West Coast Beer Tour – Top 5 Beers

Erin and I have just had an awesome few weeks researching (for ‘researching’ read: eating and drinking) tasty food and beer on the West Coast of America. Look out for a post on some of our food highlights soon, but for now I’m going to give you a run down of my ale highlights. The beers were hoppy and strong – far too many “West Coast IPAs” to mention. But what really stood out were the sour beers. We’re both pretty excited about the wild beer thing that seems to be happening in the USA at the moment.

Anyway, here are my 5 favourite beers from the trip. Try them if you can.

IMG_69681. Mini Separation Anxiety, Session IPA, 4%, Berryessa Brewing Company

This was a delicious and hoppy, but light and beautifully balanced, session IPA that I drank in the delightful Nopalito in San Francisco. It’s grapey and grapefruity and decidedly fresh. Great with the fish tacos we were demolishing at the time. Sadly no photo of the beer but I did manage to take a quick snap of their beer menu!


2. Beautification, 6%, Russian River Brewing CompanyIMG_6840

We visited the Russian River Brewery and Tap Room and got stuck into the biggest flight of beers I’ve ever seen. All twenty of their brews (plus one special) in 3oz tasters. Their IPA’s are lovely but their sours stole the show. And “Beautification” was our favourite. This golden sour is totally spontaneously fermented beer (no yeast or bacteria added) and is aged in oak barrels. It was a delight.


IMG_71583. Allagash Tripel, 9%, Allagash Brewing Company

You may just be able to spot the small, squat bottle of this quality tripel in the middle of this photo of empties. There were lots of Trappist and Abbey inspired beers in the US, but this was my favourite. Worryingly drinkable at 9%. Passion fruit and other american hop flavours combine nicely with more typical Belgian spice & banana notes. That sounds a bit crazy but was really very smooth and drinkable.


IMG_73314. Original Chai Ale, 4.9%, Central Coast Brewing Company.

Awesome. A Belgian yeast ale with just enough spice to transport you to South Asia. It delivered a smooth milky chai flavour without losing the essential bitterness of the beer. It definitely inspired me to try a similar brew myself. We tried it at the brewery tap room, sitting amongst the fermenters and were very happy indeed.


IMG_75485. Blood Orange Gose, 4.2%, Anderson Valley Brewing Company

Amazingly, we drank this lovely sour orange beer in the City of Orange, (sadly not on) but close to Lemon Street! It reminded me of a Bellini cocktail – that delicious fruity fizz. And, in fact, we came across it again in a bar in Chicago in the guise of the ‘Goseflesh’ cocktail mixed with Tanqueray gin, Triple Sec & lemon. Delicious – bring on the beer cocktails!


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