From the Beer Writer: Though available at the recently-opened Sorrento Valley brewpub, Gravity Heights, there may not be another beer that makes me feel like I’m drinking in an authentic English pub than that establishment’s Brewer’s Best Amber. Toasty, biscuity and made earthen with tea-like flavors from UK hops, it’s traditional as the day is long. The only thing that’s not spot-on about it is its name. “Best bitter” is a popular style across the pond and the type of beer that’s being emulated here; however, bitters are extremely misunderstood by the American drinking public. This is particularly true in Southern California where “bitter” IPAs are what really put our region on the craft brewing map. Order anything labeled “bitter” in San Diego and it better, indeed, pack a hop-borne wallop in the finish. But that’s the thing. English bitters don’t. They are the mild, middle-ground of beer where malt and hops meet in the middle so as not to overpower each other. They are a testament to balance and Brewer’s Best Amber shows off the beauty of a real-life bitter…even if they have to label it an “amber” so it will have greater appeal to the masses.
From the Brewer: “Our team is certainly proud of the IPAs and several other beers we brew, but wanted to select a beer we believe is a hidden gem in our line-up for Beer of the Week. When my partner, Ted Newcomb, and I started AleSmith Brewing in 1995, we only brewed AleSmith ESB (later known as Anvil Ale) for our first six months of operations before beginning to add additional brands. I wanted to pay homage to Anvil Ale and Ted without using the original recipe, and also wanted a session ale that could be cask-conditioned and served at Gravity Heights via a beer engine, which is the traditional dispensing method for cask-conditioned ales. We look forward to cask-conditioning a few of our beers using this process, and will likely cask-condition the next bath of our Brewer’s Best. There are three sub-styles of English bitter, which are termed ‘ordinary bitter,’ ‘best bitter’ and ‘strong bitter’ (often referred to as ESB or ‘extra special bitter’). Brewer’s Best Amber fits into the mid-tier best bitter category at 4.2% alcohol-by-volume. This beer is also very food-friendly, so it will pair with most of our menu. We suggest a full pour paired with the Gravity Heights sausage plate for starters.”—Skip Virgilio, Brewmaster, Gravity Heights