Beer speaks. People mumble.
Head north over the Golden Gate Bridge. Stay on Highway 101 for about 45 minutes and you’ll end up in Petaluma. Ask almost anyone on the street where the Lagunitas Brewing Company is and chances are you will end up at the right place. It’s hard to miss. But that’s what happens when you are one of the biggest craft brewers in the USA. You need a pretty big brewery.
It’s hard to imagine, that 21 years ago, this was just a homebrew set-up operating out of Tony Magee’s garage in small town, rural Lagunitas. Founded by Tony in 1993 the brewery quickly outgrew its surroundings and relocated to nearby Petaluma in 1994. Here it has remained, growing steadily throughout the noughties. Then, in 2012 a $9.5m expansion project allowed for an exponential growth. Earlier this year Lagunitas opened a Chicago-based brewery, effectively doubling their output in one go. Seems everything is bigger in the USA. Well, apart from their pints.
Words such as “iconoclastic” or “irreverent” figure fairly frequently in the descriptive text of younger breweries but if you look closely at the Lagunitas labels, you can see why this might be the case here.
From this week’s beer; “Thanks for choosing to spend the next few minutes with this special homicidally hoppy ale. Savor [sic] the moment as the raging hop character engages the Imperial qualities of the Malt Foundation in mortal combat on the battlefield of your palate!” Always read the label. Which leads me to the picture of the dog.
The pit bull has a similar image problem in the US as it does here in blighty. So it seems unusual that this is the chosen mascot for a beer company. It turns out that this is a homage to the small dog in the 1994 film The Little Rascals. Magee has previously commented that he saw the dog foremost as a terrier and he hoped that “loyalty” and “man's best friend” would be terms that people would associate with his beer. Dogs feature quite frequently on labels of Lagunitas beers. This gets both thumbs and paws up from us here at BeerBods.
This week’s beer is an India Pale Ale. A style that has featured in the Lagunitas range since 1995. In other words, since before the younger upstarts started calling all their hop forward beers, regardless of colour, an IPA.
This one pours almost amber and whilst the hops are most definitely there in smell and citrus notes, the malts balance this beer out in a way that a lot of the more recent takes on IPA just don’t get. It’s rather reminiscent to Jaipur. A beer that this precedes by almost ten years.
If you like this beer (and you will!) then the great news is that you can now find it in bottles and on keg in the UK. Even in Birmingham (our nearest proper City). Even in Wetherspoons. It’s a far cry from Marin County but we aren’t complaining.