Now I don’t normally feature more than one brewery in my themed brewery tours for each month, but I am making an exception here…
For Black History Month, three black-owned breweries — Hunters Point Brewery in San Francisco (aka Speakeasy Ales & Lagers), Oak Park Brewing Co. (Sacramento) and Full Circle Brewing Co. (Fresno) — and another in planning, Hella Coastal Brewing in Oakland, collaborated and developed a mixed IPA 4-pack celebrating champions of American history:
James Baldwin / America’s Native Son Black IPA – Hunters Point
Ella Josephine Baker / All We Want Is What You Promised Red IPA – Oak Park
Fred Allen Hampton / Eye Am a Revolutionary Hazy IPA – Full Circle
Fannie Lou Hamer / Everybody Is Free West Coast IPA – Hella Coastal
Please check out these breweries when you visit the North of California.
The second stop of the short month is to Livermore and Shadow Puppet Brewing Company from whom I received a Strong Beer Sampler Six-Pack. Two of whichever I have already tasted and have ranked higher than average especially for a brewery that I knew nothing about.
But let’s talk some of their lighter beers today…
Cinch Vanilla Cream Ale – “Very light with a smooth drinkability at the forefront w/ hint of vanilla on the finish.
Pipe Down German Pilsner – “Crisp & bright golden pilsner brewed with noble Hallertau hops. Floral undertones.”
Over the Rubicon Blonde Ale – “A light, refreshing & flavorful blonde ale with notes of citrus & melon.”
Our initial CA Craft Beer Week stop is in Berkeley and Gilman Brewing Company. Let’s virtually step inside and try these beer descriptions on for size…
Blackberry Barillet– “A medium bodied saison made with our house yeast strain. Fermented until it’s nice and dry, and then aged in oak barrels with blackberries. A secondary fermentation in the barrel allows for a wonderful, tart, dry finish. The aroma of oak and blackberries make this ruby hued offering perfect for anyone who loves wine as much as our craft beer.”
Belgian Quad – “This beer was brewed with all local malt from Admiral Maltings in Alameda. The grain bill included Admiral Pils, Admiral Caramel 35, and Admiral Red.”
Box of Fluffies – “A hazy, juicy glass of New Zealand’s finest Motueka hops. Smooth, cream body, soft malt notes with a massive tropical aroma and citrus notes of orange, lemon and lime.”
5W30 Stout – “Bourbon barrel-aged for one year at time of bottling. A monster imperial stout with a thick, creamy, inky black body and a brown creamy head. Rich aromas of vanilla, chocolate, coffee, toffee, bourbon, and dark roasted malt. Luxurious flavors of bittersweet chocolate, toffee, and round roasted malt; subtle notes of vanilla, oak, tannins, and bourbon from twelve months in bourbon barrels round it out for a silky smooth finish.”
Crazy to think that breweries have been opening in this post inaugural less crazy time. But they have been and I made a quick first can release visit under cloudy L.A. skies to All Seasons Brewing.
The corner lot is just south of Wilshire in the middle of a flurry of subway and condo activity. It has a big outdoor but covered patio and some colorful murals (not to my taste) on one side near medium sized silo. Obviously indoors was shut but there was a line forming at the stroke of noon when they opened to sell their first three beers. Pilsner, lager and West Coast IPA. I would like to have seen something a little more left field for the third beer. A Belgian Tripel or hoppy red ale and I am not a fan of the branding design. I would lean more into the old-time race car aesthetic. All Season has a tire tie-in but I would have gone with some racing term instead.
But what about the beer, you say? The Pilsner defeated the Bullitt IPA but both could use a bit of tweaking to make them really sing. The Pilsner water profile was a little off key to me and the IPA was fine but is currently middle of the pack in a competitive style.
I had to include at least one Oregon brewery for this bucket list month and I don’t think that very many people could argue with the destination of de Garde Brewing in Tillamook on the coast.
I have chosen a few beers from a recent bottle list on their website that I believe should not be missed…
Première Desay– “A Spontaneous Farmhouse Ale Aged in Oak Barrels for Eighteen Months”
The Maison – “A Spontaneous Wild Ale Aged in Oak Barrels, Blended from Three Years”
The Sixth Peach – “A Spontaneous Wild Ale with White Saturn Peaches, Aged in Oak Barrels for Two Years”
The Purple – “A Spontaneous Wild Ale with Black & Red Raspberries, Aged in Oak Barrels for Two Years”
Jester King Brewery not only has widely renowned beers but they also have a farm, a kitchen and lodging, so of course it belongs on any beer fans bucket list to make a visit to Texas.
Here are a few of the beers that I would sample…
Grim Harvest – farmhouse ale fermented with blackberries
Figlet – farmhouse ale with smoked figs. collaboration with Franklin Barbecue
Dry Hopped Oat Saison – dry-hopped oat saison fermented with yeast harvested near Big Bend national park
and to top it off, a few tasters of their Spon series of beers.
