Ballantine IPA To Return

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This is exciting news. Pabst is bringing back the iconic Ballantine IPA, one of the few ales made by a bigger brewery, and one of the only examples of an India Pale Ale before the 1980s. There were, I believe, maybe a dozen or so American IPAs after prohibition, though by the 1960s Ballantine was the last man standing. I’m not sure when they stopped making it initially, sometime during the 1970s I believe, although they did bring it back briefly in 1995, only to discontinue it again. But beginning next month, it will be back again, brewed at Cold Springs Brewing in Minnesota. That’s actually good news, I think, because they’ve been brewing the canned 21st Amendment beers, so they’re already familiar with making hoppy beers. Also, the Pabst brewmaster, Gregory Deuhs, used to brew for Redhook at their Woodinville, Washington brewery.

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When I first started drinking beer, Ballantine Ale was around, but I never had the IPA, sad to say. I remember talking to Michael Jackson about his memory of how the beer tasted while sharing a cab from an event back to our hotel at GABF one year in the 1990s. He recalled it fondly, though it was probably closer to what today we’d consider an English-style IPA, in his recollection of it, though I believe he thought it was around 45 IBUs. It appears that the new version will be 7.2% a.b.v. and 70 IBUs, which is at the upper end of the BJCP guidelines, making it more like a modern American-style IPA. I may be wrong about this, but I’d be surprised if it was like that in the 1970s, not even Liberty Ale, which was (pun-intended) revolutionary in 1975 when it was released, was that high. Liberty Ale is 5.9% a.b.v. and around 47 IBUs.

Apparently, the new Ballantine version “uses four different malts and eight different hops, as well as hop oil to finish it off. American oak chips are used in the process, harking back to the oak and cypress barrels used for the original beer.” I’m certainly very interested to try it. It seems like a great move, given that IPAs are such a growing category, for Pabst to revive it now when interest in them is at an all-time high.

From the press release:

First brewed in 1878 by P. Ballantine & Sons Brewing Company in Newark, NJ, Ballantine India Pale Ale was the only American-made beer that successfully continued the tradition of the 19th century IPAs once Prohibition ended. This was due in large part to the brewery’s steadfast commitment to ‘Purity, Body, and Flavor” — as exemplified by the three interlocking Borromean rings found on every bottle.

Ballantine’s brewers were meticulous about ensuring that the beer’s gravity, alcohol content, IBUs, and hopping rates remained consistent well into the mid-20th century. Another unique method that characterized Ballantine India Pale Ale was a hopping process in which the distilled oils from a hop-and-water mixture were added to the brew, giving the beer an intense hoppy flavor that was quite distinct from its competition. P. Ballantine & Sons was also rumored to have matured the India Pale Ale in huge wooden vats for up to a year in order to help develop the ale’s original flavor.

In order to replicate the original recipe as closely as possible, Pabst Master Brewer Gregory Deuhs reverse-engineered the beer, ensuring the robust heritage and quality of the 136-year-old brew was properly reflected in the 21st century version.

“I began this project with a simple question: How would Peter Ballantine make his beer today?” said Master Brewer Deuhs, adding, “There wasn’t a ‘secret formula’ in anyone’s basement we could copy, so I conducted extensive research looking for any and all mentions of Ballantine India Pale Ale, from the ale’s processing parameters, aroma and color, alcohol and bitterness specifications. Many brewers and craft beer drinkers would be impressed that the Ballantine India Pale Ale of the 1950s and ‘60s would rival any craft IPA brewed today.”

Over the course of two years and over two dozen iterations of five-gallon batches handmade at his home near Milwaukee, WI, Deuhs finally struck gold.

“Unlike recreating a lost brew from long ago, I had the advantage of actually being able to speak with people who drank Ballantine back in the day,” continued Deuhs. “Their feedback was crucial to ensuring that the hoppy, complex flavor that was revered for over a hundred years was front and center in my recipe.”

