Ghostwood Beer Co.’s child-friendly and dog-friendly taproom opened its doors in September in the former Back Yard Coffee space at 965 Brewster Ave. in Redwood City, adjacent to the Caltrain tracks.
The brainchild of Redwood City residents Jason Simpson and Mike Hedlund, and featuring the concoctions of head brewer Tommy Domingo (formerly of Alpha Acid Brewing Co.), Ghostwood has immediately attracted the attention of beer lovers with its fresh, modern, creative takes on classic beer styles.
Following are a few of Ghostwood’s offerings.
• Citra Gloom, a Northeast-style pale ale, was the lightest, lowest-alcohol beer on tap at 6.2 percent alcohol by volume (ABV). Pouring a very hazy straw color with a low white head, the beer highlighted strong tropical fruit aromas of mango, peach and pineapple, with just a hint of dankness. With medium carbonation, a light body and minimal malt flavor, the piney hop flavor was relatively subdued compared to the aroma. However, the pungent hop bitterness, enhanced by a pleasant carbonic bite, carried through from first sip to the dry finish.
• Sho’nuff Milkshake IPA (7.2 percent ABV) was brewed with Country Rhodes Farm peaches, Madagascar vanilla and lactose, as well as Citra and El Dorado hops. Featuring a murky dark straw color, low white head and a subdued aroma, the flavor was bright and distinctive, like a very intense Juicy Fruit gum dipped in West Coast IPA (and I mean that in a good way). The mild sweetness and potent peach character were nicely balanced by the moderate prickly hop bitterness, and the vanilla character contributed an extra dimension without drawing attention to itself. With medium carbonation and body, the beer’s bitterness continued into the finish, which was simultaneously dry and mildly sweet. Sho’nuff was more bitter than most milkshake IPAs I’ve tried (again, I mean that in a good way).
• Vicious Circle breakfast stout, brewed with coffee from Highnote Coffee Co. in Woodside, was dark brown and semi-opaque, with a low beige head. With intense flavors all around, the 7.1 percent ABV brew showcased a dark roast character from dark malts and coffee, as well as an intense bitterness (which seemed to be more attributable to coffee than hops). While all of the flavor components were strong, they balanced pleasantly and all blended together in the nice, long, bitter coffee finish.
IPAs on tap
Three other very distinctive IPAs were on tap when I visited.
• Rye or Die was a clear golden 6.9 percent ABV West Coast IPA with a mild aroma of spicy rye and big piney hops, a flavor much like the aroma but stronger, and intense bitterness. It also left some of the nicest white foam lacing on a beer glass I’ve seen in a while.
• Covert Hops (7.6 percent ABV) unfiltered West Coast IPA was a hazy golden color with a tall, dense white head, featuring a big tropical citrus and papaya hop aroma to go with its firm hop bitterness and mild dank flavor with fruity notes. With medium body and carbonation, and just a touch of sweetness accompanying the bitterness in the semi-dry finish, the beer had a classic West Coast IPA character.
• Pinky Brewster Hazy IPA (7 percent ABV) was brewed with red dragonfruit, which contributed a rich, unique watermelon color to go with the low white head. The aroma was relatively subtle, and the flavor was also pretty subdued. My assumption is that the sugars in dragonfruit must be highly fermentable, because the beer was surprisingly dry, which allowed the Citra, Mosaic and El Dorado hops to let their bitterness flags fly. Ghostwood donates $1 from every pint sold to local breast cancer charities.
Derek Wolfgram is a Certified Beer Judge through the Beer Judge Certification Program and an officer of the Silicon Valley Sudzers homebrew club. For more information, visit sudzers.org.