Two months ago, I interviewed Alex Van Horne, an accomplished homebrewer working to open his own brewery. This month, he went live with his sci-fi themed Intergalactic Brewing Company (9835 Carroll Centre Road, Suite 108, Miramar). It’s a nano-brewery, the smallest class of brewing company. Everything Van Horne produces is small batch, which means he brews a lot to keep his tasting room in beer. While that equates to a lot of work, it also affords him a great deal of freedom to experiment with many styles and offer a constantly changing array of brews for customers.
I recently returned to the site of my first meeting with Van Horne and tasted around the octet of beers he had to offer. There were several that I very much enjoyed—a savory oatmeal stout with heavy dark chocolate flavor, a deftly smoked Rauchbier made assertively spicy by five potent Serrano chili peppers, and a coconut porter that doesn’t figure to reappear with great frequency due to the laborious task of toasting ten pounds of coconut flakes. But my favorite of the bunch was one of Intergalactic’s core beers, Astro Scottish Ale.
Scottish ales aren’t widely produced in San Diego. Malt forward with nary a hint of hops, they don’t align with the natural palate tendencies of our region's largely hop-craving beer drinkers. Even if you’re an insatiable hop head, I recommend ordering up a sampler of Astro. It’s a brilliant change of pace with a great deal of character. Get your nose close to the rim of the glass and inhale deep for an example of the complex aroma a malt-based beer can bring. There’s no pine or fruit. Instead, you’ll get a deep earthiness with notes of fresh baked bread and spice.
On the taste buds, you’ll get more breadiness plus some light berry-like undertones that come on as the beer warms up. Those flavors come courtesy of a quintet of malts—Crystal, Victory, Chocolate, Carafoam, and Two-Row. In the future, Van Horne intends to replace the latter with Maris Otter to bring on even more flavor to this 5.3% alcohol-by-volume beer.
Van Horne’s decision to lead with a Scottish ale was inspired by his college patronage of Four Peaks Brewery and his steady consumption of and appreciation for their Kilt Lifter Scottish-style ale. A big thank you to the ‘Zoners behind that beer. Without them, we might not have Astro, which is a nice and much needed addition to the San Diego beerscape.