Beer of the week: Gold Chain by Gravity Heights

This Belgian-style Tripel was brewed with Lee Chase and Automatic Brewing


Beer Name: Gold Chain
Brewery: Gravity Heights
Style: Belgian-style Tripel
ABV: 9.9%

When Whisknladle Hospitality Inc. teamed up with Skip Virgillo, brewmaster and cofounder of AleSmith, it resulted in a winning combination. Opened in January 2019, the Sorrento Mesa restaurant and brewery has enjoyed rousing success with a lineup of coastal inspired beer and cuisine. PACIFIC caught up with Virgillo and Gravity Heights partner Ryan Trim to get the inside scoop on Gold Chain, a Belgian-style Tripel brewed with Lee Chase and Automatic Brewing:

What’s the story behind the name Gravity Heights?
SKIP: Arturo (Kassel), Ryan and I were discussing name options and I mentioned that after leaving AleSmith, I worked with a friend to develop a brewpub for about a year. We ended up not proceeding with the project, but my friend, Bill Sweetman wanted to use the name, Pacific Gravity. Arturo said he wanted a name that felt like a place. Gravity Heights is on Pacific Heights Boulevard. Arturo slept on it and came back the next day with Gravity Heights.

What about the name Gold Chain?
SKIP: Lee, Tommy (Kreamer, head brewer), Mike (Williams, assistant brewer) and I were wrapping up the brewing of our Belgian-style Tripel and had no idea what we were going to name it, so we decided to have lunch and a beer in the beer garden at Gravity Heights, thinking it may spur creativity. We struggled for a while and then Lee was talking about something and used the term, “chain of events.” I don’t think it was his intention, but it sounded like a great beer name, so we started brainstorming on it. Tommy, Lee and I all ride and like bicycles, so we focused on that and then someone mentioned Gold Chain. We came up with four chain theme names and Gold Chain seemed fitting for the unflavored Tripel.

How did you decide to do a collaboration with Automatic?
SKIP: Like all our collaborations, it starts with identifying a brewer or brewers that we respect and enjoy spending time and drinking beer with. I’ve known Lee since the early 1990s when he did a little brewing with me at the Pacific Beach Brewhouse, before he went off to brewing school in Davis. We had discussed brewing together for a while and then Collabapalooza came along and we decided to put the project on the front burner. The initial plan was to only brew a Tripel, but we concluded that the yeast should go through a fermentation in a lower gravity beer first, so we decided to brew a table beer at Automatic/Blind Lady Alehouse first and then bring the yeast to Gravity Heights to ferment the Tripel. Each batch was split in two and half of each was flavored with fresh lemon zest and ginger and the other half was left without additional flavorings. So, we ended up with four beers.

What’s in it?
SKIP: The recipe is simple but includes high quality Admiral Pilsner malt from Admiral Maltings in Alameda, and a touch of both honey malt and Crystal 30. The beer is finished with the classic Czech Saaz hops and fermented with a Trappist style yeast with a Belgian origin.

What should someone trying the Gold Chain for the first time expect?
RYAN: Gold Chain has a predominantly fruity aroma with a hint of floral and spicy tones; the flavor is driven by grainy-sweet Belgian malt with fruit and Noble hop accents and moderate bitterness.

Perfect pairing?
RYAN: Tripels can be a little tricky with food pairing, but Gold Chain goes very nicely with our delicious wood-fired Margherita pizza; another solid food pairing is the Mastiff Sausage Co. hot dog (with gruyere fonduta) on our happy hour menu.

This beer gal’s take: With a beer in the hands of Skip and Lee, it’s as delicious as you would expect. Pair this classic Belgian-style Tripel with blue cheeses, spicy food (think Thai), or for dessert try apricot or peach cobbler.

Where can I get it and for how long?
SKIP: Gold Chain is available for distribution, but at this point it’s only on tap at Gravity Heights. It is improving with age and expected to be available for another month or two.

Extra juicy tidbit?
SKIP: The first ever Gravity Heights collaboration was done with Paul Sangster at Rip Current Brewing in San Marcos. It’s an Imperial Stout with cacao nibs aged in bourbon barrels. It was in the barrels for one and a half years and is currently on tap. We also have an English style Barleywine aged in four different spirit barrels brewed with Peter Zien and his team at AleSmith Brewing, a Munich style Helles Lager on tap that we brewed with Jeff Swem from 32 North, and a West Coast IPA we brewed with Blake and Sean from Pizza Port Bressi Ranch.

Gravity Heights is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Fridays; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays; and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays. 9920 Pacific Heights Blvd., Morena.