Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

These aren’t your conservative beers

By William Brand
Friday, November 12th, 2004 at 3:44 pm in Uncategorized.

HOW about a walk on the wild side? Lou Reed wasn’t talking about beer when he wrote the song in 1972, but today, with a fair amount of liberal interpretation, it’s easy to apply the words to some of the beer being made today. Here’s a sampling:

Wild Dog Double Pale Ale, Flying Dog Brewing, Denver, Colo. This is extreme pale ale, in honor of Flying Dog’s 10th anniversary ale. It’s enough to drive conservative Brits wild. This is hallucinogenic stuff — Cascade hops pour out of the glass and circle the brain. It’s hugely hoppy at 85 International Bitterness Units (Bud has 11 IBU), but at 9.5 percent alcohol by volume, there’s enough malt to balance the hops. Well, almost.

Double Bastard Ale, Stone Brewing, San Marcos. In 1972, your family newspaper couldn’t even print the name of this huge, malty wonder. (And maybe, if certain trends continue, we won’t be able to print it again.)

The much heftier son of Arrogant Bastard, this 10 percent alcohol by volume beer is more like an after-dinner brandy than a summer cooler.

In fact, the 10-ounce glass made to go with it looks like it’s made for a whiskey highball. It’s a malt cocktail with a huge malty nose, quite sweet taste with a rush of alcohol and a long delicious follow. Interested in buying the Italian crystal glass? It’s $8. Go to www.stonebrew.com

Brown Shugga, Lagunitas Brewing, Petaluma. If you like the taste of brown sugar and like your beer strong and sweet, this November seasonal is for you. The brewers add 200 pounds of brown sugar to each 50 barrel batch. Yeast loves sugar, so the beer is 9.9 percent alcohol by volume. It has an intense molasses nose with fruity background notes. The taste is sweet, with lots of hops.

Frambozen, New Belgium Brewing, Ft. Collins, Colo. This is New Belgium’s holiday beer. Frambozen is Flemish for raspberries and in this one real Oregon raspberries are added to a traditional Flemish brown ale. It has a raspberry aroma mixed with pear notes from the ale. The taste is slightly sour, with a citrus tang from, I guess, the American hops. It’s unusual but worth a try.

Another beer to watch for is Trumer Pils. It’s not wild at all. It’s a very drinkable, straightforward, Austrian pilsner made at the old Golden Pacific Brewery, 1404 4th St., Berkeley, by San Antonio-based Gambrinus Co. and Privatbrauerei Josef Sigl. It has a light, hoppy nose, huge creamy head, and perfect malt-hops balance. It’s unusual because it’s made here and arrives in stores immediately after six weeks of aging.

And don’t forget Pacific Coast Brewing’s 16th annual Tasting of Holiday Beers from noon to 3 p.m. Dec. 11. Advance tickets are $35. A great selection of holiday beers from around the state will be offered. For more information, call (510) 836-2739 or visit www.pacificcoastbrewing.com Pacific Coast Brewing is at 906 Washington St., Oakland.

William Brand publishes What’s On Tap, a consumer craft beer and hard cider newsletter. His column runs every other week. Write him at whatsontap@sbcglobal.net or P.O. Box 3676, Walnut Creek, CA 94598, or call (510) 915-1180.

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