As the number of craft breweries continue to grow at an increasing rate (13.2% of the total beer market by volume), so does the popularity of the Indian Pale Ale. IPAs are the new fan favorite for many craft beer lovers, with different variations of the style appearing throughout all of the most popular breweries across the nation.

One of the newest and most popular variations of the craze is the New England or Hazy IPA. Sporting a cloudy, thick, juice-like aesthetic, these fruity and tropical beers are widening the scope of what beer can taste like.

Many purveyors of alcoholic drinks are now being recruited to the world of Hazy IPAs due to the sweet flavors not usually found in most types of beer. Many breweries are now taking up the task of brewing Hazy IPAs like the New England breweries that came before them.

This cloudy, pillowy version of IPA comes from a combination of high protein grains, specific types of yeast and aggressive dry-hopping. Adding large amounts of specific types of hops after boiling (dry-hopping) leaves the ferment with a less bitter byproduct, as well as a remnant of haze to the liquid.

Using fruitier, sweeter strains of hops like Citra, Mosaic, and Galaxy hops are another way breweries are infusing tropical flavors into these beers. When brewing a normal American IPA, it is common to just use malted barley (or ‘malt’). When Hazy IPAs are coming to fruition, other grains like oats and wheat are used due to higher protein contents. This gives the end product a cloudier and softer body.

My brewery of choice for experiencing a wide variety of hazy beers is Fieldwork Brewing Company. They have many locations in California, spanning from the Bay Area to Sacramento and Monterey. They are known for pioneering many different types of unique beers; from Marshmellow IPAs to Raspberry Sours and Bourbon Barrel Aged Maple Stouts.

They often have three or more variations of the Hazy IPA on tap and are known to boast sold-out can releases on a weekly basis. Their beautiful art selection for each can release offers a unique aesthetic not found in many breweries in this area. Check out this great brewery at one of their many locations for a wide selection of delicious beer!

Some other prominent breweries cooking up hazies in the Bay Area are Russian River Brewing Co. (Santa Rosa, Windsor), Henhouse Brewing Co. (Santa Rosa, Petaluma), Barebottle Brewing Co. (San Francisco), Cellarmaker Brewing Co. (San Francisco).

Check out this delicious take on the traditional Indian Pale Ale and see if the trend is for you!

Fern Bar, located in Sebastopol California, focuses on fermented and pickled foods, sources their food from local farms and vendors in Sonoma County and is taking the crowd by storm.

Between the instagrammable cocktails and aesthetically pleasing environment, this restaurant has been on our list for quite a while. I was excited to finally make a reservation to taste the culinary masterpieces and report back to you.

The cuisine:

The real show stopper of the evening was a dish they call “The Board.” It consists of local cured meats, in-house pickled veggies, homemade bread and spectacular cheeses. As the board was carried out to our table, it caught each and every person’s eye along the way. Chef and Owner Joe Zobel graciously listed each ingredient below!

Picture above: House Cured Coppa, House Cured Lonza, House Smoked Ham, Pickled Carrot, Grilled Olive Tampenade, Porchetta with Verjus Gastrique, Blue Corn Masa Cakes with Salsa Roja, Grilled Ramps with Raclette, Nicasio Square Cheese and Garlic & Chile Focaccia

Priced at $40, the Board may seem like something to pass up…but that would be a huge mistake. The flavor profiles between the salty meats, crunchy veggies and the creaminess of the cow’s cheese were to die for.

The Greens” ($15) included kale, mustard greens, ginger vinaigrette, fermented radish, sesame seed and pickled shallot. For anyone still on the fence about kale, this salad is for you. I loved the combination of delicious greens, ginger vinaigrette and the salty crunch of the pickled and fermented veggies.

We really enjoyed the flavors of the Pickled Quail Eggs ($7) and the Aged Fries ($9). The aged fries really stole the show for me. For a complete explanation of the aged fries, read this article by Chef Joe.

The Lavender Mousse ($8), paired with hazelnut, tea granita, ember cream and parsley oil, was one of the most unique desserts on the menu. Yes, you read that right, parsley oil. The sweet flavor of lavender, paired with incredibly salty hazelnuts (just the way I like it) worked perfectly with the parsley oil.

The environment:

This place is perfect for a date night or a night out with friends. The cocktails are mind-blowing – especially the Hot-Blooded (Reposado tequila, mezcal, jalapeno-blood orange cordial, lime, and egg white.) Though the restaurant was buzzing with people, it simultaneously felt intimate.

For music lovers, Fern Bar has live music every night from 9:00 pm to 11:30 pm. From jazz to a dj, there seems to be a genre for everyone. For a full list, check here.

Fern Bar is located inside the Barlow at: 6780 Depot St. #120 in Sebastopol, CA 95472.

Open Thursday-Monday 4pm-12am

Mead Tasting!

We visited Heidrun Meadery in Point Reyes Station and wanted to share our amazing experience!

If you’re confused about what mead is, have no fear. We’re here to tell you!

Mead is fermented with three simple ingredients: yeast, water and honey. It’s created by fermenting honey and is quite possibly the oldest alcoholic beverage on Earth. Pottery vessels in China, dated from 7000 B.C., suggest that mead fermentation out-ages both wine and beer.Throughout history, mead production became a global phenomenon with Vikings, Egyptians, Mayans, Greeks and Romans alike.

Meads vary greatly in flavor and are heavily based on the honey bees’ particular diet of nectar and pollen. At Heidrun Meadery, they cultivate flowering plants to supplement the local natural forage available to their honey bees.

Heidrun Meadery produces naturally sparkling varietal meads by using traditional French Méthode Champenoise. They create an unbelievably delicious and refreshing Champagne-like mead that is light, dry, and delicate with subtle exotic aromas found only in the essence of honey.

If you’ve never had the pleasure of trying this style of mead, we highly suggest it. It was an incredible alcoholic beverage that left our pallets confused whether we had just tasted Champagne or honey.

The Meadery’s greenhouse is also used as the tasting room where you can also purchase bee-friendly plant starts. They also sell a large amount of honey!

We tasted four meads during our visit- Hawaiian Lehua Blossom, Hawaiian Macadamia Nut Blossom, Oregon Radish Blossom and one still mead, Oregon Meadowfoam Blossom. Depending on the mead, flavor profiles varied from rich, full-bodied to very dry, earthy flavors.

Overall, we had an incredible time trying the different varietals and walking around the property. There are picnic tables outside to enjoy a picnic while tasting a flute (or a bottle) of one of their meads. We will definitely be back to take a scheduled tour of the estate and learn more about the production of their mead.

To learn more, visit here: http://www.heidrunmeadery.com/contact.html