Beer 511

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

Category: California (Page 1 of 3)

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

SF Beer Week dates set!

The San Francisco Brewers Guild has set the dates for the 11th edition of SF Beer Week:  February 1st through 10th.

Elkhorn Slough Brewing Co. (Watsonville, CA)

Elkhorn Slough Brewing Co. is one of a growing number of breweries ringing the wide half-moon arc of Monterey Bay. Located in a semi-industrial neighborhood on the northern outskirts of Watsonville, it is a surprisingly cozy place given its surroundings.

There are several couches and armchairs arranged between the no-frills bar and the space given over to the 7-bbl brew-house, forming little nooks for patrons to sit at, drink, and talk.  There is clearly a sizeable corps of regulars and most seem to be on a name-basis with the servers. Moreover, the place is decidedly dog-friendly (servers even know the regulars’ dogs by name!).

The vibe is friendly and open.  In fact, I got to chatting with one of the regulars, a former cop named Dave, who, upon learning it was my first time at the brewery, insisted on buying a me few beers, so I could try some beyond the flight I had ordered.

The beers are quite enjoyable. A solid line-up.  Elkhorn Ale, a smooth, copper-colored, 6.7% abv California lager, and Pajaro Gold, a 5.9 ABV ale, seem to be their flagship beers. Both are admittedly nice, but I was drawn more to their selection of wilder brews.

Sucrosity is a “wild farmhouse wheat beer aged in Chardonnay barrels”. It is mildly sweet-tart, with notes of fruit and plum. It  checks in at 6.8% ABV.

Lemon Kush is a  Tequila barrel-aged sour-mashed “wild” lemon gose.  It has ample notes of citrus, with a touch of spice. 6.2% ABV.

My favorite, I’d have to say, was probably Green Jewel.  It is a 7.2%  ABV “barrel-aged wild sour blonde ale with Cannabis terpennes”.  Green Jewel is golden in color, light-bodied, with a mild tartness.

 

 

Elkhorn Slough Brewing Co.
65 Hangar Way, Unit D
Watsonville, CA

elkhornsloughbrew.com

Opening: Ghost Town Brewing (Oakland, CA)

Ghost Town Brewing opens the doors to its taproom and brewery to the public tonight after a long wait and many hurdles.

I had the opportunity to visit last night at its soft opening event, and I must say the place is very nice indeed.   It is located in a large warehouse space, split roughly down the middle between the shiny 15-bbl brewhouse and assorted fermentation tanks, and the serving and public areas of the house.

Care was given to making sure the small details were not overlooked, down to having sleeves with the brewery’s logo wrapping around the table supports and coffin-shaped bike posts in one corner.  (Both, incidentally, were sourced locally from a steelworks just a couple of blocks away.)

With plenty of room at the bar, lots of seating, and a corn-hole court, the taproom is the kind of place that makes you just want to hang out. Hang out and drink beer.

As to the beers -crafted by Justin Burdt, recently of the now-closed Black Diamond Brewing Co.- are all excellent.  I tasted a fair selection of what they had on offer and there was not one that would quibble with, but I would particularly recommend asking for Lecherous Haze, a 6% NE IPA;  Melmac, a 5.5% pale ale; or Old Trepanner,  10.7% barley wine.

 

Ghost Town Brewing
1960 Adeline St (corner of Adeline and 21st St)
Oakland, CA

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