I’ve given variations of this same pitch before, but the sell basically comes down to this: when we in Northern California brag about our local brewers, we typically talk about the biggies – RUSSIAN RIVER, MOYLAN’S, BEAR REPUBLIC, etc. We don’t often go to the mat for LAGUNITAS BREWING, in spite of the overwhelming evidence that they might just be one of the very best beermakers going. I say this as one who has mocked and belittled their flagship LAGUNITAS IPA on many occasions, but outside of that very mediocre IPA, I can’t find a whole lotta fault. In my travels across the USofA I’ve encountered beer bars shouting to the rafters on their beer menus, “We just got Lagunitas beers on tap!!!” or “We’re having a beer dinner with Lagunitas beers!!! Don’t miss this!!!!!”. The rest of the country is excited, that’s for sure.
Here are a couple I’ve tried the past three weeks that, yet again, knocked my friggin’ socks off. Take number one was a new SAISON they’re trying out on tap handles around where I live. This is not the “Sonoma Farmhouse Saison-Style Ale” that they’ve been flogging for a while, and that I still (regretfully) haven’t tried. This might be the same thing as the “Saison – Aged In Pinot Noir Barrels” that I read about on Beer Advocate just now. Whatever it is, it’s damn good. It’s an excellent Belgian-style blonde ale, with an amazing earthy taste, some peppery tartness while being incredibly drinkable. I tip-tapped “Lagunitas exceeds expectations again” into my phone notepad while I was drinking it. No respect, I tell ya. 8/10.
The other one is something I called, uh “Boont Amber on ‘roids” in a previous review of a bottled version of LAGUNITAS IMPERIAL RED. Well, the other day, I had a cask version of this seasonal, souped-up amber beer, and wow, was it good. It’s quite hoppy with a great dose of malts, and an overall “fizzy” taste that’s unusual for something cask-conditioned. Really juicy and flavorful. It was the hit of the Toronado Bar the night I drank it there. “A cask ale that transcends the cask”. Hey, put it in the marketing materials! 8.5/10 again for this one!