I’m a huge fan of new beer releases. Especially when they’re seasonal, interesting and born from a brewery I’ve never been to. Cismontane brewery down in Rancho Santa Margarita has the goods! I stopped in with my Phoenix Club Oktoberfest Stein ($2 for the first fill) and unterhosen to see what was cooking in South County.
Cismontane Brewing is situated in an outdoor shopping plaza near the 241 toll road and RSM Parkway. I found the landmark KFC, followed the steeping barley smell, and looked for the live hops plants growing up the building. Colonel Sanders would lick your fingers for a taste of some good local beers for sure…”Finger lickin’ good”! Being a packed joint I joined a booth with none other than Jessica Rice from beerandbaking.com and her crew. Dave, the dude with the stache, Michael, the dude with the shutter snappin’. I love randomly meeting people in my Untappd friends list. I’ve long admired Miss Rice and her extensive list of rare beers she imbibes. Unfortunately I didn’t realize it was her until they all left. Oh well. I’m sure our paths will cross again.
Midway through my stein, I must say, is a thoroughly enjoyable Oktoberfest beer. It’s dry, deep copper, wild honeysuckle on a biscuit native Southern California lager. Sitting down with head brewer Evan Weinberg on a brewday of all days is a hoot. I caught him Mid-boil pre-hops pitch, sweat dripping on his black rubber boots. He’s holding a 1 liter dimpled traditional Oktoberfest Stein filled halfway, shaking it buzzingly side to side as we chat. Evan fills me in on the specifics of this brew. The beer is a collab with Newport Beach Brewing Co. Derek Bougie made with locally sourced wild Buckwheat from the area. This is the first in a series utilizing local natural ingredients. Taps’ Victor Novak provided the proprietary yeast to eat the sugars on this seasonal brew. It doesn’t necessarily have the tell tale noble hop style of an Oktoberfest, but it does have the crisp yet lingering after-finish of the German counterpart. Sometimes when drinking an Oktoberest beer such as a de facto Spaten Oktoberfest, the beer sets up shop in your mouth well after drinking. Subsequent beerless swallows continue to engulf your pallet with sugary malty flavors. Your saliva thickens and pallet aches for German food…a Wurst, a potato pancake, sauerkraut or a pretzel act as an agent to reset your mouth’s atmosphere to zero.
Next I ordered a flight of the other four beers offered: Hafer Weizen (Maybe Nelson hopped wheat beer), The Citizen (California Common/Steam), Casked Oktoberfest (same as above, but dry hopped in cask), and Blacks Dawn (Imperial Stout). All of them were spectacular! I’m a huge fan of hopped wheat beers and the Hafer doesn’t disappoint. The Citizen had some nice roasted sweet malts that turn nutty/coffee bitter as it warmed up. The casked Oktoberfest was earthier than the keg but had a slight dank hoppy aroma. Blacks Dawn is big time coffee, chocolate, molasses; it’s smooth and very enjoyable. I picked up a growler of The Citizen to enjoy at a BBQ the following day.
On Deck – What to look forward to before years end:
- Double Rainbow: (DIPA with Citra/Cascade) due around 10/1. It’s a double rainbow all the way, whoa man, whoa, oh my god oh my God!! woooo! yeah! oh! Oh my God. Oh my God! what does this mean? It’s so bright! oh!
- Champagne Saison: 10.3% ABV champagne emulation. Brewed with 100% New Zealand’s Nelson Sauvin hops, known for their punchy white wine fruityness. Release TBD, but I’m sure Cismontane can’t wait to free up the tank on this one. It’s been gurgling for almost two months!
Future plans: Expansion!
- CUP: RSM city council approved a conditional use permit to expand into the unit next door. They still need the plans to be approved, but more space for tanks and more space for tasting = good!
- Bottles, although limited, will be available soonish!
Food: Rancho A Go Go Truck served up brats while I was there. I ordered in German! It’s funny how much German I recall from High School German class over twenty years ago. The Oktoberfest beer worked well drawing some sweetness from the sausage. A couple doors down is a Thai restaurant, and there’s also nasty ass KFC if you want to feel like a greasy shitball.
Overall I think Cismontane’s creativity will keep people interested. The quality is high, the beer is fresh, and the crew running the place bring a chill perverted surfer type vibe. Being a photographer and art hobbyist I love that they showcase artists in the tasting room. There’s also books, magazines, games to mess with if you get bored. Me, being the socialite (haha) shared my table with three groups during my stay and met some interesting and diverse people. Aside from the beerandbanking.com gal above, I met a dude that puts shoes on horses with his gal that tends bar at PF Changs at night and works for lawyers during the day. A dirt bike rider gal with a Kawasaki shirt and her dude, then there was an older lesbian couple, then a phone zombie. Seriously, this dude didn’t stop looking at his phone the entire time. Crazy.
Video of the buckwheat harvest, o’tay?:
Tasting room is open Thur-Sun, check their website for details! www.cismontanebrewing.com