May 28th – June 2nd, 2012

This week, I have mostly been drinking…

…beers from Pyramid

Pyramid is a local microbrewery and on Friday night The Canadian and I took our first British guests there after they got off the plane. I’m a firm believer in curing East-to-West transatlantic jet-leg by staying up as late as you can and having a beer and a burger. Or in the case of Pyramid, 15 little beers shared among 4 of us.

One of the things I really enjoy about drinking in the US is the brewpub sampler. This way, you get to sample the breadth of a microbrew’s offerings in handy sized glasses, more often than not with tasting notes. The beer garden at Pyramid is a great location for this on a sunny day, accompanied by a man-with-a-guitar earnestly delivering covers of contemporary singer-songwriter maestros (erm, well, David Gray, Jack Johnson and their ilk anyway…).

Pyramid offer a bewildering selection of beer from an Apricot Wheat to a Dunkel Weiss, an Imperial IPA to a British Winter Ale. They had 15 brews for us on Friday and I tried a bit of all of them. I just wish they’d put more emphasis on quality rather than quantity (same applies for the food) as I still haven’t found a truly satisfying beer there – perhaps one of the next 15 they come up with will hit the spot!

…beer in the sunshine!

Today was the Walnut Creek Chamber & Visitors Bureau’s 31st Annual Art & Wine festival, which was more wine than beer focused (who would have guessed from the name?!) but the gorgeously sunny day lent itself nicely to drinking cold beer (and turning me pink). I also had my first corn dog – a satisfyingly bad experience. On the beer front, I tried Gorden Biersch Marzen (ABV = 5.8%, IBU = 18, beer advocate review), Alaskan Amber (ABV = 5.3%, beer advocate review) and a sparkling yellow ale/pilsner called something like Bezerkelicious from the new and local Calicraft Brewing Co. – I hope to hear and drink more from them as they get more established!

…Cascadian Dark Ale

I’m a fan of the US Cascade hops – they have a distinctive flavour but the bitterness does not leave your mouth feeling dry. However, I’m also a fan of dark beer. So, I was very excited to try Deschutes Brewery Hop in the Dark (ABV = 6.5%, IBU = 70, beer advocate review). Quite simply, this beer delivered what I wanted it to, the distinctive hoppiness marrying nicely with a lovely dark colour, a firm tan head and more body than I usually find in beers here. It was my first Cascadian Dark Ale… or was it?! The interwebs inform me that there is some controversy (oh no!) over whether to call this style Cascadian Dark Ale (CDA), Black IPA (I’ve had a few of these before!) or even American-Style India Black Ale. Black IPA seems like a contradiction but does pay homage to the roots of the brew in India Pale Ale, Cascadian Dark Ale is very specific to the Pacific Northwest and its flagship hop while American-Style IBA sounds like a good descriptor but not one I’ve seen before. Personally, I think Black IPA is something everyone can understand but seeing the name Cascadian Dark Ale certainly excited me and I’d happily see this label stay. Let me know what you think of this style!

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