Fruition Brewing's Fest festbier.
(Via Michael Hanson)
Food & Drink

A perfect Secret Summer companion: Fruition Brewing’s Fest festbier

With days still warm and fewer tourists making Santa Cruz County beaches more inviting to locals, it’s time for Fruition Brewing’s Fest golden lager. Refreshing and 5.5% alcohol by volume, the beer is right at home in an Oktoberfest celebration.

Regardless of what the calendar says, summer in Santa Cruz County isn’t even close to over.

Yes, students might have gone back to school weeks ago, but September is when Secret Summer begins. This is the time of year when the weather finally gets good, with less gloom in the mornings and more warm, sunny weather stretched out over the whole day. Fewer tourists and daytrippers means there’s plenty of room at our favorite beach and, with daylight saving time still weeks away, plenty of light to enjoy it before the dark autumn evenings settle in.

If there’s one beer that perfectly complements this unofficial summer/pre-fall season, it’s Fruition Brewing’s Fest festbier. The festbier style — as you might have guessed by its name — is typically brewed for Oktoberfest and is designed to be light-bodied enough to drink by the liter. Think of it as the lighter, golden cousin to märzen, another festival beer that’s often brewed this time of year that’s a few shades darker and a touch sweeter.

Even if you’re not up for chugging beer in those quantities, Fruition’s Fest golden lager is clean, balanced and undeniably refreshing. Owners David Purgason and Tallula Preston make theirs with German Munich malt and lager it for more than six weeks. Lagering is long, slow fermentation at cool temperatures that creates a light body and clean flavor. The result here is a crisp, malty, honeylike brew rounded out with a very gentle bitterness. It’s thirst-quenching on a hot Secret Summer day, while the malty flavor of caramel and warm bread at its core hints at the undeniable march toward cool autumn days. And at 5.5% alcohol by volume, it would be right at home in a German beer stein.

Fest is available now through mid-October on draft ($8 for a pint) and in 16-ounce cans ($5 each or $18 for four) at Fruition’s taproom and brewery in the East Lake Village Shopping Center in Watsonville, and in cans at its booth at the Live Oak farmers market on Sunday, Sept. 17, and at the downtown Santa Cruz farmers market on Wednesday, Oct. 4.

Fruition is hosting its own Oktoberfest celebration on Saturday, Sept. 30, with German-themed snacks, music, plenty of Fest and a small keg of bourbon barrel-aged märzen — I might be ready to celebrate fall by then.

918 East Lake Ave., Watsonville.

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