The owner of The Alchemist Brewery, John Kimmich, paid Sonoma County a visit this week.
The casual beer drinker may not be familiar with Kimmich or his brewery, but the biggest of craft beer enthusiasts get bright eyed and bushy tailed at the mention of their beers.
The Alchemist, best known for making Heady Topper, is located in Waterbury, Vermont. The beer made there usually does not leave a 60 mile radius from where it’s made unless someone takes a journey to get their hands on it or convinces someone living in the area to trade some away. Kimmichand his wife Jen have seen the type of success that is paralleled by very few if any other brewery outside of Russian River Brewing Co. which has a similar cult like following. So what was Kimmich doing so far from home?
Approximately ten months ago Orhan Sarabi, Santa Rosa Marathon and Ready, Set, Growl Beer Festival Director, approached me with a simple question, “what beer not made locally excites you and the NorCal Beer Geeks the most?” Before I could open my mouth with a response three people sitting nearby almost simultaneously answered, “Heady Topper.”
Keep in mind that I don’t consider Sarabi a beer enthusiast so I smirked when he responded, “then that’s the beer that I will be pouring at next year’s beer festival in August.” I tried to tell him just how difficult this task would be. I mentioned that people waited in lines for Heady Topper that are as long as the ones that we’ve grown accustomed to in front of Russian River Brewing Co. during the Pliny the Younger release every February. Call it stubbornness, determination or simply not wanting to lose a bet, Sarabi accomplished what I once considered impossible when the Kimmichs agreed to provide the Ready, Set, Growl Beer Festival with over 700 four ounce pours of this special beer that is rated 100 out of 100 by RateBeer.com and rated the #1 beer in the world by Beer Advocate.
After delivering the beer to Morris Distributing in Petaluma it seemed destined that John Kimmich and Vinnie Cilurzo, Russian River Brewing Co. owner, would get together to discuss beer. Based on the tweet by Kimmich he enjoyed his time in Sonoma County and specifically his time with a great beer making peer and his wife Natalie Cilurzo.
Salt & Stone
Where: 9900 Highway 12, Kenwood
When: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thurs.-Mon., 2:30 to 9 p.m. Tues. & Weds.
Contact: 707-833-6326, saltstonekenwood.com
Cuisine: Steak, Seafood, California
Price: Expensive, entrées $18-$34
Summary: The longtime favorite roadhouse is reborn as a notable new neighborhood destination for steaks, seafood and communal cheer.