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Fillmore Fusion Ale: Lagunitas Celebrates a Centennial 

Wednesday, Jan 23 2013
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Lagunitas Brewing is known for many things, including making great beer, embracing all visitors as friends, and knowing how to party. On any given day at its "Taproom and Beer Sanctuary," you can see the elements of a great party coming together before your eyes — outgoing people, great suds, and live music. Owner Tony Magee is an avid musician, and even had an amphitheater constructed on brewery grounds to host his esteemed musical guests. Now, you can taste a beer that combines multiple passions of the Lagunitas Brewing team: Fillmore Fusion Ale, brewed to honor the 100th anniversary of the building housing the historic theater.

The fine hosts at Lagunitas invited The Fillmore's staff to the brewery to help create a beer worthy of the landmark. Guests were given the opportunity to smell numerous hop varieties, taste various malts, and discuss their style preferences with the brewers (over a few pints of brew, we imagine). The team settled on a style that Lagunitas has been perfecting over the last few years — a dry, easy-drinking, pale-colored beer defined by its hop character.

The resulting 5 percent ABV beer utilizes a new, experimental hop called ADHA 483 (rolls right off the tongue, doesn't it?). Upon pouring the beer into a glass, you'll immediately notice a nose of grapefruit, pine resin, and tropical aromas of pineapple and mango. The focus here is squarely on hop aroma and flavor, downplaying the bitter qualities of the plant. The team used Canadian 2-Row and Munich malts, which serve to balance the hop character without contributing much in the way of sweetness. The beer finishes dry and remarkably clean. The addition of rye gives just a fleeting kiss of spice in the background, while oats serve to add body and a satisfying mouthfeel.

The brewers aren't calling this an IPA, or even a pale ale, instead describing the beer as a "light, sessionable, IPA-ish" brew. We just call it delicious. Slip your friend who doesn't like hoppy beers one of these and watch the conversion to hophead begin. Sadly, this is a one-time celebratory creation, so get it while you can. The beer can only be sampled on draft at the brewery taproom or at The Fillmore theater, but bottles are on shelves throughout the city.

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Jason Henry

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