There can only be one undistributed beer of the week. The competition is fierce in San Diego's beer community, but someone has to take the title. This week's best undistributed beer is ...
PURE PROJECT BREWING: MIDNIGHT IN LONDON
PAIR WITH: Figs or French vanilla ice cream
This beer is a refreshing take on an English breakfast stout. Upon sipping a breakfast stout, you usually know what to expect: typically dark and a bit roasty, sometimes with the addition of coffee. Midnight in London is made with Earl Grey tea instead, and it exhibits strong flavors of bergamot, has a strong black tea nose and offers subtle notes of chocolate throughout. We had it on nitro, which gives it that ultra-creamy mouth-feel that made it hard to believe it was an 8.8-percent beer. It's as smooth as sipping a cup of tea.
Midnight in London comes from Winslow Sawyer, head brewer at Pure Project Brewing. Sawyer created a unique take on the typical breakfast stout by switching it up with an Earl Grey tea addition that it a flavor that lingers.
"I've always really liked the bergamot flavor in a true Earl Grey tea. We really focus on high quality, organic ingredients here, so I was excited to finally get some real pieces of organic bergamot from Italy. It gives off a very bright flavor, which you may not expect from the name of the beer. You expect a more roasty, tea-like beer. It ended up coming out super fruity and aromatic," he said.
The brew offers notes of orange and citrus, with a dark chocolate in the finish. The process of brewing a beer and utilizing tea in the mixture to create a tasty and well-balanced final project is complicated, but Sawyer's methods aren't up for discussion. It's a bit of a hidden recipe, he said.
"It's kind of a secret, a little bit," Sawyer said. "There is real tea in the beer. There is no flavoring here. A good amount of tea goes in to the beer. Really, the oats and it being on nitro allow the beer to be really creamy and not anything overwhelming or too bold of a flavor. The tea is balanced by the sweetness of the big beer," he said.
The mouthfeel of this beer is indeed creamy and the nitro helps to mellow out the strong flavors of the black tea blended brew. As Sawyer pointed out, you really get that bergamot flavor which provides a lemon, citrus quality that adds a nice bite to the mix. The most surprising aspect of this beer, however, is that it's 8.8-percent and is not heavy in the least. It's extremely balanced.
"It has a nice creamy body from the oats. For being such a big beer, it's not boozy. It's a great way to showcase the flavor of the tea. The bitterness of the tea really works well with the roast malts. Instead of like, 'It tastes like a stout,' it ventures on to the tea flavor. It's got a longer flavor profile that I really like," he said.
This tasty beer is currently available on tap to try at Pure Project Brewing. Get it while it's cold!
9030 Kenamar Dr., Miramar. purebrewing.org