Breweries all run at their own pace. Some introduce new beers every month or, in the case of some nano-breweries, every week. Meanwhile, others focus on core beers and maybe a few seasonals that are just as reliable. Because San Diego beer drinkers are presented with so many new offerings from the prolific types and new brewing companies opening at an unprecedented rate, they grow a bit bored with the same old, same old, regardless of how good the same old might be.
One of the most regimented San Diego brewing companies is Lightning Brewery (13200 Kirkham Way, Poway). Owner and brewmaster Jim Crute has been putting out arguably the best locally produced year-round pilsner and hefeweizen for over half a decade, but his is largely a predictable line-up. Last year, he introduced two new beers, a double India pale ale called Double Strike IPA, and a Berliner Weisse dubbed Sauerstrom.
Both beers were two of the best I’ve had from the Poweigan brewery, so I’m glad to report that Crute re-released Sauerstrom over the weekend. There aren’t many Berliner Weisse producers in San Diego, but it’s a lovely light-bodied style of beer made slightly sour via Lactobacillus, that works beautifully with San Diego’s trademark sunny weather. Crute goes the extra mile to ensure the beer’s authenticity by offering house-made raspberry syrup as a mix-in, just as they do in Deutschland, the beer’s country of origin.
But Crute’s not stopping there. He has two completely new beers in the works. The first is a biere de miel, which translates to honey beer. His is a hefeweizen fermented with honey and aged in French oak. That 8% ABV wheat ale will be available starting May 25. Next up is an anniversary ale designed specifically for the beeriest spot in East County, Main Tap Tavern (518 East Main Street, El Cajon). That will be an imperial red Crute says will bring “the three Bs of great beer”: big, bold, bitter.
Crute also has two special tap offerings on at his tasting room. The first is his Black Lightning Porter, a highly hopped robust porter, aged in American artisanal whiskey barrels. Then there’s Electrostatic Ale, a Belgian-style strong ale given extra character from French oak Chardonnay barrels. Speaking of the tasting room, it’s now open on Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m. (the same hours as Saturdays). Added hours and added beers. It's good to see both from this operation.