It will be sold in six-pack bottles and limited-edition 750 ml bottles beginning in northeast market, and hopefully released in wider distribution after that.

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Here’s some more info about the new Ballantine IPA:

  • Dry hopping and the addition of hop oil has long been credited as the key to the beer’s unique profile. In addition, a proprietary brewing method ensures that every drop of Ballantine India Pale Ale comes in contact with American Oak, effectively capturing the robust flavor and heritage of the brand. With the reintroduction, an entirely new generation of craft beer enthusiasts will experience what made America’s Original IPA so exceptional.
  • In the 1950s, Ballantine was the third largest brewery in the country, going on to become the primary broadcast sponsor for the New York Yankees. Despite stiff competition, the IPA continued to flourish as its dry hopping process gave the beer an intense, distinct hop presence, unlike anything else available in the United States at that time.
  • In the 1970s, taste preferences changed and American lagers edged out the IPA, a trend that was abruptly reversed with the craft beer movement of the past few years. This increased interest in craft beer gave Pabst the perfect opportunity to bring back America’s Original IPA.

Anchor Releases Zymaster #6: Saaremaa Island Ale

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Anchor Brewing has released the sixth beer in their Zymaster® series, Saaremaa Island Ale.

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Anchor’s newest beer was apparently inspired by a trip taken recently by their longtime brewmaster, Mark Carpenter. He and his family vacationed on Saaremaa Island, a part of Estonia, and located in the Baltic Sea. According to Anchor’s press release, this “ancient island has been inhabited more than 8,000 years, and has been occupied by Germany, Denmark, Sweden, czarist Russia, and the Soviet Union. Its culture is a rich and fascinating melting pot. Yet few outside of Estonia have ever experienced its uniquely native beers. Mark enjoyed them so much that he not only brought back his memories of Saaremaa but some brewer’s yeast, as well. Inspired by Mark’s Estonian beer journey, Anchor’s Zymaster No. 6 takes you on a journey to Saaremaa by way of San Francisco.”

Beer is a journey. Wine is defined by time – on the vine and in the bottle – and place, known as terroir. But beer, thanks to the miracles of modern science, can now be made virtually anywhere in any style, transporting the beer-lover to whatever time, place, and flavors he or she desires.

“My wife and I were traveling through the Saaremaa Island countryside and we stopped at a bar,” said the Anchor Brewmaster. “I asked for a local draught beer and the unfiltered brew I was served was completely unique. It was the native yeast that intrigued me and ultimately become the inspiration for Zymaster No. 6. After returning to San Francisco, the Estonian yeast was isolated and cultured becoming the cornerstone of our pale ale which is complimented by the medium bitterness from Northern Brewer, a favorite hop here at Anchor. The result is a one-of-a-kind brew that transports me back to that countryside bar. We hope you’ll enjoy this beer journey, as well.”

Zymaster No. 6 (6% ABV) is a medium-bitter pale ale with Old World hop flavor and aroma. Made with pale barley malt, it has a light body and clean finish. But what makes Saaremaa Island Ale exceptional is the native yeast that Brewmaster Mark Carpenter clandestinely brought back from his Estonian beer journey. It took months for Anchor to isolate and culture this special strain, so essential to the unique character of Saaremaa Island’s indigenous beers. Anchor’s trial brews confirmed that this yeast, reminiscent of some Belgian varieties, contributes a richly complex piquancy to this deliciously distinctive ale with overtones of freshly ground clove and allspice.

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Anchor Zymaster No. 6: Saaremaa Island Ale will be available in limited release in 22 oz. bottles and on draught in select restaurants, bars, and at the Anchor Brewing Taproom in San Francisco.

PilsNOIR Urquell, Czech Brewery’s New Black Pilsner

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The pilsner style, with it’s brilliant golden color, was first brewed in the Bohemian town of Plzen in 1842. Pilsner Urquell started a revolution in brewing and it became the most widely copied type of beer, quickly transforming it into the most popular beer style in the world.

