Beer 511

Exploring Craft Beer and Homebrew in Peru (Country Code 51) and the USA (Country Code 1)

Category: Beer Reviews Page 2 of 5

Blue Oak Brewing Co. (San Carlos, CA)

I found Blue Oak Brewing more or less by happenstance.  Liz and I were at the south end of the SF Peninsula, and having finished an errand, we decided to treat me to a beer before making the long trip back home.  We turned to the AHA‘s Brew Guru app and it led us to Blue Oak.

Blue Oak Brewing is the brainchild of Alex Porter, who is the owner, brewer, and (when we were there) bartender.  He opened the brewery almost two years ago. Most of that time, I surmise, it was sharing space with the cidery nextdoor, but in September, Porter expanded into a larger adjacent space and made it into the current taproom.

The space is set up on an open floor plan, appointed with tables and barrels to sit at, in addition to the bar, with a trio of fermenters tucked into one corner.

As for the beers, Porter’s got a good mix of IPAs, Belgians, kettle sours, and fruited beers on tap.  When I was there this weekend there were twelve beers on tap. Not bad for what seems to be essentially a one-man operation on a 7-bbl brewhouse.

I opted for a flight of Cordilleras Kriek, Brother Joshua, Junipero Citra, and Ginny and the Giant Peach.

The Cordilleras Kriek (5% abv, 2 IBU) had a nice sourness with plenty of cherry flavor. It was little sweet in the mouth, but finished surprisingly dry at the back end. It was my favorite by far. I would’ve taken home a crowler of it, but it’s only served by the glass.

Junipero Citra (5.6%, 25 IBU) is a saison brewed with juniper berries and coriander, and dry-hopped with Citra hops. It tasted piney and citrusy, and was quite effervescent. I did take home a crowler of this one!

Brother Joshua (7%, 18 IBU) is a nice, dry, Belgian dubbel. Quite enjoyable.

The only one of the set, that was a bit of a disappointment was Ginny and the Giant Peach. It is 6% abv kettle sour fermented with white peaches. It was nicely sour, but the peach flavor was not very strong and it was also somehow hollow, like it dried out too much. There was a nice funkiness to it, though.

It just goes to show that, although San Francisco and the East Bay tend to get a lot of the buzz, there are other corners of the Bay Area brewing scene that are well worth exploring .

 

 

Blue Oak Brewing Co.
815 Cherry Lane
San Carlos, CA 94070

www.blueoakbrewing.com

Pacha Cerveza Artesanal’s “Piel Roja”

Today I am offering my impressions of Piel Roja from Pacha Cerveza Artesanal. This bottle was given to me by Pacha’s owner and brewer, Adrián Calle, during my visit to the Red Cervecera Perú’s brewpub in August, and I’ve been saving it cold until now.

Piel Roja is an 40 IBU, 6.5% abv, India Red Ale, a style also known as a Red IPA. It is a deep copper or light brown, somewhere in the range of 18-20 SRM.  The name of the beer, Piel Roja, which in English we’d translate as Redskin, is an allusion to the style and color of the beer.

Upon pouring hop and citrus  aromas waft out of the glass even before it is put to the nose.  The white foam subsides quickly but is easily rousted again.  Lacing present when the glass is swirled, but it doesn’t hold for long. That said, my bottle was appropriately carbonated,

Upon savouring, maltiness and hop bitterness are the first impressions, followed by a light roastyness.  It is a medium-bodied, mildly dry beer. Grapefruit and pine notes last in the mouth beyond the latest sip.  Piel Roja is a solidly done, enjoyable brew.

Weihenstephaner Braupakt Hefe Weissbier

Braupakt is a collaboration brew between Bayerische Staatsbrauerei Weihenstephan, considered the world’s oldest extant brewery, and California craft-brew pioneers, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company.  Braupakt, in fact, literally means “brewing pact”.

Released in the US this past Spring, Braupakt is a limited-edition brew.  (I am reviewing a sample bottle I received from the PR company.)

Braupakt is  a light amber, 6% abv, ~35 IBU beer.  It is somewhat hazy, as befits a wheat beer.

Poured into the glass it immediately raised a beautiful cream-colored rocky head, but the beer itself is not aggressively carbonated.  I got coriander and in the nose upon first approach, and some peach, with banana emerging a bit later in the aroma.   At the end there is a distinct malt aroma.

In the flavor, meanwhile, I detected peach, bananas and cloves, with some floral characteristics emerging as the beer warms. I’m thinking: violets, or perhaps roses.

Braupakt has a bit more hop bitterness than I might have expected in a German hefeweißbier.  The beer is brewed with German Hallertauer hops and finished with the very-American Amarillo and Chinook hops.  While all that might turn off some style purists, I think that in Braupakt it harmonized pretty well.

