All posts by Fairfield Craft Ales

Santa needs beer too

This weekend, Fairfield Craft Ales will be open during its regular hours: 5-9 pm Thursday and Friday; 1-9 pm Saturday; and 1-6 pm Sunday. Be sure to come in for Resilience Night on Thursday, our Ugly Sweater Party with the SWAT food truck on Friday, and to get your growler fills by Sunday at 6 pm, so you can treat Santa to some brews on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. This classic poem explains why he really needs it:

‘Twas the night before Christmas, I needed a beer
Not tomorrow or the next day, but right now and right here
I sat in my chair by the chimney and stared
In hopes that a beer would soon pop out of there
The children were finally asleep in their beds
Their whining and fighting had done a job on my head
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter
Some dude was out there—sure, I’m fat but he’s fatter
He had a cool sleigh and a bunch of small deer
I ran out to see if in his sack was some beer
I’d run through my supply just a few days before
I explained to the man who brought booze through my door
We sat and we drank, and we drank drank drank drank
Until both our breaths really started to stank
He told me his travels were kind of a bother
I complained about work and about being a father
Then we had a few laughs and felt a lot better
He said it was time to get back to being a sledder
And laying a finger to the side of his nose
He chugged one more and up the chimney he rose
But I heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight
Merry Christmas beer buddy, you made my night!

FCA joins breweries nationwide to host “Resilience Night” for Camp Fire relief


Together with more than 1,400 breweries around the country, Fairfield Craft Ales (FCA) is joining in an effort led by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. to celebrate the release of Resilience Butte County Proud IPA with a nationwide pint night. The breweries will celebrate “Resilience Night” on Thursday, December 20, 2018, in taprooms from coast to coast to raise funds for the Camp Fire relief effort. FCA’s hours on Thursday are from 5-9 pm, and its weekly trivia night begins at 7:30 pm.

Resilience IPA is a collaborative fundraising effort for those impacted by Northern California’s Camp Fire. The Camp Fire, which started in the hills above Sierra Nevada’s Chico brewery last month, was the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history, killing at least 86 people and displacing more than 14,000 families, including many Sierra Nevada employees. In the days following the fire, Sierra Nevada announced plans to brew Resilience IPA and donate 100% of the sales to the Sierra Nevada Camp Fire Relief Fund. The company invited every brewery in the country to brew the beer and donate 100% of the sales to the fund, as well. More than 1,400 breweries, including FCA, rallied alongside Sierra Nevada’s call for help.

“The brewing community has really come together in this large-scale fundraising effort,” said Sierra Nevada founder and owner Ken Grossman. “Now we’re asking drinkers to come together and help us raise funds by buying the beer.  And what better way to do it than with a nationwide pint night?” If the beer sells out, the project could raise more than $15 million for direct Camp Fire relief.

On Resilience Night, FCA will join other participating breweries to serve its version of Resilience IPA in its taproom, and donate the beer sales to the relief fund. Sierra Nevada will also host Resilience Night events at both its Chico, CA, and Mills River, NC, breweries.

“We are so grateful to the breweries, the suppliers, the wholesalers and retailers who have so graciously donated their time and resources to make this happen,” said Grossman. “With their help—and the help of the drinkers everywhere—we’ll be able to make a lasting and impactful difference in the lives of those impacted by this terrible tragedy.”

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Our new beer honors fca’s movie of the year

This Thursday, starting at 5 pm, we’re releasing what we think is our best New England-style IPA to date, and we’re calling it Don’t Stop Me Now.  Mug club members will get $1 off their first pour of this hazy brew with Citra, Simcoe, and Loral hops.


This is in honor of what we, as a classic rock-inspired brewery, consider to be the best movie of the year, Bohemian Rhapsody. (Admittedly, as a couple of guys who have full-time jobs and run a brewery, we don’t get out much, but we both loved this.) Forget the reviews and go see this film, which tells the story of Queen’s beginnings through the band’s much-lauded performance at Live Aid. It’s been nominated for two Golden Globes: best motion picture and Rami Malek for best actor in a motion picture for his portrayal as Freddie Mercury. 

If you like Queen’s music and having a good time, this one’s for you. Oscar nominations aren’t due until the end of January, but odds makers are placing their bets on a nomination for Rami Malek, who looks like Freddie and does a perfect reenactment of his Live Aid performance.

So what about the song? Why did we name the beer after it? The short answer is it just makes you feel good. The beautifully melodic introduction is followed by a high-energy tribute to being yourself and having a good time, and then there’s a lovely coda that goes back to the original melody. As the movie makes clear, Freddie Mercury was a truly gifted musician who struggled with his identity at a time that was much less accepting than now, and he found his perfect expression of himself through his music.

