A couple nights ago the Bear Republic celebrated their 15th year in business here in Healdsburg. The brewpub is now a fixture of downtown Healdsburg and an amazing respite for those who are finishing a long day of wine tasting or those who just want a great craft beer. I was 15 when the Bear opened and though I don’t remember the first time I went down I do have a lot of great memories being there.
Way back when, pretty much before Hotel Healdsburg existed, the Bear used to have concerts from time to time. One of the best parts about the concerts was that they were open to everyone to come enjoy. One of the first memories I have at the Bear was a concert that they hosted by the band Midnight Sun. I was a nervous 16 year old going out on a date with a new girlfriend and they were a family friendly place that let a couple of teenagers enjoy music, drink their homemade soda and have a great time.
For years after that I remember going down to the Bear with family and friends after soccer games, long days paddling on the river and just about any other time you needed a little celebration at the end of a great day. One of the funniest memories I have is of one time I was down there with my brother, sister and some family friends. We ordered the calamari appetizer and when it came out my ten or maybe eleven year old brother firmly declared “I don’t like the testicles,” we all looked at him with that wtf kind of look until we realized he meant he didn’t like the tentacles. To this day we still joke about it when we all get together down there.
I can also remember sharing my first beer with my parents at the Bear, much to the relief of my dad who wasn’t sure that moment was ever going to happen (I didn’t start drinking until after I was 21). Then years later it was the Bear we went to celebrate the completion of a great family vacation. It was also that same evening that Eryn, the woman who later became my wife, came over to spend time with my whole family for the first time. Suffice to say the Bear has been at the center of many of the great moments or the celebratory moments after some excellent moments in my life.
So the other night Eryn and I went down to the Bear to celebrate their 15th years and to try their two special beers crafted for the celebration. The beers were both great. The 15th Anniversary Sour was a blended sour beer with a nice level of acidity balanced with just a touch of hops and a nice puckering amount of sour, but definitely not overdone. It was exactly what I would expect a sour ale from the Bear to be like. The second beer was a cask conditioned dry hopped Red Rocket. Being cask conditioned the beer was lightly carbonated and the head was mostly larger bubbles created from the pour rather then from carbonation. When you smelled the beer it had a great hoppy aroma from the dry hopping it went through. It was served cool but definitely not cold. At first I wasn’t sure I was going to like it but after the first couple sips I really got into it.
As we worked on our celebration ales Richard Norgrove Sr made his was down the bar acknowledging everyone that was there to celebrate. He ended up stopping and talking to us for quite a while, first about the new sour program that the Bear has embarked on then from everything to homemade bread to the old concerts at the bear. It was a blast to chat with him and you could see the pride he had in building not just the business but a place where people came and created great memories. I can’t thank Richard and the whole Bear crew enough for the great memories I’ve had and I look forward to the next 15 years of memories to come. Congratulations!