I found the perfect Thanksgiving Day beer! Roadhouse Brewing’s Outcasty Porter is brewed with roasted sweet potatoes. Beginning as a pumpkin beer, Outcasty was reimagined as a Sweet Potato Porter after an early winter freeze created a pumpkin shortage. The clever twist resulted in a unique and superior outcome.
Utilizing one ton of house-roasted sweet potatoes in the brewing process, Roadhouse enlisted CES (Community Entry Services) to help with peeling the innumerable potatoes. A long-term partner of Roadhouse, CES is dedicated to empowering those with disabilities to help them live productive and satisfying lives in the community.
Roadhouse Brewing co-founder Colby Cox described this latest version of Outcasty, “When reimagining this beer with our Head Brewer and Experimental Brewer, we really wanted to emphasize the natural flavors of the sweet potato so we decided to remove the spice additions. What we landed on after multiple iterations was a beer with all the essence of fall and none of the nonsense of the classic ‘holiday beers.’ It’s dry, warming and drinkable in quantity – but too many over the Thanksgiving table might lead to rich truths best left unsaid!”
I found Outcasty to be an excellent porter with a mild, dark malt nose with a hint of coffee. The flavor brought dark chocolate up front with a smooth, rich caramel finish. Honestly, I doubt I could have named the sweet potato addition if I didn’t know about it going in, but I think I could pick it out from the usual porter flavors. There seemed to be a bit of unexpected earthiness and a nice richness that may not have been there otherwise. This is the perfect addition to a big Thanksgiving meal!
Greetings fellow comrades in craft. Welcome to yet another
installment of Beerhind the Scenes with Beer Selfie and Traveler’s Beer Log. For
this take, I once again decided to play it close to the vest and visit another
(VERY) local brewery here in my hometown of Lodi, CA. I was thrilled that a
hometown kid like myself could sit down with Grant, the owner of IDOL Beer
Works and talk about all things beer related under the sun. The things I
learned from him were incredible and his perspective on beer, not only in our
region, but across the globe made me that much more excited to do this brewery
justice in this article.
To understand IDOL’s beginning we need to go back before
they opened their doors to the fine folks of Lodi. Grant owned a business
called Flight Lounge in the city of Woodbridge (basically a little mini city
within Lodi). It was a nice spot that specialized in good eats and even better
craft beer options. At the time, it was really the only place in town you could
go and find an extensive selections of good local brews. This was the first
time Grant could display his true passion for all things beer. Being born and
raised in Scotland, he joked with me and said this long love of beer started
very young and could be credited to “Always being around Rugby clubs growing
up”. He knew that he wanted to start pushing the beer (more importantly CRAFT
beer) scene into the city of Lodi. What he didn’t know was if the people here
would be accepting of it.
It goes without saying (but G dangit I’m going to say it anyways) that opening up a place that centralizes it’s drink offerings around craft beer took guts. We are in the heart of wine country out here after all. My city alone is home to some of the best grown Zinfandel in the world (no that is not an exaggeration). So it’s safe to say that Grant’s hesitation about the reception of beer here was warranted. However, the beer was welcomed with open arms. So after owning Flight Lounge for a while he started to think about how to take this beer passion even further. He had been homebrewing and studying beer for quite some time, so he felt the only natural next step would be to open up a legitimate craft brewery here in town. So that’s exactly what he did.
Not only was Grant born and raised in Scotland until coming to the states at the age of 23, but he also lived in Austria for 10 years. Gee, rough life. It was here where he began to realize something very important about the beer industry: Germany knows what the heck they’re doing when it comes to making beer. While living in the land of hops and dreams, he became even MORE smitten with beer (somehow his smitten meter wasn’t already full) when he got more involved with the German processes of making beer. We’re talking about a country with a 1,000 year history of this beautiful fermented beverage. He fell head over heels for their scientific, precise approach to brewing that – in Grant’s opinion – has allowed their styles and breweries to remain unflappable and stand the test of time. You can see a lot of German influence in Grant’s beer at IDOL from a lot of the beer being unfiltered to the fermentation times and lengths he goes to for certain styles. There is a lot of passion, and a WHOLE LOT of commitment, research, and experimentation put into his hopped up babies. And boy howdy does it all pay off in the end result.
