We try to visit local brewpubs whenever we travel, and last weekend in San Jose was no exception – we made a return visit to El Toro, Chuck’s hometown brewery, and visited Faultline Brewing in Sunnyvale for the first time.
Since we were new to Faultline, I decided to get acquainted by way of the sampler:
Kolsch – a solid example of my favorite style of light beer (local Lightning Brewing makes my favorite), crisp fruity flavor that doesn’t overwhelm
India Pale Ale – I was skeptical at first, since they claimed to brew it in the English style, and I’m a West Coast IPA kinda gal, but this had strong flowery aroma and clean bitter flavor – good stuff.
Spring Bock – malty with a fresh bitterness to balance.
The Not-Quite Winners:
Hefe Weizen – Couldy, fruity, and fresh, everything a good hefe should be. Didn’t quite crack the top three, but I liked it.
Irish Stout – More smoky and less smooth than I was hoping, but an enjoyabe brew.
Best Bitter – draft and cask versions – I wanted to like this beer a lot, but it fell into the “drinkable but not exceptional” category. Not something I would have again on cask – it’s lacking the strong, rich flavors that make cask beers great, this one just seemed like a draft beer gone warm and flat.
Beers I wouldn’t order again:
Dunkel Weizen – like the Bitter, I really wanted to like it. Since I liked the Hefe Weizen, and this is ostensibly similar but darker, I actually thought I would…but I did not. I guess the fruity flavors overwhelmed the dark malty flavors, I just didn’t find it well balanced or compelling.
Golden, Pale Ale – these two were virtually indistinguishable to me, even in side-by-side tasting – light, bland, boring. Granted, these are not my favorite styles in general, but a lot of mircobreweries make their versions with enough flavor to be interesting, and a good Pale Ale (Stone, Sierra, Kona) should be hoppy enough to have some character . At Faultline, I’ll happily stick with the other styles.
We’ve visited El Toro Brewing in Morgan Hill before, so I was already aquainted with some of their beers. Worth mentioning are their “Extra Hoppy” Poppy Jasper Ales, where they start with their signature beer and add dry hop it with different varieties of hops, so you can order them side-by-side and compare the finishing characteristics of different kinds of hops. This is cool. This time, I was in the mood for extreme hoppiness, so I tried a Duece Imperial IPA, which delivered all of the bitter hoppy goodness I was after. I followed that up with a Blackraspberry Ale, a darkale infused with fruit concentrate – no subtle flavors here, this was fruity! Not something I’d have everday, but fun once in a while. El Toro is definitely worth a visit – the beer list is long, and they’re all quite drinkable. Next time I just have to remember to wander about town and find some Poppy Jasper jewelry to go with my Poppy Jasper Ale!