Undistributed beer of the week: Garage Days

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 ?

Burning Beard Brewing: Garage Days

Style: Rye IPA

ABV: 7 percent

Pair with: Pho

Rye IPAs are a great way to enjoy some hops while breaking away from the standard, San Diego beer that is a West Coast IPA. This brew is full of flavor, offers a bit of spice and is a little less in-your-face on the hop front. Notes of passion fruit and fig from the New Zealand hops utilized in this brew play nicely with the rye malt bill.

The story:

This beer comes to us from Jeff Wiederkehr, co-founder and director of brewery operations at Burning Beard Brewing Company in El Cajon. He tells us that this amber-colored, flavorful brew was something that came about in the early days of Burning Beard.

"This was the first beer that Mike (Maass, co-founder and director of brand and marketing) and I brewed on our system, so that's where that homage to the old 'brewing in the driveway' idea originated from," Wiederkehr said. "Our startup was me brewing in the driveway for a few years and Mike Maass came over and assisted. Finally, we got this going ... We found some New Zealand hops and came up with the recipe together."

The addition of New Zealand hops brought out some unique flavors when paired with the rye malts, pulling out flavors of stone fruit and fig with a small, bitter bite that make this brew worth sipping.

"For a combination of reasons, we used New Zealand hops for this one," he said. "The other beers had mosaic, our other IPA had simcoe and citra hops. We had done the whole West Coast IPA thing. We had some New Zealand hops that we had not allocated to a certain batch yet. I designed the recipe to use those."

The process of brewing this beer is much like your typical IPA, but it's made with less traditional ingredients that make the beer stand out.

"You get a little spiciness from the rye," Wiederkehr said. "It's brewed like a standard IPA with a low temperature mash. We mill the grain in. Other than using the Waimea and Rakau hops, which make it more exotic, at least to us. We love the rye IPAs.

"In town, at Alpine Beer, they have their Nelson. Nelson is a great beer, and I wouldn't compare our beer to Nelson because that's like, stratosphere quality. That's one of those beers when people think 'What's a good rye IPA?' - it's the one that always comes up in conversation. The rye sets off the hops, which I like. No one can get Nelson hops anymore since Alpine is so famous (laughs), so we're making it with Waimea and Rakau."

Wiederkehr has been brewing for years, and he was even awarded by the Quality Ale and Fermentation Fraternity (QUAFF) as home brewer of the year in 2015. The beer lineup at Burning Beard is pretty impressive in terms of the variety they offer, especially for an establishment that has only been open six months. It seems that Wiederkehr and his team know a thing or two about good brews.

"We were in the process of trying to open, and winning (the QUAFF award) really helped what we were doing and helped validate things, definitely," he said. "We started to hit the books really hard and tested batches for awhile. We brewed everything we could and tried to dial in the recipes before we opened up and it paid off doing that."

Garage Days is currently available on tap at Burning Beard Brewing Company. Get it while it's cold!

785 Vernon Way, El Cajon. burningbeardbrewing.com

Source: Discover SD

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