All Starburst rants aside, I was intrigued to see that MacLeod’s was bottling. Brewer Andy Black is protective of his beer and rightfully so because it really shines when presented right. That right being on cask at the right temperature.
But the attractive label lured me in and now it is time to see how the bottled version compares.
And there is quite a difference. There is zero lacing on this beer. Absolutely none. Plus it is many shades nuttier than what I remember. There is a nice hit of bitterness here that seems stronger than on cask as well. Sort of a tea/lemonade mix going on. Normally I would say this was a thin beer but because MacLeod Ales generally are on the less strident side, this isn’t much different to me.
I would hazard a guess that the darker, maltier beers like Jackie Tar would fare better with the bottle treatment.
When I saw the phrase, “Five Course Beer Dinner”, I blanched a bit. Being honest, I am not the stuff till you burst kind of eater. But then I saw that the beer was from MacLeod’s and the food was from Simmzy’s Burbank outpost. So my mood brightened and I RSVP’ed.
First good thing. The food courses were right-sized. By that I mean, you weren’t subject to Flinstone-ian portions of food. Tapas like to an extent.
Second good thing. My suspicion that MacLeod beers would pair wonderfully with food were confirmed. Nothing against big and bold beers but those pairings can be epic battles. The low ABV but high flavors of Andy Black’s British inspired ales add to food without becoming a battle royale.
My favorite of the night was the beef stew with Jackie Tar. That was an easy choice but it was well done. Meat and sunchokes and a delicious gravy were magic with the beer. The curry shrimp with the Little Spree was delightful too and that is coming from a non-curry fan. The toasted barley was excellent as an sidekick. The beer revelation was the Middling Spree a Belgian-esque pilsner type of hybrid that was all over the place but just might be my new favorite MacLeod beer. And I have a lot of favorite MacLeod beers. The only down note was the dessert. Double Kings Taxes was a bit too syrupy and sweet for me, the cardamom in the whipped cream helped but the burnt note from the caramel sauce made everything taste tinny to me. Four out of five ain’t bad though.
More dinners may be on the horizon and at $48 a person, it is a steal. You get 5 beers (we got a bonus beer for six) plus the food and the education from the brewer. When more of these become scheduled, I will post it here.
There is usually fanfare when a brewery signs up with a distributor. What there normally isn’t is a party with that distributor featuring the other beers in the portfolio!
But that is what MacLeod’s Ales is doing with Artisan Ales. In their words, “We will be showcasing some of the other wonderful breweries they represent, right here in our tasting room! Besides our own cask ale, we will be featuring beers from:
Craftsman Brewing Co.
Noble Ale Works [something special just for this event!]
Telegraph Brewing Co.
Kinetic Brewing Company
TAPS Fish House & Brewery
Longsdon Farmhouse Ales
With all that beer it is great that a food truck (Tacos Chihuahua) will parked outside.
“Our dirty blonde is a slight variation on the traditional blonde ale. We set the base with Bohemian Pilsher malt and then added in Vienna and Munich malts for a change to bring a soft breadiness to the beer, while still keeping the overall perception light and super drinkable.”
Considering how many British actors are starring in major Hollywood movies, it is amazing that they haven’t clamored for some beer to remind them of home. The old school stuff from cask.
Well, that dry spell will come to an end (and hopefully earlier rather than later) this year with the introduction of MacLeod Ales. Based in Van Nuys they project themselves as “the valley’s other production brewery”.
Their brewing plans are to “replicate and celebrate the traditional brewing methods of the British Isles.”
When they start up, an empty spot in our craft beer eco-system will be filled and hopefully it will make our bars more open to cask spots in their taplines instead of 5,000 IPA’s and it may encourage more cask beers from our current and future brewers.
Who knows, maybe in 5 years L.A. will have a major cask beer festival. For now we will have to rely on MacLeod for draft, cask and bottle.