After over 170 years making just one beer, Plzeňský Prazdroj decided it was time to do something different and today are launching PilsNOIR Urquell, a totally new black pilsner. Made with the same Moravian barley and their signature Czech Saaz hops along with the naturally soft local water that’s made Pilsner Urquell to make one of the finest beers in the world, it’s sure to start another revolution.

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April Fools!

Just kidding. Mark Dredge, who’s been doing some work for Pilsner Urquell in England, sent me this mock-up spoof the brewery created just to have a little fun. No matter which beer you choose to drink today, remember to have yourself a little fun. The real copy should read:

“We’ve been making the same beer in the same way for 172 years. Why change now. Even on April Fools Day.”

The First “Official” Star Trek Beer

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Trekkers rejoice, especially if you’ve gone so far as to learn the Klingon language. According to the Hollywood Reporter, CBS has announced “Star Trek’s first officially licensed and recognized brew,” which will be called Klingon Warnog.

The new beer, a “Danish Roggen Dunkel,” was brewed by Tin Man Brewing of Evansville, Indiana, in partnership with CBS Consumer Products and the Federation of Beer. Although curiously, some of the mock-ups list the beer as simply a “Roggen Dunkel” or a “Dunkelweizen.”

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CBS is describing the beer’s flavor as having been drawn “from blending rye malt with a traditional clove character, creating a bold beer suited for the harsh Klingon lifestyle.”

According to the Star Trek Memory Beta wiki, Warnog was mentioned and appeared in an episode of Deep Space Nine — “Sons and Daughters,” from 1997 — along with several Star Trek novels.

The public will get their first preview and taste of Warnog at the Nightclub and Bar Show in Las Vegas today, March 25, 2014, before it becomes available across the U.S. and Canada later this year. This will most likely be the first in a line of Star Trek beverages, and there’s also a Vulcan Ale in the works. “Live long and party on!”

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Beer In Film #39: Griz’s Lawnmower Ale Collaboration

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Today’s beer video is a short film about this year’s collaboration beer made by the San Francisco Brewers Guild for SF Beer Week, Griz’s Lawnmower Ale. The beer was made to honor Greg “Griz” Miller, longtime owner of SF Brewcraft, who passed away in September of last year. The beer debuted last night at the Opening Galas for SF Beer Week.

See The Elephant: Anchor IPA

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Anchor Brewing will soon be releasing their newest beer, and it should surprise no one seeing the trends in hoppy beers that the new release is Anchor IPA.
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While Anchor Liberty is brewed with just Cascade hops, the new Anchor IPA is brewed with six different hops, including Apollo, Bravo and Cascade for bittering, and the five used in dry-hopping are Apollo, Cascade, an experimental hop still know as 431, Nelson Sauvin and Citra. I’ve been invited to an event at the brewery tomorrow night and I suspect we’ll get a chance to try the new 6.5% a.b.v. beer then. For now, they’ve released a video explaining some aspects of the new beer and it’s historical tie-in. Apparently during the gold rush, the phrase “seeing the elephant” was a “hopeful but risky pursuit of happiness,” something every prospector would have been familiar with. So it’s certainly an interesting way to work elephants into the beer’s lore, but I’ll let Anchor take up the story here.

I have now received the press release:

“When we started thinking about Anchor IPA, we wanted to create a beer we would be proud to serve in our Taproom,” said Mark Carpenter, Brewmaster at Anchor Brewing. “Right now a lot of IPAs are so hop forward that your palate can only enjoy one because of the high bitterness. Our IPA will have a strong hop flavor so you know you’re drinking an IPA. But, the combination of malts we’re using are strong enough to hold up to the bitterness, allowing you to enjoy more than one. The unique selections of both traditional and modern hops we are using provide the backbone and flavor, plus an experimental hop adds to its pleasant fruity & floral aroma, the first thing you notice as you sip the beer.”

