This month, three Sonoma County breweries—Seismic Brewing Company, Third Street Aleworks and Fogbelt Brewing Company—are kicking off 2020 with a collaborative Helles lager. Back of the Class will be available March 18 at both Fogbelt Brewing and Third Street Aleworks.
Brew masters Andy Hooper (Seismic Brewing Company), Tyler Laverty (Third Street Aleworks) and Remy Martin (Fogbelt Brewing Company) are all graduates of the UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education Master Brewers Certificate Program class of 2009. “This 10-year anniversary was a great chance to finally do something together,” said Hooper. Back of the Class is an homage to their beer school days, which, according to Martin, is where they all chose to sit—in the back, next to the beer taps.
IPAs dominate the craft beer scene, not light lagers. But these brew masters wanted a beer that would commemorate the program. “We started talking about what we were drinking 10 years ago, what was exciting and why we got into the program,” said Hooper. “We tested out three different recipes—Helles, Pilsner and ESB.” The brewers selected the Helles lager for production, a nod to the training and education they received at UC Davis, which mostly focused on large-scale macro-lager production.
They also wanted a beer style that would show off the California terroir in their malt. Unlike most malted barley grown in cold climates, they used a drought-tolerant malt from Admiral Maltings in Alameda, which was developed from seedstock at the UC Davis Foundation Seed Program and grown by Yolo County farmers.
Back of the Class is clean with a round malt backbone and refreshing acidity. It features a noble, spicy hop flavor. “It’s crushable!” said Hooper.
Third Street Aleworks and Fogbelt Brewing Company will have Back of the Class on draft March 18. It will also be available in cans at Fogbelt Brewing.
Seismic Brewing Company will be hosting a tasting event in the taproom on March 20 at 5 p.m. They’ll be pouring samples of the three pilot recipes—Helles, ESB and Pilsner—and talking about brewing school and why they went into brewing.
The UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education Master Brewers Certificate Program is a 15-week program on brewing science and brewery engineering that prepares students for entry and advancement in the brewing industry. Applications for the 2021 program are now being accepted.