Over the past year I started researching and developing my own version of a British Golden Ale* recipe at home, for many of the same reasons the young Brits enjoyed them in the 1980s. Mostly I was in search of a low ABV, hop forward, brassy golden ale.
Around the same time I was researching and developing the recipe, I made the trek up to Rouleur Brewing, which opened in March of last year, to check out their beers. The Bonkeur Pale Ale, Domestique Belgian Blonde, Soloist Belgian Golden Strong, and Sprinteur Hoppy Red Ale all completely blew me away; they were gems of delicately nuanced and highly quaffable beers. It was immediately obvious, by the way the beers drank, that the brewer used some Belgian yeast strains and reverse osmosis (RO) water to customize the mineral content and flavor profile of each beer.
That same trip I got to meet Rouleur Brewing’s Owner & Brewer, Rawley Macias, after asking the tasting room manager, “Who the hell is brewing here? This beer is great!” After a brief chat about brewing and bicycles, Rawley invited me to tickle a zwickle valve or two and geek out about brewing.
Prior to opening Rouleur, Rawley worked in aerospace engineering and was an avid cyclist and homebrewer for many years, as member of San Luis Obispo Brewers (SLOB). From that first meeting it was evident that he is driven by his passion, with a perfectionist edge, and holds the belief that a good brewer is one who learns something from each brew, no matter how small; that you grow as a brewer and expand your knowledge with each beer. He was definitely a kindred beer spirit, so we chatted about the backburner idea of brewing some beer together in the future.
While Rawley and I were casually talking about collaborating on a beer, Miguel Loza (a familiar face in the San Diego and Baja beer scenes) found out his 9 year-old daughter, Sarah, had cancer. She had been experiencing random headaches that “felt like a zap of electricity” for several months, and undiagnosed leg and dental pain. After months of doctor’s visits, she was finally given an MRI and specific diagnostic tests that found Stage 4 Large B Cell Lymphoma.
Miguel is in the first class of graduates of SDSU’s Business of Craft Beer, is a beer educator (hops are his specialty), and owner of La Casa Del Lupulo Homebrewing Shop in Ensenada, and Rancho Loza hop farm in Valle de Guadalupe. He also teaches brewing, hop classes, and was on the Experimental Brewing IGOR (Independent Group Of Researchers) with our mutual beer friends Drew Beechum and Denny Conn. Miguel is generous, compassionate, and loyal. He is the type of person who would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. I met Miguel in 2013, at local homebrewing club QUAFF, and I’m truly honored to call him my friend.
When the San Diego beer community, of which Miguel is such an integral part, found out about Sarah’s condition, we immediately rallied around the Loza family and I knew I had to help any way I could.
I called Rawley with the idea to brew a version of the hoppy ale I was developing for Miguel’s tough little warrior. Rawley generously said yes, and we immediately started looking at brew date openings. Our biggest priority, however, was figuring out how to lower the production cost as much as possible in order to increase the amount we’d be able to donate to Miguel’s family. To do this, we opted to use an in-house pitch of a dryer English yeast strain, and Country Malt Group graciously donated the entire grain bill for the 9.5 barrel batch of beer.
Our brew day was December 21st, the winter solstice, and luckily Miguel was able to join us. Always one to make the people he’s with feel cared for and comfortable, he arrived with two gigantic carne asada chips, and a bounty of soft pretzels and chocolate chip banana bread home baked by his wife Mirabel. His generosity and the delicious food helped to energize us, and the brew day could not have gone smoother. We hit our numbers perfectly and the wort looked and tasted exactly as expected.
We are proud of what we made and are eager to raise pints of beer brewed from the heart for a great cause. 45% from all sales of CANCER FIGHTER will go directly to help Sarah’s Miracle Fund in her fight against cancer. You can also friend “Sarah’s Miracle” on Facebook to donate directly.
Rouleur Brewing / Brian Trout – CANCER FIGHTER (Hoppy British Golden Ale) 5% ABV will be released on January 13th starting at 12 p.m. at Rouleur (5840 El Camino Real Suite 101, Carlsbad, CA 92008). Beaten Berry Food Truck will be onsite. Crowlers, growlers, and limited kegs for on-premise are also available.
*More on British Golden Ale:
John Gilbert of Hop Back Brewery, a small microbrewery inside of the The Wyndam Arms in Salisbury, UK, started brewing British Golden Ales in 1986 in order to win people over from pale lagers that were popular at the time. Hop Back’s Summer Lightning (named after a P.G. Wodehouse book) was geared toward the younger drinking crowd and their affinity for dryer, hoppier, and highly-drinkable ales. Summer Lightning went on to become one of the most award-winning ales in the UK. Pretty soon many other breweries were brewing their own variation of this style. At first, British Golden Ales were using English Nobel Hops, but soon moved on to American and newer school hops (Cascade, Amarillo, Citra, and Galaxy). The separation between a Hoppy SD Session Ale (American Pale Ale sans caramel malt or IPA) is nearly non-existent.
