Steve Wagner, left, and Greg Koch are co-founders of Stone Brewing Co. in… (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles…)
California is leading a national craft beer explosion. It’s home to 12 of the nation’s 50 largest craft beer companies, according to the Brewers Assn. trade group.
So it’s not surprising that some of the country’s finest beer is brewed locally. Here are 10 of the best local beers to sample Easter weekend, as selected by Brandon Hernandez, a beer and food journalist, Zagat editor and Stone Brewing Co. communications specialist.
The beers are brewed in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Diego counties and would nicely compliment a traditional Easter dinner, Hernandez said. (He was asked to recommend bottled beers available in Southern California.)
The Bruery Saison de Lente (Farmhouse Ale; 6.5% ABV; Placentia; www.thebruery.com): Bubbly up front with grassy, floral, peppery flavors and a dry finish.
Iron Fist Renegade Blonde (Kölsch; 5.2% ABV; Vista; www.ironfistbrewing.com): Effervescent with hoppy back-end bite preceded by flavors of straw and apple skin.
Eagle Rock Manifesto (Witbier; 5.7% ABV; Los Angeles; www.eaglerockbrewery.com): Light-bodied, unfiltered with fruit and spice character from orange peel and coriander.
Bootleggers Brewery Mountain Meadow (Blonde; 5.5% ABV; Fullerton; bootleggersbrewery.com): Sage, chamomile, honey and tarragon lend food-friendly complexity to this easy-drinking ale.
Ironfire Synner Pale Ale (Pale Ale; 5% ABV; Temecula; www.ironfirebrewing.com): Medium-bodied with fruit-forward hops balanced by light caramel backbone.
Ballast Point Sculpin IPA (India Pale Ale; 7% ABV; San Diego; www.ballastpoint.com): Botanical, sharply bitter and bursting with tropical flavors of mango, papaya and passionfruit.
Aleman/Two Brothers/Stone DayMan Coffee IPA (India Pale Ale; 8.5% ABV; Escondido; www.stonebrewing.com): Citrusy hops marry with earthy, stone fruit nuances imparted by lightly roasted java.
Green Flash Trippel (Belgian-style Tripel; 9.7% ABV; San Diego; www.greenflashbrew.com): Medium-bodied yet refreshing with Belgian yeast-borne citrus and melon notes.
The Lost Abbey Judgment Day (Belgian-style Quadrupel; 10.5% ABV; San Marcos; www.lostabbey.com): Brawny, moderately sweet and packed with flavors of raisin and dark cherry.
AleSmith Speedway Stout (Imperial Stout; 12% ABV; San Diego; www.alesmith.com): Full-bodied and silken on the palate with robust flavors of coffee and cocoa.
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