It’s oddly refreshing to drink a beer that is seldom brewed, rarely sought after, and mostly forgotten – one brewery on the Costa Mesa Beer Trail has been quietly producing a solid Dortmunder lager since its doors opened in 2014: Barley Forge Brewing.
A Dortmunder is sort of a blue-collar beverage that originated in Dortmund, Germany and made popular for its easy after-work drinkability, where a liter (or two) of beer after a shift is in the cards.
A Dortmunder export is somewhat soft and palatable and is bittered somewhere between a Munich Helles (very low hops due to the local hard water) and a Pilsner (which has super soft water that accentuates hops).
Where other breweries are hopping the crap out of Pilsners, Grandpa Tractor is in a league of its own. On the nose is some doughy bread, floral-herbal hops with a kiss of chamomile, clean linens, and even some honeysuckle as it warms. The flavor is as classic as the beer itself, which can be measured in pints consumed rather than beer-geeky tasting notes.
Grandpa Tractor is named after owner Greg Nylen’s dad, and I can only imagine the proud moment he had when the beer won gold at the Great American Beer Festival this past fall.
I nabbed a six-pack of fresh cans at Whole Foods for $9.99, which is probably the best value in the whole store.
If you find yourself at their tasting room, be sure to pair it with their beer brat which is served with house-made sauerkraut and Grandpa Tractor mustard on the side.
Barley Forge Brewing is at 2957 Randolph Ave., Costa Mesa, CA, (714) 641-2084; http://barleyforge.com
Greg Nagel has been writing about beer since 2011, is an avid homebrewer of wine, cider, and beer, is a certified Cicerone Beer Server, a podcaster with the Four Brewers Show, and runs a yearly beer festival called Firkfest.