Last week my wife went on a very quick business trip to LA. When she came back she surprised me with 4 bombers of local California beer. She picked me up beers from The Bruery, Alesmith, Russian River, and Anderson Valley. Not to shabby. Over the course of the last few days, I've had the opportunity to open a couple of them and try them out.
Alesmith Wee Heavy: Alesmith is actually a brewery just outside of San Diego, founded in 1995. From their website it looks like they've got a lot of folks that were big time home brewers, and now they get to make beer for a living. Doesn't sound to bad (although a lot of hard work). This particular beer, their Wee Heavy is Scottish Ale that seems to have won a few awards recently. Sounds good so far, but again the question must be asked how does it taste? It weighs in at 10.0% and pours a deep rich brown almost black with streaks of red showing up against the light and capped by a thick head of taupe colored foam. The nose is of malt and raisins, charred wood, coco. The mouthfeel is thick and creamy as expected. Almost chewy. Notes of raisins and figs, chocolate. Very little carbonation it sits on the tongue. Dark Chocolate bitterness works well against the sweetness of the malt. No alcohol flavor but you do 'feel' it. My wife and I had this beer with some nice dark chocolate and it paired nicely. This beer is the opposite of a big DIPA, instead of saturating your tongue with hops its malts that penetrate to the core. Great beer that gets an A from me, with some strong support from BA.
The Bruery Orchard White: This one is a small brewery in Orange County, that specialize in bottle conditioned beer. Again founded by home brewers, this brewery is just a little over a year old, but they seem to make some pretty interesting looking beers. This one is their take on a classic Belgian Wit style, with a unique addition of Lavender. The beer weighs in at 5.7% and pours a cloudy pale straw color with at thick frothy white head. The nose is brightly floral, honey, orange, coriander and a bit of lavender, notes of cereal and grains. The mouthfeel is effervescent and bubbly, full bodied, refreshing. Notes of honey, orange, coriander, and cereal. This is a very interesting beer. The lavender is there but thankfully not overpowering, just a hint. The big taste difference here is the use of rolled oats which really adds a nice tasty cereal flavor the beer. The negative aspect of it is that its a 'heavier' beer. I like my wits, crisp, refreshing and light. While this one is incredibly tasty and somewhat refreshing from the flavors it sits a little heavy for my preference in this style. It gets a B from me. The folks at BA love it.