Bottlecraft Beer Shop and Tasting Room in San Diego’s Little Italy was packed last night. The event in question: Butcher’s Brewing bringing friends and beer fans together to celebrate the launch of its first batch of limited edition Free Range IPA.
“Summer nights call for something special at the end of a long day,” reads the back of the bottle that holds the SoCal brewery’s new seasonal release. Summer is still a while away, but crisp hops (and a warm evening) helped usher in the feeling a few months early. At 7 percent ABV, it’s a beer that’s hearty but not overwhelming. As for the flavor, it has all the fresh greenness and bitter back end that one expects from an IPA, courtesy of its “heaps of Summit and Nelson Sauvin hops,” but tempered by undercurrents of malty warmth along the way.
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Of course, that could all change by tomorrow: one thing that sets Free Range apart from other IPAs is that it’s a beer that’s meant to keep changing even after it’s bottled. “This beer is bottle conditioned to be a natural live brew,” reads the label. “This bottle has live yeast performing a slow secondary fermentation in it right now.” As we drank it last night, it was as fresh as possible – just-bottled-this-morning fresh – but Butcher’s Brewing founder Rey Knight recommended trying it again a week later, once the yeast has worked its full magic.
As the word “seasonal” implies, Free Range won’t be around forever. Only 15 barrels of the beer were produced – that’s 100 cases, once bottled. But those interested in sampling the beer can stop by Bottlecraft to check it out until supplies run out.