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Boffo Beer Blog, Week 14: Ain’t This One Sumpin’

Well, isn’t this “sumpin”. This time out I tried Lagunitas Breweries feisty little offering they call Little Sumpin. And she is that.

The brewery is based in Petaluma, a city of around 60 000 located just north of San Francisco, but they also have a brewery in Chicago to deliver fresher beer to eastern locales, as well as a third taproom in Seattle. The company which boasts the slogan “life is uncertain, don’t sip” was started, more or less, in 1993 in Tony Magee’s kitchen. After an incident involving a burnt turkey dinner, “Tony’s wife Carissa kindly asked him to move his new hobby elsewhere.” After a stop at a garden shed, he eventually set up shop in town and has grown from there to a pretty big little sumpin’ of a brewery, selling in over 20 countries apparently.

Tony’s apparently nearly as big a fan of music as he is of beer, and the brewery offers live music at all three taprooms (which are currently closed due to the corona virus) and frequent stage shows in their hometown at the Petaluma Ampitheatre. While you’re in the taprooms, you can enjoy a menu ranging from Cobb salads and pretzels to mussels and burgers. They’ve even curated Spotify playlists on their website, tailored to each of their beers. Speaking of which, they have a fairly decent range of them, perhaps ten or so regular offerings plus sporadic seasonals like a red ale.

I did find the website was a bit lagging in the beer page – maybe the webmaster had enjoyed one too many – but among the regulars from Lagunitas are an IPA, a Czech-style pilsener and a lite beer plus more off-the-wall like a cannabis-infused one and “Hoppy Refresher”, a zero calorie, no-alcohol, clear sparkling hop drink. And of course, Little Sumpin.

They call Little Sumpin’ (the most readily available of theirs in Texas at least) a “truly unique style featuring a strong hop finish and a silky body. Filtered wheat ale that is good for both IPA and wheat beer fans.”

That’s a pretty good sounding choice, and well, Lagunitas didn’t lie. I cracked open a 12-ounce, rather stubby bottle with the “little sumpin’ “ lady they call Millie on the label, with her raven hair, bustiere, shorts and bobby sox. Pouring it, I found a nice amber-colored beer with decent effervescence and a thick, foamy head. My first impression was a strong, but pleasing taste. Definitely hoppy but not overly bitter and with just a hint of fruitiness that sometime does come along with wheat beers (usually because they have orange or at times grapefruit added in.) The aftertaste was a tiny bit tangy in the mouth.

I had it with a spicy beef taco and some cut up bell peppers and tomatoes, and found it a nice companion. The drink held its own and cut the spiciness of the beef pretty well. It had a good “mouth feel” as some brewers like to call it.

Overall, I liked it. A bit of the best of both worlds, the worlds being IPAs and wheat beers. At 7% alcohol she’s no dainty lass; I rate it 8 out of 10 for strength, 8 out of 10 for flavor and overall


Four Betty Boops out of five.

Boffo Beer Blog, Week 9 : Weisse N Easy

Well for this week’s new adventure on the beer frontier, I made a return visit to that brewery as close to the hearts of many a Texan as bluebonnets and bucking broncos – Shiner. You might recall I looked at one of their winter drinks, Frost, and mentioned how the little Spoetzl Brewery from the town of Shiner has a big footprint in the Texas market. And funny commercials. Well, this time around the curiosity got the better of me and I tried their new Weisse & Easy.

By “new” I do mean new; it appeared on local shelves just last month and somehow hasn’t been added to their website yet. As an interesting promo, Shiner (typically a glass-only company) offered it in specially-priced, one-gulp mini-cans, but I rolled the dice and went for a normal 12-ounce bottle.

Shiner describe the drink as having “all the flavor of a wheat beer but with only 95 calories. Unfiltered and brewed with native Texas dewberries…perfect for kickin’ back and taking it weisse and easy.” For those unfamiliar with “Dewberries” (like me for example), they’re apparently a small shrub-grown berry much akin to blackberries. So it was try a new beer and expand my vocabulary all in one! The drink seems a natural for Shiner since they also famously brew “Ruby Redbird”, a light beer with Texas grapefruit added.

I had it with a late lunch of a robust garden salad and a turkey sandwich. Pouring it into the glass, it was quite fizzy (“highly effervescent” as Beer Advocate correctly pegged it as) and built quite a solid head. The color was nice, but unusual, rather an almost rosy shade of gold; mainly clear and quite “effervescent.”

