Thursday, February 20, 2014

Beer of the Month: Southern Passion IPA from Cellarmaker Brewing

Cellarmaker's tasting room in the SOMA neighborhood
of San Francisco (photo taken from their Facebook page)
Our Beer of the Month is really a celebration of Cellarmaker, a brewery I literally stumbled across in San Francisco earlier this month.  In real life, I sell optical test and measurement equipment and came up from the South Bay to attend a big industry trade show a couple weeks ago. The first day I noticed the "Cellarmaker" sign above a door just around the corner from the Holiday Inn I was staying at on my walk to the Moscone Convention Center.   I made a mental note of the place to check it out that evening. Turns out it only opened up about four months ago and with so many Bay Area breweries springing up these days, it's hard keeping track of all of them.  Cellarmaker is clearly one you ought to check out and you'll be hearing plenty about.

Every beer I sampled at Cellarmaker ranged from pretty good to really outstanding.  It's hard to pick a favorite for Beer of the Month from so many excellent candidates, but I'll go with their Southern Passion IPA, a single hop IPA brewed with a hop grown in South Africa of the same name.  Rarely does one encounter IPAs with such strong, vibrant hop flavors that is so drinkable.  It checks in at 45 ibu's, on the low side as West Coast IPA's go, but the strong melon and bright tropical fruit flavors of the Southern Passion hop really popped  like few other IPA's do.   Proving once again that despite the zillions of IPAs out there, there are still unique ones to be found.
Beer of the Month Southern Passion IPA
It tastes a lot better than you'd think
from this photograph

I can't end this post without raving about a few other Cellarmaker beers.  I got blissfully lost in "Vastness of Space", an Imperial Stout which was really rich, really smooth, really roasty, and really several other adjectives relating to highly desirable qualities in an Imperial Stout.  I appreciated the light sweetness and the fact that it DIDN'T taste like a liquid brownie.  Then there was the weirdly wonderful "Triple Berry Berliner".  Made with raspberries, blueberries and blackberries, this odd looking dark pink colored brew tasted like more like a fine Belgian sour ale than a traditional German beer.  In fact, the berry additions were a nod to tradition, as Berliner Weisse beers in their German homeland are often served with raspberry syrup to compliment the tart wheat used in the brew.   Just in case you think Cellermaker are wimps when it comes to hops, their "Original Dankster Double IPA" will hold its own going mano a mano with the best West Coast hop bombs.

On a final note, you'll notice few photographs of Cellarmaker's tasting room in the post and the unappetizing picture of Southern Passion IPA above really doesn't do the beer justice.     I spent two two evenings at the Cellarmaker tasting room, once by myself and another with a few co-workers.  I was enjoying the beer and the company so much, I had no interest taking a bunch of pictures.  Sometimes we get lost in Tweets, texts and postings of dubious urgency. Cellarmaker and their beers caught my attention in such a way to make me focus on the wonderful real world right there in front of me.

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