Joint Session w/ Moonlight
LAGUNITAS & MOONLIGHT SECRET AGENDA
Peering out from under a dark baseball hat, the founder and brewmaster of Moonlight Brewing Co., Brian Hunt, is standing on the other side of the bar in the Lagunitas loft. He’s just poured a beer into Lagunitas brewmonster Jeremy Marshall’s glass, enough to where he has to quickly bend down and slurp the foam out of the mason jar pint glass. “There was some pretty crappy head on there… but that’s better. What are we supposed to talk about again?”he asks. “Let’s talk about the beer,”Jeremy reminds him, beer foam-moustachioed and all. They’re here to talk about the new Joint Session between Moonlight & Lagunitas, a pale bock beer called Secret Agenda.
PALE BOCK BEER
So, what’s a pale bock beer?
The history of the bock style traces back to the 14thcentury in the city of Einbeck, Germany. Unhopped beers like herbal gruits were more popular than their hopped counterparts, but Einbeck was one of Europe’s earliest hop-growing and hop-adopting regions. Bocks were traditionally fermented in Winter, meaning a longer fermentation and more stability in the fermentation, as well as a cleaner flavor due to hops’ natural anti-bacterial qualities. Brewers would begin cracking into these casks in the Winter months, with an emphasis on keeping stores for Easter celebrations.
“You want to have a month-appropriate beer for when you’re drinking it,”Brian states. “How many people do you hear say ‘I want a beer on a hot day when I’m mowing the lawn.’ Well, that’s a certain beer. So, then what is it when it’s March? The answer is it’s a pale bock.”
So, how did Jeremy and Brian get along? “It was a real pleasure to work with someone that I consider a mentor,”Jeremy says. “That’s scary as f***,”Brian replies.
Moonlight Brewing was founded in 1992 at Brian’s rural Santa Rosa farm, where many of Moonlight’s ingredients are still grown and harvested. After many years of brewing on the farm, he moved to the Coffey Park neighborhood of Santa Rosa and eventually opened up a TapRoom in 2016.
Where Lagunitas focuses on hop-forward ales and beers of the next thousand years of brewing, Moonlight looks to the past and the first thousand years. From their flagship Death & Taxes, a full-bodied yet deceptively light dark lager, to Legal Tender, brewed with Labrador tea, meadowsweet, yarrow and redwood in place of hops, Moonlight’s beers stand out in the crowded field of Triple IPAs and Hazys. Do they brew an IPA? Technically, yes, but it’s a malt-forward English-style IPA, Bombay by Boat.
“I think we should talk about how in the hell it’s a Lagunitas and how in the hell it’s a Moonlight,”Brian asks. “That’s a good thing to talk about!”Jeremy responds.
“It’s Moonlight because it’s a lager yeast, and we didn’t add four pounds-per-barrel of trendy hops… well, one of them’s trendy,”Jeremy says. The trendy one, Australian Enigma, is described as a chameleon for its enigmatic and variable flavors depending on usage. Mix that with healthy doses of Yakima Valley’s Fantasia hops and Germany’s Sterling hops, and the beer breathes creaminess and floraly spice.
The Joint Session between Lagunitas and Moonlight ultimately resulted in something neither of us could do alone: both hop-heavy and malt-forward, looking to the future and reminiscent of the past, and a combination of two schools of thought under one house of brewing. Cheers!