Lagunitas Brewing Company, out of Petaluma in Sonoma County, I feel is often overlooked here in San Diego with all of our local brewers taking up (deservedly) so much of the spotlight. Yet Lagunitas has been growing by leaps and bounds, experiencing a 55% increase in the volume of beer sold over the last year alone, and is now the 11th largest craft brewer in the U.S. according to industry estimates put out by Beer Marketer’s Insights (http://www.beerinsights.com/).
And they’re putting out more and more specialty beers and limited releases, mostly in the 22 oz. format. Look for them in your local discriminating beer shops. I’ve been holding on to this limited release Bavarian-styled Doppel Weizen from Lagunitas for a few months now, and it’s time to pop the cap and see what’s going on here…
“Weizen” or “Weiss” is German for “wheat”, and this beer is a double-wheat with 55% wheat going into the malt, and fermented with a yeast strain that Lagunitas obtained straight from Bavaria. This beer pours a cloudy golden/orange color, with little carbonation and almost no head (unlike the picture on the label). Like a lot of wheat-based beers (check Karl Strauss’s hefeweizen) the aromas of cloves and bananas are abundant. On the first taste, again–a lot of cloves and bananas–but also some honey or nectar sweetness coming through and a hint of citrus. Medium-bodied, some light hops character just to add balance but not bitter at all This is an interesting release and would make a nice session beer for a warm springtime afternoon on your patio, if it weren’t for that meddling alcohol content (8.5 percent!)
Question for my readers: What limited release or seasonal beers have you tried lately? Do tell.
Tonight, I’m having a Red Trolley Ale from Karl Strauss brewery, the first of the several dozen breweries now populating the San Diego area. Takes me back….this was one of the first craft beers that caught my attention back in the mid-’90s. Here are the initial culprits behind my beer fandom:
1. Karl Strauss Red Trolley Ale (nice caramel finish, a medium-bodied red ale that’s been around a long time now but just starting to win some big-time awards).
2. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (once and always, a consistently great beer and a standard-bearer for all American pale ales. I expect to hear a lot of people give a shout out to this classic from Chico, CA).
3. Firestone Walker Double Barrel Ale (another medium-bodied ale, British style, the initial flagship offering from the Firestone guys back when they were still quasi-affiliated with their dad’s winery in Santa Barbara County. I think they’ve now moved the entire operation to Paso Robles).
Anyway….there ya go. Don’t blame me, blame these guys for packing some actual flavor and depth into something I used to think was just carbonated bottlings from the urinalysis lab! I try all kinds of beers nowadays, and I’ve kind of gravitated toward West Coast IPAs heavy on the IBUs (International Bitterness Units), and slowly getting into the Belgian and Cali-Belgian stuff.
But the question I have for my fellow quality beer drinking enthusiasts, hopheads, and pint glass collecting nerds is this:
I wanna know what craft beers (or even imports) got you interested in beer in the first place?