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Monday, June 17, 2013

North Coast Brewing Co's Pranqster Belgian

  • Style: Belgian Style Golden Ale
  • ABV: 7.6%
  • Season: Year Round
  • Ease to Locate: Distributed through most of the US.   Easy enough to find in most liquor stores (even some grocery stores.)  Click here for their beer finder.
  • Color:  Soft, hazy, golden yellow.  A hint of orange when held to the light.
  • Head: A half finger off white head that dissipates very quickly.  Little lacing to speak of.
  • Aroma: Bready yeast with slight floral notes.   Fruity scents with orange zest and a little sweet honey.
  • Mouthfeel: Light but not watery.  Nice amount of carbonation.
  • Finish: Short, but crisp. 
  • Food friendly:  Like most Belgian Ales, yes.  This one is sweeter than many, so it does limit things.  Try it with a grilled oily fish, such as salmon.  Or with tricked out turkey burgers.  I'd pair it with a salty cheese, such as Romano to cut the ale's sweetness a bit. 

There's something rather right with the world when I can honestly say that my favorite beer garden is the one located just beyond by own back porch.  Yes, I have predatory hibiscus plants and ragweed is a total bitch.  But on a mild late Spring evening, the kind when the air is slightly crisp with a lingering memory of snow, yet the late setting sun is still doing ins what it can to warm the blood, a reasonable person (and contrary to popular opinion, I do mean me) couldn't really ask for a better location.  Opening a few bottles to share there with the family is a luxury that I look forward too all winter long.
                                                                             This is exactly like my backyard.  Minus the stage.  And the Germans.  And with only the occasional lederhosen.

A recent selection at the Down The Hatch Beer Garden was a bomber of North Coast Brewing's Pranqster Belgian Golden Ale.  I've tasted various brews from this brewery (click here for my post on Brother Thelonious) before and haven't been disappointed by one yet.  As far as an easily accessible bomber goes, North Coast is a wonderful option.  And I do have a soft spot in my heart for Belgian ales (it's the right ventricle, if you're overly curious.)  The first real craft beer that I loved was a Belgian. And while North Coast might be a Belgian via Northern California, bro, it's still in the same wheelhouse.

Nothing funny about the hazy goodness here.  You can see the bits of yeast floating.

My Pranqster poured a soft, golden yellow color with hints of orange along the edges.  It was hazy with bits of yeast particles floating through it (more apparent as we neared the bottom of the bomber, of course.) There was a slight half a finger head that dissipated very quickly. The lacing wasn't much to speak of and yes, I was sort of disappointed by this.  Belgians are known for their gorgeous lacing effects (for the waffles too, but I digress.). However, I've been informed by fans of this beer that they have experienced wonderfully soft lacing before, so I'm willing to concede that I may have had an off bottle or an issue with my glass.  And as much as I love my lacing, spotty webbing on a glass does not make or break a good beer. And Pranqster is definitely a great beer.  The smell was that of bready yeast and fruity notes, such as apples and citrus.  A floral hop note was present too, but lingered around in the background like a wallflower at a high school dance.  There  was a sweetness, such as a fresh honey comb, on the nose as well.  The taste followed the scent nicely.  Strong bread yeast followed by the fruit flavors of apple, pineapple and a bit of orange zest.  A bit of honey and possibly carmel flavors emerged as well.  I tend to prefer my Belgians a bit drier, but if you are looking for a well done sweeter style, this is a great example for you.  The mouthfeel was light, yet not at all watery.  A decent amount of carbonation helped to balance out the sweetness for me and made it that much easier to drink.  The finish was short, yet crisp thanks to the fizziness from the carbonation.
I do miss the lacing, but the color still looks pretty from above at least.
Over all, for a Belgian brewed in California, North Coast's Pranqster was a pretty good example of the typical Belgian style.  For a beer that I can find at my local grocery store. It's down right amazing.  I'd serve this beer with an oily fish, such as salmon. Try a brown sugar and mustard glazed salmon.  Alternatively, I think that the sweetness and fruitiness of this brew would also benefit a drier meat, such as turkey burgers seasoned with a bit of soy sauce.  Add a few grilled onions and an interesting German mustard and you've got yourself a meal.  Find a gorgeously sunny day, clean off that picnic table and enjoy a glass or two in your own homestyle beer garden.  And while I'm not exactly sure if Dorothy Gale was a beer sort of girl (but if she was,  I think she might be a wheat beer fan), I do know that she got at least one thing right.  There's no place like home.