Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Schooner's Grille And Brewery

This guest post is by Brady Umfleet

I have been looking forward to visiting Schooner's Grille and Brewery for a few years now. I did try several of their beers at a local beer festival and wanted to make it to the source, but had no real reason to make it up north until I needed to pick my wife up from a conference in Pittsburg.

Schooners Grille and Brewery is located in Antioch, CA east of Pittsburg on the way to Stockton. Their website doesn’t provide details as to when this brewery opened up, but it seems to have been about 10 years ago. The brewery is in the parking lot of a few big box stores. When I pulled up I noticed a farmer picking up spent grain from behind the brewery which I hoped was a good sign.

Walking into the establishment you will find the host station in a vestibule. Interesting really, since it seems out of place. Near the host station is a cold case with 12 ounce bottles of their pale ale. As I normally do, I scanned the area for business cards, coasters, etc. for my collection, which drives my wife out of her mind. The bar is located to the left and the dinning area to the front and right as you enter the main area from the host station. I was expecting there to be a nautical theme of some sort since schooners is a nautical term. However, the theme appeared to be 90's California grill. Bummer really, I could have added this to the other nautical themed breweries I have visited; Sea Dog, Diamond Knot, etc. It appears the name schooners may come from the other definition of schooner, according to Wiki “A schooner is a type of glass used for serving German wheat beer. In Australia, it is a name for a particular glass size, used for any type of beer. In the United States, "schooner" refers to the shape of the glass, rather than the capacity. It can range from 18 oz. to 32 oz.”
The bar wasn’t very long but did have three TVs. All but one of the bar stools was filled with professionals having a cold one at about 12:30pm on a Friday.

Cream Ale

On tap were an American Cream Ale, Pale Ale (35 IBUs, 5.5% Alcohol), IPA (65 IBUs, 7.0% Alcohol), Oatmeal Stout (37 IBUs, 4.8%), Irish Red Ale (26 IBUs, 5.0% Alcohol), Peach Wheat, and Old Diablo Barley Wine. There were also 6 guest taps including Sierra Nevada's Summerfest, and a handful of bottled beer.

The stand outs were the American Cream Ale (2011-North American Beer Award, Gold Medal), pictured here. This Cream Ale was smooth, very little hop character as to be expected with a slightly sweet finish from the corn, and the oats giving the beer a little oily smoothness. This is an appropriate beer in 100 degree weather. I ended up ordering a pint of this. According to their website “we use flaked corn (7%) to add a touch of sweetness and rolled oats (3.5%) to accentuate the creamy mouth feel. Herbrucker hops are used mostly for bittering, but also provide a light contribution to the aroma.”

 A mixed bag of glassware for the sampler 
The other brew that I thought rose above the rest was the Oatmeal Stout, again from their website: “Deep in color, flavor and complexity. Generous use of roasted malts provide the base, while subtle use of chocolate, crystal and Belgian specialty grains add to the complexity. Traditional English hops round out the recipe.” The chocolate and crystal malts shine through in this beer, the smooth finish of an oatmeal stout is present as is a touch of roasted barley to give it a slight roasted finish. The hops used aren’t stated, but I suspect Fuggles and Goldings. This is a decent beer to have a few, when you are having a few.

I can’t say I would make an effort to stop at this brewery unless I was very near by. It seemed to be stuck in the late 90s beer rut, which in Nor Cal doesn’t stand out, and in fact your best bet is to back track to Pittsburg and visit E.J Phair.

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