Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Sante Adairius Rustic Ales - West Ashley
San Diego gets a lot of hype for beer, and rightly so. With over 70 breweries and counting (most of them quality), it's becoming harder to find bad beer down here than it is to find great beer. But that isn't to say that the rest of California is sitting back and letting us make all the good beer. I've noticed a huge influx recently of awesome California-brewed beers that weren't brewed in San Diego. The latest for me is from a tiny brewery in Capitola, California (just south of Santa Cruz) called Sante Adairius.
Sante Adairius may be small, but they've gained an incredible reputation in a very short time. One of the beers that carried them there is an apricot sour called West Ashley. It's a saison aged with apricots in Pinot Noir barrels and it's been blowing reviewers away for over a year now. Because the brewery is so small, the releases of West Ashley are only on site. Luckily, my friend, Eddie, was able to get to the most recent release and grab me a bottle. Thanks, Eddie!
West Ashley pours a glowing and gorgeous even apricot color with a thin bone white head. The smell is redolent of tart apricot skin, peaches and cream and a nicely restrained barnyard funk. Dried apricots, some leather and just a touch of oak are evident as well. Smell-wise, this beer is near perfect. There's enough of a tart edge to let you know it's a sour without making you recoil from all the sourness. And the funk in here isn't depths of the men's locker room towel collection bin funk, it's just a suggestion.
The taste opens with a fantastic pull of tartness, full of underripe apricot, meyer lemon flesh and lemon seed. The middle shows everything from apricot skin to dried apricot to underripe white peach. The beer finishes with some apricot pit, light oak and a drying tartness. The mouthfeel is bright and light in body with just a touch of carbonation.
Everything about this beer just works. It does. It gives you so much in both smell and taste without ever coming close to giving you too much in one area. "Balance" is the key word here and I don't think I've ever found a more balanced sour than this. I don't know when the next time I'll see a beer from Sante Adairius will be, but I will definitely be looking forward to it.
Final Grade: A+
Top 250 Beers Tasted: 129