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Beer in Sonoma

We were recently commissioned by Sonomanews.com to update an old SONOMA magazine story Sarah had written and supplement it with a short video covering the subject of local craft beer in Sonoma.  With our love for writing, filming and beer, we did not hesitate to say “yes!”

“Ah, the alchemy of good beer. Water, yeast, malted grain, hops. It feels like such a quaint equation, and yet prattling off those four ingredients is where the simplicity ends and the darkling tide of chemistry begins, chemistry from which—after a thousand bubbly incantations—our muse emerges from behind steel and oak. There’s a primitive comfort to good beer’s complexity. While wine strives to tether its story to a geographic place, beer makes a humble home in its glass. Surely, it can be regional, but at its best, good beer is drink for the deconstructionist.

And if you are going to deconstruct, Sonoma Springs Brewing Company is the place to do it. Before we introduce owners Tim and Ann Goeppinger, here’s a little history on how Sonoma Valley beer has fared in the past: it hasn’t. While wineries have multiplied like Bacchanalian bunnies, breweries have dropped like flies, despite the brawn and bricks of their bold endeavors. Their ghosts are everywhere; the old stone relic housing Vella Cheese originally made beer before succumbing to Prohibition. Local wine czars the Benzigers once dabbled in estate-grown lagers with their ill-fated Sonoma Mountain Brewery, before ripping out the hapless hops and turning their production facility into what’s now Imagery Estate Winery. Before the Red Grape, there was Siena Red Brewery, which didn’t last two years. Hovering above these failures is the most storied spirit of all, legendary pioneer New Albion Brewery. Oft hailed (with a nostalgic sniffle) as the lost vanguard that launched America’s microbrewing culture, New Albion’s rustic operation was founded in Sonoma in 1976 by merchant seaman turned homebrew enthusiast Jack McAuliffe. For six years, New Albion churned out 150 barrels a week of boutique ales, porters and stouts from rented space in a fruit warehouse on Eighth Street East and Denmark, until it fell out of business and into a permanent state of hagiography—as America’s patron saint of microbrewing.

Now, enter Sonoma Springs Brewing Company more than two decades later, no less authentically realized and no less Promethean in task. But Tim has done his homework, and to him, the rich and unfiltered Bavarian-style wheat ales and other unique brews he’s crafting are perfectly suited to Wine Country’s palate . . . ”

Read more here.