Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Days 3 & 4 / Beers 5-7 - I Get A Little Sumpin' Sumpin'

While not local to San Diego, Lagunitas Brewery was excited to bring down some special brews  to San Diego to help celebrate San Diego Beer Week at Churchill's Pub & Grille in San Marcos. Hailing from Petaluma, CA, Lagunitas is big on giving back to the community and providing some solid, easy-drinking beers across the board. I happily settled in for a free mason jar glass along with a few pints of their more popular offerings.

Beer #5 - Lagunitas PILS - Czech Style Pilsner - ABV: 6%

Served up in a trumpet-shaped pilsner glass, it looks a bit more golden than say, your average American lager - and the taste is not much more than a "lager plus" - kind of better than those faux-premium releases from Budweiser (Platinum) and Beck's (Sapphire). In all fairness, if I'm on a warm beach, I might actually grab the Sapphire over a PILS - but only because the PILS seems to have a slight taste of hops that appears here and again. PILS' hop notes are like a classroom where the one student keeps trying to get attention at the back of the class, but is mostly unnoticed.

All in all, it's not a bad beer - not really a signature pilsner or solid representative of a lager. While it's not 100% by the books, PILS is a decent-enough summer beer.
Lagunitas PILS (top) and Little
Sumpin' Sumpin Ale

Beer #6 - Lagunitas Little Sumpin' Sumpin' Ale - India Pale Ale - ABV: 7.5%

Out and about in Beer Week, had to get myself a little sumpin' - and yes, my fiance was sitting just a stool over, sipping on Highwater's Campfire Stout (which I didn't get to review this round per her iron grip on the pub glass and stares that in no way compromised my masculinity - there are plenty of large, fearsome jungle cats that are justifiably terrified by their mate.)

LSS has got hops, it's got wheat, it's basically the perfect balance between the two -giving you the light hops of an ale and the solid farm-based feel of a lager. It's the beer you convince your friends to try when they refuse to have an IPA - it looks like a strong IPA, smells like a strong IPA, and tastes like an odd mix - but very satisfying. It sneaks the hops past you, along with the 7.5% ABV, and you'd hardly notice you were drinking an IPA.

This isn't a beer that heady beer snobs like yours truly would sip in a smoking jacket in a room filled with taxidermy and dark mahogany - but it's a beer that is the right decision when you can't decide what beer you'd like.

Beer #7 - Lagunitas SUCKS - Strong Ale - ABV: 7.85%

A brilliant turn on some of their more negative Google searches, Sucks was made to fill a void left by their Brown Shugga' Ale and stuck around in their regular lineup. Called a "cereal beer", much like its Brown Shugga counterpart, there's no doubting the level of grain that goes into Sucks. It's a hefty slice of pie kind of beer - bit of sweetness and hops, but easy to drink for a beer with a little bitterness at the beginning and end.

Plus I felt extra classy drinking it out of a sizeable jug obscured by a paper-bag coozie.  I have a feeling that Lagunitas' goal is to slip extra percentages of ABV into beers, keeping that strong alcohol taste out, and replacing it with a level sweetness that seemed to make light cameo appearances across all three beers.

I was told that Sucks is often served in a flute, similar to the PILS, which might do well to balance the carbonation a bit, while another bartender stated it goes in a tulip glass, due to the fruit/citrus aroma off the top.

I stuck with my jug. (read earlier sentence: Extra. Classy.)

Sucks, in all fairness, was much better than I expected - a beer meant to simply help meet demand for another supposedly superior brew with a gimmicky name. Next time, I will shoot for a wider glass so I can get a better experience of the aroma, though if I continue enjoying these 7-8%'ers sneaking past as lighter fare, I may end up passed out on top of my paper bag.


Lagunitas PILS - 6.5 out of 10
Little Sumpin' Sumpin' Ale - 9 out of 10
Lagunitas SUCKS - 7.5 out of 10 

Next up on Friday - On to conquer the ales of Alpine Brewing, along with a special release beer and some incredibly "gravy" fries.

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