Our friends at Bodega recently opened package store at the North Market in Columbus, Ohio called The Barrel and Bottle. True to form, they wasted no time in getting in a selection of beers you can’t find anywhere else in town. The owner was kind enough to root through some boxes with me and dig out a collaboration among the three premier craft brewers in the San Diego area: Green Flash, Pizza Port Carlsbad, and Stone. As your attorney, I advise you to pick up as many bottles of this limited offering as you can.*
* I am not really your attorney, and aleheads.com is not licensed to offer legal advice… and probably should not be licensed to offer any advice whatsoever.
NOTES: 12 oz. bottle at Aleheads Central Command
STYLE: Scotch Ale
APPEARANCE: Reddish brown, translucent with slow but active carbonation
HEAD: A persistent, modestly sized beige.
LACING: Sticky, leaving traces all up and down the glass.
NOSE: The Highway 78 has a rich, sweet aroma of figs, plums and candy.
TASTE: This is an absolute malt-bomb. It’s pleasantly sweet with a strong caramel flavor. Herr Direktor thought it was not your average caramel maltiness but a caramel flavor that you would get from candied nuts or homemade desserts. I couldn’t tell if he was bullshitting me or not, but I don’t disagree. What separates this beer from other scottish ales is that it doesn’t have a malty aftertaste. It is not hoppy, yet it has a really dry finish… and no alcohol burn to speak of despite the 8.8% ABV.
MOUTHFEEL: Highway 78 has a unique texture. If I were prone to poetry, I might say it felt like a flaky pastry on my tongue. But since I’m just a guy who likes to drink beer, I’ll acknowledge that beer can’t feel like pastry. So instead, I guess this brew has a pretty light and airy feel for a scottish ale, with light carbonation and tremendous smoothness.
DRINKABILITY: It’s still a scottish ale, and I’m not sure I could have handled another. (Herr Direktor and I moved on to the Avery Salvation, which was a nice chaser.) But it’s very drinkable for its style, as it lacks the cloying sweetness of some of its lesser peers, and some of the stickiness of the Oskar Blues Old Chub and Founders Dirty Bastard (its two closest competitors that I’ve sampled, which is intended to be high praise).
RATING: This is a tough one because of the Founders Dirty Bastard, which Brother Barley has both rated the #1 scottish ale in America and given 3.5 hops. Barley, you either put the “dirty,” the “bastard,” or both in “Dirty Bastard.” In any event, to hell with you, this one gets 4 hops. GO GET SOME BEFORE IT’S GONE!