I can fairly say that late 2012's biggest beer-related gift to me was finally finding time to discover the beers of SANTE ADAIRIUS RUSTIC ALES in their Capitola, CA tasting room. I was suitably blown away. A week or so later, I published this interview with co-founder and brewer Tim Clifford. And in that very same interview, Mr. Clifford let it slip that, while his bottled ales are virtually all sold on premises at their brewery and tasting room, a case of their celebrated dark, sour ale "LOVE'S ARMOR" made it into the hands of San Francisco restaurant ST. VINCENT, which is a mere 3 or so miles from my house. I might have been 24 hours from the time the interview was published before a bottle was in my hands, and it might have been less. All I know is that when I called the restaurant and asked if they sold bottles "to go", and they answered in the affirmative, I'd have one in my hands within minutes.
So all that buildup and it had better be a pretty fantastic beer, am I right? You bet your derriere it is. "LOVE'S ARMOR" is a blend of a dark saison and a rye-malt porter they make (and I which I loved) called CHAVEZ. Immediately, I was hit with the 'ol sour pucker. Dry and tart, but then, hey - there's this malty sweetness and tastes of plum and peach (!). Initially the beer comes off as wonderfully complex, but after you personally adjust to it a bit, it settles into a smooth, tart ale that you can ride with for an hour or more. That's just what I did, and I found it totally stunning. This brewer is absolutely on fire right now, and I predict many hosannas and much woo thrown their way in 2013. 9.5/10.