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 ...
Pizza Port Brewing and AleSmith Brewing: Lil' Pick Me Up
Style: Coffee Imperial Porter
ABV: 8.3 percent
Pair with: Vanilla ice cream
As far as dark, coffee-flavored beers go, AleSmith and Pizza Port both make very strong, popular brews that locals love: Bacon and Eggs (a porter) and Speedway Stout. The combination of these two, with some new elements added in, creates a delectable spawn worth sipping on called Lil' Pick Me Up. This brew is all chocolate on the nose. It's smooth yet full-bodied, heavy on chocolate aroma and flavor, with some lingering notes of dark fruits. It also boasts a strong, roasty flavor from the addition of Bird Rock Coffee. It is smooth and drinkable - a must-try.
This beer's story comes to us from Matt Palmer, brewer at Pizza Port Ocean Beach. Palmer says that the origin of this beer's conception was actually in Philadelphia.
"Actually, it was at CBC (Craft Brewers Conference) in Philly that I met these guys. The CBC was a great way to network and meet people," Palmer said. "I buddied up with some of the Alesmith people out there, built a good friendship with Mike Imbriglio who is one of their lead brewers over there. We were just talking and said, 'hey, let's make a beer together.' "
Palmer said he had always loved Speedway Stout and thought it would be great to brew a coffee beer. By combining that idea with Bacon and Eggs Stout from Ocean Beach, the idea came to "do something that's as if Bacon and Eggs and Speedway had a baby, more or less," he said.
How do you create the "baby" of two beloved brews? Make it complex, take your time and choose the right ingredients.
"The brewing process was kind of a complicated deal," Palmer said. "We used over 10 different specialty malts to build a rich, chocolaty flavor. We wanted some complexity so we wanted to get some roast in there. We used flaked oats to kind of give it a little more body. We wanted something around 8 and a half percent, something a bit more approachable. Mike came by, and it was just a lot of fun."
The two brewers ended up executing the brew they wanted to - clear in the sweet and smooth yet thick and complex imperial porter.
We love that this brew comes in at 8.5 percent with a flavor that may have you guessing it's much higher in alcohol content. It's drinkable and would be great with a dessert such as vanilla ice cream or a fruit-flavored donut.
"I like that it's got such a richness to it," Palmer said. "It's upfront chocolate. We used Bird Rock Coffee Roasters. Heather Brisson over there is great and she sat down with us and we went over, I think, seven different coffee beans that she had from all over the world. We chose Ethiopian and Indonesian blends.
"We wanted the malt bill to focus on chocolate notes and the coffee to bring in a fruitiness. So the coffee we chose has blueberry notes that kind of shine through so you kind of get that. We wanted those two to compliment each other that way."
This beer marks the start of an important relationship between AleSmith and Pizza Port, two of San Diego's favorite breweries. The collaboration is all about the craft of making great beer and sharing knowledge, Palmer said.
"This is the first collab we have ever done with AleSmith. We will be working on a new one to brew at AleSmith soon, too," he said. "Both teams are really excited about this collaboration. That's the best part of working in craft - we aren't competing. We want each other to make great beer and learn from one another."
This beer is currently available to try on tap only at Pizza Port Brewing Co. Ocean Beach. Get it while it's cold!
Note: This beer will also be served during San Diego Beer Week at Pizza Port's beer brunch, featuring gourmet donuts and coffee pairings.
1956 Bacon St., Ocean Beach. pizzaport.com.
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