Ballard on Beer: Coast Altbier 

Local brewery hits its target

Coast Brewing Co. — the little craft brewery with a strong reputation around town for big-flavored ales — recently issued a limited-edition amber ale called ALTerior Motive. The final kegs went out this week to Charleston Beer Exchange (available there in 64 oz. growlers), EVO Pizzeria, The Tin Roof, the Mellow Mushroom, Charleston Beer Works, Brixx Pizza, and Sesame.

The "alt" in the name refers to the classic German Altbier ("alt" means" "old" Deutsch). A local style enjoyed mostly in the Rhine cities of Düsseldorf, Dortmund, Köln, Altbier is top fermented. A classic example of the style is made by Düsseldorf brewing company Zum Uerige.

Compared to Coast's super-hoppy flagship brand HopArt IPA, the ALTerior is less bitter and citrusy, accenting the caramel malt flavor and aroma with a balance of German-grown hops (the "noble" Perle and Herbrucker varieties). Clear, clean, and dark-amber/brown, it's very close to what the Deutchies in the Rhine like to sip.

Coast describes it as "a perfect summer pale ale that's super refreshing." At 6.2 percent alcohol by volume, it's not a light beer, but it's not heavy, either. After a few sips, the mildly piney hop flavor quickly smooths out nicely with a tasty finish.

"The next seasonal is a Double IPA," says Coast's Jaime Tenny of the company's the forthcoming seasonal, which should be pretty strong at around 8.5 percent a.b.v. — and quite bitter and flavorful with six varieties of hops. "We usually go for balance in everything we make, even the big beers," she says. "But on this one, we're going a little crazy with the hops. We lightened the body up a bit in comparison to our last Double IPA — the Boy King — which was a hefty 9.5 percent, but malty enough to balance out the huge hops."

In lieu of an Oktoberfest-syle lager, Coast plans a special Smoked Porter for late fall. Stay tuned.

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