A pint of Wallaby Hunter, currently only available in one place, seasonally
Sometimes, being in the neighborhood is all it takes to discover a tasty new beer. That's how I wound up dropping by Pacific Brewing Company (PBC) in Miramar. A constant flood of beer news out of the area the past few months has kept me going back, and while I've been long familiar with the offerings of some of the more established entities fermenting north of Miramar Road, getting to experience some of the smaller shops that’ve set up there during the past year has made for some good drinking.
8680 Miralani Drive, San Diego
PBC hasn't bottled its beer yet. It doesn't even distribute kegs — though this looks likely to change soon. But until PBC handles start appearing in your favorite taphouse, the only place to drink the year-old nano's beer remains its small, surfboard-decorated tasting room.
When the kegs do start rolling out, I hope they include the brewery's recent double IPA release, dubbed Wallaby Hunter. I tried the cloudy orange brew at the end of a taster flight. The first three selections had already proved to me that PBC brewers Andrew Heino and Chris Chalmers abide by the philosophy touted on their website: to make beers that are "eloquently hopped to produce a clean and balanced bitterness free of harsh flavors." From the clean and balanced Cruiser Pale Ale to a decidedly danker Octo Rye double IPA, I found the whole flight quite drinkable.
Then came the Wallaby Hunter. From its name I expected some Down Under hops, and first sniff confirmed the fruity dry-hopped presence of New Zealand's distinctive Nelson Sauvin. But at a mere 42 IBU, the 8.2% ABV beer has remarkably low bitterness for an IPA. Instead, it goes fruity, invoking strong apricot and peach flavors.
It's not like Dogfish Head's Aprihop IPA, where apricot juice is added. These flavors come from the confluence of yeast and hops, which I'm told also include Mosaic, Summit, Simcoe, and Chinook varieties. It comes off neither very sweet nor sour, and while the bitterness is kept to a minimum, there's enough spice floating over the top to remind you it's an IPA. The closest comparison might be the tropical notes found in Pizza Port's Ponto or Modern Times' Fortunate Islands. But I can't say I've encountered such a pleasant stone-fruit vibe as this.
Limited in this release, and sure to go fast — as is often the case with a small, young brewery turning out a quality assortment of small-batch brews — be on the lookout for Wallaby Hunter when PBC gets its keg program going. I definitely will.