With the Exception of...
|A creek runs beside it...sort of?|
Followers of this blog know that my ultimate passion is storytelling, and to do this...at least as well as I do, requires relentless hours of qualitative research. (Wow, I'm really beginning to sound like a grad student!) Thus, I am always a sucker for a new location that will provide my readers with enough information to cause an avalanche of interest. Goat House Brewery, located in the lush, sprawling...more like crawling hills of Lincoln, CA provided a much needed escape from said relentless qualitative research.
The plan for the first weekend in October was to drive north to wine country to do an interview for an independent study project. As luck would have it, my car, Kenji...yes, that's what I call him, decided to extract a few don't have it, hundred dollar bills from my pocket by simultaneously killing a starter and blowing the rear calipers of his braking system. If this were not enough, the mechanic, or Devil worshipper, attempted to send me to an early grave by charging $429.00 for the starter alone. I don't remember much after this phone message, but fortunately, I was referred to a reliable ex-convict who did the work provided that I buy the beer. (He actually was a certified mechanic...just had a little trouble with the IRS, NRA and a slight misunderstanding with two of his three ex-wives)
|Beer and wine on the same sign?|
Speaking of Beer
I was able to reschedule the winery visit for later, but still had a day to do something a little closer to home. The Farm to Fork festival had taken place the weekend before, and while there, I met a few local brewers who mentioned a new place in Lincoln. Being a wine person, beer, or more accurately for my taste, ale, has become a new passion of mine and anything to do with farming is in my blood. (Okay, a few chickens and a garden = farm. Goats coming soon)
Relying on their recommendation, I called Goat House Brewery after recovering from car repair sticker shock, to make a reservation for a visit. (Info on Google said reservations were required...Not any more!)
GoatHouse Brewing Company is a family affair, and owners Mike and Cathy like nothing more than welcoming families to their little piece of heaven on Earth. Located just a few miles northeast from beautiful downtown Lincoln, this dot com, moving and shaking couple searched for many years until they found exactly what they were looking for....a farm! As Bay area transplants, they had the nerve to want to raise their children with a quality of life reminiscent of days gone by where running through orchards, catching butterflies, fishing and getting dirty was the norm. To hear Cathy, a former marketing executive, tell it, she did not want to die at her desk! So...they loaded up the truck and they moved to...Lincoln, CA?
Yes, that's exactly what they did. Damned the torpedo's, these good people wanted their slice of American pie! Not the concrete jungle, or laptop death syndrome, they wanted a quality of life that included a farm, good schools, animals, dirt, crops, serenity...and of course, beer. Got to love these folks!.
What They Do
|Ingenuity at its' best!|
Hops, Humulus Lupulus, are unique creatures. A member of the Cannabibaceae family, they are cousins to those munchie inducing, herbaceous, five finger leaf plants that when added to fudge brownies, give them...character? Anyhoo, you get the idea. Grown on sturdy trellises made of rope, or other materials, the "bine" grows by intertwining itself around the rope or other support system. This occurs autonomously; it is often believed that the bine follows the sun, but after conducting more research, I could find very little to substantiate this claim. However, hops do need an abundance of sunlight to grow, and the Johnson's system is a must see when you visit.
|Bines braiding themselves|
Bine vs. Vine
Hops, unlike grapes grow on a bine. Unlike vines, that have tendrils (petiole...the stalk between the leaf blade and the stem) and suckers that after making contact with an object for an extended period of time, attach themselves for support, bines are more aggressive. These plants have sturdier stems which form a helix around it's support system. They also have downward pointing bristles to aid in climbing. This gives the stem a rough feeling texture.
Inside the Hop
found in red wine and dark chocolate that offer several good health benefits. So you see, beer is good for you. drink up!
Where were we?
|Reaching for the sky!|
Okay, back to the beer...and other stuff that they do. In addition to hops, the Johnson's grow citrus and nut trees, have bee hives for honey and raise goats for milk to be used in a future cheese making endeavor. All of this contributes to the family friendly atmosphere of their little slice of American pie, but there is something else that brings out the kid in all of us. Fresh, old fashioned soda!
Using honey from their bee hives, cream from goats milk and water, a real old fashioned cream soda, hand made and served with the foam blowing over the rim is just plain sinful! Being lactose intolerant didn't prevent me from indulging a bit...okay, I inhaled the cool, slightly sweet beverage like it was the last supper. Admittedly, it was awesome, and I should note...this is the perfect libation not only for the kids, but for those who wish to venture back to a simpler time in history. It was amazing. Another must stalk item on their list.
|Water, cream, honey, Yum!|
Let's talk beer...finally!
Mike has been brewing beer since his teenage years. Cathy describes him as a "Mad scientist" when it comes to creating his brew. On this visit, they were serving several beers with names that were more indicative of Mike's sense of humor (He is hysterical!) and the beers' characteristic. (Very accurate)
Beginning with a honey Hefeweizen, which was smooth and slightly sweet with a tropical tinge and a serious honey laced mouthfeel, (wine speak ala brew) each brew offered for the day was unique. Mike definitely has a way with words and a way with brewing. As I listened to the throngs of visitors
My personal favorite of the day was the award winning "U-so Fresh" brew. Made with wet hops as opposed to dry or pelletized hops. This was an amazing, as the name says, fresh tasting, beer with a good balance of citrus and floral tones. The kind of beer that you crave when you really want something with finesse. I wanted to make this sample last, and nearly ordered another. Moving onto the Hoppa di Peppa, made with a blend of several fresh peppers from their garden, one customer said that he had tasted peppered beers many times and that this one was not nearly as peppery as some. I had never had a peppered beer, and was quite surprised that the pepper flavoring was nice. I'm not sure what I would drink it with, but recently, I have been into pepper jams, so this brew will have to be revisited with food. Unlike drinking wine with a meal...which I do not like, beer accompanied with food agrees with me. Still, I do not have enough experience to say what I like with what. The U-So Fresh...I'm thinking a seafood salad?
Moving on. Before going to the Dark side, I inquired about the barley wine, correctly named, "The Badonkadonk!" For those who may be unfamiliar with the term, it basically means having a big butt! I thought it was funny when Mike asked if I knew what a "Badonkadonk was considering that this accurately describes my rear appendage. Anyhoo, this beverage is exactly as described, huge! High alcohol, high tannin, heavy and loud...a sistah girl with attitude in a glass no less, this beverage is not for the faint of heart.
|Full spectrum sampler|
The hapless stranger seated next to me ended up finishing it off as I bade hime farewell to take more photos.
|Converted barn into tasting room|
As I stood to go take a few more photos, Mike asked me if I was going to try the Darkside. This was a huge stout with a rich, slightly chocolatey flavor. The Badonkadonk had killed any chance of savoring this beer, so I hurriedly sipped through it. Fortunately, hapless stranger had not left and he received the lion's share of this sample as well.
|Cozy, friendly, open!|
GoatHouse Brewery and Tasting Room is an excellent place to become familiar with beer. The atmosphere is warm and inviting, and owners Mike and Cathy do their best to make you feel at home. I give this place two slaps upside the head for beer, and that's a good beginning, and three slaps upside the head for ambiance. However, Mike get's a huge smack on his Badonkadonk for brewing beer with personality like his own. Catherine though, get's the highest marks for being a real sistah girl who knows how to treat folks well. I appreciate the time they took to show me around and share their story, but mostly I thank them for being role models to those who believe in following their dreams. Good on ya, folks!
Until next time,
GoatHouse Brewery and Tasting Room
600 Wise Road
Lincoln, CA 95648