I’m torn between topics for my review this week. I set a new record for “most spent on a single beer store run”($74.95) last night and am excited to try the new brews I bought, but I still have a few reviews to clear out from my trip to the San Francisco Bay Area. First, some background.
While out in California a few weeks ago, Wifey and I took a drive to the Hog Island Oyster Company. If you’re ever in the San Francisco or Somoma area, do yourself a favor – go to this place. Hog Island is actually on an inlet in Tomales Bay, which runs north-south between the Pacific Ocean, the Point Reyes National Seashore peninsula, and the Golden Gate National Recreational Area. The view alone is worth the trip. And then you get to the oysters, clam, and craft beer.
Hog Island is sustainably farmed and produces some of the best oysters and clams I’ve ever had. They pull them out of the bay, clean them in front of you, and sell them off in bags to be eaten in a common picnic area interspersed with tables and grills. We worked up quite a thirst after shucking, grilling, and eating 40 oysters and two pounds of clams (that’s how we roll). Fortunately Hog Island also features a bevy of Northern California craft beers, including Lagunitas, Sierra Nevada, and North Coast, a brand I’ve reviewed before. I grabbed a Pranqster Belgian and Scrimshaw Pilsner, and it was review time.
The Scrimshaw Pilsner looked like a good transition brew after the salty mollusks, so I cracked that one first. It poured a nice pale yellow color, with a little carbonation and no head. It had a solid pilsner flavor, but nothing spectacular, with nice hoppiness toward the end and a crisp clean finish. I got some malts through the middle, but it was about as heavy as the 4.4% ABV and served best as a palate cleanser. Quite drinkable.
I’m glad I tried the Pranqster second, because it was a much more complex and enjoyable brew. It had a solid spicy and floral first taste, with cloves and coriander. Through the middle I tasted bananas and malts, and it ended with a sweet honey flavor and thick mouthfeel. Pranqster was a bit heavier, and had a correspondingly more serious 7.6% ABV.
Overall, I gave Hog Island two enthusiastic thumbs up, and the North Coast brews a solid “meh.” The Pranqster is a must-try, but the Scrimshaw is better left on the menu.