Oggi's Pizza & Brewing Co. celebrates its 25th anniversary this month. While the restaurant franchise didn't start making its own beer until 1995, its original pizza restaurant opened in 1991 in Del Mar.
The place wasn't even a sports bar yet, though now that's the defining quality that has seen the family-owned franchise grow to 15 (going on 16) restaurants, including locations in Los Angeles and Phoenix. Flat screens televise games in every corner, jerseys hang from the walls, and last year the brewery named a grapefruit session IPA after retired Chargers great LaDainian Tomlinson.
So it's kind of fitting the beer Oggi's released to commemorate its 25th Anniversary drinks like a sports-bar beer — light, crisp, and gone before you know it.
Oggi’s Anniversary Ale is an orange American-style wheat beer that drinks at an easy 4.2 percent. It's clean — American wheats don't show the banana or clove characteristics of comparable European styles, and this one doesn't. Even brewed with orange, the fruit shows up more on the nose than in the mouth.
The Amarillo hops are subtle, just there enough to balance the malt than end any boldness to the beer. Accustomed to drinking beer with dank hops, rich malts, and rangy phenolics, my palate searched for more with each sip, each sip became a gulp, and the beer was gone with nary an aftertaste.
12840 Carmel Country Road, Carmel Valley
In other words, very much like a macro beer. Twenty-one years in business makes this San Diego's fifth-oldest brewery, and Oggi's has employed some of the area's finest brewers, hauling in dozens of medals.
But while San Diego made its reputation with boldly flavored beer, with this one Oggi's goes the other direction. This anniversary ale seems more attuned to the franchise's reputation as a place to eat cheaply made food while drinking thin yellow beer and watching sports. It's not an ale you sip and study, more like the style of beer you pour in rounds from a pitcher.
And that being the case, this limited release shouldn't last long. It's due to pour through the month of October at all Oggi's locations, and drinks too fast to last two innings of playoff baseball.