Monthly Archives: March 2010

Left Hand Brewing Co. (Longmont, CO)


Last Visit: June 17, 2009

Sarah and I dropped by Left Hand as an afterthought as it is a bit out of the way.  No tours at Left Hand but the tap room has a great local bar vibe.  Famous for their milk stout, it should come as no surprise that the tap selection is heavily laden with dark and malty selections.  Along with the stouts, Left Hand makes a pretty tasty brown ale and porter. 

This is the most complete taster I’ve ever seen with something like 16 beers (everything that was on tap).    A pita cart outside the brewery serves up some tasty morsels to keep you going through those long days of brewery tours.

***Brewery Visits are a biweekly post about our favorite tours and taprooms all over the U.S..  Check back to see where we are going next!


Bear Republic Brewing Co. (Healdsburg, CA)

Last Visit: July 1, 2009

Healdsburg is in the heart of Sonoma Valley’s wine country.  In this small, ritzy little burg, you will find the Bear Republic Brewery and Tap House, eventually.  It’s right along the main drag in Healdsburg but in a kind of strip mall area and not immediately noticeable.  The bar was lively around 5:00 on a Friday with good reason.  In this region, wine is king and there aren’t too many places with an extensive draft beer selection.  Bear Republic is best known nationwide for the Racer 5 IPA and their bar reflects this fact.  The walls are covered in racing paraphernalia .  I tried the English IPA on tap at Bear Republic and was pleasantly surprised.  They really seemed to nail the malt bill and balance with the right amount of hops to make a really great English IPA….in America.  Look for the Racer 5, Hop Rod Rye, and Racer XP which are some of my favorites in stores near you.

***Brewery Visits are a biweekly post about our favorite tours and taprooms all over the U.S..  Check back to see where we are going next!

Trappist Breweries (Belgium, Netherlands)


For many, the story of beer begins and ends with Trappist brewing.  Brewing was a pivotal part of monastic life in the middle ages.  Water could and often would become contaminated with human and animal waste.  This contamination led to the spread of various diseases.  As beer was always boiled and contained a measure of alcohol, it was much safer to drink than the water.  This made beer the beverage of choice in the middle ages, particularly in northern climates unable to sustain vineyards.  Monastic life, especially in rural settings, was particularly physically draining and the monks drank beer at every meal for hydration and strength. 

Trappist Glasses : Westmalle, Rochefort, Orval, and Chimay.

Today, there are only 6 (or 7) Trappist breweries still operating.  Chimay, Orval, Rochefort, Westmalle, Achel, and Westvleteren which are all in Belgium.  To use the Trappist logo, the breweries must be run partially by the monks and the proceeds are generally used for the monastery’s charitable work.  Koeningshoeven (Netherlands) is also part of the Trappist Association, but the brewery is run by an LLC for the monastery.

Close as you get to a Trappist Brewery. (Orange Crates have Orval)

 These breweries are not open for tours but nearly all have a visitors center and cafe nearby.  Trappist beers available for public consumption are typically high in alcohol, but the patersbier, made for consumption by the monks, is about 4.5% alcohol.  Often the local cafe is the only place where you and I can try the patersbier.  Even though the breweries are off limits, a visit to any of these gives a view back in time through a simpler lifestyle.  Top this off with a cold Trappist beer and raw cheese and enjoy a beautiful afternoon in the Belgian countryside.