Bottle Logic 

Does anyone even care about beer right now? I’ve been stuck in a “What if? What if? What if?” cycle of doom and gloom for the past 48 hours. I need to think about something else, so I hope you don’t mind reading about something else.
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I spent last weekend in Huntington Beach, CA with my best friends Nikki and Paul. On Saturday Nikki planned an afternoon of brewery hopping in Anaheim. We started the day at Bottle Logic, recently named Best Orange County Brewery by the OC Weekly. We arrived right after opening, and were surprised to see an already-long line for beer. My one complaint about Bottle Logic comes now: they were significantly understaffed for a Saturday morning, with only one employee filling growlers,  serving flights, and selling bottles to go. Another employee served those sitting at the bar, but they needed at least two more people to keep things moving on what is probably their busiest day of the week.
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The long line did give us plenty of time to plan our flights, necessary considering the plethora of good options! The 20+ draft list included fruit-filled sours, creative pumpkin beers, a handful of IPAs, and a whole series of candy-infused beer for Halloween. I wanted to try everything!
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After thanking the remarkably unstressed bartender, we found a table on the patio and dived into our flights. Nikki and I started with Revenge of the Nerds, a blonde ale finished on Nerds candies. Everyone who knows us knows we have a shared love of candy. In college we used to dip lollipops into our cocktails! This fruity, mildly tart beer felt like it was brewed just for us.
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Another I enjoyed from the Halloween series was the Jolly Ranger, a West Coast-style IPA brewed with watermelon Jolly Ranchers. Watermelon was big in the beer world this summer, and I’ve found other IPAs with this fruit, (Ballast Point’s Watermelon El Dorado, for ex.) to be too sweet. It was pleasant in this take, with watermelon notes only appearing in the finish.
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Moving on to pumpkin brews, Paul ordered Picture if You Will…, a bourbon-barrel aged, 13% knockout. On the other end of the spectrum was my Pumpkin Chai— a nice take on a somewhat tired style. It copied the thin, slick body of chai tea and featured notes of cardamom, ginger and cinnamon, in addition to pumpkin.
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Of course I had to try the Double Actuator, their 9% ABV double IPA. It was deceptively light for the alcohol content, and filled with tropical hop flavor. It reminded me of a Northeast IPA! Even though this was one of the more standard offerings on the menu, it ended up being one of my favorites.

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I ended with the Cobaltic Porter, an 8% Baltic Porter that won gold at GABF in 2015. By this point Paul and I were definitely tipsy (Nikki was the DD), so my notes aren’t as good.  From what I can remember, dark fruit and roasted malt were the standout flavors. Alcohol was prominent too, but this could partly be from sitting in the sun for a bit.

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Uninspired by the food truck options at Bottle Logic, we moved on to our second stop: The Bruery! I’ll save that report for another day, but here’s a preview: huge draft list with every variation of sour/wild imaginable + borderline insane tour guide who pumped us full of beer start to finish.

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Stay safe, stay positive, and stay hopeful. If all else fails, stay drunk.
The Barley Babes love you.

Russian River Brewing Company

We have a special Thursday treat for you, readers! The lovely Amanda Stromecki has written another great Barley Babes guest post. Amanda is currently living on a wildlife refuge in CA, helping research an endangered bird called Yuma’s Ridgway Rail. She recently  visited one of California’s most renowned breweries; read on for her review!

Hi, there! It’s Amanda—friend of the Barley Babes and fellow beer geek. For the past two years I have been rambling around the West coast and drinking beer along the way. I just spent six months living in Lagunitas, California, a small town about an hour north of San Francisco. Fun fact about Lagunitas: it is a tiny, tight-knit community that is home to the original Lagunitas brewery, when it was still just a homebrew operation. Owner Tony Magee was actually kicked out of town when he dumped his rejected beer down the drain and into the septic system, causing a yeast + human waste explosion! Oops!

While I have visited Lagunitas brewery in Petaluma, my most notable brewery trip in CA was definitely to Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa. This brewery is in beautiful Sonoma County, in the heart of wine country. Russian River is known for Pliny the Elder, a west coast style IPA that lives up to its reputation. Pliny has a gorgeous honey color, a citrusy hop resin nose, a powerful hoppy punch on the palate, and a clean finish. It is big and bold, yet light and refreshing. One of my favorite IPAs to date.

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On tap at Russian River

Another great RR IPA is Blind Pig. Seriously full hop bite, but a little mellower ABV. We tried a bunch of beers, including the STS Pils, which was light, crisp, and true to style. Damnation, a Belgian strong pale ale, was a well-balanced, bready, and woody. Compunction, an American wild ale brewed with pluots (a plum/apricot hybrid), was my favorite of the day. Great pucker factor and stone fruit flavor. Another sour was Supplication, another American wild ale aged in Pinot Noir barrels. The barrel aging imparted a rich mouthfeel, lovely red color, and complex flavor profile. While my sour beers turned most of my friends off, I was impressed by Russian River’s sour and Belgian offerings. If only Maddy and Rachel had been there!

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Russian River’s Blind Pig IPA

Don’t be scared off by the long lines or crowds; a trip to Russian River Brewing Company is well worth the wait. The staff is efficient and handles the chaos well. The food, mostly pizzas and sandwiches, is tasty and well priced. The brewpub has a massive bar, which provides lots of opportunities to meet fellow hopheads. After enjoying RR beer for a few years, it was nice to finally give the brewery a visit. I think a Barley Babe fieldtrip there is a must. Cheers!

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Thanks so much, Amanda! Although it’s wonderful to have a West Coast correspondent, we wish we could all be drinking beer together. One day 😉

Did you read Amanda’s first guest post? What about our review of two of Russian River’s most-hyped sours?