Above Photo Courtesy of Derek Wolfgram; below Photo Courtesy of Paul Vyenielo
The flooding that swamped Crooked Goat Brewing in Sebastopol, below, hasn’t stopped its production of brews such as First Crush raspberry ale.

During the torrential rains that soaked much of Northern California the last week in February, Sebastopol’s Crooked Goat Brewing found itself literally underwater. Flood damage necessitated closing the brewery for approximately six weeks, which was a major hit to the brewery and its employees. It reopened the first week in April and is serving the same excellent brews it made before the flooding.

Crooked Goat has a large, pleasant enclosed outdoor space in addition to the seating in the taproom, and it is very kid- and dog-friendly. One of the elements of Crooked Goat’s service model I have always enjoyed is that it has relationships with several nearby restaurants – you can seamlessly order and pay for food at the bar from several restaurants serving fresh, local fare, then have it delivered to your table. Prior to the flood, Mexican, Japanese, grilled cheese and barbecue were all available, and I am sure menu options will be restored as other local businesses recover from the disaster.

Brews on tap

The brewery always has a diverse lineup of ales and lagers. Following are a few of the brews I sampled on my most recent visit.

• First Crush raspberry ale had a vibrant pink hue and a low white head, and the tart and sweet aroma of fresh raspberries was unmistakable. The flavor revealed hints of wheat, but the raspberry was the star of the show in this relatively light-bodied brew with a modest 5 percent alcohol by volume (ABV). The pleasant finish was mildly tart, and the carbonation was relatively low – a little additional carbonation would brighten the fruit flavors even more.

• Midnight in Munich dunkel lager was quite complex for only weighing in at 5 percent ABV. Pouring a crystal-clear copper color with a low white head, the aroma had a caramel malt character that combined with malt-derived notes of dates and prunes to suggest maple syrup, but without coming across as particularly sweet. The malt character on the palate suggested rich flavors of crusty bread more than caramel, with very subdued hints of Noble hop bitterness and flavor. Medium bodied with moderate carbonation, the brew showcased a clean, dry lager finish with substantial rich bready malt character.

• Silver Lining vanilla bean stout, at 6 percent ABV, was a deep dark brown with a moderate tan head. It smelled like a vanilla latte, with a lovely balance of sweet Madagascar vanilla beans and the espresso notes of roasted malts. The flavor maintained that balance between sweet vanilla and bitter roasted malts. The velvety body suggested there may have been some oats in the grain bill as well. The carbonation level was moderate, and the finish was smooth, long-lasting, roasty and toasty.

• With a sneaky 8.5 percent ABV that did not come with any noticeable alcohol heat, the Superorganism hazy double IPA was a murky orange-gold color with a low white head. A complex hop aroma from the blend of Azacca, Amarillo, Citra, Simcoe and 007 hops highlighted not-quite-ripe cantaloupe and juicy orange, but also included a backdrop of dank pine bordering on cannabis. On the palate, the two major aroma components traded places, with the fruity notes taking a backseat to aggressive dankness. With medium bitterness, medium body, and low carbonation, the piney hop flavors lasted well into the relatively dry finish.

Derek Wolfgram is a Certified Beer Judge and an officer of the Silicon Valley Sudzers homebrew club. For more information, visit sudzers.org.