On an uncommonly sweltering Friday night in Balboa Park, the San Diego History Center (SDHC) hosted an uncommon event: Homebrew Happy Hour. This event was part of the History Happy Hour series held at the ongoing Bottled & Kegged: San Diego’s Craft Brew Culture exhibit.
Homebrew Happy Hour was a collaborative effort between SDHC’s Matthew Schiff and Nicole George and club organizer Stan Sisson, who gathered members from clubs including QuAFF, Mash Heads, Foam On The Brain, Society of Barley Engineers, and North County Homebrewers Association.
If you’re wondering why homebrewers were highlighted at an exhibit mostly featuring commercial breweries, it’s because San Diego’s brewing success derives straight from its homebrew roots. AleSmith’s owner Peter Zien, for example, is a former president of QuAFF.
Homebrewers provide local brewers with indispensable help in tasting rooms through honest feedback, troubleshooting when there are issues, and also giving plenty of support when something is brewed well. Homebrewers are able to push the envelope, not worried about big losses in materials and time, and they keep commercial brewers on their toes. Most of the pros in San Diego started at home and some pros run small homebrew pilot batches in order to hone their more creative and delightfully strange batches.
For these reasons, the late August event had completely sold out more than a week prior, and the excitement was palpable in the sultry air. Over 200 attendees filled the SDHC ready to sample a plethora of small batch artisan tipples from many of San Diego’s most talented homebrewers.
When attendees entered the large space, the perimeter of which was laced with homebrewers serving at jockey box stations, they seemed a bit timid and overwhelmed. Those feelings dissipated upon getting their first drink. I saw their eyes light right up as I handed them beer; the first drink was met with “This is really good! Did you brew this?”
As people slowly circumnavigated the museum rooms, they got more adventurous. Noses really got stuck deep into the tasting glasses, and the full sensory experience of a well-crafted brew was achieved with the help of posted signs at each station that described the beers’ stats: OG (original gravity), FG (final gravity), ABV (alcohol by volume), IBUs (international bitterness units), and SRM (standard reference method for beer color). This kept everyone engaged and would often help spark conversations with the brewers on hand.
“What’s a beer engine?”
“What’s a mead?”
“I’ve never heard of (insert beer style). What’s it like?”
There was plenty for everyone to explore as they walked around the museum with a beer in hand.
Harold Gulbransen demonstrated how mouthfeel can alter the way a beer is perceived by serving an American Pale Ale on cask, nitro, and CO2. Liz and Curtis Chism poured a refreshing Saison. Chris Banker presented his excellent Black Currant Cider. George Thornton offered a well-balanced Belgian Amber. Mary Anne Bixby’s passion flower buckwheat honey mead was mind-blowing. Kelsey McNair threw down with his Hop Fu, an IPA that brings home a new medal and ribbon every week it seems. Jenny and Eric DuRose had a toasty malt Steam Beer that showed the lineage of the style. There was so much on tap: ESB, Wet Hopped IPA, Coconut Brown, Kolsch Style, Calypso IPA, and Mocha Porter to name some.
As the night went on I was happy to see people sharing the contents of their glasses. They advised other attendees — both those they’d come with as well as new friends they made on the night — on what to try before the event was over.
What made the party even more fun was that it was my birthday, and hey, what better way to spend it than sharing beer with friends and geeking out with my extended brewing family. I got the opportunity to serve my Sir Maxwell English Mild on a beer engine. I did an impromptu pairing with some figs from my tree at home, topped with slivers of Noord Hollander cheese. I also poured my Vanishing Cookie Oatmeal Stout infused with Madagascar Vanilla Bean and a custom blend of Sumatra Volkopi Blue & El Salvador El Naranjo Coffee. I broke out some vanilla ice cream and served these as floats towards the tail end of the event.
Everyone who attended really enjoyed themselves and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic. Here are some quotes I heard and overheard:
“This beer tastes like my favorite IPA, but three times better.”
“I’ve never heard of an English Mild. Can I try it?”
“I usually hate ciders, but I’m lovin’ this one.”
“This pairing is delicious.”
“Somebody told me that this was the beer to try.”
“I’ve never had a mead before tonight. It’s awesome!”
“This IPA is amazeballs.”
The Homebrew Happy Hour could not have run smoother. In fact, it was so successful there’s been talk of another one happening down the road.
Who knows, maybe homebrewing just might catch on in San Diego? Ha!
Bottled & Kegged: San Diego’s Craft Brew Culture opened April 6, 2013 and will run to January 20, 2014. The upcoming History Happy Hour on Friday, September 27 will see Dr. Chris White discussing how yeast plays a big role in the flavor of beer. Then on Friday, November 1 Stone Brewing Co. will help kick off San Diego Beer Week with the last History Happy Hour. For tickets to these events, visit this link.