Archive for September, 2015
South Park is a great place: small-town neighborhood, tree-lined streets, friendly people…and beer; really tasty beer. South Park Brewing Company (SPBC) is a brewery run by locals that truly love the craft of brewing beer. On a recent visit, the place had a kind of industrial fish house vibe, with large, butcher/deli-style display cases to the left and support columns wrapped in rigging rope. There were large round tables and long low picnic tables to the left, with a couple of booths on the far left wall. The brewing area was prominently displayed to the right, fronted by a tasting counter. Outside there was a narrow patio, with a counter overlooking the sidewalk and street beyond.
Never one to waste an opportunity to try some beer I had never had before, I headed for the counter. The beer list did not include abv, so naturally I decided on a flight, starting with the SPBC Saison. It poured bright, very pale yellow, opaque and had a thin layer of smooth white head on top. It smelled light and faintly of lemon. I could not detect any other aromas. The taste was just as light, with smooth maltiness up front, followed by some zesty lemon. Light in both carbonation and body, there was not much else to characterize this beer. It did finish citrusy and was refreshing, but nothing very dynamic here.
Next, I tried the SPBC 2 Griffs Pale. This one poured light amber in color, with thin loose white head on top. I detected almost nothing to distinguish the aromas. The taste was very malt forward, but not overpowering. Light hops helped balance it going in to the middle. Light carbonation and medium body helped this beer finish smooth and malty, with just a hint of hops toward the end. This one was also not very dynamic, but I appreciated the balance.
Next up, I tried the SPBC Lime In Da Coconut Wheat. It poured pale cloudy yellow, with thin white head. I smelled some malty and citrusy aromas. Lime was prominent from the first sip, with some very faint coconut leading into the middle of the drink. Lightly carbonated and light bodied, it finished with strong lime and some maltiness. A bit too much lime for me on this one.
I finished up the flight with the SPBC Scripps Pier Oyster Stout. This beer poured black, with thin brown head on top that did not stick around long. It smelled somewhat saline, joined by some roasted malt aromas. The taste was briny at first, but then some of the roasted malts came through. The salt came back almost immediately, however. Light carbonation and medium-heavy body helped mask some of the saltiness, but it finished with lots of salinity and a touch of coffee that was not present earlier. A bit too much salt for me, but still good.
I was going to stop there, but naturally, I saw one on the menu I could not pass up: Popperings Golden Hommel. I had no idea what this beer was when I ordered it, but apparently it is a hoppy, golden-bronze, ale. Always up for a good mystery, I dove in. It poured light clear yellow, with thin fizzy head. Spicy and fruity aromas surprised me a bit for something billed as ‘hoppy.’ It tasted somewhat sour at first, with a bit of citrus and some sweetness that I assumed was from the fruit. Medium bodied and lightly carbonated, the beer finished a little sweet and malty, with just a touch of sourness. Great dynamics in this one, from both the smell and the taste.
Oktoberfest is upon us! This celebration of beer and everything Bavarian is yet one more excuse to partake in that most magical of malted beverages. Originally, the event had more serious purpose, but today we can enjoy it in a way that allows for the beer to flow without all of those formal overtones.
I decided to stop by KnB once again, this time trying a Hanger 24 Oktoberfest (5.8%). It poured amber in color with medium-sized bubbles and sudsy white head. Malty and harvesty (yeah, I said it) aromas were about all that characterized the smell. The taste was mild and smooth. Some sweetness from the malts came through and a little bitterness toward the middle. Medium bodied and lightly carbonated, it finished with strong malty flavor and some of the same bitterness. Even though Oktoberfest beers aren’t known for being dynamic, the lack of distinction in this one was only mildly satisfying.
…or is it? On Thursday of last week, it was announced that the MillerCoors company purchased a controlling interest in Saint Archer Brewing Co. This transaction was lamented far and wide across the internet and social media as the death of another from among the craft beer ranks. I have to say, I disagree. There was a great interview by the guys over at San Diego Beer Talk on Saturday in which they discussed this event at length with the head brewer at Twisted Manzanita Ales & Spirits. He suggested that this acquisition is actually not a bad thing, in that the beer is not necessarily changing. This was a business transaction, clear and simple. The most notable effect will Saint Archer having more resources to make and distribute their product.
While some people will argue against the principle of “giving their money” to a large conglomerate and boycott Saint Archer, I would suggest patience. Let the beer be the gauge of the success or failure of this venture. There are other examples of takeovers of craft breweries by bigger players that no one seems to be as up in arms about as the SA-MillerCoors tie up. For example, Laguinitas announced last week (busy week in the world of craft beer) that it entered into a joint partnership with Heiniken International. Now, Laguinitas is a massively successful brewery in its own right and this may be a reason no one saw this as a big deal, but it is the exact same type of business transaction and no one threw the same fit people seem to be throwing over Saint Archer being acquired.
All I am saying is, give it a chance. This might be a good thing, if you like their beer. If it means it will be more readily available and take more room in beer coolers away from the likes of Corona, Bud or, yes, even Coors, so be it. I say all the better for craft beer as a whole.
Every year on the first Monday of September is the celebration of the achievements of American workers and the contributions they make to the country as a whole. We each celebrate in our own way. I, for instance, cracked open this lovely beer from Port Brewing Co. Shark Attack Double Red Ale (9% abv) poured dark amber in color with tiny bubbles and a thick cap of foamy off white head. It smelled surprisingly malty sweet for a double red, given the amount of hops advertised on this one. There was only a hint of hoppy aroma, some dark fruit in there and a sweetness not connected to the malts, as well. It tasted rich and malty right off the top. The hoppiness came through right after that, with the fruitiness from the aroma and a bit of spiciness toward the middle. With medium body and light carbonation, it finished mostly hoppy and a bit dry. Good for a hoppy non-IPA.