Lagunitas Brewing Company – California by: Stephanie Doan
The brewery started in 1993 in the form of a homebrew system in the kitchen of Tony Magee in Lagunitas, California. He graduated to a 3 ½ barrel system and started making beer and selling kegs to local bars and restaurants out of the back of his Ford Ranger pickup truck. We moved up to a 15 barrel system and started bottling and distributing keys and bottles through the San Francisco Bay area in 1995.
SoCal is the actual origins of this brewery – but the California native shortly packed up and moved up (literally). Its name Lagunitas, however, comes straight from the Southern California town of its birth.
The hop-forward brew company refused to let space hold them back when they outgrew their first location. Founder Tony Magee never let anything hold the brew company back. Wandering northbound, the brewery found its home in Petaluma, California. Its new location is a beautiful town in California where the streets are lined with redwoods and beer drinkers love a good hoppy brew. These are perfect for a crafter like Lagunitas. Rob Linderbush said “Our California brewhouse expansion is complete and we’re beginning to fill the pipeline again after being short on beer all year. We are beginning to install our new bottling line as well, and will be up to full speed by the end of October.”
Their success has spread like wildfire ever since its creation in 1993, making it one of the fastest growing craft breweries in the country – it distributes in 32 separate states!
As part of that growth, the brewery announced plans to build a new brewery as well as a taproom in Chicago last April. According to Ron Lindenbusch, “The Chicago plan is still in the permitting process, but we are in the building and beginning to accumulate funky furniture and ugly chandeliers to make a party room so we can start to whoop it up. We should have the TapRoom going by early next year and be able to open to the public… The brewery project is scheduled to be complete by the end of 2013.”
The 250-barrel brew house is set for completion in July 2013, and the taproom opens as early as this November.
The taproom in Petaluma sits open most of the week, specifically Wednesday thru Sunday. Thirsty visitors are more than welcome. In fact, a visit is encouraged. The regulars are always on the board and, of course, the adventurous brewery throws in some twisted extras. The greatness of Lagunitas beer is they take the original feel of a brew style and flip it into a fashion that is all their own.
Known for the greats reads and stories on every bottle, their beer selection is worth a buy – for even just the read alone! Along with their year-round beer, there are many seasonals. The Lagunitas seasonal 6-packs hold beers based on the foods we eat and the seasons we encounter. Coming in November is the Cappuccino Stout that is ready to warm drinkers up as the temperatures dwindle down. The 9.2 alcohol percentage is hefty, so be careful you are not falling down! Along with that there’s one pound per barrel of actual coffee that sneaks in at different times of the brewing process. But it’s still a beer, not a cup of coffee. The hops and coffee sit well together – this is one of many great seasonal treats coming out of the Northern California treasure, Lagunitas.
According to Ron, “Our newest seasonal just rolled off the bottling line this week…. Weighing in at 4.65% ABV, it is a “Fractional IPA” called DayTime Ale. A nice and toasty malt foundation is layered with aromas and flavors from a gloriou$ fortune of dry hopping.” “We will also see the return of our fall and winter seasonal lineup this year…. Brown Shugga, Hairy Eyeball Ale, and Olde GnarlyWine all takes so long to make, that we had to skip over them last year since we were desperately short on beer in general. We instead made a brand new seasonal called “Lagunitas Sucks” last year as Mea Culpa, and you can count on the return of that one this year as well.”
Ron firmly believes in their slogan.. “Beer speaks, people mumble. Obey the Buds.”
Moderation is definitely the key ingredient brewed into this lager. After spending six weeks in colder than ice tanks, this true lager is ready for tasting. Its pale yellow color matches the careful balance of light sweetness and light bitterness. At a 6.2 percent alcohol this lager is full of malts and hops. The taste is surprisingly full of caramel and spice. But the beer’s tang absolutely does not escape without the appearance of a floral taste. It’s a Czech-style pilsner that gets a down- home American – and certainly Californian – twist on taste.
This double IPA has more alcohol than typical India Pale Ales but also more flavor. Packed with hops, this brew is an explosion of fruit flavors. From apples to citrus to pineapple, this beer packs a punch. It’s a great slow-sipping beer for beer drinkers who truly crave the taste of an IPA. It has an 8.2 percent alcohol level. It has more hops, more body and more impact than the regular Lagunitas IPA. As the website warns, “Caution: May remove enamel from teeth.”
Talk about a mouthful. The Lagunitas IPA is the number one Indian Pale Ale in California. This delicious IPA has 43 different hops and 65 types of malt. The fruity taste is fresh and distinct from last to first sip. A strong fruit presence is not only citrus, but distinctly apricot. Pouring a vibrant gold, the bubbles are moderate and the sip is smooth. This is actually one of my personal favorite beers. I look for it in bottles or as a special treat on tap! Its taste gets better sip after sip and is never overwhelming in flavor. Although, this is a higher alcohol at 6.2 percent – so sip safely!
Ron told Nightwire “Our IPA is still my favorite beer, bar none. It has a compelling flavor that always seems to bring me back after 16 years of drinking it.”
Hop Stoopid Ale
Stupid good beer. Despite its golden appearance, this beer is pure bitter. This bready bottle elicits the smells of pine and sweet bread. This great American Imperial IPA holds so many hops drinkers can taste citrus, salt, yeast and even more stacked-on flavors that stick to the taste buds after each sip. The piles of hops give this beer a distinct taste, crafting it to be a standout beer. It’s great for “hopful” drinkers looking to try something new and is perfect for gatherings of adventurous beer nerds. As the company says “It’s deliberately leaning more toward the hop side.”
Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale
Malty and great, this ale is really something. Inside the brew you find half of it is all wheat malt and “C” hops. This combination crafts a bitter taste that’s startling due to the strong citrus peel smell at first. If drinkers love this beer, then do not shy away from trying the Little Sumpin’ wild – a great Belgium style beer that’s a big sister of