WORDS: Fraser Doherty PICTURES: Richard Croasdale
Wednesday 06 December 2017
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Next stop on our road trip is one we are extremely excited about. Beer52 members are particularly fond of their sweet stouts; in fact, it is one of the highest-rated beer styles within our community.
In the search of the now world-famous Peanut Butter Milk Stout by Belching Beaver, we have found ourselves in Oceanside, which is about 45-minutes north of San Diego. The home base of the brewery, it is one of Belching Beaver’s five locations.
Unusually for a brewery of its size, it also operates two off-site tasting rooms; one in Ocean Beach and another in North Park in San Diego, a tavern and grill on Broadway in nearby Vista and a second production facility, also in Vista, with its own taproom.
Taking us on a tour of the brewery, the team are clearly extremely proud of what they do here. Winner of numerous national awards, it’s fair to say that they have good reason to be. Most recently, head brewer Thomas Peters was crowned the first-place winner of the 2017 Alpha King challenge, an annual competition set up by veteran beer writers and brewers.
Run alongside the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado, it is a competition that seeks to award the hoppiest beer in the competition. Talking of the award, which he won with Belching Beaver’s ‘Thizz Is What It Is’, a Citra Double IPA, brewer Thomas Peters says: “Winning Alpha King for a second time is a dream come true – I was thrilled to bring the award back to Belching Beaver.”
Although the most recent of its many accolades, perhaps what really put Belching Beaver on the map, at least for us, was its best-selling Peanut Butter Milk Stout. Basically, the beer equivalent of a Reese’s cup, it draws on the American love of Peanut Butter.
For our members who are on a ‘mixed’ plan this month, you’ll enjoy a can of this in your box and it’s perhaps going to be a star of the box this Christmas. It’s one of the silkiest smooth milk stouts that I have ever tasted, thanks to being brewed with rolled oats and lactose. You can expect delicious aromas of roasted peanuts, dark chocolate and coffee.
But for those who wouldn’t normally indulge in this style of beer, the brewery offers a few words of encouragement: “Don’t let the dark colour fool you, this beer is delightfully easy to drink."
Weighing heavy in the Belching Beaver awards cabinet are the 2017 Gold award in the Los Angeles Beer Competition, the 2017 ‘Best in Show’ and ‘Best New Discovery’ at the West Coast Craft Can Invitational, the ‘Favourite Dark Beer’ and ‘Overall Favourite’ in the 2016 Penitentiary Pint Fest and, finally, a silver prize in the 2014 World Beer Championships.
All for this quirky little milk stout. How all of this came about was as an evolution of the brewery’s stillpopular original, ‘Beaver’s Milk Stout’, a classically smooth and creamy milk stout. “It was the first beer we made. At the time nobody in San Diego had a milk stout, so we wanted to come out with something unique,” Thomas explains to us.
The idea proved a hit and certainly helped the brewery to stand out in an otherwise crowded market, especially in combination with their novel name and branding.
Over time, Belching Beaver has expanded its milk stout franchise to include the likes of a 7.5% cinnamon spiced Mexican Chocolate Peanut Butter Stout. Originally named ‘Viva La Beaver’ and ‘Living La Beaver Loca’, it’s easy to see that the team have a bit of fun coming up with the names for their beers.
“In the end we changed the name to highlight the key features of this award-winning beer,” he explains. The range also includes a nitro version of its classic Beaver's Milk Stout. But it’s not just milk stouts that this fun little brewery is churning out. Its ‘Me So Honey Blonde’ has become one of its best-sellers, thanks to its floral aromas and subtle, sweet, honey flavour, made with top quality honey.
The brewery has also partnered with one of its favourite bands, Deftones, to create ‘Phantom Bride IPA’. A blend of Amarillo, Citra, Simcoe and Mosaic, Thomas explains it is “Delicately balanced for the perfectly drinkable mix of citrus and hoppy goodness.” Envisioned by Chino Moreno of the band and brewed by Thomas Peters at Belching Beaver, they recommend you “Sit back, put on your headphones and drink away.”
Finishing up our glasses and ending our tour of the brewery, we can’t wait to drink a few cans of this awesome, nutty, milk stout all throughout our Christmas celebrations. The ‘big day’ seems a million miles away as we step out of the brewery and into the sweltering heat, ready to continue our beer-tasting adventure around San Diego.
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