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

Category: California Page 1 of 6

Rabbit Hole Saison

Today I am sharing my impressions of Rabbit Hole French-Style Saison from Alaro Brewing in downtown Sacramento (California).

Rabbit Hole is an amber-colored beer, almost copper in hue. It has a malty aroma, with some floral and citrus – tangerine, maybe kumquat. It is not as carbonated as I might’ve expected from a saison but it does present a moderate head that subsides within a couple of minutes.

In the mouth it presents an effervescent crispness on the palate and citrus notes similar to those present in the aroma. It is moderately bitter, but not as bitter as a pale ale or, certainly, an IPA. It is more akin in hoppiness to a pilsner. I tasted notes of stonefruit, most reminiscent of apricot. Or perhaps a very ripe loquat.

It finishes with a lingering bitterness that is pleasant and not overpowering.

Very pleasant overall and a good recommendation by the server at the brewpub!

Anchor 2020 Holiday Ale

The holiday season is upon us and to add to the seasonal cheer, we have the arrival of Winter seasonal beers. For forty-six years Anchor has upheld that tradition with its Our Special Ale.

Their 2020 edition of Our Special Ale (sample bottles provided by Anchor Brewing) is a very dark, almost black, ale with a ruby translucence when held up to the light. It presents a moderate head, that subsides quickly to a ring around the edges of the glass. When swirled in the glass there is ample but short-lived lacing. I didn’t notice any “legs” or “tears”- the clear streams that alcoholic beverages sometimes leave on the sides of the glass.

It presents sweet notes in the nose: molasses, caramel, cloves, light cinnamon.  Overall, the aroma reminds me of gingerbread or spice cake.  I didn’t notice any hop aroma.

Sweetness is the most immediately noticeable flavor component.  It is not a particularly hoppy beer, but there is definitely a bitter backbone to support all that malty sweetness.   Some dark chocolate and coffee character, and graham cracker, too.  A few spice notes in there as well: cinnamon, black pepper, orange peel.  A little vanilla.

It has 7% alcohol by volume, but doesn’t come off as strong or alcoholey. And, despite the notable malt sweetness, it is a medium-bodied drink, with a dry finish, and a slightly bitter aftertaste, ending with a lingering dark roast coffee note.

It is smooth and easy to drink, and I think it would prove approachable even to those who say that they don’t usually like dark beers.

An aside on the packaging: You may have observed that rather than the usual single tree, this year’s label features three trees. According to the brewery’s literature, this is only the second time that multiple trees are shown on the label. In this case, the image represents The Three Graces, an iconic trio in Yosemite National Park’s Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. They are meant to evoke “togetherness and hope in a year when so much time has been spent apart”.

O Light Organic Light Beer

Today we are sharing our impressions of O Light Organic Light Beer. O Light Organic Light Beer is a 4.5% abv American light lager manufactured by O Light Organic in San Jose (CA).

As befits a light lager, it is a blonde beer, golden -tending toward straw- in color.  It raises a nice head upon pouring, which subsides quickly, to leave a ring of medium bubbles around the glass and a thin layer of tiny bubbles across the surface.

It has a light, slightly sweet aroma, with light caramel and honey notes. Hop aroma is low, almost obscured by the sweetness.

The flavor is quite nice. It has a pleasant toastyness, with a biscuity, almost graham-like flavor and hints of honey. Hop bitterness is light, with notes of pine and grapefruit.  It has a light, smooth, mouthfeel with medium carbonation and slightly dry finish.

O Light Organic Light Beer’s calling card, and the reason some may be drawn to it, is that it is a USDA and CCOF-certified organic non-GMO product. That’s great, but I think equally important is that it is a quite pleasant beer; refreshing and easy to drink.

Local GABF Winners

On Oct. 16th-17th, the Brewers Association celebrated the 39th edition of the Great American Beer Festival (GABF), the largest and most important beer event in the US.

Due to the pandemic, this year’s event was held entirely online. However, although there was no pro-am component this year, the commercial beers competition was indeed held, and brewers across the country held their breath as they watched the online feed of the awards ceremony, and waited to learn if they’d earned one of the coveted medals.

Below are the medals won by breweries “local” to me -meaning in a wide circle drawn around the San Francisco Bay Area, roughly from Chico in the north to Fresno in the south, and east to the state line.

Congrats to them all! The full list of winners can be viewed HERE.

The Very Unofficial 1st Round SF Region National Homebrew Competion Awards Presentation

On March 13th, on the very day that judging was to start for the National Homebrew Competition (NHC), the American Homebrewers Association cancelled the competition due to the novel coronavirus.

Thus, local homebrew club, the Diablo Order of Zymiracle Enthusiasts (DOZE), which was coordinating the SF Region judging, found itself sitting on hundreds of bottles of beer entered into the competition. What was DOZE to do with them all? Well, they decided to judge all the entries anyway, making this the only region in the country where the entries were actually judged (in most others the beer was reportedly made into hand sanitizer or simply dumped).

Over the course of several months, and working in small physically-distanced groups and over Zoom, the small corps of DOZE’s certified beer judges -with help from judges from The Mad Zymurgists and Bay Area Mashers (BAM) homebrew clubs- worked its way through more than 600 entries in 35 categories covering ales and lagers, meads and ciders.

To cap it all off, they put together an awards presentation and livestreamed it over Facebook!

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