The Bay Area is home to one of the nation’s great beer communities, and no production brewery has been at it there as long as the Oakland-based Ale Industries. Despite the fact that it’s barely 10 years old, these beermakers are deeply involved in and beloved by the community. So it came as no surprise when October readers indicated that an Ale Industries review was long overdue, but the specific beer suggestion definitely surprised: Golden State of Mind, a “California Tea Beer.”
Appearance and Aroma
If you end up with a pint of Golden State of Mind before learning what style it is, nothing seems unusual. It has that golden hue often seen in big brand beer commercial, but it’s hazy rather than clear-ish. With just a quick glance, you might mistake this for a New England-style IPA in a glass. The first whiff, however, will clue you in on something unique happening here. The beer seems earthy, but not hoppy—and is that iced tea? If you’re really a nuanced sniffer, you might pick out chamomile and coriander. But even if you aren’t, that initial introduction is a delightful, unexpected experience.
I now know a good beer can give literally zero hops.”
Golden State of Mind could technically qualify as a gruit, a beer made with herbs rather than hops. Ale Industries calls it a “California Tea Beer” because it utilizes only local ingredients: oats, barley, and wheat, plus fresh coriander, chamomile, and orange peel. Hops remains noticeably absent from the list. Unlike most beer, Golden State of Mind doesn’t offer a lot of fizz, and this flatter sensation only heightens its earthiness. This beer feels really light with each sip, delivering a quick bready and malty flavor that evaporates, as opposed to that familiar, tingly hop sensation. It sounds odd, but maybe this is what iced tea with a shot of beer would taste like. Perhaps more appealingly, Golden State of Mind feels shandy-ish, just with a witbier and iced tea instead of citrus.
On the Ale Industries website, the brewery claims its founding principle is “challenging both your and our notion of what beer is, can, or should be.” Personally, I don’t drink tea beer very often; I drink gruits even less. So, mission accomplished, Ale Industries—I now know a good beer can give literally zero hops.