The California Gold Rush lured thousands west to “see the elephant,” a 19th-century metaphor for the hopeful but risky pursuit of happiness, adventure, and fortune. As early as 1849, India Pale Ale—prepared by British brewers for export to India by adding dry hops to barrels of hoppy ale—was also heading west, from England around the Horn to San Francisco. Thirsty ’49ers savored imported IPAs, but it wasn’t until 1975 that Anchor, America’s original craft brewery, pioneered the revival of dry-hopped handmade ales with the introduction of Anchor’s Liberty Ale®, the first modern American IPA brewed after Prohibition. Now, that tradition fast-forwards to an adventurous new brew: Anchor IPA™. Made with 2-row barley malt and fresh whole-cone hops, its bright amber color, distinctively complex aroma, spiky bitterness, malty depth, and clean finish unite to create a uniquely flavorful, memorable, and timeless IPA.

The elephant you see on Anchor IPA™ was hand-drawn by Anchor label artist, James Stitt. The expression to “see the elephant” originates from a tale that predates the California Gold Rush.

There once lived a farmer who had heard of elephants but had never seen one. He longed for the day when he might catch a glimpse of this rare, exotic creature. When the circus came to town, he loaded his wagon with fresh produce and headed to the market. On the way, just as he’d hoped, he came across the circus parade, nobly led by an enormous elephant. The farmer was ecstatic, but his horses were terrified. They reared and bucked, overturning his wagon and scattering its precious contents in the road. “I don’t give a hoot,” exclaimed the farmer. “I have seen the elephant!”

The elephant became the universal symbol of the Gold Rush, as evidenced by the journals, letters, and sketchbooks of the forty-niners. Whether or not they struck it rich in the diggings, those plucky pioneers would forever treasure their California adventure as the defining moment of their lives.

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Anchor Brewing Announces Zymaster #5: Harvest One American Pale Ale

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Anchor Brewing announced today the 5th beer in their Zymaster series. This latest offering — Harvest One American Pale Ale — is a beer made with a new, experimental hop variety. I had a chance to try it during GABF last week, and the nose has amazing peach aromas, with soft, fruit flavors.
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Here’s the full story, from the press release:

It’s hard to imagine that the Cascade hop, today one of craft brewing’s most popular hop varieties, was ever new. Yet this distinctively aromatic hop, developed in Oregon by the USDA’s breeding program, was first released in the early 1970s. In 1975, Anchor Brewing featured Cascade hops with the debut of Liberty Ale®, America’s first craft-brewed, dry-hopped ale. Anchor Brewing has been using it in Liberty Ale® ever since.

Over the years, Anchor Brewing experimented with many different hops—both old and new—from around the world. For Zymaster Series No. 5: Harvest One American Pale Ale, Anchor Brewing decided to feature an experimental new hop variety. This yet unnamed, pre-commercial, aroma hop provides a uniquely Anchor twist to Zymaster 5.

Zymaster Series No. 5 (7.2% ABV) is made with a special blend of pale, caramel, and Munich malts, which contribute a distinctively complex maltiness and deep golden color. Nugget hops give it a tangy bitterness. But the hallmark of Zymaster 5: Harvest One American Pale Ale is the intriguingly novel aroma of an experimental new hop, which was used liberally in both the brewhouse and the cellar. A late addition to the boil plus dry hopping provides Harvest One with an incredibly lively hop aroma reminiscent of tree-ripened peaches, with just a hint of fresh melon. The result is a uniquely exciting new beer unlike anything brewed or tasted before.

“We have a fantastic and long-lasting relationship with the hop growers we work with,” said Mark Carpenter, Brewmaster at Anchor Brewing. “When we had the opportunity to sample and test a small set of experimental hops that were being grown, we were excited at the opportunity to work with something new and different. Out of about a dozen or so samples, there was one that really stood out to us. Right away, we knew this was a new hop variety we wanted to brew on a large scale. We were after something unique and aromatic, and this hop was one we hadn’t seen or smelled before and decided it would fit well in our Zymaster Series. Similar to how Anchor introduced the world to the Cascade hop in 1975 with Liberty Ale, we are proud and excited to share our take on this new, experimental hop in this beer.”

