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.
Shasta Historical Society provided glimpses into the past, celebrating the miners, pioneers and loggers that settled this area. Glass cases showing off that history provided a fitting backdrop for tasting beer from one of the original icons of modern craft brewing: Sierra Nevada
They poured the new Otra Ves Gose, a tart style that puckered the lips without being overpowering. Additionally, we got a taste of the Beer Camp Tropical IPA, a piny, citrusy green flavored affair that lived up to its name.
By this time, my notes and memory both took a nose dive. The words scrawled on the page are not in my handwriting, and I vaguely remember taking a breather on a comfy couch in the foyer while my sober wife fed the baby. Somehow, we trapsed over to the next venue.
Another spacious venue greeted us with plenty of room to mill about and chat while we sipped Alaskan Brewing’s best. Unfortunately, I have no tasting notes, only a bag graced with some really cool swag. Imagine an orange Alaskan bottle cap attached to a hook to be used as a fishing lure. We then took a narrow gangway down into Armando’s gallery. In my faded condition it felt a little like pushing through the wardrobe into Narnia.
Armando’s artistic retreat is an eclectic collection of vintage curios splashed with modern expression. It is a smorgasbord for the eyes, a delight for the senses. The collection makes you feel like you have stepped into a magical world where anything is possible.
Through another narrow passage we found the cozy dining room where Armando serves delicacies on occasion, though it was Wildcard’s turn to serve that day. Wildcard is the sponsor and inventor of this event and took the opportunity to showcase their new West Coast IPA. It is like a big ball of tangerine grapefruit hops stuffed into a smoothie cookie package. At least that’s what my notes tell me. My hazy memory also notes an encounter with the Wildcard founding couple, Jeff and Jenny, as they rushed off to curate this fabulous event.
As a man of many rugged pursuits, my eyes glaze over a bit when it comes to jewelry. Therefore, I defer to my female companions who remind me that the offerings were lovely. Our friend Dr. Allisyn Feucht of Palo Cedro Eyecare has great taste. As such, she bought a couple of lovely items while I struck up a conversation with the California Brewing staff.
California Brewing Company has a fantastic concept. Their out-of-the-way venue in Palo Cedro offers local food and wine alongside their beer and is often stocked with live music on the patio. For those of you who have tried CA Brewing in the past, you’ll appreciate a little brutal honesty: they had a rocky start. With turnover in the brewing room and some tension between the origional founders, the impeccable brand wasn’t supported with consistent beer. My advice is that you give them another try. For almost a year, head brewer Bart has been turning out palatable brews to pair with their local fare. As the only other brew pub/restaurant in the area, they are not to be missed. At Hops & Shops they were pouring a couple of these new offerings, including a porter that’s exceptionally smooth and hints at plums, like a whiff of port wine.
Apparently at this point I had stopped taking pictures, so here’s another shot of Armando’s picturesque gallery.
Vaguely, I remember stumbling through a picturesque little front yard and up some white colonial steps to Grace Place. It is a quaint old style cottage where you can get coffee, croissants, breakfast sandwiches and the like. That day, though, I was only interested in snagging a sample of my favorite IPA: Fall River’s Hexagenia.
This is the pinnacle of west coast IPAs, it’s fruit forward but not sweet, balancing the best of smooth malt with fragrant hops. It doesn’t coat the tongue or make you wince with bitterness, they’ve somehow managed to give you all the flavor and aroma of hops without any bite. If you haven’t tried it, don’t; you wont’ be able to get enough. I’m sure they had another brew on tap, but I was busy chatting with the owners in my most charming drunken personality and failed to take notes.
Brew coffee house offers artisan coffee and a few baked goods along with an inviting, art filled living room to sip in. I’ve brought my day-job computer there on occassion and taken advantage of the pleasant venue and free wi-fi. That day, I annoyed the barista by failing to be able to pay for the Wife’s drink with my phone and quickly opted to move over to chat it up with the staff from Sacramento’s Track 7 brewing. No idea what I had… my notes dropped off completely by then. What I know from prior experience is that they offer excellent brews and are one of the central Valley’s up and coming breweries. I’m sad to have missed the other venues and breweries, but my liver is glad that we departed after our stop at brew.
If you’re a lover of craft brew and a supporter of local business, make sure you mark Hops and Shops 2017 on your February calendar. This is a chance to be a part of the revitalization of Redding’s old downtown while engaging the small merchants and imbibing the best beer in the land. Cheers!
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