Monday, January 27, 2014

Napa Point Brewing Company.

This past weekend, the hubbs and I had the pleasure of visiting one of Napa's newest, most talked about gastro-tastic hot spots... Napa Point Brewing Company. To tell you we'd heard of it through the grapevine is a comical understatement to say the least--it seems as though every person in the valley was demanding we check this place out and I must say, we're glad we finally did!

Located just off of Highway 29, right outside suburban Napa proper, the brewery itself is tucked away in an unassuming business park, far from the crowded streets and hullabaloo of downtown.  Easy to find and with ample parking, you can zip right down Devlin Road to find the hulking establishment standing proud like a beacon of beer, alone amidst a sea of open fields and currently undeveloped land. The building itself is quite modest and neatly groomed, with simple architectural qualities and a pleasant presence.

What makes this place special is that it seems to be a labor of love on all accounts. From the owners to the brewmaster, this team is working hard to build up their beer reputation in the valley, rightfully so. There's only a small handful of breweries around these parts like Napa Smith Brewery, Downtown Joe's, Carneros Brewing Company and The Calistoga Inn & Brewery (to name a few), but it has become apparent that good ol' beer has its place amongst the vines and is developing a significant following amongst locals.

At Napa Point Brewing Company, Brewmaster Denise Jones, "is internationally recognized, having won over 300 awards. Her resume includes the Great Basin Brewing Company, Bluewater Brewing Company, and the Third Street Aleworks where she consistently achieved recognition for her brews with awards from the California State Fair, the Great American Beer Festival, and the World Beer Cup.  Prior to joining Napa Point Brewing, Denise was Brewmaster at Moylan’s Brewing Company where she produced world class beers that were distributed across the globe and continued to win local, state, national and international awards including Grand Champion Brewery at the prestigious 2011 Australian International Brewing Awards."

As soon as you arrive at the brewery, you'll enter their unique gastropub (they're still working out the kinks to get their actual taproom open soon- I told you they were new!) and are greeted with a smile. Take your pick of arranged seating or sidle up to the high-top pub tables and catch the game(s) on one their many giant flat-screen TV's.  If you prefer to sit outside, they've got a fantastic patio that is big enough for even the heartiest of groups, with giant handmade oak tables, Edison cafe lighting and ample room to get your drink on.  Once you're settled in, it's time to make some serious brewski decisions- pace yourself though, it's a big task with their large selection.

It wasn't a bad way to spend the late afternoon, happy to be sitting sit out in the sunshine with a sampling of 5 very generous pours (probably around 5oz. each), discovering Napa Point Brewing's sophisticated flavors:

Cryptic- India Pale Ale (I.P.A.)
"Assertive American grown hops from the Yakima Valley in Washington are the cornerstone of this West Coast standard. Two-row pale malt and California Ale yeast combine with the citrusy-pine flavors and aromas of Centennial and Cascade hops. Balanced to accent a firm bitterness to allow the unique qualities of a Northern California-style IPA to shine."

The Crusher- Golden Ale
"A highly drinkable golden ale with lager-like qualities. Pilsner malts, noble hops imported from Germany and pure Napa Valley water are set to a cool ale fermentation and the result is a remarkably crisp, clean, “crushable” beer."

Hefu- American Hefeweizen
"White wheat and pale two row malts blend together to offer a lively, refreshing ale with a natural citrusy flavor. The easy-drinking American-style wheat beer is served unfiltered for that distinctive cloudy appearance and can be accented with a lemon slice upon request."

N.A.P.A.- North American Pale Ale (My favorite!)
"Our Brew Master personally selects the ingredients from the finest fields of barley and hops in North America to create a brew of superior balance and exceptional drinkability. A pale ale worthy of the finest wine region in the world."

Stomper- Amber Ale

"Regarded as the stylistic standard of the original brews in California brewing history. Premium two-row and crystal malts are matched with select Northern Brewer hops to create a balanced and drinkable amber ale. Restrained bitterness allows the malt flavors to showcase in the finish."

All five of these beers were much more complex than I was expecting, in a great way.  I favored the N.A.P.A. pale ale for it's seamless blending of smooth texture and mild flavor, while the hubbs really liked the Stomper's malty robustness.


We hadn't initially intended on dining here, but of course time got away from us and before we knew it, it was sundown and our tummies were grumbling.  Our waiter was a polite young man, eager to help us along the way with our food choices, so upon recommendation we were handed two menus and forgot how full we were.  Their selection of tasty treats and belly-warming favorites is pretty hard to resist, no matter how big your previous meal was.  I found myself contemplating dishes that were nearly impossible to imagine eating at that moment in time, but went for it anyways, because HEY! Why would I not want to keep eating?

We started with the Deviled Eggs, admittedly a total indulgence.  The combination of mustard seed and candied bacon was delicious and too much to resist.  I never really turn down a deviled egg, but these were pretty impressive and served at just the right temp with a light, champagne vinaigrette green salad garnish.  The hubbs and I both laughed as we finished the plate in under 5 minutes, shrugging off the fact that we said we weren't hungry.

