The Orange Roughy — gone, not forgotten
1517 30th Street, San Diego
I can think of a lot of flavors to look for in a summer beer and, frankly, chocolate's not one of them. Still, that's one of the flavors associated with the Orange Roughy, a South Park Brewing Company collaboration with Colorado's Left Hand Brewing that released in June. Other flavors mentioned by the tasting notes are vanilla, peach, and, of course, orange.
I shook off the SPBC beertender's recommendation the first time I spotted it on the menu in their tasting room and restaurant. It was one of those warm, surprisingly humid afternoons we've experienced this summer, and I was interested in something crisp and refreshing to enjoy on the patio. Frankly, that combination of flavors sounded a little heavy to me. But he convinced me to try a taste of it, and I would revisit the neighborhood brewpub a few times in the subsequent weeks in search of a full pint.
That might have something to do with a description of the beer on the Facebook page of SPBC's sister bar, Hamilton's Tavern: it's referred to as a "Golden Chocolate Creamsicle Ale." Indeed, the golden pouring ale actually did remind me of that creamy orange popsicle and perennial ice cream truck favorite. Furthermore — and this could be nostalgia getting the better of me — but the chocolate notes even recalled that Creamsicle alternative, the Fudgsicle. In this way, my misgivings were mistaken: the Orange Roughy did evoke summer after all.
A nitro charge gave it the tight foamy head and creamy body of Left Hand's excellent Nitro Milk Stout. However, rather than roasted malts, in this case there were cacao nibs, vanilla, and fruit purees to compliment the lactose sweetness. Consequently, this 6.3% ABV ale drank thinner than I anticipated and didn't last long in my glass.
I tried drinking it with some food — I'm partial to the smoked fish sandwiches at SPBC's casual seafood restaurant. However, the creamsicle ale wasn't a great pairing for this, and might have served me better as a dessert beer. Nor will it replace the crisp pilsner or white ale I typically crave on a warm day. But it managed to be sweet without being cloying.
Sadly, the last glass of Orange Roughy will be poured by the time this publishes, not likely to be seen again in this iteration of seasonably available fruit. So this is more elegy to a tasty collaboration beer than a review. Next up for SPBC summer drinkers: a wheat beer with lime and coconut.