Sonoma County is usually referred to as Wine Country. Truth is, Sonoma County is Beer Country. The number of great breweries in the county is well known, but lately, Petaluma has been doing it’s part to claim itself as capital of Beer Country. Just down the street from the famous Lagunitas Brewery, 101 North Brewing has jumped into the fray with an IPA that’s found local support and more to come.
101 North is headed by Brewmaster Joel Johnson, but the company is really a family affair. Joel got plenty of experience in the brewing world while working with Bear Republic Brewing, where he developed the recipe for Hop Rod Rye, and at Mount Saint Helena Brewing in Middletown where he was headbrewer until June of 2010.
At 101 North, the flagship has been the Heroine IPA. A winter release of Naughty Aud followed but those two beers remain the lone releases from this still young brewery. I talked to Joel about the plans for the future at 101 North and he shared some of what’s to come with me.
The first question on many people’s minds were bottles. Bottles are definitely in the plans and should arrive in the summer of 2013. Before bottles though, look for a Spring release of Sancho, a Mexican Vienna Steam Lager. With the market for the Mexican lager essentially unchallenged by craft breweries, Johnson thought the style would be a unique challenge but liked the concept of using a steam-styled beer as an homage to the history of the style.
As for their flagship Heroine IPA, the name struck them as unique and catchy and made them wonder “maybe we could get away with this.” In the end, they were right and won label approval. The concept behind the beer was to get back to a more traditional IPA that backed away from the big bitterness and “Wow hop thing” and was more balanced in character.
Down the road, 101 North has plans to bring out a lighter bodied beer along the lines of a golden or blonde but making use of cereal grains. Where this may lead is still a mystery but with the little taste we’ve had so far from this young brewery, I’m excited to see what comes next.
See more pictures from the 101 North Brewery at the Brewed For Thought Facebook page. Also, get a sneak peak at the new label for their Sancho lager.