A study by the University of Missouri declared “Don’t Stop Me Now” to be the happiest song of all time. The joy of the song was captured in this comedic performance by Paul Rudd:

FCA ugly Christmas sweater party December 21

Did you know there is a national ugly Christmas sweater day? Did you further know that Mike and Joe actually went out and bought ugly sweaters to celebrate that day? Well, it’s true!

So let’s have a party on December 21, from 5-9 pm. Admission is free. Food will be available for purchase from the SWAT (Southern Wings & Things) food truck.

Your job is to wear an ugly sweater. If you do your job, we’ll take $1 off every full pour you buy. If you wear the ugliest sweater in the place, you’ll get a prize.

You can also sing Christmas songs if you want to. Mike likes that Mariah Carey one and isn’t embarrassed to admit it, even though using the word admit sort of suggests embarrassment, doesn’t it?

Whatever. Just come have some fun!

Double release Thursday: Reaper n’ Lucky

On Thursday, December 6, two favorites return to the tap room:

  • You Got Lucky pale ale (not too hoppy, light, and easy drinking)
  •  Don’t Fear the Reaper IPA with Carolina reaper peppers (hoppy, hot, and spicy)

Mug club members get $1 off their first pour of each. Plus there are 10 other beers on tap this weekend:

  1. Harvest Belgian wit with lemon
  2. Monkey Wrench chocolate stout with banana
  3. Boom Boom barleywine (BTW, barleywine is a beer style, not a wine, folks!)
  4. Divine Thing Belgian tripel with clementines and vanilla
  5. What I Got hazy IPA
  6. Brown-Eyed Girl brown ale
  7. Ruby Tuesday IPA with grapefruit
  8. Unchained pale ale with Connecticut hops
  9. Big Me double IPA
  10. Gimme Three Steps double IPA

On Saturday, we have live music from Noel Burke starting at 6:30 pm. Come down and join us!

Start brewing for FCA’s January 2019 homebrew competition!

Two homebrewer teams have brewed and had their beers on tap at Fairfield Craft Ales as a result of their winning entries in our semiannual homebrew competition. Last spring, we had Paint It Black, a delicious porter formulated by Jim Cenatiempo and Chris Moise. And now, we have Monkey Wrench on tap and in cans, an imperial stout flavored with dark chocolate and bananas. The brewers of that one were Matt Laudicina, Chris Aiuto, and Jason Rancourt.

Before opening FCA, Mike and Joe were passionate homebrewers who loved being able to share their brews with friends, family, and frankly, anyone we could get to try them. We know how satisfying it is to have others enjoy your creation. That’s why we love running our homebrew contest. Aside from getting to sample some great beers made by excellent, committed homebrewers, it’s very fulfilling to give the winners a chance to share their beers with the world. The brewers’ excitement on our brew days and their launch parties remind us why we got into this in the first place.

So it’s time to do it again! Fire up the kettles and start brewing. We’ll accept entries during our regular business hours between Thursday, January 3, and Sunday, January 6. Winners will be announced Saturday, February 9.

For details and entry forms, go here.

Beer Pairings for Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving Dinner

Your pushy, sexually ambiguous friend (she seems to be flirting with you all the time, but spends an awful lot of time with this other girl who’s always calling her “sir”) has somehow found herself with nothing to do on Thanksgiving. Naturally, she invites herself and two of her apparently family-less friends to your house for dinner as you’re packing stuff into your station wagon for the long, bumpy ride to your grandmother’s condo. You don’t have time for this, but she never stops talking and you can’t get a word in edgewise.

So your “guests” show up, and they show up hungry—immediately demanding food. And of course you have no food, because you’re going to grandma’s. And you don’t even want to go to grandma’s because you called in sick Wednesday to hit the state’s beer trail, and all those hazy IPAs in your beer fridge are calling your name. Aaargh! Nothing ever seems to go your way.

But your beagle and his sidekick—a species-ambiguous little yellow bird who sucks at flying—step up and throw together whatever they can find in the kitchen, and then serve it up in the driveway on an old ping pong table. Wow, someone cares about you, even if you are a total blockhead. Maybe it’s time to just roll with the situation. I mean, that beer fridge is pretty well-stocked. Who even cares if you make it to grandma’s. Let’s party!

