Such are the vagaries of supply and demand and distribution that we in the Bay Area often have better access to beers from Europe than our own Golden State. Beer Revolution in Oakland reminded us of the great beers brewed in Southern California during SF Beer Week with a total takeover of its nearly 50 taps by beer from such Southern California breweries as Kinetic, Cismontane, Beachwood BBQ, Smog City and The Bruery, along with the welcome addition of Auburn Ale House. Needless to say, Los Angeles is no longer the beer desert it once was.
Beachwood’s Laurel is a fine representation of the West Coast IPA style, suitably hoppy, with some hints of tropical fruit. Smog City’s Groundwork Coffee Porter, meanwhile, smudges the boundaries between coffee and beer. The winner of this year’s gold medal for coffee beer at the Great American Beer Festival, Groundwork is aged on fresh, locally roasted fair trade coffee. A surprisingly easy-drinking beer that I would like to see up here more often.
Pushing 16% abv, the heavy-hitter for the day was The Bruery’s Melange No. 3, which the brewery describes as a blend of White Old Sap (a wheat wine), its Anniversary Series old ale and Black Tuesday Imperial Stout. The Black Tuesday stout seemed to be overshadowed by the other two beers, with the overall flavor resembling a Belgian abbey style ale, redolent of dark dried fruit and toffee, with an aftertaste of boozy bourbon barrel.
Slowly but surely, some beers from the Los Angeles area are starting to make their way up to the Bay Area. The more the merrier.
Beer Revolution is one of the best places to drink beer in the Bay Area, but it can be uncomfortably crowded at times. The nearby Belgian beer bar The Trappist, in contrast, is usually an oasis of tranquility. After drinking West Coast beers at Beer Rev, The Trappist is like a quick detour to Europe on the walk back to the downtown Oakland BART station. In this case, The Trappist offered a brief sojourn to Switzerland with the BFM Abbaye de Saint Bon Chien 2011, aged in merlot, cabernet, whiskey and grappa barrels. This strong (11%), full-flavored sour ale challenges you to re-calculate the meaning of “beer.” Somehow without the addition of cherries this amazing ale manages to taste very much like a Belgian kriek.