Fogbelt Brewing Company has opened the tap, introducing a few new micro-brews to the Bay Area craft beer scene. Having opened in February, this Santa Rosa brewery and taproom is as much a place to enjoy a pint and a bite as it is an homage to Northern California terroir. Hops are grown in Fogbelt's own hopyards or sourced from local producers. Not to mention, each brew is named after one of the Northern California redwoods that tower above the surrounding landscape.
The venue is not large, but it's contemporary and industrial-sleek. From the main bar, a glass wall offers a view into the tank rooms, where the brewing process takes place. An adjacent wall-hung chalkboard menu clues people in to what's being poured. Three communal tables and benches on the outdoor patio have more of an in-your-own-yard feel than a larger biergarten might. Fair to say the laid-back atmosphere is quickly becoming a local's haunt, while also a welcome retreat for brewery aficionados throughout the wider Bay Area.
On the dining menu, you'll find standard taproom fare -- small bites like a beer cheese crostini ($6), grilled sandwich paninis ($7-8), and a grill selection of sausages. The Smoked German ($7) is served on a crusty, floured bun with sauerkraut and a fresh baby kale side salad tossed with pepitas and a light vinaigrette. The real menu standouts are, of course, on the tap list: Lost Monarch (wheat beer), Atlas (blonde ale), Del Norte (India Pale Ale), Hyperion (red ale), and Armstrong (stout). All are a reasonable $4.50/pint. Two seasonals are also on the board: Sonoma Fresh Hop (a saison) and Screaming Titan (a double IPA, at $5.50/pint).
Taste the two seasonals while the kegs last. Hop notes are the star of the Sonoma Fresh Hop saison, which has a fragrant, sweet floral aroma and an almost-grassy astringency that balances a sweet finish. The Screaming Titan is rich and bold. Any double IPA is sure to please hop fans, and in contrast to a lighter saison, its 8.7% abv may be an encouragement to sip and savor it.
Made with cilantro leaf and kefir lime, citrus flavors are prominent in Lost Monarch wheat beer. Hop notes jump off the palate, which is a welcome surprise for this style of brew. The Atlas blonde ale is crisp and fruity. For an India Pale Ale, the Del Norte is surprisingly mellow on the hop notes, has a nice amber hue and a malty finish. The Armstrong stout, on the other hand, packs rich chocolate and coffee flavors, its bold aromas wafting into the nose even before your first sip. Hyperion red ale has pine and citrus aromas, what Fogbelt Brewing claims are "backed by rich roasted malt."
Fogbelt's beer is a must-try, and you can easily order a flight to taste them all ($1 per 4 oz. sampler). Since the February debut, the tap list continues to grow so you are sure to discover something fit to your taste here. Scroll down to see Remy Martin, one of the brewmasters, in-action in the hopyard.
Insider's tip: make it a day trip. The small corner of Santa Rosa that Fogbelt Brewing Company occupies has been called "Vintner's Square," as it's already home to three neighboring winery tasting rooms: DArgenzio Winery, Sheldon Wines and Krutz Family Cellars.
Visit now: Fogbelt Brewing Company, 1305 Cleveland Avenue, Santa Rosa. Open Thursday-Saturday, 12-10 p.m., Sunday 12-8 p.m.
Tweet Anastasia Crosson @savvymediagal