From the Beer Writer: A lot has changed at Lightning Brewery. When the Poway business debuted in 2005, the beer landscape was much different. Owner Jim Crute installed a 20-barrel brewhouse and focused on bottling beer for distribution. Then the industry shifted and tasting rooms were suddenly where it was at. Over-extended, he sold off his equipment and consolidated into a nano-brewery focused on selling beer at the source. He brews beers in two-barrel batches these days and it allows him to try his hand at far more styles than he could in Lightning’s original iteration, including those he hasn’t historically excelled at. Case in point, St. Patrick’s Day’s beer du jour, the Irish-style stout. After failed attempts at doing this onyx ale justice, he went back to the drawing board and created Jim’s Motor Oil, a stout that both honors and strays from Guinness’ popularized archetype. While dry and chocolaty, it’s low on roast, allowing subdued anise and dark berry notes to peek through. And at 8.5% alcohol-by-volume, it’s stronger than traditional Irish stouts, but its balance belies that brawniness. Jim’s Motor Oil is available year-round, but will taste most appropriate next Tuesday In fact, Crute is opening special just for St. Patrick’s Day, so don your finest emerald apparel and join him for a pint.
From the Brewer: “I have a lot of experience brewing at home, but was never able to make a really good Irish stout. After scaling back Lightning, I got back to my roots and reapproached the issue. Like with many things, I made an educated guess on how to proceed: make a bigger beer with black malt for color and flavor, oats for body and flavor persistence, some brown sugar to increase the original gravity, a straight-up base malt with some added British malt for some malty complexity. Then I hopped it lightly with East Kent Goldings so the beer would not be very bitter but still have some added flavor and aroma. Finally, depending on the time of year, I ferment it with an ale yeast or a blend of ale and lager yeast if temperatures are cooler. The result is a beer lighter in character than many primarily malty beers, but heavier than a classic Irish stout and very drinkable. On the funny side, it had the color and viscosity of what used to come out of my old Alfa Romeo when I changed the oil, hence the beer’s name. We serve Jim’s Motor Oil three ways: dispensed with a standard faucet, on ‘beer gas’ through a stout faucet and as a Black and Tan. The first make a bitter stout, then second drinks smooth and creamy, and the third is layered over a half pour of Elemental Pilsner, our bitter German-style ‘pilsnerbier.'”—Jim Crute, Owner & Brewmaster, Lightning Brewery