Celebrate Hops & Shops 2017 on Saturday 25 February from2-6. It’s $35 in advance, tickets available at wildcard locations, or $40 at the door.
Hops and Shops is an annual festival that has been presented since 2014 by V!va downtown Redding and Wildcard Brewing Company. These two organizations partner together to to help revitalize downtown Redding by showcasing the shops in the area. Each small business hosts one of the various craft brewing companies from the greater Jefferson area and Beyond. For one day only, each brewery sets up a pouring station inside a local shop. Ticket holders receive a tasting glass and can then stroll from business-to-business sampling Brews and getting to know the local vendors.
The following are few memoirs from our adventure last year:
Hops & Shops 2016:
It took almost a week to recover from Hops and Shops 2016. This event was a rollicking street party that paired the best of Downtown Redding’s local business lineup with some of the finest breweries in the land.
The Saturday sky was balmy for late February. In typical north state fashion, we rolled easily in to a parking spot right across from a ticket booth. Old City Hall, now an Arts Center, stood imposingly behind the pop-up awnings, like a rugged vet from a bygone era. We sauntered up, taught the volunteers to call their bags ‘swag bags’ and launched in to the day’s tasting. While we didn’t make it to every venue, we covered a good chunk of the festivities. Here’s what we found:
Shasta County Arts council & Lassen Aleworks:
We were pleased to learn that we could bring our tasting glasses in to the gallery. Beer was being poured in the rustic brick lined courtyard, while inside was an exhibit of local photographers, providing welcome conversation peices to pair with the diverse ales. The docent was friendly and knowledgeable, also reminding us of various other theater and art goings on at the center.
Lassen Aleworks is located in Susanville, in the foothills of Mt. Lassen Volcanic National Park. One of the pourers just happened to be head brewer Michael Blaschak. He described their full-service restaurant as a perfect Summer respite from the heat for adventuresome beer lovers-open seven days a week. Apparently it’s so outdoor friendly you can practically ride right off of the trail, straight in to the pub. Though, seriously, they probably want you to leave the bike outside.
They brought a variety of 22oz bottles to show the depth of their high-quality lineup. I particularly enjoyed The India pale Lager, a flavorful yet crisp and refreshing affair with notes of jasmine and a honeysuckle aroma. They also poured a Belgian Dubbel -which was free of that candy aftertaste I typically associate with Belgians- and a spicy, well balanced Double IPA. The stout was another highlight, a smooth start that edged in to caramal malty dark chocolate, It ended bitter with lingering floral overtones.
Board Mart, Woody’s & Mad River
Walking in to Board Mart felt like arriving at a backyard BBQ, but with awesome adventure gear all around. Aisleways between display racks of gortex and fiberglass led us to the middle of the store where there were two pouring stations. Strangers, brewers and shop keepers all mingled with cups of delicious brew and small plates of delicious appetizers.
Woody’s, being one of only two actual brew pub/restaurants in the area, had brought some of their signature goodies from the kitchen…sausage coins, caprese bruchetta and spicy pickles, oh my! They were also pouring three of their exceptionally smooth, well balanced ales:
Apricot Wheat is a full-on fruit flavored summer beer, fit for relaxing after a trek through the heat. Their porter is an imminently drinkable affair, slightly coffeed at the end with smooth chocolate notes throughout. Berserker double IPA is a strong version of the classic English style IPA- hoppy but malt forward with a well balanced tone. I talked extensively with Pat, the head Brewer and brother of Scott, the business whiz. They’re excited to be expanding the current property to include a brewing facility on site that will allow for a more extensive brew lineup – look for that in late spring. At that time, the bar-back will become a window showing off the tanks, and the tap handles will multiply like dandelions.
Mad River had a couple of brews on tap as well, a porter with a brown sugar flavor and coffee scent. It’s rich candy sweet at first, with a satisfying finish. Their extra pale ale is thoroughly refreshing with a hint of apple flavor at the back of the palate. The two breweries complimented one another and provided ample refreshment for the growing crowd. We moved on.
Crown Camera & American River
Crown camera is a spacious old-school specialty photography shop with everything you could want as an aspiring or veteran photographer. Living in this area one will naturally want to capture the exquisite natural beauty, and for that you’ve got to have a killer camera-go see the folks at Crown.
They paired with American River Brewing from Rancho Cordova, near Sacramento. The pour station was staffed by friendly guys who were very knowledgeable about the smooth, delicious beer. If you’re in that area, stop in to the tasting room at the brewery for samples and good conversation. This day they were pouring a nutty brown with spicy overtones and a creamy coffee smell. It went down easily, leaving the mouth full of rich malt flavor. An IPA followed suit, with a heavy malt base overlaid with citrus and pine hop deliciousness.
It is at this point that my notes from the day start to become a little sparse. Fueled by a heady buzz from so much good brew, we pressed on to the downtown mall, through a small walkway to Cinders Pizza, where the estimable Lost Coast was pouring.
Cinders & Lost coast
Cinders serves thin crust wood fired pizza out of a cozy hole-in-the wall. We stupidly failed to try any of their offerings, instead filling up on samples of the North Coast’s fantastic brew.
Lost Coast had their ever-popular Tangerine wheat, a most refreshing treat that lives up to its name in spades. We also got a taste of the new Aargh! Pale Ale, a light and crisp west coast pale, and the Fog Cutter double IPA, as spicy and robust as one would want when dealing with the temperate weather at the seaside.
Those tasting glasses are so little, one forgets how much one is actually drinking. We ate a little but not nearly enough to offset the alcohol. Tune in next week to see how things went.
Note: We get to keep most of the gear that we test out. While this is a perk, we try hard to give everything an unbiased review no matter what.
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