After a full month open and serving other brewers' beers, and after postponing a scheduled celebration due to Mother Nature, On Rotation finally found a mild and pleasant day recently for a grand opening and the debut of its house brews. With roll-up doors thrown wide to enjoy the seasonal weather, a crush of steady crowds filled the new place adjacent to White Rock's Il Cane Rosso, as everyone sipped on the four freshly brewed beers while chomping on freshly baked pies purchased next door.
Fitting nicely into aluminum muffin tins, samplers of owner and brewer Jacob Sloan's four new house beers included a Cucumber Blonde, Jalapeño Saison, Raspberry Tart and Orange Wit. The award-winning Raspberry Tart was by far the crowd favorite, a light reddish-pink pour with a tangy, almost soda-like berry sweetness with a great taste and the most quaffable of this freshman bunch. A traditional Belgian witbier with a fresh OJ addition, the Wit was a murky mustard yellow, lightly spiced wheat base that was heavy on the juicy flavor and brewed specifically to celebrate this grand opening.
The Cucumber Blonde was the most interesting of the four, the one I wanted to like the best, a light base with definite cucumber flavors that fermented out very dry. Instead of being vegetal or smacking of salad dressing, the addition played nicely with the pale malt backbone, and might have benefited from a little more sweetness to enhance the cucumber even further.
But my favorite of the day was the Jalapeño Saison, a sharp and fruity pepper on the nose with a familiar acid burn on the tongue, assertive but not firey or painful. A big hit at the 2014 Brew Riot and the strongest of this bunch at 6.1% ABV, the yeasty esters or sour notes traditional to the saison base were mostly engulfed by the chile's fresh flavor, but balanced pepper beers are very difficult to pull off well.
Sloan mentioned that he had no intention of only brewing fruit beers but these ingredients on order arrived first, and he thought it best to brew with what was on hand and still fresh rather than delay. Darker beers are on the horizon, next being a Café Au Lait Coffee Milk Stout before heading off into the wild West Coast IPA territories, and once up to speed the tap wall should host 10 or more house brews at any given time. Batches are only a half-barrel in size -- 15 gallons of each beer -- which means that nothing will last too very long. Growler fills were off-limits during the grand opening to make sure there was enough to go around, and none of these beers is guaranteed to see another weekend.
In all, a successful effort by this rookie brewer and his self-described craft beer laboratory. Looking forward to more of the new, fresh, different and funky.
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