It’s being released today in California, though not all markets within the state, on draft and in 22 oz. bottles, and will be rolled out nationally in the next few months.

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Anchor Announces New Fall Seasonal

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Today, Anchor Brewery announced that they’re releasing a new fall seasonal beer, BigLeaf Maple Autumn Red. According to the press release, the beer will be available beginning August 5 and will be around through October. In addition to draft, it will also be bottled in 6-packs and 22-oz. bombers.

BigLeaf Maple Autumn Red was inspired by a native California tree, its incredible leaves, its delicious syrup, and the colors of fall. The tree, known as Bigleaf maple, thrives along the banks of California’s mountain streams. Native Californians once made rope and baskets from its bark. Today, artisans handcraft its wood and burl into custom guitars.. Bigleaf maple sugaring in California dates to the 1800s; yet this tree’s unusually flavorful syrup remains the product of a small group of hobbyists. A hint of maple—including bigleaf maple—syrup in every brew perfectly complements the malty complexity, balanced hoppiness, and rich fall hue of BigLeaf Maple Autumn Red, a red ale like no other.

“When presented with the challenge of developing a new seasonal beer, all of our brewers collaborated to think fall and came up with this red ale,” said Mark Carpenter, brewmaster at Anchor Brewing. “We are very happy with the finished product, especially since we don’t do test batches here at Anchor. It requires us to be on top of our game when crafting new beers and BigLeaf Maple is a beer we’re all proud to share.”

BigLeaf Maple Autumn Red (6% ABV) is a quaffable, well-balanced red ale with character. Its malty complexity and coppery color come from a combination of two caramel malts, pale malt, and a hint of maple syrup. To complement these flavors, Anchor Brewing uses three additions of Nelson Sauvin hops in the brewkettle and a unique blend of Nelson Sauvin, Citra, and Cascade for dry hopping. The result is a distinctive fall seasonal with extraordinary depth and intriguing aroma.

Since the 1970’s, Anchor Brewing has worked with renowned local Artist Jim Stitt to create our beer labels. A distinct, handmade beer deserves a distinct, handmade label and BigLeaf Maple is no exception. In autumn, the bigleaf maple’s huge leaves, up to a foot across, can display a full range of color as they slowly turn from green to gold to red. Capturing this symbolic transition from summer to fall, a watercolor of bigleaf maple’s magnificent leaf is featured on our label and signed by Jim Stitt.

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Anchor Brewing Announces Zymaster #4: Fort Ross Farmhouse Ale

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Anchor Brewing announced today the 4th beer in heir Zymaster series. This latest offering — Fort Ross Farmhouse Ale — is a beer made with local herbs from nearby Fort Ross, which is located along the coast in Sonoma County. This sounds like an interesting beer. I can’t wait to try it.
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Here’s the full story, from the press release:

Over 200 years ago, ninety miles up the coast from San Francisco, the Russian American Company built a stockade that became known as Fort Ross. It was home base for Russia’s fur trade and, in the 1820s and ’30s, supplied the Russian colony of New Archangel (now Sitka) with grain from “bread plants” like wheat and barley. The farms were small and the harvesting primitive. Reaping was done with sickles and threshing by driving horses over the sheaves.

Among the native plants at Fort Ross is a perennial evergreen shrub, prized by the local Indians for its healing powers, whose purple flowers bloom from May to early July. The Spanish missionaries called it Yerba Santa or Holy Herb. Our Zymaster® Series No. 4: Fort Ross Farmhouse Ale is inspired by the wheat, barley, and Yerba Santa at Fort Ross and the hardy souls who harvested them. Fermented with a local saison-style yeast, this unique brew celebrates the history and flora of Northern California like no other.

