From the Beer Writer: Last year, Benchmark Brewing Company began canning beers in its Parks Collection series. The first to get the cylinder treatment was an extra pale ale (or XPA, acronym purism be damned) called Benchmark Beaten Path. Like the vast majority of this Grantville brewery’s beers, it is beautiful in its simplicity, relying on nothing more than traditional ale-brewing ingredients to carry the day. And while Citra hops are at the forefront of this sunny seasonal, they are in perfect balance, enough that rather than shove their way to the forefront, they casually make their presence known from sip to swallow care of citrus notes lifted by light carbonation and accentuated by a hint of malt sweetness. Four-packs of the beer recently went on sale at Benchmark’s tasting room, making this the perfect time to give this fresh, rather silky pale ale a try. Last year, it was a beer I consumed more than just about any other of its kind. It’s an ideal summertime beer for those who value balanced craftsmanship and hops presented in perfect proportions.
From the Brewers: “This beer was originally designed to celebrate the fifth anniversary of SD DrinkAbout: five percent alcohol-by-volume, five ingredients, five years. It was brewed totally Iron Chef style, because the turnaround on the beer needed to be fast, so we could only use ingredients we already had in-house. The five ingredients are oats, California Ale yeast, water, pale malt and Citra hops. Beaten Path highlights and celebrates the amazing flavor and aroma of this hop. The resulting beer is something that is just so easy to drink, bright and juicy with a smooth body, it is totally crushable. It comes in 16-ounce cans and is available on draft. We make this beer about four times a year, and the entire team here just itches for the next brew every time it runs out.”—Matt Akin, Co-owner & Brewmaster, Benchmark Brewing Company
Last year, while conversing with the owners of Benchmark Brewing Company, they mentioned their interest in building a satellite tasting facility. Being tucked within Central San Diego’s Grantville community, doing so would allow the business to reach a broader audience. At the time, they were interested in coastal North County, Oceanside to be exact. It seemed challenging geographically, but there was no denying the increased exposure that would come with that expanding. This weekend, while inquiring about the progress of that project, I learned it had been abandoned…because Benchmark owners Matt and Rachael Akin just signed the lease on a space in Bay Park.
Located at 4112 Napier Street, the future sampling space will provide indoor and outdoor options for patrons. There will be roughly 1,000 square feet of interior space, outfitted with roll-up windows giving way to the street. An additional 1,500 square feet of space will be provided via an outdoor backyard patio of sorts. That area will be equipped with a fire-pit and half of it will be covered. The aesthetic will closely mirror Benchmark’s Grantville tasting room and, like that venue, the Bay Park facility will be family- and dog-friendly. The building currently sports a mural that will be painted over with a “vintage-looking, hand-painted sign”.
The Akins have yet to determine an exact opening time-frame, but figure to have the tasting room operational and accepting visitors this summer. At that point, beer will be available for on-site consumption, as well as to-go in growlers and four-packs of cans.
From the Beer Writer: As far as names go, I’m not a fan of referring to beers as “lactic”. To those unfamiliar with the popularity of beers made tart by the presence of lactic acid per Old World beers hailing from Belgium and Germany, it just sounds odd. And even if you are a fan of Berliener weisse, gose and the like, the word doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. But flavor and composition far outweigh adjectival shortcomings in the case of Benchmark Lactic Table Beer, an acidic, tangy take on Benchmark Brewing Company’s Belgian-style singel that really hits the spot when it’s on-tap at the Grantville business’ tasting room. I have been a fan of Benchmark’s original 4% alcohol-by-volume Table Beer since first sip. In fact, I was recently asked for a recommendation on a low-alcohol, locally produced beer well suited for enjoyment over the course of several hours, and that was it. The fruity, almost passion fruit-like tartness of the lactic version makes it less of an all-day treat, but is one of the better quick-sour beers in the county, to be sure. It also makes for a nice liquid-intermezzo of sorts to drink between stronger flavored beers, as its crisp sourness resets one’s palate quite nicely.
From the Brewer: “Lactic Table Beer is inspired by the amazing sours of Belgium. We take our standard Table Beer and dose it with a blend of acids that mimics the acid-content of classic Belgian gueuzes. This gives it a tartness that works well with the bready notes found in the base beer. The first time we put this together was for our inaugural Full Table event during San Diego Beer Week in 2014. It has since become a frequent offering at the tasting room. It is available in very small batches here at the brewery, and is made up for a handful of special events each year. Although not a part of our flights this year we will be offering tasters, pours and, for the first time ever, growler fills at this year’s Full Table on Tuesday November 8th. Details about the event can be found by clicking here.”—Matt Akin, Brewmaster, Benchmark Brewing Company
When it comes to tag-lines, I think most of them are just silly. This comes from a career marketing professional who has developed dozens of tag-lines, including some you see out in the craft-beer world. But there’s one from a local brewery that I’ve been enamored with since I first saw it grace a piece of glassware that I reach for more often than any other liquid conveyance strictly because of the tagline. Beer Flavored Beer. The phrase and the traditional beer that inspired it are products of Benchmark Brewing Company (6190 Fairmount Avenue, Suite G, Grantville).
While others use fruit, extracts, peanut butter and flora with reckless abandon, brewmaster Matt Akin sticks to his guns and creates his flavors using hops, malt and yeast. So don’t expect fluid takes on your favorite dessert or cocktail from Benchmark’s new line of “specialty” beers. They, too, are beer-flavored styles that are simply made well and within the framework provided by their individual histories.
Dubbed the Parks Collection, each is packaged in four-packs of forest green 16-ounce cans. The first of the series, Hop Chunks Imperial IPA, made its aluminum debut last weekend at a pool party at North Park’s The Lafayette Hotel. That beer is currently available at Benchmark’s tasting room. Next up is Beaten Path Extra Pale Ale, which will come out the first week of August, followed by River Rye American Red Ale. The other three beers in the collection are Stargazer Scotch Ale, Voyager Belgian-style Dark Ale (formerly called Dubbel) and Primitive Camp pre-Prohibition-style Pilsner. However, the latter won’t be brewed until the company increases its fermentation space.