But when you get to the table, you find the dinner a bit…let’s say unconventional. In fact, your friend who forced her way into your holiday has the nerve to complain that this isn’t what she was expecting at all. Good grief! Here are some suggested beer pairings to get you through this ridiculous meal:

Buttered toast: If I were you, I’d skip the toast. Seriously, unless you like beagle fur mixed in with your butter, skip it. But if you insist on digging in, a beer with a biscuity malt base will accentuate the toast’s flavor. Try a light, crisp, refreshing pilsner. Czech and German versions have less alcohol (4.5 to 5.4%), while American versions can go up to 6% alcohol by volume. The slight spicy bitterness of the Saaz hops will cut through the creamy fat in the butter. Or if you’re still feeling stressed and have decided to ditch the drive to grandma’s, go with a higher alcohol (7.5 to 9.5%) option like a Belgian tripel. It’s still light and biscuity with a slightly spicy hop profile, but the Belgian yeast brings some pleasant fruity complexity that will make the toast seem like more than an afterthought. And the high carbonation is great for cleansing your palate of fur.

Popcorn: Animals, with their miniscule attention spans and many other shortcomings, aren’t so adept in the kitchen. They cooked the popcorn on the stovetop, and let it overflow while they were trying to multitask. A lot of it ended up on the floor. Rats! Again, it’s up to you whether to eat it. If you do, try something with some darker malts and more hop flavor. The English style pale ale called an extra-special bitter (ESB) is a nice choice. This style has some nice caramel sweetness, and often a slight nuttiness, that work well with popcorn. Kind of like Cracker Jacks when they’re all in your mouth together. Traditionally, the English hops used in this style have earthy or floral notes that will pair nicely with the dirt on the popcorn from the kitchen floor.

Pretzels: You’ve been to beerfests. You know that pretzels work with any beer, and help clear your palate when you’re moving from one beer to another. So do whatever you want. You know you want to pull out one of those hazy IPAs from your Wednesday road trip and go to town. The big grapefruit flavor from the Citra hops and the smooth, creamy mouthfeel from the added oats and lactose, will start preparing you for the too-sweet dessert that for some reason is on the same plate as the main meal. Sigh! Just save a few pretzels for after you finish your beer to get ready for the next course.

Jellybeans: The first couple of jellybeans are always good, but almost inevitably the pure sugar becomes sickening. Here’s what’s interesting, though: sugar and malt are in the same category (malting helps grains convert starches to sugars during the mash stage of making beer). So super-sugary foods like jellybeans kind of just blend with the malt in beer and heighten the other flavors. Try a hoppy double IPA with jellybeans—it will taste hoppier and juicier. Or a porter, stout, or IPA with hot chili peppers or smoked malt. They’ll be hotter or smokier.

Oh, and try an imperial stout with a peppermint patty. You won’t be sorry.

Brown-Eyed Girl is back

This Thursday, November 15, our popular brown ale, Brown-Eyed Girl, returns to the FCA set list—just in time to make it to your Thanksgiving table (brown ales go great with just about every part of the meal). After a couple of batches that veered a bit, we’ve returned to the original recipe that made you love it.

So get yourself to the brewery when the taps start flowing at 5 pm Thursday. Mug club members get $1 off all pours of this brew that night.

The three beers you need to make Thanksgiving a beer dinner

It’s cold when you leave for work in the morning and dark when you get home. You need to clear your yard of leaves. And now there’s all that shopping to do for Thanksgiving dinner, which is coming up fast. The vast majority of Americans have the shopping list somewhat on autopilot—turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, apple and pumpkin pies—so aside from tinkering with some of the side dishes, something you might want to try differently is treating the holiday meal as a beer dinner.

Beer dinners are fun and educational. It’s interesting to note what you’re tasting in the food and the beer, and how those flavors interact with each other. Does the bitterness of an IPA cut through the fat in a charcuterie plate? The chocolatey maltiness of a brown ale contrast with the tanginess of cranberries? The sweetness in a barleywine complement a brown-sugar-and-molasses-heavy pecan pie? Yes, you bet they do.

The problem is that there are so many beer styles and you have other stuff to do besides research what they are and what foods they go with. Add to that the number of different foods available during the main meal—usually about eight—and there’s no way you’re going to find a perfect beer to go with every food. Instead, aim for beers that are best going to match the main components of each course.

Here, I’ll make it easy for you by telling you what three styles of beer best pair with each of the three phases that my family’s Thanksgiving meal typically runs through. (We’ve never really strayed from the traditional—no turduckens or tofurkeys in our household.) As a brewery owner and operator, I’ve been behind the bar long enough to know that everyone’s palate is different and some of you are not fans of these styles. So, I’ll note an alternative or two as well, and hopefully this short guide will be able to suit everyone’s taste.

