A couple excellent sours - Thanks, Keith, for sharing! On the left, The Rare Barrel’s Hypnotized (a 4 of 4), and on the right, Upright’s Blend Love (a 4 of 4). Hypnotized has a beautiful reddish body - this was aged in barrels previously used for Ensorcelled, which had raspberries in it. The raspberry notes aren’t overwhelming, but this definitely picked up the fruity, puckering tartness they provide from the unrinsed barrel. Like all of Rare Barrel’s stuff, this is quite puckeringly sour and quite acidic, although I find this a bit more easy drinking than their other offerings. The Blend Love is possibly the best thing I’ve ever had from Upright - and I’ve had plenty of good things from Upright. Great orange color, and the nose lets on what this is all about - lots of funk and tart fruit and a nice tartness. Drinks quite dry on the palate with a decent bit of oak and tannins, as well as other berries on the palate, including some sweetness from the cherries. Great sourness, great balance, and great fruit presence. Excellent stuff all around.
Finally, the bottom four (yet still great!) beers of the Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Across America 12-pack. Alt Route, Yvan the Great, Tater Ridge, and There and Back. On the top left, Alt Route, a 3 of 4, brewed with Victory. A relatively simple, easy-drinking alt. Some nice toasted notes in this, as well as some grassy and floral hops up front, but not much. Middle-of-the-road in body and carbonation, and most everything. The body is much nicer than many alts, but otherwise in a pack of weird things, this doesn’t stand out. On the top right, Yvan the Great, a 3 of 4, brewed with Russian River. A relatively simple, good belgian ale with slight more hop presence than usual. Quite dry and crisp, and some earthy and herbal hop notes make their presence known. On the bottom left, Tater Ridge, a 3 of 4, brewed with Asheville Brewers Alliance. Would love if this starts a trend - the sweet potatoes in this add a really interesting depth that some beers would benefit from. Some nice brown sugar and pumpkin-spice notes are here as well, and some nice dark sweetness. The body carries these notes well with a medium thickness. Easy to drink, and the sweet potato is clearly noticeable and quite interesting - it was clear the beer was made around this ingredient. On the bottom right, There and Back English Style Bitter, a 3 of 4, brewed with New Glarus. A wonderful spiciness to this - a lot of peppery and toasted notes, as well as some faint citrus as well. Quite a lot of complexity here, yet the spice up front seems to dominate. Not a traditional English Bitter in the sense this has a lot going on and a bit higher carbonation, but very interesting, and very easy to drink. All in all, a great finish to a great 12-pack. Definitely worth having if you can find it - everything is above-average, just like Lake Wobegon.
A couple beers at ØL Beercafe & Bottle Shop in Walnut Creek. My first time here, and the taplist and built-in bottle shop are quite impressive. Not the largest selection ever, but everything on hand is expertly picked. On the left, Wild Beer Co’s Modus Operandi (3 of 4), and on the right, Prairie’s Funky Gold Mosaic (4 of 4). Having grabbed a bottle of Modus Operandi in London a few months ago and brought it back (only to have them start distributing here!), I’m quite happy the beer is quite good: a 7% old ale that’s soured quite a bit. Some beautiful sticky lacing, and smells quite a lot of dark tart fruit. Quite sour on the palate - not overly acidic, but this definitely has some bite to it. There’s some malt depth here and some powerful tannic notes as well - it’s not the easiest to drink, but it is well-executed. Funky Gold Mosaic is simply excellent. I like hops and I like sours, so a heavily-hopped sour is my idea of heaven. And this delivers - tons of tropical fruit and citrus, and some soft tartness on the palate. Not too funky, just a clean acidity and some grape-like notes. Very drinkable and quite awesome.