Here in San Diego the craft beer industry is synonymous with top notch quality and has been growing at record pace over the last 25 years. The opening of our Downtown San Diego brewery restaurant kicked off a revolution that has evolved into one of the defining economic sectors of our city, employing thousands and putting San Diego squarely on the map as being on the forefront of the movement. But it all had to start somewhere…
As many legends go, it was a combination of luck, coincidence and good fortune that led to the inception of Karl Strauss Brewing Company. Chris Cramer, fresh out of college and exploring the world, sat down for a beer at the Sail & Anchor Hotel in Freemantle, Australia with the intention of simply letting off some steam after a long day traveling. What he tasted there blindsided his notions of what beer could be. Inspired, he returned to San Diego and collaborated with college buddy Matt Rattner and Master Brewer Karl Strauss to bring the same quality and (at the time) novelty of serving beer brewed onsite to locals in San Diego. The rest is history. Interestingly enough, Sail & Anchor’s origins are uncannily similar to our own: “Any lover of Aussie craft beer worth their salt will be familiar with the story of the Sail & Anchor, the Fremantle venue formerly known as the Freemason’s, where a young brewer who was working at the Swan Brewery and a couple of his mates decided to turn the beer world on its head. Brewing and selling their own beers direct from an onsite brewery back in the early 80’s when Australian hotels were more likely to be serving nothing but the local megabrewery’s swill to rooms full of men, they went on to found Matilda Bay and take their venue concept across the country” –The Crafty Pint
With February 2, 2014 marking our 25th anniversary, we wanted to do something special, something we had never done before. So, we hooked up with Aaron Heary, the brewmaster at Gage Roads Brewing Co. who now handles the production of Sail & Anchor beer, and devised a unique tribute to our shared history and the Godfather of Beer himself, Karl Strauss. Our own Paul Segura collaborated with Aaron to dial in the recipe and jetted off across the globe for not only our first collaboration brew, but to extend some international love and goodwill to the boys leading the Australian craft beer movement. When describing the tastes and developing trends of the Aussie’s, Paul found the West Coast style hop bombs we’ve grown accustomed to here in San Diego are still on the fringes in Freemantle. “The scene is definitely not in its infancy, but you’re not going to find many Double IPA’s over there. Tower 10 is pretty robust for their tastes….having said that, people down there still drink a TON of beer.” One reason for this trend that eschews a higher ABV is likely the taxation system for beverages, which is based on alcohol percentage, and stumps brewers creativity by actively discouraging them to pursue pushing the boundaries of certain styles. However, the result of this taxation system is an incredible variety of sessionionable beers that are of top quality and turning many locals away from the mass produced light lager’s the country is known for. History and cultural lessons aside, “The Bloke” is the star of the show here, so let’s get to it. Being a tribute to Karl, who we often refer to as “the man”, our Australian brethren threw their own twist on the name, calling it “The Bloke”, an oft used phrase that captures exactly who Uncle Karl was to us. Medium-bodied and ruby red in color The Bloke showcases bold grapefruit and tangerine flavors with a potent combination of Cascade, Chinook, Ella and Galaxy hops that are complimented by a nice toasty finish. “It’s hoppy red ale, and it’s got all kinds of assertive malts but it’s also pretty dry. It’s got a beautiful fruitiness from the fermentation and a lot assertive hops too. It’s got everything that a beer lover could want.”
Of course, while the art of brewing is universal there are unique differences between each brewery and their approach. “Brewing beer is the same whether you’re brewing on a 100 hectoliter system or a 60 barrel system. It’s similar, but it’s the equipment that makes it a little different. So adapting to their brew house presented a bit of a learning curve…but that’s the fun of it, that’s the good stuff.” The collaboration was great for fans of the local craft beer scene, reminding them of the importance of the Sail & Anchor in providing many of them with that first taste of fresh brewed beer so many years ago.
“It brought some great PR to that little iconic brewpub in a pretty historic area of Freemantle, or Freeo for short, and it’s going to bring awareness to the Sail & Anchor brands of beer down there, so it’s a pretty cool thing for all of us. It was fun getting to meet all the guys down there and hang around their brew house for a few days sharing in their passion and their camaraderie. They run a tight ship and I know the beer was done right from start to finish.” In total, 6 batches (100 Hectoliters apiece) were brewed and packed in bottles. As to whether some might be making an appearance stateside, it will not be widely distributed but stay in the loop by following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates on when we’ll be holding exclusive tastings at our Tasting Room.
Whether you’re hosting a holiday get together or bringing something to your office party, a thoughtfully paired beer and cheese spread is always a good call. Sure, you can bust out your Mom’s favorite Chardonnay with some store-bought brie but this isn’t 1987 and you’re more original than that. When most of us think of paring cheese, wine is the first thing that comes to mind – and while wine and cheese have their moments, any Sommelier will be hard-pressed to compete with beer’s range of flavors. When was the last time you found a Zinfandel that tempered the heat of a chipotle infused cheddar or a Riesling that complemented a coffee & lavender-rubbed cheese? The answer is probably never and that’s why beer is a much better partner to cheese. Here you’ll find a few simple yet sophisticated cheese parings to accompany the beers in our Holiday 4-pack, along with a DIY tasting sheet to guide your friends.