When I got to the brewery, I wasn’t quite sure where the questions and conversations were going to lead us. I try to ask more general, open ended questions and hope that through those more poignant, specific questions will come out as we talk more. This was certainly the case with Grant’s and my conversation. After warming up, we got further and further into the idea of where the craft beer movement is heading. How he believes that small (and sometimes not so small) craft breweries are seen as “piranha that the big domestics are scared of and will do anything to keep them at bay”. He then told me about the principles he based his brewery off of. He calls them the 3 C’s: Craft, Community, and Culture. All of these areas are covered extensively with this place. He’s opened up a brewery that is so involved with our community that I can only liken it to him having his hands in the dirt of our town. His tilling is bringing out the best and shows just what this little place has to offer to the world. If I can be frank, I suggest that he adds another C to that vision. It stands for Charity. IDOL has raised tens of thousands of dollars for charities across the board. Most recently, he raised funds for the Operation Restored Warrior Project. His goal for his brewery is to always do things right and that goes for the execution of his beer as well as the engagement within the community. Speaking of beer, that’s what we got to talking about next. I asked him what his initial goal was for IDOL and it’s beer. His answer was simple yet sincere: “I just had the goal that when you taste my beer, I want it to be an excursion. I want all of the flavors to hit you in a way that you don’t see them coming”. Well, speaking from personal experience with his brews he accomplished that and then some. While we’re were on subject… Let’s talk about the BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEER.
I tried 4 beers brewed by Grant and his right hand brewer James themselves. Each one was better than the last and the first was pretty dang great to begin with! To start off I tried the Hazzelicious, a 7% NEIPA with a little extra haze thrown in there. Incredibly refreshing with the up-front bitterness being matched with a lighter haze that makes you want to keep tipping your glass to your mouth till there’s nothing left but the faint memory of a great beer. It was smooth, well rounded, and delicious. Seeing that my glass needed some liquid rejuvenation. Grant then poured me a couple tasters to wet my whistle while I was choosing my next full glass. One of the tasters was the Ballistic Leprechaun. This is one intense Irish Strong Red Ale, but not in the way that you’d think. At 12.3% you’d assume it’d feel like getting smacked by a shillelagh stick square in the noggin, but instead it comes off as an unbelievably smooth ride. My first question to Grant was if it was barrel aged because it has this amazing caramelized malt forwardness and was a just a touch sweet so I assumed it had taken a nap in some type of barrel at some point. Nope. Just an extremely well executed, unfiltered red ale that pours a beautiful deep copper color. No boozy heaviness. No cloying sweetness. The second taster had the acclaimed Double Image DIPA in there. It’s basically like IPA candy. A smooth, thick-ish body is accompanied by a surprising – yet very welcomed – light sweetness on the back end. Let’s not forgot how well those hops work off of everything! Bitter and biting in the best kind of way. I finished my drinking excursion with a full cup of the Dragon My Ass. A dragonfruit cream ale that has a really neat backstory to it. I won’t fill this paragraph up with that, but if you’re ever in the brewery you can try your luck and ask Grant about it. The beer itself is pretty unique. I told him it was so balanced I couldn’t tell when the floral hop profile stopped and when the foloral-er, sweet dragonfruit began! Plus it had that textbook, palate coating body that all Cream Ales should have. It was like I was caught in some amazingly twisted twilight zone episode about beer. And I would’ve stayed there forever had the beer in my glass not run out. The color is also GORGEOUS. I wrapped up the interview with my thirst quenched and my head full of ideas for the article.
As I walked away from the brewery I was a little nervous about doing this man and his brewery justice with my writing. I mean, I have so many paragraphs to fit all of this into. He had so much knowledge to drop and my fingers could only type so fast (especially when delicious beers are involved). With everything I learned from Grant I was worried I’d be unable to put all those things into words and that his true intentions and sincerity would get lost somewhere between the tips of my fingers and the keys on my laptop. I can only hope that I’ve recounted what an awesome, informative experience this was for me and how grateful I am to Grant and the folks at IDOL for having me. I can’t wait to see what they have cooking for the next couple months. Grant did tell me about a few new beers they’re working on. When I asked him if he could tell me anything about them he smirked and swiftly replied, “No”. Alright then… keep your secrets. As soon as I get word of those new beers dropping I’m heading over there ASAP. If you’re ever in our small town and are looking for some gooooood beer, you have to make a stop at IDOL. Come inside, enjoy good company and get the chance to talk with Grant. He’s quiet and humble but is passionate enough to let his genius slip through the more you talk with him (the more beer he drinks also helps). Thanks for tuning it! Till next time y’all, cheers and onward for beer!
