From Farm to Barrel

I'm having a pretty great Sunday so far.  I've got the New York Times, some homemade Japanese cuisine, and a bottle of Almanac's newest Autumn release - the Farmhouse Pale Ale brewed with San Joaquin Valley plums.  While David and I have been making waves with our spirits department renovation, Bryan Brick has been quietly gaining some serious headway with the K&L beer selection.  It's now just as common to find a store full of plaid-flannel and bushy beards as it is fine-tailored suits and manicured fingernails.  Bryan's not really the blogging type of guy, however, so I feel compelled to help get his message out, as well as showcase some of the fantastic new bottles to grace our Redwood City refridgerator. 

San Francisco residents Jesse Friedman and Damian Fagan started Almanac Beer Co. by brewing five gallon, stove-top batches in their city apartments, using the local farmers markets to find seasonal produce and add additional flavor.  Their passion for good brew lead them to a more serious partnership with local farmers in an attempt to create a seasonal portfolio of unique and high-quality beers.  They've only unleashed two batches so far and both have been legendary.  Their first, a 2010 summer release, brewed with fresh California blackberries and aged eleven months in red wine barrels, caught us completely off guard and was instantly a huge hit with beer geeks everywhere.  The 2011 Autumn release is also quite stellar.  The ingredients are all meticulously selected and the guys from Almanac think it's important you know where they sourced them from.

1,000 pounds of organic plums were purchased from Twin Girls Farm in Yettem, California.  The organic wheat was grown by Massa Organics in Glenn County.  They then blended in pilconcillo - an unrefined brown sugar usually found in Mexican desserts - to create a beer that celebrates the Indian summer and Fall flavors of California's 2011 growing season.  More details are available from their outstanding website with pictures of the growers and their beautiful farms.  The beer itself isn't nearly as gimmicky as you might expect - it's still very much a beer at heart.  Golden grains blend with subtle fruits as hints of hops and forest aromas evoke true seasonal aromatics.  The beer is simply wonderful and incredibly satisfying.  It's meant to pair with a meal, like a fine wine would and should find a place at your Thanksgiving table.  For $15.99 per 750ml - it's a true bargain. 

My Sunday is still going well.  The 49ers are up 23-0 and I've still got a full glass of this Almanac in my hand.  I might call the store, however, and have someone stash a few more bottles away.  They don't make a lot of this stuff.

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll