California is the promised land, the land where dreams are made, every television program and movie I’ve ever seen told me this. Of course it is not a promised land. The promised land is Craigieburn. I remember seeing it on a sign by the Hume Highway about 15 years ago.
Although Hollywood, San Francisco, San Diego and Yosemite National park are all very nice, they are not a patch on the jewel of the Northern outskirts of Melbourne with its Bunnings warehouse, 24 hour police station and the soaring Mt Ridley (a whopping 200 metres above sea level, take that Mt Whitney at your puny 4,421 metres). On the plus side however California does have some brilliant beers, something Craigieburn hasn’t yet managed.
In fact the Californian beer was so good I was drinking it before I arrived in the third largest state in the US. That’s right our journey into Californian beers starts way back in New York City in a little bar called Tom and Jerry’s.
We were meeting Andre and Cat in said bar before heading off to the Baseball. In anticipation of the crap beer we would be consuming at Yankee stadium (and it turned out it was the worse beer I had in the US) we were planning on having a few good beers before we jumped on the subway for the big trip out to the Bronx.
First up in my beer insurance policy was Beer Republic Pete’s Brown Ale which was (unsurprisingly) dark brown, with lighter brown bits at the bottom. It had a wispy head and smelt nutty. It was hoppy from the get go, and then faded away to chocolate tones in the aftertaste. It was a very good beer – Pint.
Then came a beer that I’d heard a lot about – mainly on this website which is based on the premise that the author is only drinking 52 beers for the year (shocking I know). He chose beers 10,11,12 and 13 to be Arrogant Bastard beers so figured that they must be good.
With that thought in my head I ordered the Arrogant Bastard Ale. The beer is an amber almost red colour with a thin white head. It is very very hoppy, but surprisingly still easy to drink when you are actually drinking it, but the aftertaste it leaves in your mouth is quite unpleasant. Perhaps the best solution to this problem would be to drink it faster, but I found that for a leisurely catch up in a pub this aftertaste sort of ruined the experience for me. Schooner.
But it didn’t put me off going to California and more specifically San Francisco. As I’ve mentioned previously to match the laid back vibe of the place we elected to stay at a backpackers. Imagine my happiness when I was told that just 2 hours after we checked in that they were having a free tasting session of local beers in the lounge.
I had to go along and I was presented with a friendly staff member who knew little about beer, he did however give me free beer so he was still a good bloke. The first beer he handed me was Lagunitas IPA which smelled like passionfruit (one would assume those famous cascade hops are in there), I stared at it for a while, wondering why it was a strange greeny amber colour, It later occurred to me I was drinking it from a blue plastic Ikea cup. It had some very nice fruity hop characters and really was quite a good beer – Pint.
Next up was Speakeasy IPA. IPA’s are to craft beer in the US what light lagers are to mainstream Australian brewers, which to say they are everywhere. This particular one seemed to have strange mouldy bread scents, almost like sourdough bread, but not quite which is a smell I associate with wheat beers so I thought this unusual. The beer was easy to drink however without much carbonation and just a gentle hoppyness. Nice sessionable beer – Pint.
The dude then handed me a Trumer Pils and told me that it was local. When I looked sceptical he said ‘Well not local, but over the bay in Berkeley.’ But in my world this beer is Austrian, it may be brewed under partnership in California, but I can get the true brewed in Austria version at my local pub so I’m not counting it.
Six Degrees of Norm:
- I drank two of these beers are Tom & Jerry’s
- Which is referenced in this article in the New York Times.
- It’s entitled ‘Where everyone knows your Twitter Handle’
- Which is a clever Cheers reference
- In fact they even ask ‘Who would be your Norm?”
- Which of course is a reference to ‘Norm from Cheers’
Beer Republic Pete’s Brown Ale – Pint
Arrogant Bastard Ale – Schooner
Lagunitas IPA – Pint
Speakeasy IPA – Pint
The Long Bow Youtube Clip: It has to be ‘A Chapter in your life entitled San Francisco’ by The Lucksmiths