritable old-timer. So it’s a testament to founders, and friends since high school, Todd Hedrick and Chris Hagan that their simple recipe, great fresh beer, great comfort food, and great people, has endured and flourished.

Third Street Aleworks has an old friend feel. Easy. Welcoming and familiar. It’s the perfect place to meet up with friends, catch a game or grab a bite. It’s pub grub to be sure, but done right, with a far ranging menu covering everything from Buffalo Wings to Baja Fish Tacos. We sent in an order of Fiesta Table Nachos that arrived overflowing with deliciousness and kept us all snacking through a flight of fantastic beers.

Brew-wise, Third Street has been a model of consistently, with a handful of the local’s favorite brews. Brewmaster Randy Gremp has earned his stripes as a craft brew veteran, having inspired some of Sonoma County’s most acclaimed brewers. Balancing tradition with experimentation, Third Street brews trend towards the “Anglo-Celtic” and aggressive “West Coast” style ales. While Randy likes to keep the portfolio fluid if you will, since they started distributing beers a few years ago, demand has increased for a few of their standards. Bodega Head IPA is one of those, based on IPA’s origins quenching the thirsts of British settlers in the Indies. Puddle Jumper Pale is a personal favorite, with a light golden color bursting with refreshing aromas of fresh Simcoe hops. Of course these are just a very small sampling of what you’ll find any give day at Third Street, along with some Occasional offerings and Seasonal/Specialty beers.

A unique treat for the true aficionado, Third Street also offers some Nitrogen Draft Beers, and were one of the first California brewers to bring back Cast Conditioned beer. These sell out fast, but with a little luck you’ll have the chance to taste one of these old-school brewing time machines.

Third Street Aleworks is open Sunday > Thursday 11:30 AM to Midnight and Friday and Saturday 11:30 AM to 1 AM, smack dab in the middle of town at 610 Third Street. Or online at ThirdStreeAleworks.com.


Moonlight Brewing Company

Beer With Character

MOONLIGHT BREWING CO.

The fifteen-minute walk from Plow to Moonlight Brewing Company gives you time to ponder the course of your quest. How do you know when you’re getting close? Who will guide you? Then you get to Moonlight, meet Brian Hunt, and realize that, rather than answers, the teachers themselves pose only more riddles.

Brian Hunt, or Curly from Payroll as we came to call him, possesses the rare knowledge gained from a few decades worth of beer brewing in Santa Rosa. And yet the Tao of Brian is revealed in the form of a man who seems to have more fun brewing beer than should be allowed by the laws of nature. With an energy and enthusiasm well above and beyond all the younger brewers popping up around him, Brian is happy to tell you that Budweiser brews a better beer. (“They satisfy the most people, and isn’t that what matters most?”) He serves up a rousing, rather anthropomorphic description of the brewing process. (“Yeast eats sugar. And what happens when yeast burbs?”) And when our photographer asks about the uniquely cool combination of stainless steel and fermented liquid he names an entirely new genre of libation fascination. (“Beer porn.”)

And yet, with gesticulations that occasionally knock over glasses and bang into brewing equipment, Brian speaks the truth. He’s far more interested in crafting the kind of beers he loves to drink than chasing the latest trends. “Balance” he’ll tell you, is the key, as he seems to careen from one subject to another with something resembling a Neal Cassidy diatribe from a Kerouac novel. “Drinkability, not leading edge.” These are the qualities that have sustained Moonlight through the years. And if you’re wondering if the younger generation of SR brewers come to him for advice, Brian answers with a question. “Do you have kids?” he asks. I do. “Do they listen to you?” Enough said.

Honestly, the Brian-isms come faster than I can pencil, so I can only hope that he’s pouring when you stop in to try Moonlight’s delicious batch of brews. Of course, you’ll be well served to have the lovely (and patient) Shannon pulling the taps, too. Moonlight Brewing is best known for it’s legendary, and fairly widely distributed, Death and Taxes Black Beer, a dark but deceptively light-bodied Lager, with a crisp refreshing flavor. Fittingly named Reality Czeck is a soft, Pilsener-style brew. Bombay By Boat is their earthy IPA and Twist of Fate is a deep Amber Ale with pronounced hop bitterness and aromatics.

To enjoy Moonlight Brewing Company beers in their place of origin, you’ll have to stop by on Saturday and Sunday between 3 PM and 8 PM.

The brewery and taproom are at 3350 Coffey Lane or online at MoonlightBrewing.com.


True Hoppiness

For a little city, Santa Rosa is a big beer town. So, if you, like us, are on some form of a never-ending quest for the perfect pint, you’ll eventually find yourself here. And when you do, we hope this online guide to our cool little enclave of hot little breweries sufficiently enlightens you.

While we’d love to cover them all, the number of truly micro and garage-style operations to list here.
Now, suck in your beer gut and let’s go.

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The Santa Rosa Cider Sipper

You already know about Santa Rosa’s booming beer scene. And wine, well, you don’t have to go very far to find the vines in this town. But here’s a cocktail concoction that’s pure SR. The Santa Rosa Cider Sipper is a cool, fresh-tasting, refreshing delight on a warm Central SoCo day. In fact, let’s work up a little thirst so we can truly enjoy it. Instead of just passing on the recipe, we’re taking you on the Cider Sipper tour.

Recipe by:
Marcia Simmons

Photos:
Debbie Wilson

• Start by moseying on down to your favorite specialty beverage store and grab a bottle of FoxCraft Hard Cider (we recommend Cranberry, but feel free to dabble with their other flavors.) These new world style hard ciders have been sweeping the award circuits.


• From there, it’s just a jaunt to the Miracle Plum neighborhood market in Railroad Square. Ask the good people there for a bottle of Golden Bear Bitters California Native Plants Aromatic Bitters. Then have a sniff to take in the essence of coastal woodlands.


• If you don’t have a box of sugar cubes buried on the back shelf, grab those at a nearby grocer and hustle home.

First, make sure your porch chairs are dry and there’s a comfy spot in the sun to hang out.

Then grab a couple of champagne flutes and put a sugar cube in the bottom.

Pour in just enough bitters to saturate the cube. Then take another whiff. Amazing, right?

Okay, here’s the final step.

Pop that bottle of FoxCraft and pour the hard cider carefully to create the fizzy head of bubbles, known as the mousse in the hoity champagne circles. 

Add a tiny twist of lemon.

If you want a little more kick, drop in a few drips of brandy or whiskey.

Now head out into the warm day and get started doing very little besides savoring your Santa Rosa Cider Sipper and soaking up the sunshine.