Pour a pale ale with your apps

Since I was a kid, as the family gathered there were always generously large plates of cheese, crackers, nuts, cured meats, olives, and some crunchy vegetables such as celery and carrots. Nowadays, we call it charcuterie and it all seems so fancy.

Hoppy, often citrusy (but piney can work too), bitterness is a great complement to sharp cheeses like cheddar, and the light malts of a pale ale work well with nuts and crackers. If there are a lot of fatty meats on your plate, the beer’s combination of acidity and carbonation will cut through the fat.

Alternatives: A light, refreshing Pilsner with more earthy hops can ease you gently into a full day of food and drink. Or, if you want to go big right out of the gate (and hand over your car keys to a designated driver), a sweet barleywine is delicious with heavier cheeses like a creamy brie or crumbly blue.

Take tripel with your turkey

Okay, you made it through the apps, and now you’re being told it’s time to sit down for the big meal. Maybe you worked some of the earlier gorging off tossing around a football. Or you’ve just emerged from a short food coma that has left you groggy yet ravenous.

Whether you’re inhaling or forcing down each bite, you’re going to be working with a lot of flavors and textures—the crisp, caramelized skin of the turkey (even crispier if you deep fried it in your driveway) and the mild saltiness of its meat; the deep umami goodness of the gravy; the bready herbiness of the stuffing; the bittersweet cranberry sauce (I still love the gelatinous type from a can); the buttery creaminess of mashed potatoes; the mild, sweet earthiness of sweet potatoes; and the garlic and almond nuttiness mixed in with your green beans or the bacon and shallots with your Brussels sprouts.

If you were to pick a perfect beer pairing for each of these dishes, they’d be different, and you’d be consuming more alcohol than you should. You need a real workhorse that’s going to provide complement and contrast to everything on your plate, and have enough carbonation to clear the last bite’s flavors off your tongue so that you’re ready to fully experience all the flavors in the next bite.

That’s where Belgian-style strong ales come in. I’m recommending a tripel, which is a light-colored, higher alcohol (7.5% to 9.5% alcohol by volume) beer with a complex mix of spicy and fruity flavors with a delicate malt base. The experience of drinking a tripel rivals that of a good wine, with the pleasant and previously noted palate-cleansing effects of high carbonation. The food will pop, and you may find yourself relaxing to the point where you can tune out the political debate that’s erupting at the table.

Alternatives: A brown ale or Oktoberfest lager can be a good, lower-alcohol alternative. Both styles rely primarily on malts for their flavor, with the brown being a bit more roasty and chocolatey, and the Oktoberfest being more toasty and biscuity. Both are great with turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes. The brown might better complement the gravy and cut through the creaminess of the mashed potatoes.

If browns aren’t your thing, the mild flavor of an Oktoberfest works with almost anything. Choosing the beer you want with a meal all depends on your favorite of the flavors on your plate—focus on that and pick the beer that best matches it.

Go dark with dessert

It’s been an hour or three since the main table was cleared. What have you been doing? Watching football? Getting suckered into a political shouting match? Doing your best tryptophan-induced impression of Rip Van Winkle? Changing into any elastic-waisted pant you can find? Well, I hope you’re ready to wrap up with some pie.

Whether it’s apple, pumpkin, sweet potato, pecan, berry, coconut, or banana, the one beer style that is a 100% win with dessert is imperial stout. Whether you get one that’s just a straight-up stout or one flavored with coffee, vanilla, banana, chili peppers, or bourbon barrels, it’s gonna work. The chocolate malt flavors, the roasted barley, the caramel malts. They all combine to create flavors that rival the best coffee or espresso with any dessert.

Alternatives: Another dark option that goes well with dessert is a barleywine. Despite its name, this is a beer. There are no grapes or other fruit products. It’s made primarily from barley, just like any beer. It’s called a barleywine because of its high alcohol content. In the old days, before IPAs could approach 10 or 11 percent alcohol, barleywines—which can go as high as 12 percent alcohol by volume—were some of the biggest beers around. Since the alcohol content got as high as some wines, the beer was known as barleywine.

These beers are dark, but not as dark as porters or stouts (a porter can be a suitable alternative for dessert, too.) They tend to be sweeter than a stout, sometimes with flavors of stone fruits, like plums. Great with pie, or if you’re too full, skip dessert and have the beer as an aperitif.

***

Just please remember to drink responsibly during the holiday. If you have one beer during each of the three courses above, probably spread out over four or five hours, you should be okay. But everyone has his or her own tolerances. Don’t get behind the wheel of a car even if you’re feeling a little buzz. Thanksgiving traffic is horrendous, and it’s all too easy to get into an accident. Have a good time but stay safe. Enjoy the holiday, everyone!