Moonraker, voted 9th best new brewery in world, sells out, while New Glory dumps spoiled batch

The tasting room at Moonraker is often bustling, but last Friday was especially intense as the flagship Yojo IPA quickly sold out in cans.
The tasting room at Moonraker is often bustling, but last Friday was especially intense as the flagship Yojo IPA quickly sold out in cans. File photo.

With Moonraker still riding the momentum from three major awards at the annual RateBeer gathering in Santa Rosa —including ninth best new brewery in the world — serious beer fans were already lined up outside the Auburn brewery at 10:30 a.m. last Friday.

The tasting room normally opens at 3 p.m., but Moonraker likes to welcome folks in at noon during special can releases.

A Yojo IPA can release? It’s gone from special to epic.

With customers limited to three four-packs of 16-ounce cans of Yojo, the hazy Northeast-stye India pale ale sold out by 5 p.m. That’s 186 cases of 16-ounce cans gobbled up by customers who came from as far away as Chico and the Bay Area. The 100 cases of largely unheralded Citra Crush, a single hop beer, sold out by 2 p.m. It’s the first time Moonraker has sold out of a can release in a single day.

“I love to see these diehard consumers in craft beer,” said brewmaster Zack Frasher. “It’s very flattering and it’s great to see people love the beer so much.”

“We all have a great time,” added owner Karen Powell, when asked about the long lines and large crowds. “We like the excitement and energy that everyone brings. Having a really packed house is fun for everyone.”

Yojo is still available on draft at the Auburn tasting room and will be back in cans on March 2. If you want some, get in line — and get there early.

As Moonraker was basking in the limelight and dealing with the onslaught, New Glory Brewing in Sacramento was breaking the news to customers via social media that its pending release of a hazy IPA was a no-go — a victim of a lengthy power outage from one of many recent rainstorms.

New Glory has emerged as one of the hottest breweries in the region as consumers covet its many small-batch releases of creative beers in stylishly designed cans. The brewery’s willingness to push the envelope with creativity has made for several exciting new beers, including the recent Mandarin Coconut Gose and Flippin’ Good Pancake Brown Ale, and has attracted plenty of Moonraker-like attention.

When it decided to tackle another Northeast-style hazy IPA, New Glory was willing to brew it with New Zealand hops it has never used before.

“Our business model is to experiment and come up with new things. It’s part of the risk factor. This is what craft beer is all about for us,” owner Julien Lux said. “It was something a little bit out of our control.”

But this hazy IPA, all 40 barrels of it, went down the drain after Lux and head brewer Corey Meyer did a final taste test. They had been working with the two new hops, and along with being unable to control the temperature during a crucial time in the fermentation process, the flavors went off the rails.

“We taste the beer every day. The beer is always changing as it’s fermenting. You never know how a beer is going to turn out until the end,” Lux said. He added that the final beer was very bitter and tasted like banana peel and grass.

He said that dumping the large batch of beer, at a likely loss of thousands of dollars, was no fun, but there was never the thought of trying to sell it.

“It’s an expensive way to learn. But when the beer is in question, the one thought that’s never in play is money. It’s all about the beer and our customers. We’ll never sell a beer where the quality is not up there,” Lux said.

News of New Glory’s misfortune quickly made the rounds in the local craft beer community. Frasher heard about it, too, and was sympathetic.

“We’ve been lucky that we haven’t had that issue, but it’s not uncommon for a lot of great breweries to dump beer down the drain. I have huge respect for brewers that do that,” Frasher said.

Blair Anthony Robertson: 916-321-1099, @Blarob