Redlands' Hangar 24 makes some interesting beers with dates, wine grapes and other fruits. This one, with its sunny orange personality, seems particularly right for spring.
It starts out as a German-style weizen, so you might be able to detect faint notes of clove and banana, but orange predominates. The flavor comes not from orange peel alone, which is a common enough addition to wheat beers, but from whole puréed oranges, complete with the rind and pulp, added at several times in the brewing process. This is beer, not soda pop, but you can really taste oranges.
As an unfiltered brew, it pours hazy honey amber, with a moderate head. The peel is the first thing you smell, but on the palate there's a berry-like sweetness from the juice and a little bitterness (not much above lager level) from the rind. All these elements are quite well balanced.
You would serve it with anything that would appreciate a dash of citrus, such as fried fish, Thai food or fruit salad. Maybe we've finally found the right beer for duck à l'orange.
Style: A glass of optimism, Old California style
Price: $2 per 12-ounce bottle, $4 per 22-ounce bottle or $9 to $10 per six-pack
Where to find it: Hi-Time Wine Cellars in Costa Mesa, (949) 650-8463, http://www.hitimewine.net; Beverage Warehouse in Los Angeles, (310) 306-2822, http://www.hitimewine.net; Total Wine stores, http://www.totalwine.com; and Beverages & More stores, http://www.bevmo.com.