Beer flavored beer is something I’ve been on the hunt for lately. Tidy beers, as I like to call them, use four ingredients, usually have lower ABV, and ride the line between crushability and nuance; geek out on it if you want, but at the heart of it, they’re easy to drink and full of flavor.
One brewery I’ve seen popping into OC as of late comes by way of the Oregon Trail: Heater Allen out of McMinnville, Oregon, a city known for its surrounding wine production. The eleven-year-old brewhouse, ran by father Rick Allen and head brewer-daughter Lisa Allen, makes mostly German-inspired lagers and ales – Rick found the heat-damaged versions being imported to be substandard. Among Oregon’s crowded brewing landscape one thing is certain: focus on a niche style and do it well.
“We don’t filter our beer,” says Lisa, sipping a pilsner at the recent Pils and Love Fest. “I think it’s a tough process to put a finished product through. We also naturally carbonate which we feel gives the beer a finer carbonation, something that would be impossible if we filtered,” she continued.
The most recent beer I discovered from Heater Allen had a few months age on it, but is still drinking beautifully. Their Lenzbock, (pronounced lents-bock) is one of their stronger seasonal beers at 7%, and has a rich bready nose with notes of Concord grapes and nuts. Lenz translates to spring in German (or lent more specifically), where Bavarian monks were known to brew and drink bock beer while fasting as a source of nutrition. Bock beer is where the term “liquid bread” came from!
Although distribution is scant, I’ve had good luck finding Heater Allen beer at Windsor Homebrew Supply in Costa Mesa, The Clay Oven in Irvine, and Alza Osteria in Brea. Be on the lookout for their Oktoberfest seasonal, Bobtoberfest next!
Greg Nagel has been writing about beer since 2011, is an avid homebrewer of wine, cider, and beer, is a certified Cicerone Beer Server, a podcaster with the Four Brewers Show, and runs a yearly beer festival called Firkfest. When not writing about, photographing or filming beer, cocktails, and food, he can be found talking trash while playing video games under the name “OCBeer.”