April 12, 2015

Written by Mike Ungerbuhler

I have given myself the task to visit all of the breweries in the Sacramento area and provide a review of both the beer as well as the atmosphere.  I will sample what I feel is a good representation of the brewery and give you my tasting notes.  My intent is to continue this series until I have covered all of the local breweries; as that list continues to grow, I will be busy for quite a while. Join me as we Sample Sacramento. 

Sample Sacramento crosses the river to visit the breweries in West Sacramento.  I started my jaunt to West Sac with a visit to Bike Dog Brewing Company.  In the next few weeks, I will also be visiting Bike Dog’s neighboring breweries, Yolo Brewing Company and Jackrabbit Brewing Company.  Follow me as I Sample West Sacramento.

In 2013 a group of beer, bike and dog enthusiasts brought their passions together to build a labor of love and the anchor of the West Sacramento beer scene.  Bike Dog is located at 2534 Industrial Blvd. in West Sac, not far from the Harbor Blvd. exit.  Since opening, they have gone from being open Fridays and Saturdays to being open Thursdays through Sundays.  I’m sure that as demand grows they will have even less days off.  

Entering the brewery, one is greeted with their logo and an interior bike rack to the left.  The brewhouse sits in the far right corner of the taproom.  Multiple picnic tables and a large concrete bar fill the remainder of the space.  The personnel are all incredibly friendly and know their product well.  There is a roll up door which can allow for access to a food truck and other times the food truck will be parked just outside the front door.  Bike Dog is family friendly and of course that is inclusive of your furry family members.  

I have visited Bike Dog and enjoyed their beers on several occasions, but never with a note pad.  Taking notes and really focusing on the beers is almost like trying them for the first time.  My visit happened to fall on a brew day but that is not a rare occasion as they must brew continually to meet their ever growing demands.  They were brewing a new Rye IPA that I am eager to try.  The smell of that brew was enticing.  Those lovely aromas mingled with whiffs of grilled chicken from Ben’s Huli Huli Chicken which created a mouthwatering bouquet.  I didn’t sample any of the chicken, but it looked awesome.  Bike Dog had five beers on tap that day so I went for it and sampled the lot.

Tasting Notes

American Wheat – This wheat beer has a crackery aroma that is balanced with a scent reminiscent of orange blossoms and pears.  The slightly hazy, straw colored brew is topped with a thin layer of white foam that clings to the glass.  Flavors of citrus and pear cozy up with a subtle spicy hop character and are rounded out by a very clean fermentation.  The American Wheat is so very refreshing.  It has a light body and is just short of being effervescent; this is a craft beer lover’s lawn mower beer.

Session IPA – Almost as refreshing as the American Wheat, the Session IPA hits you with aromas of pineapple, stone fruit and a mild bready malt.  It is a bright, translucent golden hued brew with an off white head formed of fine bubbles.  The flavor follows the nose with the addition of a slight grassiness.  The Session IPA has a medium-light body and moderate carbonation.  Its dry finish leaves one wanting more.

IPA – This is not the typical West Coast styled IPA, it is much more balanced.  Bread and caramel waft up to your nose and are off-set by grapefruit and apricot.  It is a clear, pale copper and is capped with an off-white sheet of fine bubbles that leave a minimal lace on the glass.  The IPA is moderately carbonated and has a satiating body.   

XXX IPA – This is a big beer with tons of fruit on the malty sweet nose.  Ruby Red grapefruit, apricot and red apple are all set against the sweet caramel and bready aromas.  Side by side, it is difficult to see much of a difference to the IPA; it might be an eighth of a shade darker.  The fruit noted in the aroma is present on the palate and is supported by the malt backbone.  This beer is deceivingly easy to drink considering its 10% ABV.  The XXX IPA is chest warming and has a medium body.  I could drink so much more of this beer, but I know better.     

Milk Stout – I have to confess that I love this beer.  Its aroma is resonant with chocolate and coffee with a faint earthy hop quality.  The opaque, cola colored beer has garnet highlights and is crowned with beige foam that dissipates to a thin slick.  The flavor is reminiscent of Whoppers and would be wondrous with a good vanilla ice cream.  The medium-full body and lighter carbonation coat the palate and scream for ice cream.  Milk Stout floats anyone?

I always feel at home at Bike Dog, whether I grab a seat at the bar or share a table with friends.  And as of Beer Week this year, one can find Bike Dog’s Milk Stout and Mosaic Pale in bottles at many stores around the Sacramento area.  The mantra at Bike Dog is, “Good People Deserve Good Beer”, and the Good People at Bike Dog are certainly creating Good Beer.  So, get out there and share the Good Beers with Good People.