Beer of the Week: Night on Ghost Mountain

Pure Project and Lost Cause Meadery team to offer a lovely taste of...Santa Cruz?

From the Beer Writer: Night on Ghost Mountain” by Winslow Sawyer…it sounds like a novelist’s work of fiction. But the creator in this instance is the brewmaster from Miramar’s Pure Project Brewing. For his latest artful foray, he’s called in a character he shares an origin story with, Billy Beltz. In addition to being a fellow craftsman and the owner of Bay Park’s Lost Cause Meadery (which got its start in Miramar…are you following all of this?), he and Sawyer both came to San Diego from Santa Cruz. Their shared heritage forms the basis of this week’s featured offering, a braggot that takes equal inspiration from the duo’s old stomping grounds and the beverage Beltz has made an award-winning reputation behind. This unique “mead-inspired ale” is beautiful, not only for the stylish dessert-wine bottle it’s packaged in, but for its lovely fruit and barrel expressions. A tempting bouquet of cherry, mulberry and nutmeg translates to the palate along with a red-berry character similar to that of Central Coast Pinot Noir, but with a velvety body and earthen sweetness from blackberry honey. Flat and a whopping 12.5% alcohol-by-volume, it doesn’t come across like beer, but it registers as the thoughtful, layered brainchild of two guys who clearly cared deeply about what they were aspiring to create.

From the Brewers: “This braggot collab was inspired by both Billy and my time living in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Every spring the mountains bloom with wild blackberries, and when the weather starts getting hot your hands become stained from having eaten so many. Ghost Mountain is the nickname for this area from the locals because of all the supernatural and unexplainable things that happen in those endless redwood forests. This braggot tastes much more like a mead than a beer and features an extravagant amount of organic marionberries, black currants and blackberry honey. The beer portion of the braggot consists of 100% oats to give a silky base for the fruit and honey while still remaining gluten-free. We added a large portion of honey and berries during fermentation and then aged it for a year in Portuguese Port wine barrels. After removing it from the barrels, we added even more berries and honey before corking it still in a sleek 375-milliliter bottle. The braggot is reminiscent of a fruited mead, featuring a burst of fruit and acid on the initial sip followed by a full honey aftertaste that’s balanced by refined oak tannins.”—Winslow Sawyer, Brewmaster & Partner, Pure Project Brewing

“It’s always fun when seemingly opposing things come together harmoniously, and this collab is a perfect example of that. The bracing acidity of the blackberries and black currants in this braggot provide a wonderful balance to the rich blackberry blossom honey and smooth oats. Similar to our people up in the Santa Cruz Mountains, where everyone is kind of half mountain hippie and half beach bum. Or how Winslow’s youthful good looks and easy charisma balance my, well, overall being. Yin and yang are on full display in this half-mead, half-beer braggot masterpiece.”—Billy Beltz, Owner & Co-founder, Lost Cause Meadery

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