Since my first visit, I’ve encountered beer of reliably good quality at Latitude 33 Brewing Company (1430 Vantage Court, Suite #104, Vista). Whenever I see a new creation from brewmaster Kevin Buckley, I order it and have yet to be let down. Unfortunately, domestic and vocational geography makes it tough for me to get to Vista with any great regularity, meaning my samples of Buckley’s work have almost been relegated to such unexpected tap and cask sightings.
But that was then. Now, thanks to Latitude 33’s investment in a bottling line, I have two of the company’s beers in my fridge. While most of Buckley’s suds are being funneled into kegs for draft accounts, a decent percentage of two beers have made it to market in 22-ounce bombers. One is a vanilla-tinged porter that I’ve already shared my affection for. The other is this week’s featured beer (the first to make it out under this brand new, craft beer-centric blog, San Diego Beer News…like it on Facebook and follow on Twitter, won’t you?), Latitude 33 Camel Corps Single Hump IPA.
A beer designed to hold its own with the many other potent West Coast-style IPAs being produced throughout San Diego, Camel Corps delivers familiar citrus notes from Cascade and Columbus hops, augmented by tropical Motueka hops hailing from New Zealand. At 6.8%, it goes down easily while bringing plenty of flavor against a semisweet, classic English malt profile. Camel Corps has spawned a number of one-off India pale ales, including Double Hump Double IPA, a dry-hopped Dry Hump IPA, and a fresh hop, AKA “wet hop” beer called, you guessed it, Wet Hump IPA.
As playful as Buckley’s naming conventions is the artwork affixed to each bottle. The label features a pair of camels carrying members of the U.S. Camel Corps. One of those gents is Hadji Ali, a Syrian camel drover who went by the nickname Hi Jolly and led the USCC on a three-month roundtrip trek from Texas to California in 1887 to establish the routes we now know as Interstate 10 and Route 66. The left extension of the label includes a photo of a pyramid shaped stone marker denoting a spot in Quartsite, Arizona as Hi Jolly’s last camp. (He made his family’s home in Quartsite and later died there in 1902. Though it’s not shown on the label, the marker is topped with a camel.)
The bottle art is the work of Buckley’s fiancé, Malane Drake. She has been charged with illustrating all of Latitude 33’s packaging, and does a good job of bringing in the old world aesthetic conjured by extensive tales Latitude 33 marketer Sage Osterfeld has dreamt up for each beer, which are steeped in lore from regions located along the thirty-third parallel..