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SF Beer Week: An Evening With Sonoma Springs

Tuesday was a nasty evening.  It was raining and cold, the first real storm to hit the area this year.  Regardless of the funky weather, it was a good night to head to the pub and have a couple beers and that’s exactly what I did.  For SF Beer Week, I had Tim Goeppinger of Sonoma Springs come down to the Toad in the Hole with a couple of beers to give us all a chance to see what was brewing out in Sonoma. 

The event was set to begin at 7 pm, but when I arrived shortly after 6:30 Tim was already at the bar with a group of people around him and samples of Sonoma Springs beers flowing.  On tap was the rye-baed Roggenbier, the cask conditioned Little Chief Pale Ale and his Nobody’s Alt But Mine Altbier.

I started off with the Little Chief, as I had been thinking about it for weeks since I tried it originally at Rogue.   Tonight, the Chief seemed a little light, but the hop flavor and aroma that I loved about it the first time were still there.  Having it drawn through a handpump was extraordinary and the beer left great lacing on the glass, which more than a couple people commented on.

I moved on to the Roggenbier which I have had a few times before.  I haven’t had a beer quite like this before.  Very thick and full of yeast, the beer is almost chewy in texture.  There’s a lot of citrusy orange flavor up front followed by a finish that’s loaded with rye.  If you’re a fan of thick German hefeweizens, this beer will definitely appeal to you as well as provide something new.

I finished the sampling of Sonoma Spring with the Altbier.  This beer is brewed using a Kolsch yeast which leads to a wine-like character.  I kept coming away with a grape impression that finished with a light roasted touch.  Very easy to drink and lightly carbonated, this is yet another unique brew from Tim.  As with the other beers available this night, this wasn’t a head cruncher, coming in around 5.5%.

Left to right: me, Time Goeppinger (Sonoma Springs), Paul Stokeld (Owner, toad in the Hole)

Left to right: me, Time Goeppinger (Sonoma Springs), Paul Stokeld (Owner, toad in the Hole)

Before the crowd could disperse, I took the time to get everyone’s attention and thank Tim for coming out that night.  I also made sure to raise a toast for William Brand, who is recovering from the train accident suffered Sunday.  The latest report is that he is in stable condition but he is having troubles with his lungs.  He suffered a broken bone in his neck, but no other breaks.  It s my understanding that he remains in a coma.  We’re pulling for you William.

With the Sonoma Springs beers behind me, I had a chance to sample the IPA brought in from Calistoga Inn.  The initial impression reminded me of Moylan’s Moylander DIPA, with a sweet cake-like flavor in the front end.  The hop aroma is a bit more mellow than typical in this region, but I felt it would fit in well with East Coast IPA.  The flavor was also a bit more malt based wit floral fresh hop flavors and finish.  A very solid IPA from Calistoga Inn, I will have to try and make it out there some time for some more.

By the time I left, the Toad was still a relatively full house and everyone was having a good time.  I had a great time bringing Tim and the toad togetehr and hope to get the opportunity again to plan more events for both the toad and for Sonoma Springs.