Belgians and barrels

Rip Current Brewing wading deeper into the suds spectrum

Rip Current Brewing

1325 Grand Avenue #100, San Marcos

Despite tackling a wider range of beer styles than almost any brewery in the county, Rip Current Brewing Company (1325 Grand Avenue, San Marcos) has only dabbled in Belgian-inspired beers. That’s about to change big-time as co-owners and brewers Paul Sangster and Guy Shobe shift their focus to the beers of Belgian descent. It wasn’t lack of interest that kept Rip Current from going the Belgian route in a big way. Sangster is such a fan of that country, he’s visited it 30 times. His hesitance was based on the fact that other San Diego breweries such as The Lost Abbey and Societe Brewing Company already brew various Belgian-style ales. So, he and Shobe started out with English, German and Scottish ales, all of which are lesser represented throughout San Diego.

Weather was another factor. Belgian yeast strains thrive in warmer temperatures, lending more vivid fruit and spice character to the beers they ferment. Last summer, Sangster and Shobe missed their window, so this year, they’ll be taking full advantage of the sunny season, starting with a trio of ales—Double Point Break Dubbel, Take Off Tripel, and a yet-to-be-thematically-named dark strong ale. The latter is the latest of the duo’s many attempts to recreate Westvleteren 12, one of the world’s most coveted beers. Sangster says Rip Current’s version will be a hint drier and offer a bit more dark fruit complexity while remaining true to the Trappist quad that inspired it. As if mimicking a beer many aficionados consider the best on Earth weren’t enough, Sangster and Shobe will funnel some of it into Bourbon-soaked barrels where it will sit until it’s extracted and released next year.

This brings us to another exciting Rip Current news item. The company purchased 32 Heaven Hill Bourbon barrels with which they plan on aging four of their bigger beers. Those beers include the aforementioned Westy homage, Rescue Buoy Russian Imperial Stout, Vanilla Storm (an imperial porter brewed with Kona coffee and vanilla), and Black Lagoon Scottish Strong Ale. The high alcohol content of the beers brings greater anti-microbial properties to stave off infection while the brews rest in the barrels. It will be roughly a year before the barrel-aged beers surface in the tasting room, but the first Belgian-style beer, Double Point Break Dubbel, should be available by the end of this month.

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