Thursday, June 2, 2016

Bodacious Brews

Free popcorn, delicious beer, and a good mil-SF novel... Sweet!

Review: The Henhouse Brewing Company, Tasting Room in Santa Rosa, CA

I'm not so fond of beer. You'd never have known it when I was a student at CSM, doing my p-chem and calculus homework in the I-Club with a pitcher of beer and a dime basket of popcorn on the table, but now it's rare that I drink an entire glass. I am usually content with a sip or two of my spouse's.

Yesterday, I had three glasses of Saison de la Cruse at The Henhouse Brewing Company tasting room in Santa Rosa. 

This delicious verjus-infused "sour beer" is made by combining Chardonnay juice from Cruse Wine Company in Petaluma (where Henhouse began in 2011) with the Saison-yeast beer, aged in wine barrels. The fruits of the vine meld agreeably with the fruity esters of this yeast to produce a perfect sip for a hot summer's day.

I might have never tried the beer at all, except that Carly behind the bar cocked an knowing eyebrow at me, and when I told her I wasn't "so much into beer," said "I'll bet you're a wine drinker, right?" She was right, and she poured me a taste of each of three different beers she thought I might enjoy. The third was the Saison de la Cruse. It hit all the right notes on my palate, and I surrendered immediately.

To share the brewers' description of the process and product:
...we blended the oak-aged beer with an all-lactobacillus fermentation [of Chardonnay juice] to bring down the oak and bring up the acidity. The result is a tart and effervescent saison with all the fun melon and apple of the grape juice, some slight vanilla and spice oak action, and long funky finish.

I don't know about funky (not a beer person, remember?), but the fruits and spice were definitely discernible. It makes me so grateful to Billy Henderson and a chance meeting with him at Chick-fil-A that opened our eyes to this local gem. We'll be back, and next time, I'll bring along some Alouette Smoky JalapeƱo cheese and Milton Crackers to extend the enjoyment.

Liner Notes

  • Free popcorn beats the dime baskets at the I-Club!
  • A local food truck from Sebastopol's Red Horse Pizza is there on the weekends, and other days you are permitted to have food delivered.
  • Picnic tables outside are shady and inviting, and reportedly popular since the tasting room opened in March 2016. On Wednesday afternoon when we were there, the crowd was content to be inside, in the cool.

Address: 322 Bellevue Ave, Santa Rosa, CA 95407 
Phone: (707) 347-9211
Open: Wed—Friday, 4—9 PM; Sat & Sun, 11 AM—9 PM