Jordan works in the alcohol distribution industry and has a passion for family, writing, and all things beer (both drinking and brewing it). You can find him on Instagram: @travelersbeerlog
How we come across brands can be an interesting story in it’s own right, especially if they’re one that you’ve come to view as a favorite. With Left Hand Brewing, I do have a soft spot for them, as I’m a left-hander, and I’ve got family where Left Hand calls home (Longmont, CO). How I started working with the brand to get review samples, that’s a different story altogether.
If anything, it’s a cautionary tale. You see, I was at my local shop looking for something to bring to an exchange, and ran across a Left Hand product I’d not seen before (and there was a good reason for that), Introvert IPA. I grabbed that to try, and quickly learned that, when opening them up, they all but exploded out. Turns out, the store was selling some super old product (and I didn’t check the dates on the carton, as I do now). Long story short, I reached out to the brand to let them know (and they could follow up with their distributor) and got it sorted. As a silver lining in there, it got me in touch with the friendly marketing folks there, and here we are today, telling you about their beers.
If you’re like me, you’ve probably been heavy into trying different IPAs (hazy or otherwise) as that seems to be the big thing being produced. And hey, I like a good IPA, and the juicy fruit most have lend quite well to summertime. The weather is cooling here in Chicago, though, which means it’s time to think about mixing stuff up, and getting back to checking out some of those other styles. So, why not a stout?
Back before I was “in” to beers (and just enjoyed them) porters and stouts were my go-to’s. The darker, the better. But then flavor profiles started to fall a little flat on my tongue, and I decided I’d give these new (to me) IPAs a try. That, friends, is how my road to getting into beer (and the community) started out. But I still like a good stout, especially if it does something interesting with the flavors. With the Left Hand White Russian Nitro, it’s safe to say something interesting is happening.
Let’s take a quick step back and answer a question – what is a White Stout, exactly? Other than a total mind trip (you see stout on the can, and it pours a much different color than you expect), it’s a change-up in the recipe. Instead of dark, roasted malts (which lend that dark color we expect), you get things like coffee, cacao nibs, or vanilla beans subbing in. In the case of the Left Hand White Russian Nitro, you’ve got two of those popping in, coffee and vanilla.
So, back to that mind trip. When I first cracked open the Left Hand White Russian Nitro, you get that crisp hiss that you’re used to from a nitro can, and that continues on when you pour it into a glass, with a milky cloudiness to the pour, that lifts up to a thick head. It’s trippy seeing that on a golden-colored beer, however, rather than on a dark-as-oil one. So, that’s your first indication (especially if you missed all the Lebowski-inspired artwork on the can) that this is no ordinary stout.
Once in the the glass, the Left Hand White Russian Nitro has what I would describe as a bean-y nose. Yes, coffee is in the mix, but it’s not coffee beans I’m talking about. To me, it was reminiscent of when you open up a can of beans (think garbanzo or navy beans), something I’ve not noticed before on any brew. When you get that first sip, you do get a mild hit of coffee up front that flows away pretty quickly. That’s quickly replaced by vanilla and chocolate as the super-smooth stout makes its way across your tastebuds.
For my first experience with a white stout, I was very pleasantly surprised. Sure, I missed some of that dark heaviness from a traditional stout, but this is a way for someone who doesn’t want to chew their beer to try out a stout. In the same way, if you’re not a fan of overpowering coffee in their beer (me, I like strong coffee flavors as well), this is a way to try it out in a much milder form. For me, I found the Left Hand White Russian Nitro to be very drinkable, and gave it a solid 3.5/5 in my own book. Perfect for kicking back after a long day at the bowling alley, I’d say. But, that’s just, like, my opinion man. lefthandbrewing.com
Drat that fat cat! Another delicious brew from that craft crazy cat brewery in Connecticut. I decided to choose this for my pre-trick or treat Halloween beer and it did not disappoint.
