Anacapa Brewing Co: English Dry Stout


The weekend is almost here and there is no better way to celebrate it than with a tasty beer.  If you are going to be in Ventura this weekend be sure to stop in at Anacapa Brewing Company (472 E. Main) and try one of their new beers called English Dry Stout.

The beer poured opaque black with a dark tan head.  The cascading carbonation down the side of the glass was so mesmerizing that I almost forgot what I was doing and I nearly skipped the second step in my tasting procedure.  Don’t shortchange yourself here; take the time to smell the beer before you taste it.  If I had jumped to the tasting step I would have missed the mouth-watering aromas of cola, licorice, molasses and smoke that were wafting out of this beer.

This beer had the palate-consuming quality that marks a great craft beer.  It covered all my taste receptors from the front to the back of my mouth starting with sweet malt up front that gave way to bitter chocolate.  The bitter chocolate then gave way to subtle coffee notes. Then just before I swallowed, the lively carbonation gathered up all those flavors, before any one of them could dominate, and washed them down. This carbonation also cleanses your palate and leaves your mouth refreshed and ready for another drink. Be careful though, this medium bodied, dry beer is easy drinking and at 5.9% it is certain to catch up with you.

There was a fair amount of lacing (lace pattern on the sides of the glass) left by the beer’s head as the beer was consumed. Think of lacing on the glass the same way you do about anything lacey, it does little to conceal or cover-up, but it looks pretty and lacing on the glass is no different.  Lacing has little impact on the overall taste of the beer but it adds another layer to your visual enjoyment. The amount of lacing left on the glass can be impacted by the style and cleanliness of the glass in which it was served.  If you want to see some good lacing use a tulip shaped glass.*

I gave this beer my top ranking (Stock This One!) which will be pretty easy to do since you can get a growler filled with this delicious goodness right there at the bar. If this review prompted you to visit Anacapa Brewing Company so you could taste their English Dry Stout be sure to let them know you read this review.

Tip: Growlers are great if you want to bring craft beer to a party or keep on hand for the big game but here are a few things you will want to keep in mind.

  1. Double check the cap to make sure it is tight.  Can you think of anything worse than pulling your growler out of the fridge only to find out that there was a slow leak and you now have a half-gallon of flat beer?   Flip top style caps are the best but most growlers come with screw on caps.
  2. Growlers will keep your beer fresh for quite a wile IF the growler was clean and it was kept at serving temp or below.
  3. Initially, they may seem like an expensive addition to your bill but many pubs offer discounted beer prices on growler refills.
  4. Once you open the growler you will want to consume the beer as soon as possible.  It will go flat the same way a half filled two-liter bottle of soda will.
  5. Last but certainly not least. There is no other feeling like walking out of the pub with a half-gallon bottle of beerJ

* I am certain there would have been more lacing if this beer had been served in a tulip shaped glass instead of the nonic tumbler style pint glass. This is probably the most common criticism I have of brewpubs in general.  I want to see higher quality and/or style appropriate glasses used in all pubs. Traditionally a stout would have been poured into a nonic tumbler, but is that the best vessel for this lively American version?  I think not! I know there are good reasons the nonic tumbler style pint glasses are so common.  They hold a lot of beer, they are easy to clean stack and store, they are sturdy and cheap to replace.

However, if I had to pick a glass style (and I did) I would choose a short-stemmed tulip shaped glass commonly used for Belgian beers.  For me this glass does it all.  The shape creates a small opening at the top, which helps to hold a thick head.  The thick head prevents the aromas from escaping too quickly and provides another level of complexity throughout the beer.  The small opening also channels the aromas directly to your nose as you are drinking the beer. As the beer is consumed the shape of the glass also promotes a lacing of the thick head on the sides of the glass. Often there is a small etching in the bottom of the glass.  The etching causes a cascade of bubbles to rise up the middle of the beer adding to the beauty of straw or amber colored beers. For darker beers, the tulip glass gives you the opportunity to view (the same way a wine taster would) the visible spectrum of colors that can range from garnet to black.



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