“Crafted with an emphasis on purity, quality and character, our pioneering ales continue to advance ‘The Definition of Great Taste.’” So reads the label of this deep amber beer. Notice the ruddy flare in the color which distinguishes this beer as a red ale. On the nose, expect some mellow hops, their citrus scents mingling with a sturdy grain backbone and sweet—we’re gonna just say it—nectar-like malts. Look for a fruit punch-like note as well. A true joy to sniff. Flavor-wise, this beer has two distinct phases: it is first lightly sweet and then long-lastingly bitter. The flavor has tame, slightly sweet malty beginnings, with a hint of caramel and a lightly floral hop opening, balanced by bitter hops that sort of flood in and wash away the sweet malts, acting over a long period of time in a complex and enduringly bitter finish. Expect this duality in flavor and finish to be renewed with every sip, as the sweet start immediately wipes out the bitter hops, and the cycle begins again. Try this one with chicken wings or steamed dumplings.
The Humboldt Brewing Company has been a pioneer in the craft brewing industry for many years now. Their roots go back to the 50s—1850s that is! The original Humboldt Brewing Co. started in 1854 in Eureka, California. It seems those ol’ 49ers worked up quite a thirst in a place like Eureka! It remained in operation until 1940, excluding the years of Prohibition. In 1987 Humboldt Brewing Company was reopened by brothers Mario and Vince Celotto. It featured a restaurant with its own unique house-brewed beer. In 1993, as a result of popular response to the beer, the brewery operation was expanded.
Recognize the name Celotto do ya? Just can’t place it? Well, it turns out that proprietor Mario Celotto was a professional football player before starting the Humboldt Brewing Company in 1987. To be more specific, he was a member of the Oakland Raiders 1980 Super Bowl championship team. From what we hear, the brewpub décor provides a veritable NFL history lesson!
Here’s another interesting bit of trivia: Humboldt Brewing Company currently holds the only approved license for brewing hemp beer in the U.S. There was a time when more than 15 separate breweries made a hemp ale. But as regulations have tightened over the past 10 years, brewers saw their hemp ales forced out of the marketplace one by one. One lucky fellow who still gets to play with the hemp is Humboldt’s Head Brewer Matt Brynildson, though we don’t figure that luck had much to do with him being named Mid-Sized Brewing Company Brewmaster of the Year in 2003—it’s a distinction he has clearly earned (have you tried the Nectar Ales yet?)
Some time after reopening the Humboldt Brewing Co., Mario established Nectar Ales. Today, this line of ales includes such tasty brews as the Red Nectar and Pale Nectar (featured this month), IPA Nectar, Winter Nectar and Summer Nectar. As a testament to the quality of the Nectar Ales family of beers, each Nectar Ales brew has been distinguished with a gold medal at the prestigious Great American Beer Festival—an uncommon feat for a line as diverse as the Nectar Ales.
For more information about the brewery and scheduled tours, call (805) 686-1557 or check out their web site at www.nectarales.com.
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