I was invited to Lompoc‘s Sidebar for a preview of their winter beers and after a long weekend of moving, I cannot adequately explain what a treat it was to sit down and relax a bit. I also got seated next to the authors of the Taphandle blog, and they were delightful people to talk to. As regular patrons of the Sidebar, they were quite knowledgeable about Lompoc’s brews and fun to chat with about what we were drinking.
There were nine beers served but I’m going to talk the most about my favorite four. I didn’t detect any flaws in the other beers but they just didn’t work for me.
The Blitzen, a golden ale with spices like cinnamon, clove and ginger, had a warm feel to it; there was a scent that I couldn’t place. At first I thought it was like cider but much later it hit me: the Blitzen smells like a cinnamon cookie. The finish on this beer is really clean so I think it might be easy to overlook but I’d like to have another one.
The Brewdolph was a really awesome red ale. Malty and finishing very crisply, with a little tiny bite at the end that the brewers told us was from the Belgian Ardennes yeast strain used for this beer. I was informed that we were getting a fresh batch of it and that they frequently age some of the Berwdolph for a year and serve it, when the yeast bite has smoothed out but I have to say, I liked that bite. Hearing that it smoothed out made me a little less curious to try it, as part of me is saying ‘but it’s good already! D0n’t fix it!’
Still, I trust ’em and I’m sure that when I have the opportunity, I’ll try an older Brewdolph.
Bourbon barrel aged C-Sons Greetings is next on my list and it took me a little off guard. Bourbon is usually a flavor that goes with vanilla or chocolate flavors, hence stouts and porters get the treatment and to have a beer as heavily hopped as the C-Sons aged this way was a surprise. It works though; the beer has a bourbon nose but it’s really mellow, flavorwise, nothing sharp or aggressive poking out at it, despite all the hops added. My girlfriend said that this beer fulfilled her desire to have a shot with a beer back by rolling it all in one, and that’s not a bad way to think about the aged C-Sons.
Finally, the bourbon barrel aged Old Tavern Rat, brewed in honor of Don Younger crossed my plate. The brewers started making this ale well before his death and the brewers mentioned how they wished he’d been there to have some, despite knowing that ‘He would’ve hated this beer.’ This beer is, from my notes, ‘Smooth as hell–the dark fig flavors kick in and end the rougher warm alcohol finish, making it one of the better beers.’
It was good.
Of the others, the regular C-Sons is a hop heaven that barely retains its balance, the regular Old Tavern Rat has a great caramel/creme brulee flavor to it and the Jolly Bock was smooth and malty-but at 7% has “Danger, Will Robinson” written all over it, because it’s just too easy to drink.
The Cherry Christmas and the Holiday Cheer were both not quite my thing; the brewers mentioned that some of those beers weren’t quite ready yet and maybe that’s why I didn’t glom onto them. Still; I found those beers to be a little thin in the body and as a result they didn’t hold their flavors up as well as I might’ve liked.
All in all, it was a really cool night and I thank everyone who made it happen!