Calicraft founder Blaine Landberg bottles the flavor of the Golden State.
Blaine Landberg has made some risky homebrewing decisions: Namely, crafting his inaugural batch in a Berkeley dorm and throwing a party in his room to finish it off. The beer? Now that was smart: Landberg melded local honey with Belgian and Champagne yeasts, creating the prototype for Buzzerkeley, a bière de Champagne that eventually evolved into the flagship offering of his brewery, Calicraft. Since narrowly escaping expulsion, graduating and starting the brewery, Landberg’s been busy. He splits his time between driving a 30-foot delivery truck and creating recipes that draw from his home state’s fields, orchards and apiaries—in fact, the honey in his current version of Buzzerkeley is from an apiary he worked at growing up. “I want to create something that expresses California,” he says. And so he has: This summer, Landberg taps California wine country to smudge the line between beer and vino by releasing Wild Wit, a witbier brewed with California-grown Valencia oranges, lemons, coriander and honey that’s split-fermented; one batch with classic witbier yeast and the other with white wine yeast. Ambitious? Yes—and undeniably Californian.
“This is beer meets wine. It’s clean, sharp and bright. The beer starts fruity and spicy and twists your taste buds, finishing dry with a subtle tartness. Pair it with vanilla bean ice cream and fresh strawberries—the sweetness from the ice cream contrasts the tartness from the berries and beer.”
“Oaktown is a big, bad, bold brown aged on three different toasts of oak. The beer changes as it warms: It starts roasted and tight and finishes with a mellow oakiness and subtle hints of chocolate. It’s great with backyard barbecue: Give me a nice rare-grilled, grass-fed steak or slow-cooked baby back ribs.”
“It’s made with malt grown from the other side of Mt. Shasta, one of the most consistent malt growing regions in the country. It’s a stripped-down version of what makes life fun in California: It’s refreshing, crisp and bright. On the nose you get hints of fresh fruit, but it finishes super clean. It goes really well with grilled chicken, salad and mild, creamy cheeses.”