By ELI MORGAN
Special to the Tribune
Vanilla Bean Porter, 5.9 percent Alcohol by Volume (ABV), Stone Brewing Company, Escondido, California, and Richmond, Virginia
This fairly new offering from Stone is real state-of-the-art brewing. It’s exceptionally good because it’s exceptionally brewed. A dark-colored vanilla tea with a huge, bountiful bouquet of Madagascar vanilla bean nectar. It pours gorgeously into a cold glass, a shimmering black ruby. The nose is all white vanilla bean flower blossoms. The palate feels textures of real vanilla beans scraping your tongue as you find yourself not being able to drink it fast enough. Vanilla exceeds all other ingredients in this beer. The finish leaves your mouth feeling as if you just drank all the vanilla in your pantry. Like I said, it’s exceptionally good. If you can find it, buy it – it goes fast. It comes as part of Stone Brewing Company’s variety 12-packs with three other styles which are just as good in their own right. I grabbed the last one at Safeway in Martinez. Hopefully, they will restock it.
“Morning Selfie,” 5.5 percent ABV, Woodfour Brewing Company, Sebastopol, California
This beer is infused with Sebastopols’ own Taylor Maid cold-brewed coffee, which just happens to be located right across the street from the brewery. Really fresh locally roasted coffee with very low acidity, unlike any other. This black lager brew is best described as a much rounder, solid, clean and dark lager. Think of it as cold brew coffee light because it’s a lager, meaning it’s made with bottom fermenting yeast. That creates a much softer palate even though it has much of the characteristics of a bitter English stout ale. In England, they just call it dark ale. The nose on this particular lager is that of fresh homemade bread with nuts. Soft, toasty and smooth best describes the finish of this meticulously and well put together dark lager. If I were to judge it I would put it in the coffee infused Schwarzbier category. A real standout from an outstanding brewery. Woodfour Brewing Company is in the town of Sebastopol, which is in Sonoma County near the small town of Occidental.
Eli Morgan is a 43-year-old lifelong Martinez resident who has been actively beer hunting since 1992. In those days, you really had to get out of town in order to get a decent beer.