OnTap Magazine

SMOOTHIES AND SOURS First stop was the town of Monterey, home to the iconic community of Pebble Beach and its myriad famous golf courses. A historic industrial town famous for its Cannery Row, Monterey has also been the birthplace of many craft breweries in recent times. Unfortunately, many did not survive the lockdowns, but those that did were now back up to full operations and capacity. I stopped by Alvarado Street Brewery and laid eyes upon my first slushy beer. Reading the description, I was expecting something like a milkshake IPA, but the Daquiri Island Sunset Slush is definitely its own breed of awesome. It looked like a golden mango smoothie, but the aroma gave away the game from some distance. The tropical fruit scents were heavy, but there was no mistaking that delicious, tart kettle sour which forms the basis of this fruited beer. The taste brought that aroma to life: pineapple and mango sweetness cut through the sourness creating a beer that is unusual, but delicious, even if some purists might turn their noses up at the result. Alvarado Street also boasted an excellent kettle sour, Howzit Punch, which was big on gooseberries and cranberries, not super sour, and with a sweet finish that really left me wanting more. WEIRD AND WONDERFUL Chasing the high of discovery led me to another Monterrey-based brewery, Dust Bowl, at their brewhouse on the harbour. The extensive tap list boasted some 13 IPAs, with their Mango Milkshake IPA offering a good 24 months. The orange, cherry and oak flavours masked the alcohol content well, and it turned out to be a really smooth beer to be savoured. That brings me back to Ermahgerd Slurshy, the last strange beer I had before heading back to San Francisco and my flight home. Taken from the same fridge I’d found those rogue Pliny the Elder bottles a fortnight before, Ermahgerd, a reference to a decade- old meme, was the ideal end to a crazy, varied journey that started in the misty forests of Oregon and ended in Big Sur wine country. When you are surrounded by excellent beer, the temptation to stick to what you know can be overwhelming. But, variety is the spice of life, so if you are going to take a once in a lifetime trip, you might as well drink once in a lifetime beer. entry point to anyone who is not quite ready for the pulp-laden slushy. It had a similar flavour profile, but with an IPA base rather than a sour, and none of the fruit pulp, although the lactose made it heavy, nonetheless. To look further afield than my immediate surroundings, I turned to bottle shops and their seemingly never- ending variety of locally sourced brews. That brought me to the likes of Central Coast Brewing’s Raspberry Sunrise, a fruited Berliner Weisse that would do well on a Cape Town summer day. New Glory Craft Brewing’s Gummy Worms Chewy Pale Ale had me sold on its name alone, and gummy worm adorned can design. It’s an unfiltered, unfined pale ale with a fruity zestiness that puts it firmly in the category of unusual beers. An IPA which stood out enough to merit a try was Heretic’s 4th of Juicy. A New England Quad IPA with an eye- watering 14% ABV, its lack of distinct aroma belies its complex flavours and big fruit finish. Resist the temptation to reach for a second with that alcohol content, though. ERMAHGERD MOMENTS Heading further south and deeper into my pockets, the premium beer section of a Carmel bottle shop caught my eye with some offerings from Firestone Walker. Their Krieky Bones wild ale with cherries is a highly rated, excellent sour that really triggers the pucker reflex, but is delicious and complex. One shelf over I found the outstanding Tequila Barrel Sunrise, a blonde barleywine aged in tequila barrels, then cherry and orange bitters barrels, over a period of WORLD OF BEER The ideal end to a crazy, varied journey If you're lucky, rogue bottles of Pliny can be found right next to the Stella Carmel Valley: rural tranquility California bottle shops stock a staggering variety of beers from around the country California: where the only thing bigger than the beers are the Redwoods Albarado Street Brewery Carmel Craft Alvarado Street Taproom San Francisco skyline 38 | Summer 2021 | ontapmag.co.za