Monday is here, and it’s time to start another week. Pick of the Weekend is our weekly post where we recap our favorite brews of the weekend past.
The opening days of LA Beer Week were just as beer-soaked and exciting as we had hoped that they’d be, and though we sampled a long list of excellent offerings our pick for the first weekend of LA Beer Week was an easy one: UNITY!
UNITY is the official beer of La Beer Week and was brewed, as it has been every year, by Eagle Rock Brewery. The recipe for this year’s version was built around the theme ingredient: prickly pears, and the beer was a LA craft beer team effort that features brewers from several LA-area breweries, LABW organizers, and even a handful of media and blogger types.
This year’s version of UNITY was the Eagle Rock crew’s take on a classic Berliner Weisse using a healthy edition of rye malt, and of course prickly pears. The brew was kettle-soured overnight with a bag of acidulated malt, and the acidity of the wort was carefully monitored by Jeremy while everyone pitched in to clean, peel, and cut many pounds of red and green prickly pears.
The fruits were added at the end of the boil, and no one was really too sure how they would effect the final beer. Take a look at our gallery of pictures from the brew day over on Facebook!
After a couple weeks of fermeneting and conditioning the beer was bottled on, fittingly, the first day of LA Beer Week, and the results were pretty fantastic. Starting early on Thursday we kept hearing from people who tried the beer, and everyone was raving about it.
We finally had our chance to try it at Better Weather Fest and we were not disappointed! The beer is a solid take on a classic Berliner Weisse that is the perfect balance of tart, funky, and malty. The prickly pear fruit lends a subtle extra dimension to the sour-profile of the beer, and the kettle-souring makes give the beer a nice round tartness with none of the sharp and often harsh qualities of Berliner Weisse beers that have been spiked with lactic acid for their tartness.
The Unity is extremely drinkable and refreshing. It was a perfect match to the sweltering heat during the “optimistically named” Better Weather Fest, and the keg that Eagle Rock brought did not last long. Thankfully we had a second shot at the brew during Sunday’s Brewer’s Brunch at Eagle Rock Brewery, and at 3.2%ABV UNITY was a perfect breakfast beer to help us get back on the LABW horse!
Maybe we are biased, maybe the several minutes that we spent toiling over a sink in a muggy brewery while slicing cactus fruits made the beer taste that much better, or maybe the insight that the brewmaster provided on the beer while he brewed it influenced my tasting, but I think that it was the best of the brewed-in-Los Angeles Berliner Wiesse beers that I’ve had. Only The Bruery’s Hottenroth even comes close to the balance of grain flavor and tartness that UNITY displays.
Don’t miss the official LA Beer Week beer at the closing festival at Union Station; bottles are also available at the Eagle Rock Brewery tap room, but they will not last long! Get ’em while you can, and drink them fresh while Los Angeles is still having our Indian Summer!
I also want to take a moment to thank Cambria Griffith from LA Beer Week and Ting Su and Jeremy Raub from Eagle Rock Brewery for extending the invite and letting me witness and help-out with the brewing the Official Beer of LA Beer Week! The idea for UNITY and the sprit of collaboration that accompanies its creation is exciting, and the finished product is something that all fans of Los Angeles craft beer can (and should) be proud of!
Did you get the chance to try UNITY 2012? What did you think about Eagle Rock’s take on the Berliner Weisse style?