I have always wanted to visit a Trappist brewery and why not start with the closest one in America? I have had a few Spencer Trappist Ales and would like to try the full range. Let’s start with…
Peach Saison – “a light, refreshing, sessionable ale. Naturally carbonated through bottle-conditioning, its delicate peach flavor is highlighted through sparkling carbonation producing a fresh, clean taste.”
Vienna Lager – “An authentic Vienna Lager, with characteristic red-amber hues, moderate carbonation, delicate malt notes and complex toastiness, this Spencer closes with a dry, crisp finish.”
Grapefruit IPA – “brewed with grapefruit and Citra hops. There is a ruby red hue in its color, and it is tart and clean with a closing bitterness characteristic to IPAs.”
Imperial Stout – “A massive, roasted, malt-forward American Trappist take on the Anglo-Russo Imperial Stout tradition. Luxuriantly frothy foam, waves of coffee, chocolate and caramel sensations, a generous blend of dark fruit flavors. Intense and robust.”
We complete the year of brewery tours with a stop in Martinez, California for some beer from Heaven…
Del Cielo Brewing Co. got a gold in the fruited sour category for Guava Dreams. Let’s see what other beers I would order up for an initial taster tray.
Orale – “This traditional Mexican style beer celebrates Hispanic heritage with its light body and crisp finish. We used Saaz hops for a soft bitterness that brings an aroma of herbs and spice. With only 9.4 IBUs, this refreshing beer is perfect for summer enjoyment.”
Hoptinez IPA – “Hoptinez is a classic American IPA with a great copper color. Its tropical fruit aroma and strong stone fruit flavor comes from Citra and El Dorado hops. The profile is clean and crisp with a pleasantly bitter finish.”
Dad, You’re Muted IPA
Coisa Mais Linda – “Caipirinhas, the national cocktail of Brazil, inspired us to craft this version of our Cocktail Series. We threw in a Colombian twist by using the feijoa fruit and then added some pineapple to round out the juicy and sour tropical flavors. Each sip shines bright with notes of guava and pineapple and hints of apple and strawberry. Pink Himalayan salt accentuates the flavors of this Gose style beer.”
Tying together GABF gold medal winner with NBA pre-season, I present Hoops Brewing from Duluth. They number their beers and it’s was 325 that won in the chili beer category.
Here are the lucky numbers I would choose when filling out a taster tray….
No. 704 Apple Ale – “This year, once again we’re using the delicious apples from Erickson Orchards. The flavor is slightly sweet/tart with some apple crisp character. Our Fall seasonal beer to bookmark Oktoberfest
No. 13 UK Pale Ale – “Our British style pale ale, sometimes called a bitter has a lower alcohol percentage and a beefed up malt character.”
No. 99 Wood Smoked Wheat – “A unique take on a traditional German style. Aromatics of beech wood & smoky phenolics dance with fruity esters offered from the top-fermenting yeast. Flavors of banana and clove give way to a more smoke driven finish.”
No. 39 Keller Pils – “Keller Pils is a German style lager. Kellerbier – “cellar beer” – contains more yeast and vitamins held in suspension. As a result, this beer is naturally cloudy. Our first lager brewed at Hoops, this beer has smooth, floral notes and a mellow citrus bitterness in flavor and finish.”
We head to Bend where Monkless Belgian Ales and the Gold Medal for Belgian Style Abbey Ale in 2020 resides.
Here is what I would add to an initial taster tray….
Peppercorn Imperial Wit – “It’s time to rethink your Wit! Belgian boldness is brimming in this big, yet light-bodied Wit. Citrusy freshness abounds with a clean peppery finish.”
Capitulation Dry-Hopped Tripel – “What do you do when customers say “I love hoppy beers”? Well, if you’re any other brewery you might brew 6 different IPA’s for them to choose from, but if you’re Monkless, you capitulate, and dry hop your classic Belgian Tripel. We took one of our favorite beers, The Trinity, and dry hopped it to add a blast of flowery, citrusy hop aroma.”
Pour Pour Pitiful Me Quadruple – “This girl has been through it! Aged and fermented over cherries to produce a ripe and full flavor profile, this brilliant Belgian-style quad is rich with deep, dark fruits and just sings in the glass.”
Brother’s Bier Belgian Single – “If you know Monkless, you know we’re not known for brewing small beers – that said, we wanted a clean sessionable beer to share as the warm summer months approached us. We were inspired by the Trappist tradition of the Belgian Single. Brother’s Bier is a SMaSH beer brewed from Pilsen malt and Sterling hops, and fermented to a nice dry finish with our traditional Trappist yeast strain. A late hop addition of Sterling adds a bit of spicy, citrusy hop aroma and flavor to the quintessential fruity-spicy yeast character of a classic Belgian Single.”