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Noticed how many folks have Sierra Nevada Pale Ale as their favorite. It's off the beaten path (1.5 hours north of sacramento, 2.5 hours NE of Napa) but if you get the chance to visit Chico, go the brewey itself. The restaurant has good food and the "sampler" is unbelieveable. You get about 20 or so beers (shot glasses) and I'd be surprised if Pale Ale is in the top 10. Celebration is my go to when it is available in the winter but they make plenty of other great ones. If you are daring, try to get a hold of the Bigfoot Ale (they call it a Barley wine)- holy smokes...two of those and you are picking yourself up off the floor!

As others have mentiond, Fat Tire and Lost Coast make great beers too.
Originally posted by cdr11:
Which are the beers that wear little helmets and play each other in football. Those are the beers I want!

Those were the Bud Bowls, played between Bud and Bud Light a few years back. Someone told me that Vegas actually took action on the outcome of the "games", but I didn't believe him.
I’m bumping this since I seem to have been buying more beer lately and I wanted to comment on two that I recently had. With fall approaching I am not sure why I have been buying more beer since I seem to drink more of it in the summer. Anyway, I bought Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale and Samuel Adams Hallertau Imperial Pilsner last week and enjoyed some of both this past weekend. If you like good beer with a lot of hops, do yourself a favor and buy either, or both, of these.

The Sierra Nevada has a reddish-brown color and an intense, fruity, bouquet. The beer is extremely “hoppy” but still maintains some sweetness. If you are familiar with Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, it has 37 bitterness units. For comparison, the Bigfoot has 90 bitterness units. The alcohol on this beer is 9.6% so if you have more than a few don’t plan on driving anywhere.

The Samuel Adams label says something like “an almost obscene amount of hops is used in this beer.” The color of this beer was quite a bit lighter compared to the Sierra Nevada and a bit cloudier. The aroma of this beer was fruity as well. What was surprising about this beer is that the texture was very thick but also creamy – not unlike you would find with Guinness. This beer also was fruity and had a nice citrus component without being overly bitter. The alcohol on this is 8.8%.

Both the Sierra Nevada & Samuel Adams were amongst the thickest beers I have ever had and were extremely enjoyable. They are definitely beers that are meant to be slowly drank and savored in moderation. Also, the flavors were definitely enhanced as the beer warmed up a bit. For the most part I am used to drinking my beer very cold but these are both better with only a bit of a chill on them.
Originally posted by jgreen:
Alta- I'd warn against serving Bigfoot at a party- I have seem some ugly things happen. At the brewery they serve Bigfoot in 1/2 mugs and don't do pints! Glad you enjoyed a little bit of Chico.

I'll add you should avoid Dogfish Head 90 or 120 IPAs if you would like to have brain cells the week after tasting.

These are SERIOUS beers. And note I said "tasting". These aren't chugging beers. They are very good, but definately not for the masses. A disaster waiting to happen in the wrong hands!
I'm intrigued by the Bigfoot, but its not likely to get here. I'll check the next time I'm in a better market.

I have to admit, the Dogfishhead 120 was the only Dogfishhead I've not liked. They make some eccentric stuff, but the 120 Imperial IPA is just to syrupy for me.

With both wine and beer, I'm a seasonal drinker. Everything comes out all year round, but we tend towards certain varietals/styles more depending on the time of year. In the summer its Sauvingon Blancs, Zinfandels, and Shirazes along with IPAs. In the fall, the newly released Oktoberfests are fun to taste (this year I'd reccomend New Glarus's Staghorn above all others), and we drink more traditional Syrah, Washington Merlot and Pinot, and little to no white wine.

At the end of the day though, for wine drinkers, I would reccommend Stone's Arrogant Bastard Ale and Bell's Eccentric Ale as domestic examples of complex and interesting beer. The latter is difficult to come by unless you happen to be in Kalamazoo at the right time, and its kind of bottled chaos in terms of flavors, but its really, really good. It's also a "vintage" beer.
Montsant- On the Bigfoot- not sure if they'd do it but the brewery has a nice gift shop where they also sell beer (6,12,24 packs). Perhaps you could give them a ring and see if they ship??? number is 530-345-2739.

And agree on the seasonal stuff...Sierra Nevada's sesaonla beers are out of this world. I never drink the pale ale- in fact it's my least favorite. They make a smoked beer (my favorite), one from hops grown across the street from the brewery..all sorts of great stuff. And the best part is they do a sampler for ~$8 where you get shot glasses filled with 15-20 different beers. Adds up to 3-4 pints- a great deal.

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