California Looove...PART 1

Cue Dr. Dre and Tupac's funk tribal anthem to the state I now call home. Shake it Cali... It's time to give some more love to the west side here on 100 beers. 30 days. After all, I live in one of the best beer stomping grounds in the country! And I tell you, to be surrounded by delicious craft beer on a daily basis is HEAVEN. So throw it up for these Cali brews:

BEER & BREWERY #47

Nectar Ales Humboldt Brown Hemp Ale, 5.7% ABV: I knew when we had the opportunity to make this "Beer of the Month" at Lumberyard Tavern, we better jump on it. The name sells itself. Especially in Southern California, where you can throw a rock in any direction and hit a "clinic."

And we were right. In combination with glasses that have a big, fat green pot (ahem. hemp) leaf on the glass, this beer sells like gangbusters. But is it any good?

Actually, it is. I'm long over the Newcastle phase of my life, and I generally think Brown ales can be rather boring at times. With the exception of NOLA's Brown, I don't find myself drinking them very often.

But I like this one. Full, rich aromas of caramel, brown sugar, chocolate, pecans, and yes, a definite earthy, herbed quality. I would say "a certain je ne sais qua," but I KNOW what it is. More complexity and character in both aroma and flavor than a Newcastle, this has been a great cross-over beer for customers venturing into darker beers. And stepping away from the known. Pairs nicely with a spicy pulled pork sandwich and sweet potato fries. Just in case you have the munchies.

The Hemp Ale, according to the Nectar Ales website, is "affiliated with the Nectar Ales experience through shared origins at Humboldt Brewing Company." Whatever that means. Remind me to ask my distributor the story on this one. This I know: Nectar Ales, located in Humboldt County, was started in 1987, and has been owned by Firestone Walker since 2003. They are most popularly known for their Red Nectar Ale and their slogan "All Natural Ales." Personally, I am not a fan of the Red Nectar. Not even a little bit. But the Humboldt, (wherever it originated) is the champion of their brews.

BEER & BREWERY #46

Stone Sublimely Self Righteous (Black IPA/Strong Ale), 8.7% ABV: Remember how I said "the jury is still out" on Black IPA's for me? Well, not with this one. This is my hands-down, numero uno favorite example of this style. It is just downright delicious. I first tasted this special brew back on the day of Beer #100 of my Belgian challenge, after filming with New Brew Thursday at Stone. CLICK HERE to watch the awesome video of that #100 tasting!

After all of those Belgians, I was ready for a break and a COMPLETELY different style of beer. And I was hooked. The brainchild of Brewmaster Mitch Steele, Sublimely Self Righteous (or SSR) is the re-release of the 11th Anniversary Ale, so loved and missed by Stone lovers everywhere.

But (there's always a but), it is part of their "Limited Release series" so do yourself a HUGE favor, and get your hands on this ASAP. I mean it. In my humble opinion, it is one of the best Stone beers out there. FYI: It won Bronze at this year's GABF for "American Style India Black Ale."  This girl knows good beer when she tastes it.

As you all well know, I frequent Stone quite a bit, attending festivals, Dr. Bill's Masterpairings series, and lunching after my shopping trips to Holiday Wine Cellar. (Their beer selection and French wine section are ahhhmazing.) So rather than do a brief Stone history write-up here, stay tuned for a full Brewery Feature next month. It will be featured both here AND on the Ladies of Craft Beer website!

BEER & BREWERY #45

Ballast Point Abandon Ship Smoked Lager, 5.9% ABV: I know ALOT of people that won't go near a smoked beer. They think "it's weird", "will it taste like cigarettes?" etc. And I will admit, they are different. And for many an acquired taste. For me, they are the bee's knees.

This is a great starter, if you will...a nice variation from the weightier smoked porters. Clean and light, but still with a wonderful smokey finish that lingers much like after enjoying a smoked sausage or ham. (Insert Beavis and Butthead laugh) You can almost imagine standing by a grill, breathing in that wonderful aroma. There is a slight nutty character along with a definite woodiness (think charred, campfire wood) on the nose.

Stay with me here...ever visited colonial homes, say in Williamsburg, Virginia, or Charleston, South Carolina? You know that old, smokey, charred smell when you walk into the sitting rooms and kitchens? That distinct aroma of smoke being absorbed into the wood for decades? THAT is your smell here. Love it!

The lighter body of the lager allows a greater drinkability with this one versus a heavier porter. However, like the Stone Smoked Porter, this beer would work nicely at a BBQ, and might be more attractive to those just experimenting with smoked beers, and those not quite ready for the power of a Rauchbier.

And NOT to sound like a broken record here, but a full Brewery feature of Ballast Point will follow in the upcoming months. After all, I am you SoCal Beer Gal (see my entries on the Ladies of Craft Beer website by CLICKING HERE.) And I will be giving all of these amazing Southern California breweries their earned due.

Until next time,

Be happy, drink Craft beer, and spread some Cali love....

CHEERS!

Posted on October 12, 2010 and filed under Uncategorized.