Lagunitas Brewing (Updated!)

Back with some new installments, this time from further down south! During one of my many recent trips to the watering hole, the friendly staff recommended I check out the Lagunita’s brewery, an operation that comes to us from Petaluma California. Naturally, I was interesting seeing as how the farthest south I’ve ever drunk was San Francisco, and that came in the form of Anchor Steam. So on her recommendations, I picked up a few bottles and gave them a round.

Apparently, this brewing company is known for taking their share of hard knocks. After years of honing their craft, being evicted, landing in Petaluma, and slowly building a market, they’ve gone on to achieve international renown. Another thing, they are known for producing beers that are classified as both odd and exceptional. It’s little wonder then why their products show up here in BC!

Anyway, here is what I tried and what I thought of it…

Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale: This was the first beer I was recommended to try, based on both staff and customer reviews. And I had to say it was both interesting and pleasantly surprising. Immediately, one notices a strong hop aroma which is complimented by a quick, sharp citrusy burst. Bitterness gives way to herbal notes and then turns into a touch of sweetness that lingers on with the hoppy aftertaste. All this is apparently due to the curious combination of wheat malts with 80 IBU’s worth of hops, making it a sort of krystalweizen/IPA crossover. An interesting idea, and quite tasty, if somewhat unusual. 4/5

Bavarian-Style Doppel Weizen: My second run at the Lagunita operation, this beer appealed to me because it combined two of my favorite beer-related words into one label: Doppel, and heffeweizen. Yes, this beer is not only wheat based, but double fermented, resulting in a beer that is darker than your average wheat and stronger. This beer was apparently a collaborative effort between the brewers and the people who built their new brewing apparatus, and who supplied them with a traditional Bavarian yeast-strain, which they applied generously! Hence the added alcohol content and the Bavarian-style designation. As already noted, this beer is darker than your average wheat, being a cloudy orange rather than golden straw. The nose is rich with wheat malts and a slight nuttiness which also comes through in the taste. Strong notes of banana compliment the malts and nutty flavor, adding a touch of sweetness to it that is reminiscent of banana bread before finishing with a light hop touch. A nice experience, and one I intend to repeat if possible. Limited releases tend to be hard to come by! 4/5

Lagunitas IPA: My third and final sampling, which I unfortunately had to resample due to a bad bottle. Luckily, I found myself another tall boy and gave it a second chance. Glad I did too! Much like their other creations, this beer balances some rich malts with a complex, mixed hop profile. Clear and deep amber in color, it has a nose that contains some spicey, herbal notes. The taste comes on smooth, giving way to hop bitterness and finishing with a slight touch of sweetness. I’m glad I went back for seconds, otherwise I might have made the mistake of thinking these guys missed with one of the most popular beers in their lineup! 4.5/5

Well, that was my Californian sampling for this month. I hope to compliment this again soon when my wife and I do our summer road trip. As it stands, we were thinking of touring the Pacific Northwest so we might experience the plethora of Cascadian craft-brewers firsthand! Looking forward to it…

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