I drank a lot of beer at Firkfest a few weeks ago. As always, it was a fantastic event and somehow I enjoyed myself so much that I didn’t stop by the King Harbor Brewing booth until towards the end of the session. It was a big mistake on my part too, as their Coconut-infused Swirly cask ended up being one of the highlights of the festival. It was perfectly conditioned and surprisingly balanced for a beer infused with cacao, vanilla and lactose, not to mention the extra helping of coconut on top.
This shouldn’t be surprising considering their Pineapple IPA at 2015’s Firkfest was equally noteworthy. The point being, King Harbor makes really good casks. They once did regular cask tappings at their tasting room but it seems to have died down – largely due to what founder Tom Dunbabin explained to me as a general unawareness towards cask beer on behalf of their Redondo Beach locals.
The good news is that King Harbor turns two years old this Saturday and they are celebrating with a big party and the release of a bourbon barrel-aged version of their Imperial Swirly, dubbed “King Swirly The 2nd”. For the unaware, Swirly is a version of King Harbor’s Abel Brown ale infused with cacao nibs, vanilla and lactose. It tastes exactly like its namesake – the swirly ice cream cone – and walks a tightrope of being rich and decadent without falling into a pit of cloying sweetness. This 2nd Anniversary version is imperialized and bourbon barrel-aged so you whale hunters will have something to brag about on trade boards too.
The even better news is that they are tapping a cask of this beer at their Anniversary Party at 3pm. Sure, cask purists are going to cry fowl at a high percentage, spirit barrel-aged beer getting the cask treatment, but I’ve had enough King Harbor casks to know that ignoring this beer is a mistake.
The King Harbor Brewing 2nd Anniversary Party is Saturday April 2nd. Tickets are $30 and include 4 hours of unlimited pours (20 beers on tap!), live music, a Swirly pairing bar and good company in the South Bay. Don’t miss it.