The owners of upstart micro-brewer Hen House from Petaluma has scored a spot on Zagat’s list of 30 food and beverage standouts under age 30 from the Bay Area. The brewery, which debuted 2012, is the brainchild of Collin McDonnell and Shane Goepel, 27 and 29 respectively. The brews are unconventional by modern West Coast standards, particularly in that they don’t even bother to make an IPA.
“We love brewing IPAs as much as the next set of brewers,” McDonnell told Zagat, “but it’s hard to swallow that what the world needs now is another IPA.”
In its place, they go for a couple of examples of lesser known but solid styles, starting with a saison and a Belgian golden ale. The lineup is rounded out with a traditional treasure that not many brewers venture into anymore: an oyster stout. Yes, oysters. Odd as it sounds, oysters add body and sometimes a little brininess that balances the sweetish dark malt that underlies a good stout. The style has roots centuries deep, though it has fallen out of favor as oysters have become more scarce and pricey.
The Hen House guys also announced on their Facebook page this week that they are working up a traditional berlinerweiss saur mash, the light, acidic sour beer that is making a bit of a comeback in artisan brewing circles after decades of bland mass-maket knockoffs that have tarnished the name and driven the style into relative obscurity even in its traditional territory around the German capital.
The brewery has a small distribution footprint: you can get the beers at Petaluma Market and TAPS, and at a handful of high-end places around the area, including Thomas Keller’s iconic Yountville restaurants, the French Laundy and Ad Hoc. They’re also on tap at a few San Francisco beer destinations: St. Vincent Tavern, City Beer Store, Monk’s Kettle and The Abbot’s Cellar.
The brewers join other area young stars on the list, including Heidi Brown, “Culinary Liason” for Chef Christopher Kostow of the Restaurant at Meadowood in St. Helena; Jessica Entzel, Pastry Chef at Morimoto Napa; Ryan Harris, Sales & Marketing Manager at Napa’s Fatted Calf Charcuterie; Erik Johnson, Sommelier at the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group; and Cappy Sorentino, Bar Manager at Healdsburg’s Spoonbar.
– Sean Scully