In 1850, an Irishman named Thomas Grace left Ireland by boat and landed in New York to chase the American Dream. As his new American family grew, they moved west (fighting the Oregon Trail dysentery), landing in Santa Rosa, California to become farmers. Two of his seven children, Frank and Joe, went on to start the Grace Brothers Brewery, which thrived pre and post prohibition, ceasing somewhere around the sixties.
Seventy-five years ago, the Grace Brothers brewed a beer called Happy Hops, and Russian River Brewing out of Santa Rosa and Windsor just paid tribute to it with a brand new India Pale Ale with the same name. “It’s also a way for us to pay homage to the Grace Family and their brewing pioneer history,” notes Russian River’s website.
Although newer beer drinkers instantly recognize Russian River’s iconic red and green Pliny the Elder logo, beer nerds have always gone for their Blind Pig IPA, named after Vinnie and Natalie Cilurzo’s first brewpub that was located in Temecula before the couple moved up north. Blind Pig is sort of the benchmark for highly aromatic dry IPA’s, which has been made more widely available thanks to their new multimillion-dollar brewery that just opened in Windsor, CA.
Happy Hops takes what’s great about Blind Pig and amps it up to level 1000. Just when I thought local breweries were edging out Russian River with explosive hops, this beer clearly dethrones any contenders. The hops aromatics are nearly glass-shattering cataclysmic. They’re more pungent than a wedding day bouquet. It’s like hop concentrate, yet in an easy to consume $6.99 bottle. Hell, even my burp smells great after a sip.
Want to see what one of the world’s best IPA producers can yield with access to some of the world’s most aromatic hops? Definitely grab a few bottles of Happy Hops before the limited release beer goes away.
Russian River beers can be found throughout Orange County and Long Beach at Beachwood BBQ, Tustin Brewing, Windsor Homebrew Supply, O’Shea Brewing, and other big box beverage stores.
Greg Nagel has been writing about beer since 2011, is an avid homebrewer of wine, cider, and beer, is a certified Cicerone Beer Server, level 1 WSET in Wine, a podcaster with the Four Brewers Show, and runs a yearly beer festival called Firkfest happening this June!