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 ...
Second Chance Beer Company: CoCo Rasa
ABV: 6.2 percent
Pair with: vanilla ice cream
Just one whiff of this delicious brew and you'll be in chocolatey, coconut-based heaven. This porter is decadent and sweet, but not too sweet. It maintains a balance that is pretty remarkable for such a strong flavored beer. The toasted porter is complimented well by the toasted coconut, creating a flavorful experience that goes beyond your average coconut-flavored beer. It's balanced, delicious and easily one of our favorites of this style around town.
This beer comes to us from Marty Mendiola, brewmaster and co-owner of Second Chance Beer Company in Carmel Mountain Ranch. The toasty and drinkable brew is a British-style porter, instead of an American, which boasts its own set of unique brewing requirements.
"We use traditional techniques of infusion mashing, British malts and English hops to give it the authentic flavors of the style," Mendiola said.
Porters are something Mendiola said he has always loved: They're lighter than stouts but more flavorful than a brown ale. This certainly translates into the CoCo Rasa, which clearly took some practice to craft.
"I have been brewing this porter for about 15 years," Mendiola said. "I was brewmaster at Rock Bottom La Jolla for 15 years before opening Second Chance with my wife Virginia Morrison and our partner Curtis Hawes. It has evolved from an OK beer to a really good beer."
How did it go from just OK to an incredibly toasty, sweet concoction that beer drinkers swoon over? Experimentation.
"I disovered that adding toasted oats gives it such a nice toasty, cereal flavor that really rounds out the bitterness of the dark roasted malts," he said. "Tabula Rasa Toasted Porter is the beer that we then changed to become CoCo Rasa."
The rich coconut flavor in this brew makes all the difference. It's easy to see that time and quality ingredients went into crafting a unique, memorable taste that isn't overpowering, too sweet or syrupy.
"Toasting the coconut and cocoa nibs together brings out so much more flavor from the coconut and the oils from the cocoa nibs," said Mendiola, adding that they are then infused after the primary fermentation.
"It is so much better than extracts that it is worth the extra time and effort to toast everything."
Mendiola mixes the cocoa nibs and coconut and toasts them in small batches in the oven until they are just right for the brew. The upside? It makes the whole place smell like a warm cookie, he said.
Second Chance Beer Company, 15378 Avenue of Science, Carmel Mountain Ranch, secondchancebeer.com.