Monday, November 19, 2007


It seems that anyone who spends time at any of the dozens of BJ’S locations around the US always comes back with the upbeat & cautionary admonition to not treat BJ’S like just another chain brewpub. So I won’t! The scuttlebutt is that each of the BJ’S locations, the ones that actually brew on-premises, that is, are given creative license to come up whatever the hell they want, and you’ll therefore see these folks being just as aggressive & wild with Belgian styles, strong ales, and imperial whatsis as their single-location brewing brethren. Me, I’ve never been to a BJ’S – I’ve sampled ales from Rock Bottom, I’ve drained multiple glasses at Gordon Biersch, but I was a BJ’s virgin until last week. I was traveling yet again for work, and “magically” found myself staying at the self-style beer hotel, the Four Points Sheraton at LAX. Now how did that happen? It was a good thing, too – I had every intention of getting out into the beer community and trying out bars like FATHER’S OFFICE, LUCKY BALDWIN’S, THE LIBRARY ROOM and such – but at the end of the day, both literally and figuratively, it was far easier and safer to just park the car back at the hotel & head into their bar, “T.H. BREWSTERS”.

They had BJ’S JEREMIAH RED ALE on tap, along with selections from Port Brewing, North Coast, Bear Republic and others. I didn’t think BJ’S stuff made it outside of their restaurants, but I guess I was wrong there. I felt after a pint of this that I’d chosen very, very well – and I applaud the move that many are making toward more aggressive amber/red ales; it’s a style that was already great, and some tinkering will keep it relevant for the beer cognoscenti. I compare this one favorably to PORT BREWING’s SHARKBITE RED – another hoppy, crisp red ale with a bite. JEREMIAH RED ALE is really tingly and surprisingly hops-forward, and has a much higher alcohol content than your typical red – over 7 percent. It’s the sort of gateway beer you’d want to serve to a curious friend who typically drinks, say, MAD RIVER JAMAICA RED or ANDERSON VALLEY BOONT AMBER, and wants to move into your rarefied realm of beer. This excellent, strong, red ale will help ease the transition and make ya both very happy in the process. HBJ says 8/10.

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