Bob’s Beer Bits and Sips
Meyer Lemon Lager & Mango Wheat
Fruit beer styles have grown at 81% by volume in the US, evidence that consumers continue to crave fruity brews. Anchor Brewing, known for its iconic Anchor Steam, is also hailed as America’s first craft brewery and was one of the first to bring flavorful beers to the American palate, even before the craft beer boom got off the ground. The San Francisco-based brewery now has plucked some fruits from its own backyard with two fruit beers utilizing California-grown citrus.
Originally brewed in 2015 as a one and done project named California Uncommon, it was created to be served at all of the World of Beer locations. In test batches it seemed to resonate with the brewers and internal team so was renamed Meyer Lemon Lager and relaunched with a can label design inspired by a seventy-five-year-old fruit crate used by the Ventura County Lemon Cooperative and featuring a beautiful yellow-haired siren holding succulent Meyer lemons. The lager is brewed with the peel and juice of real California Meyer Lemons which are sweet, less acidic than other lemons, and is a subtly sweet brew with a zesty, lemony kick, and a very easy drinking beer for the hot summer months.
Although mangoes are native to southern Asia, they’ve been grown in California since the 1850s. Mango Wheat is brewed with a blend of two-row pale and wheat malt and hopped with Cascade and Golding. The flavor is very vibrant and more in your face than the Meyer Lemon Lager, but just as refreshing, with tropical aromatics, and the juiciness of a real mango. The can is also adorned with the same lovely siren, but in this case she has red hair and is holding a mango.
While IPA continues to reign as the number one selling craft beer style, shandy sales have grown by 30% over the last few years and now one producer is looking to take advantage of both. The Traveler Beer Company out of Burlington, Vermont has been making a wide variety of shandies which are traditionally beer mixed with lemonade or lemon-lime soda using ingredients such as grapefruit, pumpkin, strawberry, pineapple, lemon, lime and pomegranate. Its IPA Shandy is a wheat ale brewed with grapefruit and citrusy Galena, Warrior, Centennial, Citra, Cascade, Chook and Nelson Sauvin hops and logs in at a respectable 52 IBUs and at 4.4% ABV could be considered in the session IPA range. My impression is that upon sipping, the flavor of grapefruit juice is prevalent and after swallowing an aftertaste of citrusy hops comes through, so it’s almost like drinking two drinks in one. Traveler is hoping to expand the possibilities of what an IPA can be, but while I’m not sure it will satisfy a true IPA hophead, it may be considered an IPA on training wheels for those not quite ready for a full-on IPA hop monster.
Hop Trial SMaSH Variety Pack
Ever wondered what a single malt beer brewed with four distinctly different hops would taste like? Now you can find out, for the St. Louis brewery Schlafly the largest locally owned and independent craft brewery in Missouri has just released its Hop Trial SMaSH Variety Pack, which contains the same beer brewed with four different well known hop varieties from four different countries: Eureka! piney grown in Washington State, Hallertau Blanc floral from Germany, Enigma fruity from Tasmania and Bramling Cross spicy from the United Kingdom. In tasting each I found that they all had the same malt profile from the 2-row malted barley this Golden Ale is brewed with, but each beer was completely different and the label on each bottle includes accurate descriptors of what to expect of the hop character. The labels also contain helpful info such as hop origin, IBUs, SRM and brewer’s notes. In this initial installment of the Hop Trial Pack, the Schlafly team utilized established hops to introduce the concept of how to isolate a single varietal to the everyday beer consumer, but in years to come, the team may explore more experimental hops from the brewery’s Hop Trial program. This hop trial experience is an excellent testament to how greatly hops can affect the flavor of a beer. Experimenting with different hop varieties is not something new to this brewery. Due to Schlafly’s long-standing, close relationships, hop farmers have long approached the brewery to test out hops that will soon be introduced to market, and in the past year it has used 102 different hops within its portfolio of beers.