Why we're here...

Beer culture is coming of age. At any store, restaurant, bar, or friend's house you can now find at least a few good brews. In fact, there seem to be so many new beers, breweries and bars it's difficult to separate the good, the bad, and the mediocre.

If you're going spend $10 on one beer, what should you buy? If you're going to drive 2 hours to check out a brewery, what's worth your time? If you're going to plan a Friday night, what has a good selection and friendly atmosphere? We're here to help you answer these questions.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Mraz Brewing Company

Mraz (Mer-oz) Brewing Company is located in El Dorado Hills, CA, not far from Folsom Lake. Mraz opened in spring 2013. Brewer and founder Michael Mraz was named California Home Brewer of the Year in 2008 and 2009.

Located in a shopping center off of busy Green Valley Road, you should probably look for Lake Forest Plaza and the 76 Gas Station.
From the outside it looks fairly small, but they use the space well can probably comfortably fit 60-75 people between in door and outdoor seating.

The craft is visible as soon as you walk. The plank, high-top tables are hand built. The simple no frills (but comfortable) bar stools create a rustic and authentic decor. The red drapes and a touch of old parlor class.

The brew room, visible through a window, is small, but underscores the craft at the heart of the brewery. It's nothing fancy, but gets the job done.

The Mraz Brewing logo is of a sword, blade facing down, with wings sprouting from the handles. It's designed to symbolize their aggressive approach to brewing - never settling and always moving forward with their styles and recipes.

Overall, we were very happy to discover this gem hidden in the hills between El Dorado and Folsom. Each beer style was well crafted - no off flavors, spot on body and mouthfeel, and the flavors you want.

My top brews that for me demonstrate the brewery's talent are the Amber, the EDH IPA, the Coffee Porter and the Francisco Dubbell. Right now Mraz plans to only have the EDH IPA available year round. All other taps will have revolving seasonal and one-off brews.

The Amber impressed me with its complex layers of malt and hop flavors from the Simcoe dry hopping. Probably one of the better ambers I've had. These are often throw away styles, but Mraz has done a lot to make this recipe a keeper.

The EDH IPA was a delicious, tropical hop IPA that had some unique flavors I've only found in Berryessa's Double Tap. The EDH uses El Dorado hops, an experimental hop numbered 5256, and some citra for dry hopping. A top contender for best Sacramento area IPA.

The Coffee Porter had the right balance of coffee and malts, without being to heavy.  Great mouthfeel and a lighter body than its appearance suggests.

The Francisco Belgian Dubbel has delicious Belgian malts and sweetness with hints of dark fruits.

I usually do not drink sour ales, but their American Sour #1 with cherries could convert me. They will be brewing sours regularly and have the barrels to aged them.

With many new breweries popping up in Northern California, its hard to decide which ones to put some time into visiting. Some are worth visiting and some are not. New breweries tend not to have quality under full control, their recipes aren't fully worked out, or they lack creativity or soul.  Not so with Mraz, put them on your Must Visit list.

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