Several out-of-state breweries have recently entered the local beer market. The shelves and coolers of our local retailers are overflowing with new options. With that in mind, here are a couple of reviews to help with your purchasing decisions.
Left Coast Hop Juice
Located in San Clemente, California, Left Coast Brewing Company is one of the newest out-of-staters on the scene. The brewery’s year-round offerings include Trestles (IPA), Asylum (Belgian Tripel), Voo Doo (American stout), Una Mas (amber lager), and Del Mar St. (pale lager). But the Left Coast beer that gets the most attention is Hop Juice – a big ol’ double IPA brewed with five varieties of hops.
Hop Juice pours crystal clear with a thin layer of foam that quickly disappears. The color is a brilliant gold. Faint citrus and perfume can be detected in the nose. It’s a nice aroma, but lacks the punch expected from a beer that was dry-hopped for four weeks (which was the case for Hop Juice). As with many double IPAs, there is a slick, resinous mouth feel and plenty of warming alcohol. But the alcohol is not as well hidden as other examples of the style, and seems somewhat in-your-face and overdone. Hop Juice is fairly sweet with a touch of caramel from the crystal malt. It finishes dry and leaves a lingering bitterness on the palate.
Overall this is an adequate beer, but there are better double IPAs to be had. I’d say it’s about middle-of-the-road for the style.
Bayou Teche Acadie
Arnaudville, Louisiana’s Bayou Teche Brewing has a culinary focus, crafting beers that pair with traditional Cajun and Creole dishes. The brewery produces several beers, including a pale ale, a black ale, a smoked wheat, a passion fruit wheat and a Bière de Mars. One of Bayou Teche’s most popular beers is Acadie – a Bière de Garde by style.
Bière de Garde has been brewed for hundreds of years in France and is loosely translated as “beer for keeping.” The French would brew in the cold months to provide a better environment for the yeast (yeast don’t do well in hot temperatures), and the beer would be stored in barns until ready to drink later in the year. Bière de Garde is related to other farmhouse ale styles such as Saison.
Acadie pours a deep orange with a medium level of carbonation. The head is thick and off-white in color, and sticks around for quite a while. The aroma is a blend of toasted grain and slightly tart fruit. The flavor reflects the aroma, with a clean bitterness that in no way resembles that of most American ales. In other words, there is no grapefruit or pine resin here – just a nice, clean hop presence that balances the toasty sweetness of the malt. The 6.0% ABV is substantial, but the alcohol blends very nicely into the rest of the beer’s flavor profile. Acadie finishes dry with a touch of spiciness on the tongue.
The style is relatively unknown in the United States (few commercial examples exist), but Bayou Teche’s version of Bière de Garde is quite tasty and definitely worth a try.
There are a lot of new beers to try these days. The best way to experience them all without going broke is to visit one of the better beer stores and create your own mix-pack. That way if you don’t like a beer, you don’t have five more that go to waste. I’m currently building mix-packs of all the new beers available in Northwest Arkansas, so look for more reviews in the weeks ahead. Cheers, everyone!