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La “F’n” gunitas is a Howl

By March 23, 2011Beer Education

Gates to Nirvana in Petaluma

In the bay area for the Craft Brewers Conference (more on that later) and made the 45 minute drive out to visit one of my long favorites – Lagunitas Brewing – makers of high gravity, highly creative ales and beers. (I posted about my appreciation of them back in 2009 as well).

I had the exquisite pleasure of joining up with some brewers from the “Bruery”, “Pizza Port” and some great guys from a brewery in Oregon for an up close and personal tasting and tour with Russell Smithson – whose business card says he’s the “Northerly Mid-Central Regional Vice Chairman for Tactical Zymurgicological Beverage Event Deployment and Public-Vectored Execution”. I’d refer to him as the “NMRVCTZBEDPVE” for short.

In any event, the tour was great, the people great – and even the dogs were great (they all bring their dogs to work). I sampled the great “Hop Stoopid” and “Hairy Eyeball” as well as their new seasonal “Wilco Tango Foxtrot” (WTF) which they refer to as a “Malty, robust jobless recovery ale” (with the comment “we are not quite in the black or the red… does that mean we are in the brown”? on the label.)

Not only are they amusing in their evil-clown crazy way, but their beer is great of course! Some interesting Lagunitas nuggets from Russell:

  • They are starting to pour concrete for their second major expansion in 2 years. They plan to be about the size of New Belgium and possibly Sierra Nevada when done. They are currently brewing pretty much 24 X 7 to keep up with demand
  • That familiar “Lagunitas” flavor note comes from their proprietary yeast strain – which they use for everything (except the Belgians)
  • The Lagunitas family culture and direct involvement of the president and founder Tony Magee protects against a possible dilution of quality and attitude that a major expansion could bring with it
  • Music is in their culture, Tony sings and picks at local venues and writes all the labels and packaging stuff (he put the lyrics on Steely Dan’s “Kid Charlemagne” on the lid on one of his cases)
  • The new seasonal will likely be their turn on a Bavarian wheat
  • The story of the dog on the label is unclear, possibly from nearby “Dog town” or from a local concrete company that used it… or possibly influenced by the “Kronik”…

Enjoy some Lagunitas and the spirit of the people that make it happen! Beer Appreciation nirvana.

Russell tells tales (tails) of Lagunitas

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