The best thing about it wasn’t its sweet chocolate notes throughout each sip, or it’s smooth yet light caramelly body. Not even those subtle, roasted coffee notes at the end can deter me from the real message this thing is sending. It’s the fact that it doesn’t try too hard to be different. It’s already throwing a curveball at you by being a “White” stout but it’s just as approachable as the next dark beer.
Fat Orange Cat is well known in the craft community so this post needn’t serve as their formal introduction to anyone reading this. No, this is about the beer. Each one of their brews is unique and enjoyable, with this White Stout being a different breed entirely. Don’t let that deep, golden straw color fool you though. It’s all stout from first to last sip. Cheers to them for continuing their consistent good beer brewage.
Roadhouse The Walrus Hazy IPA
Roadhouse Brewing’s The Walrus is a Hazy IPA brewed with peaches and tangerines. They really nailed the fruit additions. The fruit flavors are obvious without being overwhelming. I tasted sweet peach up front with a lingering tangerine finish. The beer has a pleasant, soft mouthfeel, with very little bitterness. This is my first Roadhouse beer, and I didn’t know what to expect from a Hazy IPA from Wyoming, but they’ve done well!
Secret Trail New Leif Pale Ale
New Leif is one of the first four beers Secret Trail has canned. They’ve been kicking ass the last two years, but have been keg only until now.
Brewing an American Pale Ale a mile away from a certain other Chico, California brewery begs comparison. New Leif is actually fairly similar to Sierra Nevada’s famous Pale Ale, and certainly acquits itself well. They share a crisp citrus hop bite, with a nice malt balance. New Leif is brewed with Centennial hops, sometimes referred to as Super Cascade.
I already know where your first craft beer stop is going to be if you’re visiting Chico, but don’t forget to make Secret Trail your second stop.
Nightmare Glasgow Smile
After seeing this can art I’m afraid to google “glasgow smile” and find out what horrors inspired this beer, but the beer itself is real damn good. This is my first experience with Nightmare Brewing, makers of “Death Metal & Horror Inspired Brews.”
This is a Gose soured on wild bilberries, brewed with heather, lemon zest and black sea salt, then fermented with raspberries and blueberries. It makes for a complex and rich berry forward sour. This isn’t a refreshing sour beer despite the brightness provided by the lemon zest. It’s too thick and rich to be real refreshing. It would pair better with a chocolate mousse than a hot summer day.
Capitol Luau is tart and refreshing with loads of passion fruit and guava flavor. This tastes like a tart, tropical fruit punch, to the point of being a bit one dimensional, but really a delight to drink.
Martin House Blackbird Imperial Blackberry Sour Ale
Few things are better than smothering a fluffy biscuit with blackberry jam and that’s what this beer reminded me of. Adding berry can sometimes taste artificial or like cough syrup, but fortunately this beer does not suffer from that. It has rich, natural blackberry flavor. You can’t taste the 9.2% ABV but it’s full bodied with a rich, smooth mouthfeel. This is my first beer from Martin House (I hear they make a pickle beer) and I’m impressed.
The base beer is a Pilsner aged in Sauvignon Blanc barrels with the addition of Sauvignon Blanc grape juice from the 2018 harvest for a secondary fermentation. The juice and barrels are from Dutton Vineyards in the Russian River wine appellation here in Sonoma County. There is no lactobacillus or pediococcus added to the beer, only brettanomyces. The tart acidity comes from the wine grapes. This beer is delicate and beautifully balanced, a perfect refresher on a warm summer day!
Russian River makes world class sours and Intinction is a good example of their expertise. I can’t imagine a better blend of Pilsner malt, white wine grape influence, and sour acidity. Reading the label I imagined something muddy, not understanding how Pilsner malt and white wine would work together. I wisely gave Russian River the benefit of the doubt and was rewarded with a complex and refreshing beer, that manages to delightfully highlight each of its ingredients. The Pilsner malt takes the stage at first, but the beer has a lovely oaky white wine finish.
In the ancient Greek myths, ambrosia is the drink of the gods, often depicted as conferring longevity or immortality upon whoever consumed it.
It’s also a fruit salad popularized in the late 19th century.
Now it’s a beer.
Angry Chair and Westbrook’s collaboration, “ambrosia-inspired” Zoose Joose is a wheat ale brewed with tangerine, pineapple, cherry, coconut, lactose and marshmallows.
