Last weekend, four 'hounds gathered at the Lagunitas Brewing Company's Petaluma Taproom for the infamous 4/20 party. Maybe not so infamous nor radical these days now that cannabis is legalized. Under Heineken's ownership of Lagunitas, smoking weed on site is now banned . . . though plenty of smoke was wafting around that staffers tried hard to pinpoint and stomp out. For the month of April, Lagunitas serves up Waldos Special Ale to honor the origins of 4/20, the date and time to light up. This seasonal brew is no lightweight, weighing in at 11.7% alcohol, with heavy almost waxy mouthfeel, loaded with hops, butterscotch and malty tones, and swampy herbal aromas.
Sitting outdoors on this bright sunny day, I soon moved on to something lighter and more refreshing, Little Sumpin' Sumpin' Ale, with our lunch order. We also indulged in a tasting flight that uncovered the limited release Citrusinensis Pale Ale, refreshing and scented with blood orange as my favorite of the day.
To eat, we shared a good portion of the menu, starting with the Loaded baked potato, no joke here with a base of fingerlings and waxy new potatoes piled with cheese, sour cream, bacon and sour cream with snipped chives. Because it was the start of Passover, I ordered it with the addition of brisket. Ok, maybe the dairy and bacon disqualify this from being kosher, but the tender cubes of smoked beef did the trick for me and were even better with a side of salsa. Roast brussel sprouts were garnished with shredded cheese and served with a spicy buffalo mayo. Lagu-Rita pesto flatbread was smeared with basil pesto and weighed down with melted mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and a balsamic reduction. Smoked chicken wings included the whole succulent and soft limb including the tips, tossed with a dark and intense chipotle sauce. The Farm Burger with pepper jack cheese hit the perfect, juicy medium rare as ordered. The pastured beef is from Lagunitas Ranch nearby where the beasts are finished on spent grain from the brewing process and turn out very tasty. A Yanni Sucks Sausage on a roll with sauerkraut, caramelized onions and Little Sumpin' mustard also hit the table, but I missed getting a taste. It was fun to try these diverse flavors with different brews.
There's always room for dessert, right? After a short break, we indulged in the Bread pudding with Brown Shugga caramel sauce and whipped cream . . . need to allow 15 minutes for the warm up. And finally, Cappuccino Stout float with vanilla ice cream that went down so easily as the ice cream rounded out the alcoholic edges.
After lunch we followed the world's best tour guide, Jennifer, upstairs to the VIP room, the original taproom full of memorabilia and a piano. Nice to escape the crowds and din, and an opportunity for one more round from the taps, this time I tried the Secret Agenda, a pale bock that suited me. She led us through a behind the scenes tour of the brewery and stories of Lagunitas history and culture.
Before heading home, a stop at the Schwag Store for souvenir and beverage purchases and a some time listening to the band that fired up at 3pm. The lines were still long at that hour, so note to self to arrive early for any special event here.
When I accepted this invitation, I stated that we don't accept comps. Our day turned out to be on the house, so we left a generous tip for the staff to pay our way. For as crazy a day as it was, the service was impressive with a big team on the floor, managers on top of things, and few waits for anything, all making it easy to concentrate on having a good time.
Lagunitas Brewing Co. Petaluma Taproom and Beer Sanctuary
1280 N. McDowell Boulevard
Petaluma, Calif. 94954
Earlier reports on Lagunitas Taproom,
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