Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Ruhstaller 1881 California Red Ale

type: red ale
origin: Rancho Cordova, CA
price: $4.50/16oz (Can you guess where??)
ABV: 5.6%
NSP: 5.9

Fuck yeah canned beer!  Simple design aesthetics screams class, and contrasts beautifully with the oxidized aluminum.  It makes me feel hard-pressed not to at least try the beer.

The can reads "Farm to Pint", meaning they know exactly who produces their grain and hops, and presumably those supplies are delivered directly to their brewing facility.  Awesome, but as the price suggests: an expensive task.

So who grew the hops in this FtP gig?  The Kuchinski family in Lake County, CA.  And the barley?  The McGill family in the Klamath River Basin.

But the story doesn't stop there.  Surprisingly the website makes a bold claim:
"It was Sacramento’s, and arguably California’s, first premium craft brewery – producing Steam beer 15 years before Anchor Steam was founded."  
So Anchor isn't the originator of Steam beer?  If Anchor was Apple, they'd litigate over those claims.

So who made the recipe?  Cpt. Frank Ruhstaller, in 1881, and although the recipe is claimed to be followed today, clearly the source of brewing supplies must be different.  How does this beer taste?  Superb.  It's a deep amber red, with a sweet malt backbone that closes off with perfect red-ale type bitterness, at only a mild 35 IBU.  And it all tastes fresh, like hte FtP idea suggests.  I'd love to do a vertical tasting with an equivalent 1881, from 1881.  OK maybe not.

I'm impressed with the quality and flavors in the beer, but the price is simply too high.  If you need to justify buying this, then just remind yourself that this comes from hard-working folks like the Kuchinski's.  As with most products, you pay for craftsmanship -- where the price reflects the effort all around.

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