I’m on the road again with my lovely wife to seek out and visit breweries throughout the Pacific Northwest. We are also visiting some spectacular natural sites, including Sequoia National Forest, Yosemite, and Lake Tahoe for starters.
We left last Tuesday (2 September) for Sequoia National Forest. Sequoias are the largest trees in the world (as measured by volume).
Our drive to Sequoia National Forest was quite long so we stopped for lunch in Santa Clarita at Wolf Creek Restaurant and Brewery. This is my second stop at Wolf Creek. You can read about my first visit by clicking here.
I sampled six beers at Wolf Creek – Howlin’ Hefeweizen, Yellowstone Pale Ale, Surfin’ Monks Belgian Cali India Pale Ale (IPA), Timber Wolf Bourbon-Oaked Red Ale, Desperado IPA, and Midnight Howl Black Ale. My tasting notes follow.
Howlin’ Hefeweizen (4.8% ABV / 14 IBU): This is an unfiltered Bavarian-style wheat beer with flavors of banana, clove and apricot. Beer pours a hazy copper gold with white foam. I would have preferred a little more tart flavor and a little less sweet flavor.
– Serve this beer in a Weizen glass at 45-50 degrees F and pair it with some Feta cheese and apple slices.
Yellowstone Pale Ale (6% ABV / 42 IBU): This American Pale Ale is made with Cascade, Centennial, and Amarillo hops. The beer pours a clear copper gold color with white foam. An aroma of some pine and very mild citrus is present. This medium bodied beer has mild carbonation and an up front malt caramel flavor followed by pine and some citrus. The finish is mildly bitter but not as dry as I would prefer. This is an above average pale ale, but right about now I’m wishing for some Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.
– Serve this beer in a pint glass at 40-45 degrees F and pair it with an All-American cheeseburger (made with sharp cheddar).
Surfin’ Monks Belgian Cal IPA (7.5% ABV / 50 IBU): Brewed with Belgian candy syrup, dried sweet orange peel, cumin, American hops and Belgian Abbey yeast. Surfin’ Monks has a sweet malt aroma with an orange peel and cumin bouquet. The beer is medium-bodied with mild but active carbonation on the palate. Surfin’ Monk has a sweet malt and candied caramel up front flavor that you can tell was brewed with Belgian yeast. The initial flavor is followed by orange peel zest and then finishes with earthy cumin. I’m still not ready to join a monastery for this beer. Handing in my robe right now.
– Serve this beer in a snifter at 45-50 degrees F and pair it with some blue cheese and crackers.
Timber Wolf Bourbon-Oaked Red Ale (6.8% ABV / 61 IBU): Aged for a month on Buffalo Trace soaked American Oak, this beer won the Gold Medal at the 2007 L.A. County Fair in the Wood-Aged Beer category. Timber Wolf pours a clear red amber color with tan foam that left nice lace sheets. The beer has a malt, earth, and oak wood aroma with faint hop floral presence but I couldn’t detect any bourbon in the aroma. Timber Wolf is medium-bodied with mild carbonation. This beer has up front flavors of malt, earth, and wood followed by light presence of bourbon. Each sip includes a hop spicy herb/floral component and a dry, medium bitter finish. I really enjoyed this beer which brought out a little bit of the lumberjack in me.
– Serve this beer in a tulip glass at 45-50 degrees F and pair it with roast beef and sharp cheeses.
Desperado IPA (6.8% ABV / 70 IBU): Desperado is an American style IPA brewed with Cascade, Amarillo, Chinook, Centennial, and Columbus hops. Desperado pours a hazy gold color with white foam. Desperado has a malty aroma with floral, pine resin, and grapefruit bouquet. The beer is medium-bodied with mild carbonation. Upon tasting, Desperado has an assertive flavor of hops bitterness that is followed with strong malt bread and earthy hay. The beer has a mildly dry finish with lingering medium bitterness. This is a solid IPA whose flavor profile is more like an east coast IPA.
– Serve this beer in a pint glass at 45-50 degrees F and pair it with cedar planked salmon.
Midnight Howl Black Ale (6.4% ABV / 88 IBU): This beer is actually a blend of an I.P.A. and a Stout. During my first visit to Wolf Creek, I had a better version of this beer that was 8.5 % ABV. The new lower alcohol version is very nice also and was my favorite beer of this visit.
– Serve this beer in an oversized wine glass at 40-45 degrees F and pair it with flour less dark chocolate cake.
I’m glad we stopped again at Wolf Creek Restaurant and Brewery. There were no beers that stood large and tall over all others like the sequoia trees in their forest, but I had a couple of solid brews to start the trip.
Stay tuned for my next installment that will feature travel to Yosemite, the California Gold Country, and Lake Tahoe and of course some breweries along the way.