Last month, I mentioned that I would be starting a monthly post about beers “I’m glad exist.” This month, I’m here to point out that I skipped last month. Rather than say that I’ll make up for it with two posts this month, Iets just say that we’ll see what happens going forward. So, without further ado…
5 Beers I’m Glad Exist – five beers I’ve had recently, during the month, or just in general that I’m glad are manifest in this world. They may not be the best beers and hopefully they aren’t the worst, but to me they are beers that make a statement, send a message, or have some cultural relevance in world of beer.
Higashino Farmhouse Saison – Tahoe Mountain Brewing Co
I happened upon this beer in Sunset Beer Co and bought it on a whim. The last time I sampled beer from Tahoe Mountain Brewing, I was at the Shelton Bros. beer fest in San Pedro, and I was impressed there. They were making waves at that fest with their wild brett table beer, Mars Hotel. Higashino, like their others does not disappoint. Before we dive into the beer, let’s talk about the label. I personally love this brewery’s branding. The labels are fun, elegant, and the flashy at the same time.The beer itself has a lot going on under the hood. Fruit and spice forward, Higashino employs Szechuan peppercorn, genmaicha, rosehip, pear, and honey. Right off the bat you get a nose-full of fresh cut pear and a floral burst of rose. There is a subtle Szechuan numbing effect, which strangely doesn’t detract and it finishes with some funk and green tea. Higashino Farmhouse Saison is very unique for these wild brett beers because of it’s fruit-forwardness or maybe it’s just the type of fruit being used. Citrus and berries are more common with brett, but Tahoe Mountain proves that pears go just as well.
Grapefruit Sculpin – Ballast Point Brewing Co
Many IPAs are measured on the Sculpin scale, something I learned from podcasting beeros at Four Brewers. Sculpin was one of my intro IPAs and it remains as one of my go-tos. The hop character has changed slightly throughout the years, but the deliciousness is constant. Grapefruit Sculpin was an experiment and has showed up in special circumstances from time to time along with its spicy pepper infused cousin Habanero Sculpin, but until recently it wasn’t widely available. Ballast Point recently added both of these to their regularly available 12oz bottle list and even more recently started canning the grapefruit gold. Sculpin is aggressively aromatic, intensely flavorful, and finishes with a dry “sting.” The grapefruit variety, as you would expect, adds an intense grapefruit aroma and flavor on top. This element, paired with the already present tropical fruitiness makes it a fantastic better-weather beer. Classic Sculpin can’t be beat, but Grapefruit Sculpin is on an island of it’s own…and I plan on vacationing there frequently.
Select Monk 3 (Select Beer Collaboration) – Monkish Brewing Co
Monkish Brewing Co celebrated it’s third year of tasty Belgian-esque libations just recently and following in the tradition of years 1 and 2, they collaborated with Select Beer Store in redondo beach who shares the same opening day. The past two year bore Select Monk 1 a Belgian single, and Select Monk 2 a Belgian Dubbel, and this year, you guessed it, it’s Select Monk 3 a Belgian Tripel. While I didn’t have the other two to compare side by side, this one is definitely my favorite in series. Crisp, aromatically floral, with a refreshingly complex fruitiness, Select Monk 3 is a great beer. . If you haven’t been to Monkish Brewing yet, you should probably rectify that soon. Brewer Henry Nguyen’s beers are incredibly unique, my favorite being a one-off bretted saison called Selah, which is widely lauded as one of the best beers of 2014 in LA. He was also recently written up in a LA Weekly article by the locally famed Sarah Bennett, definitely worth a read.
Bretta Weisse – Firestone Walker
Every once in a while you find a beer that really speaks to you. For me that’s Firestone Walker’s Bretta Weisse. I can still clearly remember the first time I tried this beer. We pulled up to a farmstead outside of Paso Robles for the first LA Beer Bloggers Firestone pilgrimage. Two barrels sat in front of us with a table, fruit boxes, and pitchers of hazy golden liquid set on top. I eagerly awaited a glass full of the mystery beer and as soon as it hit my lips I was transported away. Lightly tart, dry, oaky, with some delightfully balanced funkiness. This was Bretta Weisse, the barrel aged wild berliner-hefeweissebier and it was beautiful. Bottles of the beer were released sometime last year (I’m still holding on to 2 of them), which afforded me the ability to taste it outside of Paso. This year, on our latest trip up to Barrelworks we tasted a different version of the beer with something called Cowbell, an ultra funky version of Bretta used when blending the main batch. Like batches before, it’s lightly tart, approachable, dry, and delicious with a seemingly endless layers of complexity. While I don’t have an exact date (should be in a few months) for the next Bretta Weisse bottle release, it’s readily available up at Barrelworks in Buellton for tasting. It and other limited sours make the drive north very worth it.
Easy Jack IPA – Firestone Walker
Throwing down the Firestone Walker fanboy flag it seems as we dive into yet another one of their beers. Full disclosure, I bought an Easy Jack tacker on my last visit to the brewery, I love this beer. Easy Jack is a Session IPA, otherwise known as a hoppy pale ale, but you gotta add IPA to everything these days because IT SELLS! But of all the Session IPAs out there, this one has got to be my personal favorite as it expertly balances the bright hop dankness, bitterness, and a refreshingly dry finish. Adding to this the hops employed: Bavarian Mandarina, Hallertau Melon, Blend of New Zealand, American Mosaic: amp the tropical fruit notes to the nth degree. It’s remarkably complex for the 4.5% abv mark and as the bros would say, it’s “hella crushable”. This also happens to be my wife’s favorite beer right next to Opal, yet another Firestone offering. She was extremely happy when I brought home an entire case of it, luckily for me, she let me have a few.
Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti – Great Divide Brewing Co
YETI! Barrel Aged Yeti, Oak Aged Yeti, Espresso Oak Aged Yet, Oatmeal Yeti, and Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti. If you aren’t familiar with this line of Imperial Stouts from Colorado’s Great Divide Brewing Co, you can become acquainted at your neighborhood bottle shop. Luckily for big beer lovers, the Yeti lines is pretty well distributed in Southern California and as luck would have it, the Trader Joe’s in Culver City has a rather large supply of Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti. I’ve had Yeti before and have sampled several other variations at bars and during bottle shares. That being said, when I picked up this $9 bottle of Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti from TJ’s I wasn’t really expecting to fall in love. COAY is deep! Cocoa nibs and vanillin propel the silky chocolate notes of this beer into the stratosphere. I didn’t detect the cayenne notes, but the beer does have a slight spiciness to it – ah the power of suggestion! I love pouring this beer, the head is so dark, I feel like I’m decanting a chocolate ganache cake into my beer glass…I quickly learn that I just did. Grab this beer if you haven’t tried it yet. It’s a keeper.