Toolbox Brewing Company- Vista
One of the first things you notice when you walk into Toolbox Brewing is the oak barrels. Lots of them. They are stacked horizontally on top of each other on special steel racks that hold them in place. Some of them are slowly seeping aging beer through the wood staves and onto the floor. Their aroma fills the room.
Inside the barrels are wild beers. Toolbox is “San Diego’s FIRST and ONLY wild brewery,” specializing in “small batch, artisanal sour and Brett beers.” They are among the many new breweries in America who focus strictly on the development of wild, sour beer flavors, but the only brewery doing so in San Diego County. And that makes them unique.
So, what is a wild beer? According to Vinnie Cilurzo, “Wild beer is generally used to describe any beer that displays the earthy characteristics of Brettanomyces yeast strains, regardless of whether the beer is a light golden ale or a strong dark stout.”
And, what is a sour beer? Again, according to Cilurzo, “If the brewer adds acidifying bacteria to the beer, it is termed a “sour beer.”
Although I appreciate wild and sour beers because I have learned how hard it is to make them, I don’t drink them that often. Just the same, I sampled a flight of four beers that I liked when I visited Toolbox the other day: a Pale Wild Ale named Smells Like Nirvana (6.0% ABV); a Sour Blonde Wild Ale called Grass Fed Lettuce (5.25% ABV); a Sour Blonde Wild Ale with Peaches named Peachin’ Camaro (5.25% ABV); and my favorite, a Sour Blonde Wild Ale with Red Tart Cherries (5.8% ABV) called The Virgin Cherry. Here are my tasting notes of this beautifully brewed sour:
The Virgin Cherry is orange, cloudy, with a fizzy, white head. It has an appetizing aroma of cherries and blossoms. The palate is like a tart, cherry pie filling; sour and slightly sweet. It’s texture is light, the high carbonation is crisp, and the finish is dry, sour, and clean. Overall, this beer is sparkling, complex, balanced, very clean, with a tart, dry, lightness to the finish.
- Appetizers- Duck Pate; bacon wrapped dates
- Salads- crab salad; fennel, sunchoke and apple salad
- Entrees- grilled chicken breast with a currant and apricot sauce; mussels steamed in beer with shallots; duck with cherries glaze
- Cheeses- Brie, Camembert, or any of the blues
- Desserts- waffle cones filled with sweet cheese and berries; vanilla ice cream with strawberries; peach pie