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 ...
ACOUSTIC ALES: STRAWBERRY FIELDS
ABV: 6 percent
Style: Blonde sour
Pair with: Spinach salad with candied walnuts and goat cheese
One whiff of this brew, and you'll be in fruit-lover's paradise. It's all berry jam on the nose and pours a golden color. It exhibits a lovely taste of strawberry that isn't extremely sweet, but definitely distinguishable. It finishes slightly tart and crisp.
This beer comes to us from Tommaso Maggiore of Acoustic Ales Brewing Experiment in Mission Hills . Strawberry Fields is made from fresh strawberries and goes down smooth and easy, but it takes great effort to bring the beer to fruition.
"The brewers kind of love and they hate this beer," Maggiore said. "We take locally grown, Carlsbad strawberries, usually anywhere from 500 to 1,000 pounds of strawberries, depending on the batch size. We rinse them, clean them and then we're juicing strawberries for, like, eight hours straight.
"It is a traditional kettle sour, we let it sit in the kettle over the weekend. We add lactobacillus - it does its thing, and we boil it off then send it over to the fermenter," he said. "At the tail end of the fermentation, we pump the fresh strawberry juice into the beer and get the fermentation started again through the sugars."
It takes about another full day of filtering for his team to get the strawberry pulp out of this brew. Once they do, it's nearly done and ready to be the fresh, fragrant beer that you can enjoy straight from the tap.
What really sets this beer apart is the effort that goes into the strawberry taste. For some brewers, especially those on a large scale, it can be more trying to do things the hard way - even though the beer tastes better that way. Maggiore explains that it is well worth the time spent for this brew.
"Some guys kind of cheat and use the extract and, for me, I come from a restaurant background," he said. "I grew up in the restaurant business, so when I grew up, we were making all of our own foods. Pastas were from scratch, sauces were from scratch - everything was handmade. It's not the easiest way to do it, but the end project shines a little bit better than somebody dumping a gallon of clear liquid that tastes like a watermelon Jolly Rancher."
Maggiore said he felt inspired to take on a strawberry brew because of a lack of its presence and the overwhelming amount of citrus-based beers we can pick up here in San Diego.
"Everyone is doing all of these citrusy things with grapefruit, orange peel and stuff. I have always liked strawberries, and I felt it would be a good fit for a blonde beer," he said. "I have had a few strawberry blondes over the years, and some were a little more artificial and didn't taste like the real deal.
"So, we gave it a shot and we had a pretty solid blonde recipe that worked. We said, 'Oh let's do a kettle-soured version to make it taste even better,'" Maggiore said. "There's so much competition in San Diego these days, it makes getting your beer into places more difficult, but it also makes everyone up their game. You can't do anything mediocre in San Diego."
You can grab this nonmediocre, tasty beer over at Acoustic Ales Brewing Experiment. It is currently available on tap and in limited amounts of bottles. Get it while it's cold!
2120 W. Washington St., Mission Hills. acousticales.com