I am very proud to finally be part of a cover story in the News and Review along with DB and NM! I am happy that NM asked me. The coolest thing we did is a blind tasting panel on Sacramento area IPAs. I can't find it linked online. You should pick up a copy of this ish, anyway. It's really good.
The tasting panel was really fun. Everyone agreed about 90% of the time on the grades which I think lends a ton of credibility. Plus, it was good to finally print honest criticism of some local beers. Not in the spirit of tearing anyone down but in the spirit of spurring on quality. And also some of these places get a ton of press while everyone who writes and discusses privately talks about how some the beers are terrible. For instance, Ruhstaller's Hop Sac got a unanimous F grading. My tasting notes were that it tasted like battery acid. This beer has gotten written up a million times for using local hops and is expensive. I've heard about numerous people pouring bottles of this down the drain. I think a bottle is ten bucks. They can't coast on hype and PR alone! Well, maybe they can.
How wonderful that Berryessa was the top, with Bikedog in second (I actually rated it first) and Track 7 3rd. Smiller had a pint of Track 7 the other day and it was delicious. Even more so than the growler for the tasting panel, which was not as carbonated and cold. Greatly improved and that's awesome. I like going out there so now I can get really good beer, too.