The most notable thing about this beer is how well all the adjuncts work together. It is surprisingly not muddled, with each ingredient providing a distinct flavor. The cherry, pineapple, and lactose/marshmallow were up front for me, with the coconut contributing the least. The beer had minimal head and light carbonation.
I found the inclusion of lactose and marshmallow to be a bit much. I think the beer would be better with one or the other, or less of both. Overall, a really interesting and tasty brew though.
Dust Bowl Buck
This Hazy Double IPA isn’t second fiddle. You’re gonna have love as soon as you taste the clean citrus hop flavor. Open up your heart to the smooth, silky mouthfeel. This beer is a surprisingly crushable at 8.5% so try to act naturally. My heart skips a beat with the juiciness of Amarillo, Citra and Mosaic hops.
Sierra Nevada Estate Farmhouse
Like Sierra Nevada, I was born in Chico in 1980, so I love seeing their Estate beers. It’s great to see them branch out from their usual Estate IPAs.
This Estate Farmhouse Ale was spontaneously fermented in a peach orchard and aged in wine barrels. The wine barrel influence is evident, with some sweetness, and a hint of farmhouse funk. Overall a bit sweet, muddy, and boring. I’d prefer some more distinct farmhouse flavor and less toffee maltiness, but I like the new direction they seem to be taking with this addition.
Russian River STS Pils
The dark days of Russian River not distributing to Chico are finally over. Pliny the Elder, Blind Pig, and STS suddenly showed up all over town recently.
This “Keller-style Pils” is delightful! It’s super crisp with a dry, bitter finish. It’s packed full of bready malt and lemony/peppery/earthy hops.
This is a world class pilsner, and I’m stoked to have it more readily available.
Tahoe Mountain’s Mayor of Midtown
This take on a Hazy IPA was tasty, but not what I expected. I’m curious about what yeast they used for this as it has hints of belgian flavors. Definitely yeast forward for an IPA, with earthy, melon hop flavor and medium bitterness. This beer reminds me of Toppling Goliath’s Pseudo Sue, but not quite as good.
Double Nickel’s Weekend Warrior
This Hazy Pale Ale is double dry-hopped with Idaho and Citra. It’s a really nice showcase for these citrusy hops. Weekend Warrrior has a sweet orange aroma and is packed with orange, mango, and lime flavor. Weighing in at only 26 IBU it still has a noticeable bitterness, particularly lingering in the finish. It has a medium body and foamy white head that dissipates quickly. Double Nickel nails it once it again with this delightful brew. I also appreciate the 19.2 oz tall can!
We’ve started a mailing list! Click the “BEER MAIL” link above to sign up. To kick things off we’re giving away a t-shirt or tank! Sign up for the mailing list before Friday (6/7) for a chance to win.
Emails to the mailing list will be rare and hopefully you’ll find them interesting. To give you an idea of what you’re in for we’ve included the content from our first email that we sent out last week below:
Welcome to Beer Mail!
This is the inaugural BeerSelfie mailing list email to update you on what we’re up to. Don’t worry, these will be rare, but there’s an unsubscribe link below if you aren’t interested in receiving another.
Now that the days are getting longer and hotter here in California, circumstances call for a light drinking beer and sitting on the porch into the evening. As pilsners and kolsches tend to dominate most beer drinkers lists during hot weather, the monotony of fizzy yellow beer can lead many to search for a different taste for summer. I recently had the opportunity to sample Firestone Walker’s Rosalie, a beer rosé, and was impressed by its subtle fruit flavors and drinkability. As a brewery that sprung up in a southern California vineyard, Rosalie feels right at home as it is co-fermented primarily with Chardonnay grapes.
The hibiscus flower added to this brew stand out well against the mild fruitiness imparted by the Chardonnay grapes and are a featured flavor. Further, they add a bright pink color to the beer that is noticeable from the initial pour. This brew pours with little if any head, adding to the wine aesthetic, with little carbonation making it that much more quaffable. At only 10 IBUs there’s little here for hop heads but making it quite accessible to the wine converts who may be making the jump to sours and goses. Overall, at five percent ABV, this beer rosé makes for a fine summer drinker or any time you find yourself relaxing under the sun.