Having a swig to finish up the bottle, my first reaction was “Wow!” Not a “best thing I’ve ever tasted” kind of wow, but neither a “ooh! Spit it out!” kind either. Just a “Wow” of surprise, as it didn’t come across as a swig of beer. It seemed more like a red sparkling wine or perhaps a berry-flavored cooler. A little sweet, a bit tarty too but very fruity. The tartness seemed a bit more prominent in the relatively light aftertaste.

I found it rather “fresh” and that it paired really nicely with the salad veggies. I could imagine this one as a summer picnic refresher, and with the lite beer rating of just 4.0% alcohol, one which wouldn’t impair performance on any three-legged race or other funtime activity that could grow out of it. With the turkey, it seemed a little more bitter but kept its flavor, not getting over-ridden by the meaty flavor.

In short, a fairly pleasing and intense taste, but unlike the Ruby Redbird (which tastes beer-y but with a dash of citrus) this one comes across more like a spritzer of bubbly wine. So, a fine drink, but not exactly for someone wanting a conventional beer. Likewise, probably too hoppy still for a discerning wine-fancier.

Still, I rate it a 3 out of 5 for strength and 4 out of 5 for flavor and overall,


3-and-a-half Crane brothers out of five.

Boffo Beer Blog, Week 8 : Drinking For God

I decided to do God’s work for the latest beer adventure. Because I savored a beer intriguingly, maybe a little pompously even, named Save The World Agnus Dei, or Witbier. With a name like that, it would be almost sinful not to give it a go, wouldn’t it?

Turns out there’s a good reason and interesting story behind the name. The little brewery from near Austin, TX, bills itself as “a philanthropic brewery” dedicated to “making the best Texas craft beer and giving back.” They work as a non-profit, with profits going to various charities including Meals on wheels, Habitat for Humanity and ones designed to get food to under-nourished children. It was begun around 2012 by a husband and wife team, Drs. Dave and Quynh Rathkamp. The pair were both pediatric doctors in the Dallas area before they decided they wanted to do something different.

Dave says he wanted to do good but also enjoy himself and that his passion for beer was the special gift from God. He’d been a homebrewing hobbyist for over a decade and had slowly converted his wife. She describes herself as a wine lover when they got together but had been won over to “the dark side” by him and his old recipe brews. they relocated to Marble Falls, about 20 miles outside of Austin, and built a small brewery and restaurant. The latter has a selection of board games and ring toss for people to have fun with while testing the selection of brews which tend to be European-styled ales like a Belgian pale ale, a Farmhouse ale and a Grisette, a light, lemony drink.

This one is a typical wheat beer, which they describe as a “thirst-quenching rendition of the classic Belgian wheat ale brewed with orange peel, coriander and a carefully sourced third spice.” Curiously, coriander is derived from the cilantro plant, but it is the seeds which taste quite sweet and fruity, a sharp difference from the bitterish leaves Mexicans love for their sauces.

Save the World suggest pairing it with fish dishes and cheeses, but as it turns out, I had a 12-ounce bottle with a takeout dinner of fried chicken, a couple of the restaurant’s surprisingly hot jalapenos and a roll. The beer showed a nice orangey-golden color and looked, as billed a little “hazy” when poured. It didn’t have a lot of fizz or head.

At first taste, it was very pleasing. I’m partial to wheat beers, their clean feeling and tendency to fall somewhere between the watery disappointment of big brewery lagers and weighty ales. Usually they are brewed with a bit of citrus which gives just a wee hint of sweetness. Which was exactly what this one was. Clean tasting but with a good amount of flavor, just a hint of sweetness which was more noticeable when had with the chicken. The brew did an admirable job of keeping its flavor even with the jalapeno and cutting the burn of that pleasantly. It went down easily and really seemed refreshing. It was rated at 5.7% alcohol, but left me with a tiny buzz characteristic of a stronger drink, making it seem like not a beer for lunchtime or before going out on a road trip, but a very good dinner accompaniment or watching a movie sipper.

All in all, I rate it 4 out of 5 for stength, 4 and a half out of 5 for flavor and


Four and a half halos out of five! It makes me want to see how many other ways Dave and Quynh will let us “save the world.”