Among the 13 gold-medal-winning local beers at this year's San Diego International Beer Competition were several I haven't tasted yet. It probably goes without saying, but I've suddenly taken an interest in trying them all.
1020 W. San Marcos Boulevard, San Marcos
The first I found was Rip Current Brewing's Body Surfing Blonde, on tap at the Sublime Ale House in Old California Restaurant Row, San Marcos. The match is not surprising, as Sublime actually has a tapline dedicated to the nearby brewery's beers and operates a restaurant at the site of Rip Current's North Park tasting room.
Body Surfing Blonde competed in the Belgian-Style Pale Ale category, owing to its use of Belgian yeast and a 7% ABV, which, as my bartender pointed out, is the same alcohol content as a Sculpin IPA, and not much less than the 8.3% ABV of Rip Current's excellent Lupulin Lust, the competition's silver-medalist in American Style IPA.
Point is, while it doesn't drink heavy, this ain't the dainty blonde it seems to be. The fruity smelling ale pours blonde, even gold in color, with a thick but quickly dissipating head. A lightly bready malt profile and that Belgian yeast comprise the backbone of this beer, which neither comes across as terribly sweet nor exceptionally dry.
I found it crisp and refreshing, despite some peppery top notes that give it a little added character. As a summer drinker, it may even be a bit dangerous — this blonde drinks like a beer half its strength, and should go over well with fans of lagers, aka, non-craft beer drinkers. So if the alleged Corona shortage has got you down, drop the limes and switch to this one.
Those with more adroit beer palates won't take this as a dismissal. Clearly, Beer Judge Certification Program–approved judges deemed this an excellent example of the Belgian style, and while it may not be the most complexly layered ale you find in the Rip Current roster, it's so clean it's easy to pick out the distinct and nuanced flavors within. I'm sure Sublime would like you to drink it with an order of mac and cheese, but I guzzled my pint on an empty stomach and longed for the days you could still drink beer on city beaches. Anybody ever hand out a gold medal for that?