After so much pain on the train it was time to get serious and start checking out some of what Northern California has to offer when it comes to our most favorite hopped beverages!
AUBURN ALE HOUSE
Bright and early Saturday morning in Sacramento. The sun’s out and the first thing we need is coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. The plan is to meet up with some friends in Auburn (40 min outside of Sacramento) for lunch then make our way to Knee Deep Brewing before heading back to Sacramento & Device Brewing. The Auburn Ale House, which is a restaurant with it’s own brewery attached (similar to The Ram, or Grind Modern Burger) put out quite a spread for us. Being that this was California, IPA’s are quite prominent. The black and blue burger paired with the Gold Digger IPA set the stages for a great day of tasting with a combination of loads of protein and bread to help soak up some of the impending flood of alcohol. If this had been a leisurely trip with no agent and no burning desire to hit as many incredible breweries as possible it wouldn’t be any trouble spending a half day here or more. In fact, they were setting up for a street party which was closing down the entire block as we were heading out. Clearly these guys know how to have a good time!
KNEE DEEP BREWING
With lunch behind us it was off to Knee Deep Brewing, just a few minutes down the road. Of all the breweries that we visited on this trip, Knee Deep is the one you are most likely to have heard of here in Idaho. You can find a decent selection of their 22oz bottles at shops like Brewer’s Haven, Homebrew Stuff & Bier:Thirty. Aside from their great beer, it’s important to point out the immense size of the brewery itself. Aside from the relatively small bar and extensive tap list (which seemed to have a never ending line of people waiting to order beer), the brewing facility felt like an aircraft hanger. With large, wooden, picnic style tables for seating there were also 3 or 4 cornhole stations set up for patrons to play inside the brewery. If you find yourself in the Auburn/Sacramento areas, this is absolutely a facility you should plan to see. With a substantial distribution network, there is a great chance that you’ve already tried one or more of their beers, and enjoying it on tap at the brewery and seeing the impressive scope of what they’re doing is absolutely worthwhile for any craft beer lover. Sadly, they were out of Breaking Bud, so I started out with a sampler of Not So Winter Wheat, Citra, Lupulin River, and Imperial Tanila and went with a pint of the Lupulin River before we were on our way out the door to continue our beer venture. One thing that was very apparent is that IPA’s reign supreme in California. Knee Deep featured no less than three Tripple IPA’s, three Double IPA’s along with a few IPA’s for good measure. If you hate hops, you can still find something to drink that you’ll enjoy… but it absolutely won’t be at that kind volume.
Back in Sacramento I was whisked away to Device Brewing which is hiding in a little industrial park behind a very inconspicuous door with no signage to speak of. Once you cross the threshold however, you’ll feel right at home. The intimate space and incredible beer leave little doubt in my mind that most nights this place is packed. This is where I really felt like I hit my stride. Having spent the last few months learning to enjoy hoppy IPA’s after being a die hard Lager fan, this cozy brewery really hit it out of the park with their Integral IPA and Anguish DIPA. While the Anguish came in at 9.5%, it was ridiculously smooth and is certainly something I could see myself drinking all day… at least until I had to stand up and landed on my face. Thank god we had a buddy who volunteered for designated driver duty. While we were all still going strong and ready for more, having someone wind up in jail on a DUI isn’t any kind of memory I’d like to associate with this trip!
After a solid six and a half hours of drinking beer we were ready to get some more food and sushi sounded like a brilliant idea. I love sushi any time of course, but after drinking all day it’s especially magical. The crew that I was with recommended a little spot back by University of Beer so we reconvened there to attack plate after plate filled with wonderful, fresh rolls crammed with all sorts of fish. Obviously this isn’t a food blog, so during our meal someone, I think it was Lewis, chimed in that we really should get a round of Saki bombs (like a flaming Dr. Pepper, but Saki dropped in beer). Our waitress rolls up to the table with 5 saki bombs, and proceeds to have one with us. As you may imagine, a table of 4 guys who have been drinking since noon, our conversation was varied and eclectic when we finally landed on Monty Python and started running lines from Holy Grail. Permanently cementing Nishiki Sushi in Sacramento as my all time favorite sushi joints, the busboy would jump in and contribute whenever he was passing by. Our tab was incredibly reasonable and we left a huge tip, talk about all the makings of a perfect evening.
Started to run out of steam with a belly full of sushi, but Rob was on his way back out so we headed back to University of Beer for a few night caps and then called it a day so we could hit the pavement bright and early at noon on Sunday and start all over again.