I had some business up in Northern California… WAY north… in mid-April and got to have some pretty good beers. I’ll be posting them when time allows, but I have been BUSY! Thanks for your patience, as always!
Work took me to Eureka, which is in the legendary “Emerald Triangle,” the tri-county, rural region of northern California where some 90% of the marijuana in the state is grown. People are nice, but conservative, private and just looking to make a living when the logging industry shut down in the ’70’s. People who are weed-obsessed tend to like MJ’s close cousin, hops, but I found the beers from this region to be, by and large, balanced.
Lost Coast and Eel River are the two best known breweries from this area, and Lost Coast beers are readily available in KC, so I went for some beers that I would generally not be able to get otherwise.
Eel River is cool because all their beers are 100% certified organic. For some reason organic beers tend to fall short of the mark in their styles and I have no idea why, but Eel River has a great reputation in the microbrew world. I was excited to try some out.
The first beer I sampled was a 22oz bomber of their California Blonde Ale that I bought from the nice selection at Eureka Natural Foods (GREAT people watching here). I think I paid $3.79, a great price! It comes in at 5.8%ABV and luckily the Red Lion Inn in Eureka has real glass tumblers in the rooms. The Eel River website lists the IBU’s at only 10, not hoppy at all.
The beer poured a slightly hazy yellow-gold color with a pure white head. If not for the haziness, it would look like a common American lager lawnmower beer. The aroma was very Pilsner-like to me, with a floral hop character and sweet maltiness that was still crisp and clean smelling.
The flavor was also Pilsner-like, reminding me of my dad’s beers from the 1970’s (before American lagers lost all their character). The aftertaste was definitely malty, but not cloying and the very small amount of hops actually provided a lot of balance. The beer had decent carbonation but a slightly watery mouthfeel. I found tumbler after tumbler to be very consistent with a perfect balance between the crisp hops and sweet malt. There was maybe a little vegetable-y DMS flavor somewhere in there, but it wasn’t unpleasant.
I found this to be a great lawnmower beer/thirst quencher. REALLY easy to drink, not terribly complex, well-balanced, crisp and clean… all the hallmarks of a beer you could drink several of and not have any palate fatigue. The 5.8%ABV makes it a little high to be a true session beer, but I was very happy with this selection from Eel River.