Beer 511

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

Category: Breweries (Page 1 of 8)

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

Gilman Brewing (Berkeley, CA)

Over the weekend I stopped in at Gilman Brewing, on Gilman St, in Berkeley.

The space is fairly cozy. One is greeted by the taproom immediately upon entering, in a small, low-ceiling foyer, leading onto a passage backed by a long standing bar pushed up against the backside of the fermenters.  However, above there is a two-level deck overlooking the brewhouse, with a selection of tables and bar stools.

Off to one side there is a game room, with corn-hole, and -I think- a fussball table.

It was my first time there, and the staff were very helpful in steering me toward good beer selection

s for my flight.  I tried  (clockwise from top center, in the picture above) La Ferme Noire (dark saison with brett, 7.7% abv), Old Rusty (Belgian golden strong, 8%), Pineapple Jardin (Belgian golden sour, 5.8%), Cheval de Fer (limited-release dry-hopped Belgian saison, abv not specified), and Fuzzy Dice (hazy IPA, 7%).

I liked all the beers, but I was kind of rushed and didn’t take notes, so I can’t remember details of all of them.  Fuzzy Dice was good, I do remember that.  So were Cheval de Fer and Old Rusty, but, for me that day, the real standouts were the two sours.

Le Jardin is a kettle sour, which means that it was soured with lactobacillus before the wort was boiled.  It is dry, and mildly tart, not puckeringly sour, which makes it a good “gateway” into the world of sour beers.  That it was then fermented with Belgian yeast strains adds pleasant complexity to the flavor -some citrus, stonefruit, ….  It is no wonder that I liked it, as I am partial to both, sours and Belgian-styled beers.

Pineapple Jardin is Le Jardin with the addition of a half-ton of fresh pineapple per batch. So, take what I said above about Le Jardin and picture that with the sweetness and tartness of pineapple, with loads of pineapple flavor on top of that, and you’d be getting the picture.

 

 

Gilman Brewing Co.
912 Gilman St.
Berkeley, CA

gilmanbrew.com

 

Autumn Beer Tasting at Anchor

About a week and a half ago, took advantage of invitation to attend an Autumn Beer Tasting Session led by Dane Volek, Anchor’s Pilot Brewer at Anchor Public Taps.

Up until now Anchor’s tap room has not been generally open to the public, and the only way to taste Anchor beer at the brewery was to attend a special event or manage to grab a hard-to-get spots on a tour.  Anchor’s new taproom, Anchor Public Taps, changes that by being open 7 days a week and offering pretty much all of Anchor’s beers on tap to the public, hence the name “Public Taps”.

Located just across the street from the main Anchor brewery itself on Potrero Hill in San Francisco, Anchor Public Taps also houses Anchor Brewing’s 7-bbl pilot brewery, which produces many beers offered only on tap, and only at Anchor Public Taps. In addition it also hosts Anchor’s growing barrel-aging program, including some “funky” barrels.

Volek led our group through a line-up of four beers that “you would want to drink on an evening in the Fall”.

These are my notes from that night on each of the beers:

Blood Orange Blonde
orange prominent in the nose, some hop aroma.  light body, gold to light-amber in color  not much maltiness or bitterness, slight fruity sweetness lingers on the palate

Fog Breaker IPA
citrus and pine hoppiness in the nose  Pine and citrus bitterness in the mouth   gold in color, light body and mouthfeel  bitterness lingers

Third I
triple IPA  9.3%    fruitiness in the nose: citrus and then … strawberries!   Marked strawberry character in the flavour as well.  Hop bitterness is attenuated by the sweetness.  The sweetness lingers on the palate, leaving a sharp bitterness as it fades. Very interesting beer.

Coffee Porter
Pronounced coffee notes in the aroma and taste.  Coffee, roast, and hop bitterness balanced by malty sweetness.

In addition to those four, Volek threw in a few additions and surprises.

The first of these was a Märzen, of which we got serve ourselvesdirectly from the sampling port on the fermenter.   Next, the group was able to taste a brown ale that had been fermenting for only 24 hours.  It pretty much was like tasting unconverted wort –which is, in fact, what it was.

Finally, we got a preview taste of this year’s Merry Christmas and Happy New Year beer and a sneak peek at the label and packaging.

Produced afresh each year from a different recipe, and with a different image of a tree on the label, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year changes from year to year.  This year’s version –which goes on sale in November– is less robust or roasty than previous years’ versions. Less like a stout and more like a barley wine, but still with some spice character: coriander, cloves, …

Sutter Buttes Brewing (Yuba City, CA)

Last weekend, on my way to Dobbins for the Northern California Homebrewers Festival (NCHF), I stopped for lunch at Sutter Butter Brewing, in Yuba City.

Founded in 2011 in downtown Yuba City, Sutter Buttes is, as far as I can discern, that city’s only commercial brewery, and I know it to be a frequent stop for homebrewers and beer geeks on the way to Chico or to NCHF.

The tap room is pleasant, if a bit dated in its decor style, but it’s got it going on where it counts. The staff is pleasant and friendly, the food is good (try the Reuben sandwich), and the beer is spot on.

I ordered a flight and let my server choose the beers for me.  She selected the hefeweizen, Annie’s Almond Brown, Riley’s Red Ale, and Franklin DIPA.

The hefe (5.5%, 10 IBU) was quite good. It had everything one expects and looks for in hefeweizen.  Riley’s Red (6%, 55 IBU) was also very good.  The brewery’s blurb says it “has all the best features of an American craft red ale, but still grounded with Irish style”. I’m not that familiar with the style so I’ll have to take their word on it, but I can say that I liked it and you’d not go wrong in ordering it.  The Franklin DIPA (8%, 100 IBU) was also very good. Not as malt-forward as some DIPA’s but also not a face-puckering hop bomb.  It’s a DIPA that one could easily drink several of.   As for the brown (5.5%, 20 IBU), a beer “dry hopped” with local almonds, it was tasty, but honestly, I was not able to detect any almond notes.

The star for me, however, was the glass of Blackie Ford’s Hop Riot.  Named after the leader of the Wheatland hop workers strike of 1913, it is an 8.8%, 90 IBU, imperial black IPA.

It is strong, hoppy, and dark-tasting, if that’s a thing, but without the roastyness of a stout or a porter.  I can’t say that I’m super keen on black IPA’s as a style, but Blackie Ford’s is solid example of what can be achieved with the style.

 

 

Sutter Buttes Brewing
421 Center St
Yuba City, CA

http://www.sutterbuttesbrewing.com

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

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