Lengthwise Brewing…a good spot for #beer in an unlikely location…

We lived in SoCal for a while (if you couldn’t tell with all the Cali-centric posting on here so far), and while we were there, we made a handful of trips into Bakersfield.  Where we were living, this was the closest semblance of most amenities.  Living on the border of Death Valley, it became abundantly clear that the beer culture was nowhere to be found, until we stumbled upon Lengthwise Brewing Company.

http://www.lengthwise.com/

This was a decent little brewery with a good balance of beer style offerings, and we were happy to have found it.  The pub has a great atmosphere, with lots of very interesting beer art on the walls, a ton of open space and seating, and a bright, welcoming feel.  Very decent menu of food, as well, and this place won’t bankrupt you after an afternoon. This place could easily accommodate large groups of people without ever feeling crowded.  I’m telling you, if you unfortunately find yourself wandering around Bakersfield, CA, this place should be on your radar.

Now, of course, on to the beer!

Golden Ale
I’ve never been a real big fan of this particular style, but this Golden turned out to be the brewery’s best offering of the day.  The beer had a radiant, bold, golden color with no substantial head.  There were hints of hops in the nose, but nothing remarkable, and there was a main roasted-oats characteristic.  The initial flavors of the beer were barley and honey, with a steady undertone of hops.  Remarkably smooth, the beer had a slight acidic aftertaste, and was much less sour than most offerings from the style.  Very easy to drink, this is one of the better golden beers we’ve had in southern California.  Smooth, slick finish. 

Harvest Moon Wheat Ale
This beer appears like a typical Wheat.  An opaque yellow color with the sediments from being unfiltered, there is a small, white, foamy head.  The beer has smells of citrus and spice on the nose, again typical of the style.  The taste was where it got interesting.  You get an impressive banana bread experience in your mouth, with banana and spice blends in the flavor, possibly nutmeg and cloves.  The flavor is very forward and present initially, but it dies in your mouth faster than a lemming jumping off a cliff.  There is no gentle drop-off, and no aftertaste.  It is a burst of flavor, with nothing following it up.  The beer is good, but it was easy to lose interest in it after a while.  The letdown after the initial promise is what I can only imagine most of my ex-girlfriends must have experienced.

Double ZZ Razzberry Ale
This brew has a dark, cloudy, pale-yellow color, with no head.  The beer was extremely heavy on the nose with raspberry sweet and tart.  It was reminiscent of Lindeman’s Framboise in aroma, with the sugary sweet characteristics.  On tasting, the beer has a very muted raspberry flavor when compared to the nose.  Increased carbonation, again reminiscent more of a Lambic than a raspberry wheat.  My wife and I both mentioned that as much as the smell might excite the senses, the taste equally disappoints.  The beer is not overly pleasant in mouth, with a sharpness due to the carbonation levels, and an overall lack of body.  The increased carbonation and lack of taste make this a beer not likely to be nominated for mass consumption.

Triple Hop Red
This one ran a close second on this visit in terms of tasty ales.  In glass, there is a deep, dark copper-red coloring, with a thin ring of head.  The nose is a balanced blend of caramel and malt, with a good dose of dry hops in the background.  On first drink, the malt red flavors are present, and that is quickly followed by a burst of hops, spicy and green.  The beer is extremely smooth despite the levels of hops, and has a nice hoppiness to the aftertaste, as well.  Very drinkable, and an overall enjoyable beer.  It shows why this brew is their best-seller.

Centennial Ale
This beer presents with a light golden-copper coloring, much brighter and lighter than most IPAs.  There was no head to speak of.  The brew had a tangy hops smell, and gave hints of impending bitterness in the drink itself.  The brew did not disappoint.  There was a good blend of malt and hops flavors, with a bitter, hoppy aftertaste, typical of an IPA.  On an interesting note, there was a spicy undertone to the beer, which was very trace and hard to pinpoint (black pepper was my best guess).  The beer was light bodied in mouth, and almost seemed to wilt a bit.  That, combined with the strong peppery undertones, made this one a tough drink, and I typically love a good IPA.  I can absolutely appreciate the uniqueness of the brew, but I would not go out of my way to seek this out again.

Seasonal Brown Ale
The bartender was able to provide most of the information about the beer itself.  He stated that this was somewhat of a “trial brewing” into the realms of Brown Ales for the brewery.  The beer poured with a moderately opaque brown color, much lighter than most Brown Ales we are used to.  This would be a continuing trend.  There was a very light, filmy head which gave off the aromas of sweet nut and a slight toasting.  The beer has a chocolate/nut flavor, almost mocha/hazelnut.  It was hard to say which exactly, as the taste seemed to blend back and forth between the two.  The beer has a malty aftertaste, and is extremely light in mouth for a brown.  The beer also has a somewhat bitter aftertaste, which is confusing with all of the sweet smells and flavors.  The beer was very interesting, but not one I would go back to the well for on any frequent basis.  With a little bit of tweaking, this could become a decent Brown, and a decent beer, in general,  for the brewery.

Kern County Crude Porter
I love Porters, so I was looking forward to this beer.  It  is a dark, blood-brown color, with a thin, light head.  The smell was a bit of a conundrum.  It was sweet, almost fruity, yet almost caramel, with a little bit of coffee, but none of these specifically at the same time.  Very overwhelming and chaotic for the nose.  I seriously spent as much time with my nose cranked into the glass as I did drinking the beer.  Definitely a lot going on.  The beer has malty flavors, mixed with what tasted like nutella and fruit flavors (dark berries).  There were also tones of red wine blended throughout the palate.  The brew was very light bodied for a porter, with a coffee heavy finish.  The broad mix of scents and flavors make this a confusing drink, if that makes any sense whatsoever.  Combined with the lightness of the beer, it was not a high rating in my book in regards to American Porters, but something that I wouldn’t mind trying and reviewing again.  It’s almost like a riddle that you just can’t figure out, and even after having the answer, you still want to work it out. 

All in all, some strong offerings, and a healthy selection in general.  Combined with decent food and great service, you definitely can’t go wrong swinging by this place in your travels.  Drink educated, my friends!

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