Every Fall, my wife and I make our way up from the crowded streets of Los Angeles to the rustic mountain region known as Oak Glen. Only about an hour and a half directly east of downtown, the change in scenery is drastic as you drive up to Oak Glen's 4,700 foot elevation from the flat plain of San Bernardino County. Palm trees, scrub brush and desert give way to oak and pine on the windy mountain road, and you know you have arrived when you begin to see signs for apple orchards, cider mills, and seasonal harvest festivals.
There's no such thing as a bad tripel, that's just a fact of life. So when I saw Left Coast Brewing Company's Asylum Tripel at P.F. Chang's on an outing with some of my fellow MBA students, there was no question as to what I would order. It didn't matter that I had never heard of this brewery before. A tripel, if you don't already know, refers to a strong pale ale, typically made with a yeast that originates in Belgium, and up to three times the normal amount of malt. For those more familiar with the darker Belgian dubbel's or quad's, you may be in for a surprise when you see the light colored liquid pouring into your glass. The tripel is in a family all its own.
Left Coast Brewing Company produces six regular brews, including Asylum, and four seasonals. They began brewing in 2004, and seem to be growing at a steady pace (not surprising after tasting this delicious tripel). If you ever happen to be in San Clemente on a Tuesday or Sunday, be sure to check out their Bend and Brew Yoga series in the park.
Left Coast Brewing Asylum Tripel
Asylum Tripel is an explosion of fruits and spices with a thirst-quenching creamy head that I can't recommend enough.
Nose: Whoa! Banana, tropical fruits
Taste: Banana nut bread, spices
Watermelon beer? Er... yes? Maybe? No? It was right there on the shelf, and I wasn't quite sure how to respond. Was this another gimmicky hipster beer, designed for the trendy kids on cool bicycles? Or could this actually be something worth sipping on the back porch while waiting for the corn to reach it's state of charcoal perfection on the grill?
Seeing my confusion, a helpful Trader Joe's employee in a Hawaiian print shirt skipped over to my side. "Watermelon beer. It's delicious. I tried some last time it was in. Better get it now, this stuff goes so fast." With a twirl, she was gone.
I've always enjoyed trying new things, whether it's a new type of food, a different wine, or just a place I've never visited before.