Beer & Cheese Pairing Basics:
There are many different approaches to planning a great pairing but the general principles are rather simple. Start with your beer, evaluate its flavors and decide what you want to accomplish with your pairing. Use these tips as a guide:
Complement: Find a cheese that mirrors the flavors of your beer. An example would be taking a sweeter English Barleywine and finding a cheese like Noord Hollander (aged Gouda) that matches the caramel and toffee notes in the beer.
Contrast: Find a beer and cheese combination that enhances both by combining different flavors. An example would be tempering the heat of a spicy cheese like Chipotle Cranberry Cheddar with the hop profile of an IPA or balancing the tanginess of Bucherondin with the sweetness of a malty Red Ale.
Beer & Cheese Pairings with Our Holiday 4-Pack
Our Holiday 4-Pack is available exclusively in our Brewery Restaurants and includes a 22oz bomber of Red Trolley Ale, Tower 10 IPA, Parrot in a Palm Tree & Big Barrel Double IPA. Below are some beer and cheese pairings featuring all four beers included.
Red Trolley Ale & Bucherondin
Red Trolley is a medium-bodied red ale with a sweet caramel malt profile, underpinned by notes of dried fruit.
Bucherondin is a semi-aged goat’s milk cheese from the Loire Valley of France with a creamy texture and tangy flavor.
The Pairing: Red Trolley’s sweet caramel malt flavors provide a nice contrast to the tangy Bucherondin. Try this pairing with fig jam to add a complement to the dried fruit flavors in the beer.
Tower 10 IPA & Chipotle Cranberry Cheddar
Tower 10 IPA is an American-style India Pale Ale with assertive citrus and floral hop flavors from Cascade and Chinook hops.
Chipotle Cranberry Cheddar is studded with dried cranberries and infused with spicy chipotle for a nice blend of sweet and spicy flavors.
The Pairing: Tower 1o’s hop bitterness gently tempers the spicy chipotle, while the citrus and floral flavors in the beer are complemented by the cranberry.
Parrot in a Palm Tree & Barely Buzzed
Parrot in a Palm Tree is a robust Baltic Porter with layers of chocolate, coffee and dried fruit flavors.
Barely Buzzed is an American white cheddar, dusted in coffee and lavender. This full-bodied cheese is aged on Blue Spruce racks, developing notes of caramel and butterscotch with hints of cocoa and coffee.
The Pairing: Parrot’s milk-chocolate and espresso flavors draw out the coffee and nutty flavors in the cheese.
Big Barrel IIPA & Stilton Blue
Big Barrel is an aggressively hopped Double IPA with a vibrant floral aroma and tropical fruit character.
Stilton, “The King of Blues”, is a soft, tangy, and complex English blue with an assertively ripe flavor.
The Pairing: Both Big Barrel and Stilton possess bold flavors on their own but when paired together their flavors are mellowed. Big Barrel’s hop bitterness is balanced by Stilton’s bold flavors, allowing a rich floral and tropical fruit character to emerge in both the beer and the cheese.
Parrot in a Palm Tree 8.5 % ABV – A robust Baltic Porter brewed especially for the Holidays. Aged two months in San Pasqual Tawny port barrels, the resulting brew boasts a complex bouquet of dark fruits, espresso and chocolate, with hints of oak in its warming finish.
Extra Special Bitter 5.6% ABV – A traditional English-style ale brewed with imported Ashburne and Maris Otter malts for rich caramel and toasted malt flavors. Dry-hopping with Willamette hops adds an earthy hop character that lingers through the finish.
Fullsuit Belgian Brown Ale 6.3% ABV – A Belgian-style brown ale brewed with a blend of caramel and brown malts for toasted and sweet coffee-like flavors, underpinned by the peppery spice of Belgian yeast. Aging on French oak adds a hint of vanilla to its slightly dry and warming finish.
Featured Pairing: Parrot in a Palm Tree with Holiday Shake N’ Cake
Holiday Shake N’ Cake: Baltic Porter vanilla bean ice cream shake topped with spiced whipped cream. Chocolate cupcake, caramel pecans, and raspberry coulis.
The Pairing: Whether you’ve been naughty or nice, this is the perfect pairing to end the year on a high note. Our Baltic Porter ice cream shake is a decadent blend of vanilla and chocolate malt flavors. It’s served with a caramel and raspberry drizzled chocolate cake that draws out layers of dark fruit and espresso in the beer. Santa’s coming to town for this one.
12/23 San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl – San Diego State University vs. Navy – We’re the exclusive beer of this years VIP Tailgate. Join us before kick-off between 2:30 and 4:30pm for pints of Karl Strauss Amber Lager, Red Trolley Ale & Tower 10 IPA.