I found Braupakt to be in fact quite lovely and, I think, worth checking out.  And, you should look for it now, as it is likely to be a one-off.

Cervecería +51 (Lima, Peru)

A few days ago my wife, my cousins, and I headed over to Cervecería +51 in Lima’s Jesús María district.

Cervecería +51 is a small brewpub on a side street not far from Jesús María’s plaza and central market.  It occupies the space vacated by Jaya Brew and there are still a few relics from Jaya in the form of posters, wifi  network  ID, etc.

The space is nicely appointed with tables made from recycled doors, and there are several sets of Jenga™-style blocks for patrons to play with.  The staff is great. Super friendly, helpful, and dedicated to making sure that one has a good experience as a patron.

Currently, +51 (whose name, incidentally –like part of the name of this blog– is derived from the Peru country code) has a line-up of a dozen beers, including a trio of Irish-style beers (lager, red ale, coffee stout).   Not all of them were on tap when we visited, but the missing brews were made up for by guest taps from other Lima craft brewers.

We stuck with the house brews, trying their Imperial Stout (6% abv, 33 IBU), American Pale Ale (5.5%, 33 IBU), ZIA – India Red Ale (6.5%, 44 IBU), IPA (7%, 58 IBU), and the Belgian Pale Ale (5.9%, 26 IBU).

+51 is brand new, having opened its doors only in mid-June, and it is evident that, like many new breweries, they’ve not yet gotten their brewhouse efficiency zeroed in. The result is that some of the beers, while overall good in flavour, do lack a bit in body and mouthfeel. (And, of course, there’s the issue of taking a 6% abv, 33 IBU beer and calling it an imperial stout.)

The Belgian Pale and the IPA were the best of the bunch.  Both of those brews show that +51 has what it takes to produce good beers. There was sufficient “Belgiany” flavour in the first, and a decent hoppiness and good body, with a nice long-lasting head of foam, in the latter. In fact, having tasted the IPA, we ordered a full pitcher of it. And then, a second one!

Time constraints will likely keep me from revisiting +51 during the remaining days of the this trip, but I look forward to getting back there when I next return to Lima.

 

Cervecería +51
Jr. Huamachuco 1479, Jesús María
Lima, Peru

Figueroa Mountain Brewing’s “Lizard’s Mouth” Imperial IPA

 

Figueroa Mountain Brewing is a family-owned craft brewery located in Buellton, CA, with six taprooms along the south-central coast: in Buellton, Arroyo Grande, Los Olivos, Santa Barbara, and Westlake Village.

I was happy to be given the chance to sample some beers by Figueroa Mountain Brewing, who, last week, sent me a couple of bottles for review.

The first of those -which I opened yesterday- is Lizard’s Mouth Imperial India Pale Ale.

My first impression upon pouring Lizard’s Mouth was that this is a pretty beer. Starting with the clear, golden color, an on to that snow-white head.

My bottle was appropriately carbonated, producing steady streams of tiny bubbles rising up through the beer, what people sometimes refer to as “strings of pearls”. Lizard’s Mouth also has good head retention, and plenty long-lasting lacing in the glass as the volume of liquid goes down.

Lizard’s Mouth is full-bodied, with a creamy mouthfeel. It has a little bit of warmth -one can tell it is a higher alcohol brew- but doesn’t taste at all “hot” or alcoholic.

As for the hops, they are definitely up near the front in the aroma and taste, but they don’t smack one in the face. Lizard’s Mouth has plenty of malt body and sweetness to balance out the 75 IBUs of hops (Simcoe, Citra, and Centennial, if you must know).

Unlike many American double IPA’s, which are very much hop-forward, Lizard’s Mouth may be better described as malt-forward –of course, maybe that’s why it’s described as an “imperial” and not a “double” IPA.  It tastes malty, with some notes of biscuit, a little toast. There’s notes of citrus in there as well, and tropical fruit — I get guava, passion fruit, maybe some pineapple.

As counter-intuitive as it may seem with a 9% abv brew, as I was finishing my glass of Lizard’s Mouth, it occurred to me that “this a session imperial IPA”! I could have easily drunk another bottle of it, which doesn’t happen a lot with big IPA’s.  I mean, yes, there was a hop flavor and bitterness aftertaste, but my tastebuds didn’t feel overwhelmed. In fact, I was able to enjoy a meal immediately thereafter and actually be able to taste something other than hops.

So, Pliny, this isn’t.  Double IPAs of that school are meant to showcase hops. Figueroa Mountain’s Lizard’s Mouth Imperial IPA, on the other hand, was clearly designed to attain a balance.  The result is a beer that is surprisingly easy to drink despite the high hop rate and abv.

Honestly, I liked it a lot.

 

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