Nov 18, 2016

21st Amendment El Camino (Un)Real

First brewed at Stone Brewing Company in 2010 after a road trip down El Camino Real (aka Highway 101) three friends — Mitch Steele (formerly of Stone Brewing), Shaun O‚ÄôSullivan (brewmaster/co-founder 21st Amendment Brewery) and Matt Brynildson (brewmaster at Firestone Walker) — decided it was high time that the 9.5% ABV strong dark ale make its return. Brewed with dried mission figs, pink peppercorns, fennel and chia seeds, El Camino (Un)Real drinks porter-like (nearly stoutish) with a strong, rich flavor.

There’s a good deal going on within El Camino’s dark depths as licorice, vanilla, dark fruits, herbal/spice notes and a solid malt backbone present themselves throughout the drinking experience. That said, however, the big beer isn’t overly complex — everything works well with one another, never dominating the others, instead complimenting and accentuating each others strong suits. El Camino also doesn’t drink as big as it perhaps should. The alcohol is hidden quite nicely, only showing with a light warmth in the chest late.

If El Camino (Un)Real is the result, more brewers should go on road trips like the one that brought these three together. This beer is rich, full-flavored and unique without being overly complex or pretentious. It’s the outcome of experiences that can only come from friendship and a little weirdness, if the press release for this beer is to be believed.

This is a review of a promotional sample.