Bear Republic Brewing Co.

[Bear logo]

An hour north of the Golden Gate bridge (rush-hour excluded), in the heart of Sonoma County's wine country lies Bear Republic Brewing Company in Healdsburg, Northern California. Only a few minutes parking from Healdsburg's downtown plaza the attractive building is surrounded by both the main street through town and nearby grassy fields that make the outdoor seating very inviting. Owner Richard Norgrove and his brewmaster son Richard Norgrove are very proud of their popular establishment. The shiny 16 bbl Assets brewing system is very visible from one corner of the single story building as are the three fermenters located directly behind the copper-topped bar. The overall atmosphere is open and airy (no smoking) with lots of glass and a light wood interior. Occasionally you may even witness Brian Hunt, the brewmaster from the nearby micro Moonlight Brewery, making a keg delivery. Sacks of Belgian grain can even be found stacked between the bar and the dining area. Both Great Western and Briess grains are also used, delivered in bulk form to an outdoor silo. Two separate yeast strains are used to produce the line of brews. All recipes incorporate a single step infusion mash. The guest Moonlight tap is joined by three ciders and when through tasting, patrons can get their favorite beer to go in vessels of 1 gallon, 5 gallon and 1/2 barrel. The souvenir T-shirts feature the California Bear in full color. Whether you're just passing by on Highway 101 or making a special trip, Bear Republic is well worth the time to stop and visit.

The India Pale Ale was a hazy dark amber, evenly balanced with a dry malty flavor, with underlying hops followed by a hoppy finish. The Cream Ale appeared clear and golden with a very light hop aroma, a medium body, light hop flavor and lingering hop aftertaste. The English Ale was a medium gold color with a nutty malty flavor, creamy body and overall balance toward malty sweet. The Healdsburg House Ale was a dark amber color with a hoppy aroma and flavor but light-bodied. The Big Bear was most memorable with its creamy dark malty flavor, noticeably sweet from the molasses and brown sugar, smooth mouthfeel and nice dry finish.

Bear Republic Brewing Co.
345 Healdsburg Avenue
Healdsburg, CA. 95448

Reviewed by Tom Ciccateri - March, 1996

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