Paige Latham Didora
the monterey peninsula, pt 2
I saved some of my California trip to write during the frigid Minnesota months. Nostaligia works wonders. I actually shedded a layer right now just reading my coaster scribble notes.
You may recall my charming visit to Peter B’s in Monterey this fall, in which I stole the rental car while the real adults weren’t looking and found myself at an unexpected reward.
I pulled he same trick the following night in order to make my way to Alvarado Street Brewing. Rather than tucked away on the edge of downtown, Alvarado is located on a busy street and casts a completely different vibe.
I approached the patio in the late evening and peered inside at very shiny, new fermentation tanks as part of what looked to be a 30 bbl system. A little reading led me to believe that head brewer J.C. Hill is in close collaboration with the kitchen staff; the menu focuses on pairings and a variety of styles.
Inside is very sleek with a pleasant casual elegance. There are barrels again away on the mezzanine while both tables and the bar hum with drinkers.
But who wants to be inside on vacation? I am happy to say that the patio was wide open and it was the place to be!
I wasn’t about to order more beer than I could handle, and I cut that in half to correct for the rental car variable. The flight was perfect.
Blackbeard’s Delight has a pleasant bitter coffee aroma and deep ruby undertone. I enjoyed the vanilla finish, medium body, and smooth nature of the beer. The flight was served at perfect temperature and the service was fair to good. Despite ordering a flight and clearly taking notes, no beer information was passed along to me and the server seemed vaguely disinterested when I asked a question about the brewery.
Excellent beers in this flight were two, and they couldn’t be more different, displaying the variety of skill on the part of the brewing team.
At first nose, the Local Shed Red, an amber made with Serrano peppers smells more like a bell pepper than a hot one, but give it a chance. There is a charming progression on flavor that is hard to describe in which neither the beer nor the heat is lost. Floral notes give way to heat in a beautiful storyline. The caramel malt shines and the heat builds significantly. Perfect pepper beer – very well done.
Finally, in what amounts to a near tie for best of the night is the Bière be Fleur, a strong Belgian golden with a heady floral-orange aroma and distinct bubble gum note. The yeast do the heavy lifting here delivering potent esters, phenols, and 9% ABV. Bordering on too much, the only improvement I can suggest is a bit of bitterness to temper the sweet, but all in all, I give this honey-citrus gem a high recommendation.
If I lived in California (one can dream) I would find myself spending a lot of time at Alvarado Street and Peter B’s. Both breweries make excellent beer. My first outing was more consistent with an atmosphere I enjoy – engaged staff, suggestions, laughter. But I see the appeal of an upscale environment and more refined food.
Make both breweries into an evening, too, as there is less than a five minute walk between them. At the end of the night, just don’t go near the rental car.