The Quest For a Decent Keg
This tale begins with the time my wife forgot my birthday. Unlike Molly Ringwald’s character in Sixteen Candles, I didn’t sulk about this oversight, but rather seized on the opportunity to request a lavish birthday present. A healthy marriage is all about the ability to negotiate. It might be a simple exchange like, “I did the dishes, so can you please make sure our son cleaned his butt properly?” In this situation, I leveraged my forgotten birthday to get a Kegerator.
Now there is a lot more to owning a kegerator than just pulling a handle and drinking fresh beer on tap. Understanding how to get the CO2 working, making sure the beer lines are clean, and maintaining the equipment is a bit of an adventure in itself. The most important question may be “Where do I get a keg?” Bevmo has a good selection and will let you roam around their walk-in fridge to explore, and many liquor stores also will sell you one. But if you want to ensure an absolutely fresh keg at a great price, you can’t beat buying from the brewery. That brings me to my relationship with Hermitage; a great local source for all sorts of kegs in San Jose, CA.
History of Hermitage
Hermitage traces its roots to a brewpub called Tied House that opened in 1987. This puts them in a pretty small group of early craft breweries, and allowed them to be in a great position for the big boom that has happened in the last decade. They opened a large dedicated brewery in 2008 and have acted as a home to many other local breweries looking to get their feet off the ground. Former contract breweries include Strike Brewing and Almanac Beer. They have continues to develop their own brand during this time, and have a tremendous amount of variety in the tap room. From single-hop IPA’s to barrel-aged sours, there is something for everyone.
The tap room is a warm and friendly environment, and there are always a couple people on hand to answer my obnoxious questions about hops. I find at least a couple different new brews on tap every time I go. They typically have around 5 different IPA’s on tap to go along with stouts, sours, and other fun twists on popular styles. They aren’t all home runs, but with such a great variety the odds are you will find something you’ve never had. My most recent trip gave me a chance to try a Belgian IPA called Pamplemousse (grapefruit in French) that was fantastic. They also had a beer called That 70’s IPA that only used hops available in the 70’s, which is an interesting retro experiment given all of the trendy new hops on the market.
My first keg came from BevMo. There is nothing wrong with that, but that fridge in the back is a minefield of old beer. You need to look at the dates carefully, particularly if you want a hoppy IPA. There is also a pretty steep markup on the good stuff. So I went around to local breweries to find my second keg, and Hermitage was easily the friendliest in town. They gave me a fresh Citra IPA along with a tap handle for a great price. This has endeared me to them greatly, and I’ve been going back regularly when it is time for a refill. As I said, they always have something new to try, and they never hesitate to line up a bunch of tasters for me. So if you find yourself in San Jose CA, make sure you swing by Hermitage.