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)

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

Cervecería Artesanal El Oráculo (Ayacucho, Peru)

This past weekend I traveled from Lima to the city of Ayacucho (aka Huamanga), where my family is originally from, on my dad’s side. There, I had a great time meeting Richy Ledesma, a craft brewer whom I’d been in contact with on FaceBook and who is also friends with a couple of my cousins.

Richy received me at his place, Cervecería Artesanal El Oráculo, and plied me with beers as we spent the evening talking about craft beer and other subjects.

Entirely self-taught, Richy is one of only two craft brewers in Ayacucho, a city 363 road miles from Lima and 9,000 feet up in the Andes.  He produces four or five batches a week on a 100-liter system, which he mainly distributes in bottles, which he fills by hand and carbonates with priming sugar.

In the evenings he opens his little taproom, which is located in a fourth floor walk-up space in downtown, and dispenses beer from his two-tap draft system.

The relative isolation means that everything that goes into a beer but the water, has to be imported. Once to Peru, and thence from Lima to Huamanga. It also means that Richy is fighting against a lack of popular knowledge about beer styles and about hand-crafted beer.

Further, it also means that Richy does not have easy access to examples of the styles he wishes to brew nor to a support community of fellow brewers.  One result of that is that some of El Oráculo’s beers are not quite consistent with what we, in the US, would consider the standard for those beers –for example, Punana Porter falls a bit shy when it comes to body  and mouthfeel.

Richy, however, is undaunted and by dint of hard work in what is essentially a one-man operation, he is opening doors for his brews in town and elsewhere.  His beers are even poured at events and festivals as far away as Lima.

El Oráculo’s tastiest beers are, by far, Judas and La Vidente.

Judas is a 7.5% abv, 30 IBU, 13 SRM, smooth pale ale with a lovely white head.  I didn’t take any notes, so I’m going from memory here, but I believe Richy said that he used Columbus and Kent Goldings hops in this one.

La Vidente is El Oráculo’s biggest beer, coming in at 13% abv.  One wouldn’t know it, though, when drinking it. It has a bit of warmth, but is not “hot” with alcohol. Rather, tropical fruit notes predominate in the mouth and nose.

If you like craft beer and supporting small independent enterprises, El Oráculo is well worth checking out should you find yourself in Ayacucho.

 

 

Cervecería Artesanal El Oráculo
Calle Nazareno, 2do Pasaje #133
Ayacucho, Peru

www.facebook.com/CerveceriaArtesanalElOraculo/

Jester King Brewery (Austin, TX)

A brewery whose beers I’ve admired for a while is Jester King Brewing.  I knew, from experience, that they produced some seriously interesting and experimental beers, but until I went there I did not fully grasp how special Jester King is.

Located in the Texas Hill Country, on the outskirts of Austin, Jester King sits on 58 acres of ranchland.   The portion surrounding the brewery has been turned into a very pleasant beer garden.  Adjacent to them there is a pizza restaurant that also serves beer –and, of course, one can bring one’s beer down to the pizza place, and the pizza up to the brewery’s beer garden.

Jester King is committed to infusing as much of the Texas Hill Country terroir into their beers as they can.    Water is drawn from an on-site well, and the barrel house was once the site’s dairy barn. Even the large corrugated metal building that houses the 30-bbl brewhouse is recycled. It was located on a farm in southern Texas, dismantled, and reassembled on Jester King’s property.

Most of the parcel, naturally, is open space and provides the native environment in which the wild yeasts that Jester King relies on naturally thrive and propagate.

In the cool months, wort is pumped into a copper coolship in the barrel house’s second story loft. The windows are left open to the cool night air and the area’s natural wild “bugs” allowed to settle on to the wort.

The wort then racked into barrels and foeders, where it spends from a few months to a several years fermenting and maturing.

Averie Swanson, head brewer (and now part owner) of Jester King, who led our tour, explained that while they have to reject about one in ten barrels because they developed off flavors, most of the time patience is the key, recognizing that different micro-organisms do their thing at different rates and stages of the fermentation, and just giving them time to clean up a beer.

Interestingly, she also noted that whenever they send samples off for analysis, the labs return a list of a couple dozen micro-organisms that they recognize and note the presence of “about 100 more” that they’ve never seen before.

On part of the land, the brewery has planted grape vines, the fruits of which will be used to infuse new and interesting character into beers.  In order to increase the locality of the flora they will contribute, and in a gesture toward “closing the circle”, the spot where each vine was to be planted was first innoculated with microflora from brewery.

About the only thing that regularly goes into Jester King brews that doesn’t come from Texas is the hops.  Hops just don’t do well in the heat and shorter days of Texas.  Now, Jester King is experimenting with growing hops, hoping to find a variety that will grow well-enough there to be usable, but until they  find it they are reliant on hops from the Pacific Northwest. However, to infuse “as much Texas Hill Country character as possible” into them, the hops cones are placed in burlap sacks and stored for a year or so in the rafters of a horse barn just down the road.

The result of all that is not only some pretty fantastic, if funky, beers, but also beers –such as Wanderflora, Abcission, or the SPON series– that are redolent with a sense of place. This place.

 

 

Jester King Brewery
13187 Fitzhugh Rd
Austin, TX

jesterkingbrewery.com

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