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Posts Tagged nelson hops

Beer of the Week: Resident Saison Prestige

Jan 12

Saison Prestige from downtown’s Resident Brewing Company

From the Beer Writer: Whereas most craft fans’ favorite beer style is IPA (not that there’s anything wrong with that…they’re incredible), my favorite beers are Belgian-style farmhouse ales. But wait, like the IPA fan who can tell you they specifically like unfiltered, 7% alcohol-by-volume, tropical-flavored India pale ales dry-hopped with Citra, Motueka and Nelson Sauvin, I too can get way too specific about the types of farmhouse ales (AKA: saisons) I prefer. I like when they are spiked with Brettanomyces and aged in barrels, particularly those which have formerly housed white wine. I prefer Sauvignon Blanc barrels, but I’m not a picky man (despite what everything leading up to this has led you to believe). So, when speaking with local brewer Robert Masterson about future plans he had for his then yet-to-open Resident Brewing, and he told me the first thing he was going to do was get his saison into white-wine barrels so he could start aging it, I tucked that nugget away and started biding my time. It was as if he had intercepted some letter to Santa and, despite my naughty status, decided to bring my beer wish to life. A few weeks ago, that beer, Resident Saison Prestige, made its debut in 750-milliliter bottles, and I went straight to work getting my hands on some. And I’m glad I did, because it is exceptional. Oenophiles will be drawn in by a lustrous bouquet rife with aromas of lemon peel, honeysuckle, pears and grape must, while lovers of farmhouse and sour ales will go gaga for a multifarious yet balanced taste sensation offering up passion fruit, lemongrass, white pepper and oak-borne vanillins with a touch of funk delivered against a textural backdrop that’s medium and slightly creamy, leaving lingering traces of vanilla and kiwi. It’s prestigious enough to live up to its name and available exclusively at Resident’s base of operations, downtown’s The Local Eatery and Watering Hole.

From the Brewery: “Saison Prestige is a barrel-fermented, mixed-fermentation saison aged in French oak Chardonnay barrels. This farmhouse-style ale gets its character from two types of saison yeast, multiple Brettanomyces strains and Lactobacillus. The beer rested in wine barrels for over a year, before being bottled in June 2017. The beer was inspired by a few amazing American farmhouse breweries that have been putting out amazing beers for the past half-decade. We secured some amazing Chardonnay barrels from Chateau Montelena. After the saison picked up their character, we selected the three barrels that had the best-tasting beer inside. We didn’t want to utilize fruit with these killer barrels. Instead, we wanted them to stand out on their own and show San Diego what a wine-barrel and funky, tart saison can taste like without fruit additions.”—Robert Masterson, Head Brewer, Resident Brewing Company

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Beer Touring: Bear Roots Brewing

Jun 23

bearroots_01It’s only been open since December, but already the husband-and-wife founders of Bear Roots Brewing and Home Brew Shop (1213 Santa Fe Street, Vista) are convinced enough by early success that it’s time to take a plunge into the deep-end of the brewing industry. During the last stop of a day of beer-touring, I conversed with brewer Terry Little, who is pushing all of his chips to the center of the table, expanding his fermentation space to match the growing demand for his liquid wares. With only six months under his business’ belt, you’re probably wondering what I was—is the beer good enough to warrant such faith? My answer is yes.

Bear Roots Brewing owner and brewer Terry Little

Bear Roots Brewing owner and brewer Terry Little

The beer is good enough. In fact, the day I was there, the beer was of better quality from top-to-bottom than most of the newer breweries I’ve visited in 2016. Quality alone won’t dictate whether early expansion will pay off, but it’s the most important factor for a brewery-owner to consider. And it will be interesting to see how (the currently aptly named) Little does ramping things up with the little brewery he’s installed within his homebrew shop. The new operation has nearly eclipsed the original after installation of a bar and abutting cold-box plus enough seating to accommodate the steady flow of patrons coming in mostly for beer as opposed to the ingredients and mechanisms for producing their own.

bearroots_02On my visit, a half-dozen beers were available. Others had sold out, a common occurrence at Bear Roots, where the house-beers are produced in small, two-barrel batches after double brew-days on Little’s one-barrel system. Fortunately, a house favorite, Bear Cookie, was up for grabs. A chocolate-peanut butter stout brewed with raw cocoa, naked oats, English malts and noble hops, it’s a dessert-lovers beery dream come true. Nutty, chocolaty and coating, it’s soothing like a glass of warm milk, but at just 6.66% alcohol-by-volume (ABV), it won’t put you to sleep like that moo-juice.

bearroots_03Beers on the non-roasty side of the spectrum were also very impressive. I particularly enjoyed Rooted in Nelson, a bone-dry American India pale ale (IPA) with Nelson Sauvin hops added at every stage of brewing and fermentation. Passion-fruit with a touch of toastiness best describes its aroma, while the flavor profile is Sauvignon Blanc grapes with watercress-like bitterness and a touch of pink-peppercorn spice. Brewed with Mosaic and Simcoe hops, Bear Roots American pale ale had a similarly peppery finish, a nose of fresh-cut grass and a light-body that made it incredibly crushable.

bearroots_05Less satisfying was Edinburgh, an English-style pale ale that was to-style, but pretty dull—a typical San Diego beer-fan lament. For my money, I preferred Bite the Bullet, a Belgian-style tripel aged multiple months on bourbon whiskey-soaked oak-chips. At 12.6% ABV it’s big and sweet, as one might expect, but not overly boozy. Orangey yeast esters mesh well with a honey sweetness and light vanilla notes.

There’s no telling what the future holds for Bear Roots, but with beer that not only exhibits zero defects but tastes good while offering substantial diversity (provided not too many kegs blow during service), the basis for a brighter tomorrow is there.

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