I hate Mondays. We all do. But Mondays are made so much better when Kevin Pratt tells you that he’s got a new beer to show off.
Kevin is the brewer at Santa Barbara Brewing Company (you know it, affectionately, as Brewco). The latest beer to come out of the State Street staple is unlike anything that has ever come out of that brewery before. Officially dubbed as an Imperial Pilsner, King Saaz is a 7.2% ABV beer brewed with Pilsner malt and hopped with copious amounts of noble hops. It takes its name from the healthy dose of Saaz hops that join the Hallertau Mittlefruh hops in the dry-hopping process.
Those aroma hops take center stage in the first impression of the beer, as the first sniff smells about the same as a nose-first dive into a bag of noble hops. The first sip is equally rewarding for us beer geeks with a velvety-smooth texture and honey-like sweetness that plays very nicely with the heavy hop presence. There is a (very) slight hint of tropical fruit that likely stems from the interaction of the hops with the strong malt backbone and the touch of sucrose used to boost the beer’s strength and keep it dry.
King Saaz, a play-on-words that refers to the King-Size nature of the strong beer and its Saaz hops, is a well-crafted beer that stands apart from Santa Barbara Brewing Company’s regular lineup. While this is not to say that Brewco’s lineup is anything but solid, it generally appeals to a more generic crowd.
When I asked Kevin about why he chose to make such a departure, he let loose a knowing smile that seemed to suggest that this is the kind of beer he’s had in his back pocket for a while – just waiting for the opportunity to let it free.
“This is a statement beer,” he said.
If the statement that Kevin hoped to make was that Brewco is more than just a pre-party destination for a night out on State Street or a casual drop-in for tourists, then that statement is well-received. King Saaz is a beer geek’s beer with mass appeal (it’s strong at 7.2% ABV, it’s got a good hop presence to appeal to the new generation of beer drinkers, but also has roots in traditional lagers to appeal to old-school drinkers). Slowly but surely, Brewco is emerging as an exciting figure in the Santa Barbara brewing scene.
If that’s not motivation enough, Brewco will be selling the beer at just $3 a pint today (July 23) during its debut.