Off to the Growler & Gill for a tasting from the Anderson Valley Brewing Company. The presenter was the Northeast Sales Manager for Anderson Valley (Ryan Niebuhr, I think, and apologies if I have the wrong name!)
First topic: Boontling. This is the local “language” of the Anderson Valley, complete with dictionary. It’s a hybrid from many ethnic groups that settled in the valley, with a very generous helping of “self-developed terms” (i.e. they made them up). So we’ll start with their motto, Bahl Hornin’ = good drinking, and you’ll see that printed on every label. Move on to Boont, which is Boonville, largest community (such as it is) in the valley, and home of the brewery. A few other terms: Heelch = a large quantity, Zeese = coffee, and Deep Enders = residents of the town of Navarro, an Enclave in the valley.
The Kimmie, The Yink & The Holy Gose
This is a pretty beer with a moderate head. It’s a German sour style, in fact more tart than sour. I get lemony citrus and a fair amount of malt with a woody character on the finish. I like this better than full sours. There’s something here like pickles, not a word I’ve ever used in connection with a beer, but there too I prefer half-sours to full sours. Still not a fave but drinkable & sessionable at 4.2% ABV. They describe the history on their website: “Originating in the town of Goslar, Germany in the early 16th century, the Gose style (pronounced “Go-zuh”) was traditionally brewed using salted water and 50% malted wheat and was spiced with coriander and hops. It was fermented with both traditional yeast and lactic bacteria, giving it a slight tartness, similar to that of a Berliner Weisse.” OK, the name comes from Boontling, like so many of their names, in this case the combo of Kimmie (a man or father), Yink (a boy or son), and if you can’t figure out The Holy Gose then you need to brush up on religion, not language.
Their first beer, from all the way back in 1987. It’s their flagship and most popular beer on the West Coast (with their IPA more popular in the East). It pours reddish bronze with a moderate, brief head that then rings the glass. The nose is malty with a slight caramel sweetness, then gets more intense with a hint of a mix of hops as the temperature comes up a little. At first it seems mild on the palette, then the malt comes in followed by earthy hops and a grain character, and maybe a further hint of fruit. It ends up very balanced with a gentle, still earthy finish. IBU only 16, and 5.8% ABV.
Fall Hornin’ Pumpkin Ale
It seems that everyone has to have a pumpkin ale, at least this year, and this is a pretty good example. It’s coppery with very little head, not sweet and not heavy pumpkin but strongly spiced, with pumpkin coupled with allspice, cinnamon and clove. It’s slightly creamy and a bit of caramel sneaks in. Any hops are neatly masked though it comes in at 20 IBU (and 6% ABV).
The presenter emphasizes that there’s a LOT of West Coast, so there is no one single “West Coast IPA” but perhaps three regional styles: So Cal, No Cal, and Pac Northwest, with the last as is almost a blend of the other styles. This is hopped and dry hopped with Columbus and Cascade giving a high IBU, 80 or so, but balanced so that it doesn’t seem so high. I get pine and citrus, malty and deep. 7% ABV, the highest of the set, showing that AVBC is not focused on high alcohol. As for the name, Hop Ottin’ is Boontling for “hardworking hops.”
Pours nearly black with a quarter-inch tan head (the bottle describes this as “garnet-tinted ebony”; I’ll buy ebony but not garnet). There’s a tobacco note on the nose along with chocolate, and as it warms there’s a touch of sourdough bread. On the palette, chocolate and strong coffee somewhat mask the malt, then some hops come in late. The finish is quite dry. 5.8% ABV. Described as a tribute to and not a clone of Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout. Barney Flats is Boontling referring to an area of redwoods that is very dark even by daylight (Hendy Woods National Forest).
So raise a glass! Bahl Hornin’