Societe Brewing Company | The Thief
“There must be some kind of way out of here, said the joker to The Thief.” Obviously Bob Dylan was forecasting a future conversation between the Steve Miller song and the Barrel-Aged Blonde Ale concocted by Societe Brewing Company. While you might be forgiven for thinking ol’ Robert Zimmerman was out of his gourd when putting pen to paper on this exchange, there’s nothing crazy about enjoying Societe’s The Thief.
Societe was founded in 2011 by Travis Smith and Doug Constantiner, taking their experience from The Bruery and Russian River Brewing and setting out to make tasty treats in the San Diego area. Originally with a lot of focus on clean and delicious West Coast IPAs, long-time success and renown has allowed the brewery to release more from their Feral line, with a nice selection of award-winning Sour and Wild Ales. The Thief, a gold medal winner at the 2018 World Beer Cup, takes Grenache Blanc grapes from Vesper Vineyards and rests the beer on them for months, allowing The Thief to act as its name implies, stealing away the vinous flavors. The final product is a gastronomical delight for those who love to pair their beers with food, and yet another example in the trend of Robin Thicke-ian blurred lines between beer and wine.
The Thief, He Kindly Spoke
This Golden Blonde pours with the hue of a Gold Rush cocktail. Holding it up to the light, you might find yourself searching for a mosquito full of dino DNA trapped in your glass. The lively bubbles remain dancing around your glass long after the pouring ritual has ended, lending an enticing sparkle to the occasion. The nose is bretty, and the effervescence will tickle any untrimmed nose hairs with some funky fragrance.
First sip gives you a lot of Tom Bretty flavor, but then the white base comes through like the Heartbreakers and provides the solid rhythm section to get this beer rocking. From the grapes there is some bright citrus peel, like the garnish of a cocktail, and it’s little nutty, with the lightest hint of nutmeg. Grenache Blanc is a very full-bodied wine, leading The Thief’s to feel heavier than its ABV would indicate, with the dense grapes coming to overshadow the funky front man. Nonetheless, this beer finishes cleanly, with a long, light sweetness like your tongue recalling the after-lunch lemon candy from an hour ago. As the temperature increases, so does the influence of the Grenache Blanc, making for an interesting journey from start to finish.
The Hour’s Getting Late
The Thief is one of those beers that demands a thoughtful food pairing, a worthy companion to a succulent lobster or a bowl of mussels. The 500 ml bottle size is a bit of a tease for how drinkable this beer is, as the aforementioned meal pairings clamor for the ability to have a magnum of this opened for the table. The Thief releases each year at Societe’s taproom in line with the harvesting of the grape and necessary conditioning, so keep an eye out for the next release and plan accordingly.