I wish I could say that we stopped there with the appetizers (for fear of sounding gluttonous), but we didn't.  Oh no, we didn't and I don't feel the slightest bit guilty about gorging myself on savory snacks. The Pretzel Bites.  The pretzel bites will keep you coming back, keep you craving a visit to the brewery.  Served with and ale cheese sauce, these things will haunt your dreams.  You too can soak up all that beer by ordering a heaping bowl of these squishy, salty puffs of yum.

It got even more amusing when we decided, "Let's just stay for dinner!"  A chill started to invade the valley, so we moved indoors for our evening meal.  We were fortunate enough to catch CEO Robert Dahl in action, greeting customers and chatting up his new endeavor.  A gracious guy with a penchant for conversation, he treated us to a pint on the house of each of our favorites and helped us make our dinner selection.  I decided on going all in by ordering the Meatloaf, Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Mac N' Cheese.  Oh baby.  What I loved about the food was that it tasted homemade, almost as if it came out of your mama's own kitchen.  I'm pretty picky with comfort food, but they really do a nice job at making comfy food still feel like "cuisine".  Not too frilly, just well made home cookin'. The hubbs went with the Ale Battered Cod- light, fluffy and surrounded by some of the best fries in town.  I'm not kidding about the cod, it was fluffy.

Not only were we stuffed, we were both incredibly happy and satiated by our overall experience at Napa Point Brewing Company.  In fact, we look forward to visiting again with friends, family, our dog, maybe some small children and each other.  I personally like the fact that this place is off the beaten path- a beer retreat if you will, a hideaway for brew fiends and folks who enjoy good craft, good food and good company. *Hint Hint- they have a fantastic happy hour too!*

Go say hello.  Do it now.

388 Devlin Road
Napa, CA 94558

*All images courtesy of Napa Point Brewing

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Hello Again!

I've been a bad girl.

I was forthright in letting you all know that I'd be taking December off- but I totally failed to mention anything about January... What the?  How does time pass so quickly?  I was scouring through my pile of to-do's this morning when it finally dawned on me that, yes, it is already almost February and I haven't written a single thing.  For shame, B, for shame.  *Insert sad face here*

I have no excuses.

December was chaotic and our schedules were loaded with events, visits, family and friends.  With so much holiday fun happening, I honestly couldn't find a moment to sit back and type, nor did I want to. I let myself become completely immersed in the season and never really worried about the lack of publication happening.  The upside of this downtime also gave me the chance to get to know my new surroundings, settle-in, find my groove (or almost find my groove) and relish in a little decompression time.

It is now time to get back on the happy train to food town.

Friends, here is a little sneak peek into my Napa lifestyle thus far....

We are situated in a prime location here in town, at the intersection of awesome and awesome.  A crossings, you might say.  We can easily head North, South, East or West, without hesitation or exhausting traffic, hoards of tourists or hulking limo vehicles.  We love the option of country frontage roads, winding one-lane wooded paths, and quick "local" routes to get us where we want to be.  Our home is spacious, minimal and just the right amount of cozy.  I love spending time here, sitting on our patio in this crazy California winter weather, dog at my feet and bubbles in hand.

On weekends we are out and about, eating, drinking and continuing our merriment.  We can usually be found exploring the fresh new bars & eateries of downtown Napa, tapas crawling the short distance of Yountville, sampling brews up in Calistoga or wandering through the backwoods to family-owned winery gems that we love sharing with friends and visitors.

I've compiled a list of places I want to talk about, many of which aren't familiar to the average weekenders or vacationers.  I'll be posting articles in the weeks to come, highlighting these new favorites, so keep your eyes peeled!  Here are some of our new haunts:

Bene Gusto, Browns Valley... For artisan pizza, pasta, sandwiches, breakfast & outdoor ambiance.  We love to sit back, sip wine and enjoy the company here, chatting with neighbors.
The Calistoga Inn & Brewery... A fantastic little brewery with awesome bar food, an intimate dining room & terribly interesting native folk.
Fumé Bistro & Bar...  Their mouthwatering seasonal menu impresses every time, plus they have outdoor fire pits and a great discounted locals night.
The Red Hen Cantina...  Newly relocated & remodeled with a HUGE outdoor seating area, this is a fun place for sports watching, Mexican food and whole bunch of tequila.
VINeleven...  Not your typical restaurant, but nonetheless, their food is awesome & the staff is lovely.
UVA Trattoria...  Holy smokes!  Amazing Italian fare and totally killer atmosphere with live tunes.
Redd Wood...  Pizza, pasta & appetizers with an impressive wine list and supremely cool vibe.
R&D Kitchen...  Quickly becoming one of the most popular meeting spots in the valley with their ample outdoor space and simple, sophisticated menu.  Great bar and group destination.
Lucy Restaurant & Bar, Bardessono...  A personal favorite, full of calm, class and high-end taste.
The Fremont Diner...  A popular stop between Sonoma and Napa for hometown favorites.

Ok, now I'm getting hungry.

Stay tuned and get your forks ready!