One of the events on the LA Beer Week schedule that I couldn’t miss was Cask Force! at Beachwood BBQ in Long Beach. After a very long day of drinking at the Kick-Off Event on saturday I awoke a little sluggish. Simply not prepared to wage traffic war against the 405 on a day with perfect beach weather, I opted instead to take the LA Metro Blue Line down to Long Beach which would allow me to daze out and enjoy my hangover like a civilized person. So at about 2:30pm I made my way downtown to jump on a subway and meet up with a friend in Long Beach.
Unfortunately this weekend was the beginning of a month-long construction period at all Long Beach Metro stations, which delayed at arrival at Beachwood BBQ until about 4:30, making me too late to enjoy the Udder Love w/Coconut, Cacao, and Vanilla Bean, as it was the first to kick. There are certain beers that I’m convinced I’m cursed against and this is one of them. There’s been a number of times I’ve gone to bars and events specifically for this incredible milk stout, and on numerous occasions its been pulled out right beneath my nose. All reports say that this cask was a winner, which isn’t surprising considering Beachwood’s pedigree.
Fearing missing out further, I quickly ordered an Amalgamator, casked with mosaic hops and honestly – can you imagine a better combination? Amalgamator IPA is a stand out in Beachwood’s incredibly vast, incredibly delicious IPA line-up, showcasing beautifully tropical aromas, a dank resiny bitterness and a clean biscuity malt profile. Its a beer with enough body to carry the cask conditioning through and the added mosaic gives it enough hop-kick to round out that soft carbonation profile.
Minutes later I received my BBQ order – a platter of baby-back ribs and hot links – which was much needed before I could press through the rest of the cask list. The hotlinks at Beachwood are a big standout to me, which might sound weird when the other options include perfectly smoked ribs and brisket, but these sausages are perfectly spiced to give you a bit of a burn and are cooked to perfection. Along with the food my companion and I ordered both versions of the Vulcanizer IPA, so we could really appreciate them side-by-side. The first, dry-hopped with citra flowers showed off a great bitterness and some nice resiny flavors from the hops. The second version, casked with tangelo zest, was a complete 180, showcasing a big citrus flavor that complimented the sweeter notes in the beer.
Finally, I landed on the Full Malted Jacket – a scotch ale casked with scotch oak and to me, this was the big winner of the day. This is a bigger beer at 9.5%, but the booze was incredibly well hidden and the malt profile was perfectly accented by the cask conditioning. The scotch oak added some beautiful earthiness to the beer and helped to ground those vanilla and toffee flavors in the malt. On any other day I would have ordered multiple glasses of this one, as it was everything I wanted as the sun went down in Long Beach and brought in a cool breeze.
There’s a lot of people out there that claim that heavily hopped and high percentage beers don’t do well in a cask and while there is some truth to that statement, I think it comes down to who the brewer is. Beachwood BBQ consistently puts out casks that are bigger beers but totally work with a naturally conditioned body and flavor profile. Its the reason I made the trek down to Long Beach on a hungover Sunday, and why I’ll definitely go back when they do this again.