Food & Wine

Breweries bring local tastes to LA Beer Stroll


Derek Wolfgram/Special to the Town Crier
Central Rail Brewing Co. founder Bob Crum serves his brewery’s Hefeweizen at Cranberry Scoop during the Beer Stroll.

The Los Altos Village Association held its third Downtown Los Altos Beer Stroll last month, an event at which Bay Area breweries and cidermakers have the opportunity to share their products in partnership with various downtown merchants.

A total of 16 breweries and cidermakers provided 24 different beers and four ciders, all served inside or in front of 22 downtown Los Altos businesses on Main, State and First streets.

Approximately 550 people attended the stroll, according to Scott Hunter, executive director of LAVA, which has also sponsored three Wine Strolls through downtown.

“All of LAVA’s events are designed to get the community involved in downtown Los Altos,” Hunter said. “The strolls in particular are designed to bring people directly into stores, restaurants and businesses. We also attract new visitors from our surrounding communities so they may discover what we have to offer.”

Hunter said the next Beer Stroll will likely take place around St. Patrick’s Day, and he emphasized his gratitude for the collaborative effort to put on each event, including LAVA-member tasting sites, partner breweries and cidermakers, and volunteers, as well as event sponsors Los Altos Hardware and State of Mind Public House & Pizzeria.

Participating breweries ranged in size from very small local producers like Blue Oak Brewing Co. in San Carlos to larger breweries such as Anchor Brewing Co. and Gordon Biersch Brewing Co. One new arrival to the Bay Area beer scene that participated in the beer stroll was San Francisco’s Little Creatures, actually an Australian company owned by Japan’s Kirin Brewery Co., which opened a small brewery in Mission Bay over the summer.

The Beer Stroll was my first opportunity to try beers from a few Bay Area craft breweries.

Central Rail

Central Rail Brewing Co., based in Sunnyvale, served its inaugural release, a Hefeweizen released the weekend before the Beer Stroll.

As Central Rail does not have its own facility at this time, the beer was brewed at Redwood City’s Freewheel Brewing Co. and is currently available on tap there.

The beer poured a hazy orange-gold color with a rich white head, and it featured the classic banana ester aromas produced by the yeast from German’s Weihenstephan brewery, founded in the year 1040.

The beer had a light, fluffy body from the use of wheat, and the banana esters from the yeast dominated the flavor as well, with subtle clove notes from the yeast present in the background.

Hops were present just to provide balance without drawing much attention to themselves, and the finish was quite light and refreshing.

Adobe Creek

Novato’s Adobe Creek Brewing brought its Galli Lager, a light-bodied but highly hopped brew featuring Nelson and Mosaic hops.

Pouring a light straw color with a medium white head, the aroma showcased a dank, cannabis-like hop character, which also carried over into the flavor.

With substantial bitterness and a crisp finish, Galli Lager drank much more like a West Coast IPA than a typical lager, but it was a clean, well-made beer that made me want to try more brews from Adobe Creek.

Canyon Lakes

Canyon Lakes Brewery is located at the Canyon Lakes Golf Course in San Ramon, and many of its brews feature golf-themed names.

The Players’ Premium Lager was a much more traditional light lager than the Adobe Creek offering, with a subtle, simple flavor and aroma.

Featuring a pale straw color with a moderate white head, light herbal hops with a bit of pilsner malt sweetness dominated the aroma. The flavor was more malt-focused, with moderate bitterness and a mild herbal hop character, and the finish was semi-dry with the pilsner malt carrying through.

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.

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