Our Fort Ross Farmhouse Ale (7.2% ABV) is a Belgian-style farmhouse ale with a California twist. The unique bitterness and earthy spiciness of Yerba Santa, a native California herb, perfectly complement the fruitiness and clove-like flavors created by a local saison-style yeast. And in addition to hops, barley malt, and wheat malt, we used toasted Belgian wheat malt, which gives our Fort Ross Farmhouse Ale its distinctive maltiness and burnished bronze color.

Zymaster Series No. 4: Fort Ross Farmhouse Ale will be available in draught and 22-ounce bottles and will be poured in select bars and restaurants throughout the United States, as well as the Anchor Taproom, starting June 2013.

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Anchor Releases California Lager

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Last night I atended a special release party at Anchor Brewery for their newest Beer, Anchor California Lager. It’s the same beer that was the first in their Zymaster series. According to Anchor co-owner Keith Greggor, the reaction to the beer was overwhelmingly positive, especially from distributors, and that persuaded the brewery to release it as a year-round beer in 12-oz. bottles. The release also coincides with a new partnership between Anchor and the California State Parks Foundation, where a portion of the proceeds from the beer will be donated to the parks foundation, a very worthy cause in my opinion. For now, the beer will only be available in California.

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From the press release:

Today, Anchor Brewing announces that Anchor California Lager®, California’s first genuine lager reborn, is being added to our core lineup of distinctive beers with case sales supporting the California State Parks Foundation. This new release is currently available in California only.

Anchor California Lager was the first beer in our Zymaster® Series, originally released as a limited draught beer in early 2012.

“Our first release of this historical brew was immensely popular with the public and also with our Anchor employees,” said Keith Greggor, CEO of Anchor Brewing Company. “From day one, Anchor California Lager resonated with us not only because of its distinctive flavor, but also because of the rich brewing history that it celebrates.”

Anchor Steam’s® roots go back to the Gold Rush, long before icehouses and modern refrigeration made traditional lagers a viable option. In 1876—thanks to an ice pond in the mountains and a belief that anything is possible in the Golden State—a little brewery named Boca created California’s first genuine lager. Anchor California Lager is our re-creation of this historic beer.

Made in San Francisco with two-row California barley, Cluster hops (the premier hop in 19th-century California), and our own lager yeast, Anchor California Lager is kräusened and lagered in our cellars. This all-malt brew is a delicious celebration of California’s unique brewing heritage.

The California grizzly bear on our Anchor California Lager label is from a woodcut by Durbin Van Vleck (1833–1898), courtesy of The Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley. First published in 1856 in San Francisco, it is a superbly crafted rendering of an original illustration by Charles Christian Nahl (1818–1878), who had painted both eastbound and westbound versions of this bear. Nearly a century later, Nahl’s bear served as inspiration for the design of the bear on California’s modern state flag. Although that bear is heading west, our bear—like the bear on Boca Brewing’s historic lager label—is heading east.

Anchor California Lager (4.9% ABV) is unique. Crisp, clean, and refreshing, its rich golden color, distinctive aroma, lingering creamy head, balanced depth of flavor, and incredibly smooth finish are like no other lager today.

Anchor California Lager is now available year-round in 6-packs, 12-packs, 22-ounce bottles, as well as on draught at select bars, restaurants and retailers throughout California.

Anchor’s history, California’s first genuine lager beer, and our state parks were all born in the second half of the 19th Century. To celebrate California’s unique heritage, we are proud to announce that a portion of the proceeds from Anchor California Lager case sales will support a new partnership with the California State Parks Foundation. As a tribute to our shared history and traditions, we’re forming an Anchor California Lager Grant, to be awarded by the California State Parks Foundation as a part of their Discretionary Grants program to benefit state parks.

California State Parks Foundation is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting, enhancing and advocating for California’s 280 state parks – the largest state parks system in the United States. California State Parks Foundation’s work revolves around the belief that all Californians deserve access to excellent state parks – from beaches to mountain ranges, deserts to redwood forests, and everything in between.

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From last night’s release party:

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And finally, here’s a new video about the beer: