For a year in my early 20’s, I lived in Southern California.
Of course, in the years since, I’ve thought a lot about that year, and I’ve always felt something should be written about that year of waking up late, writing $25 freelance stories for a local paper, and falling in love with tall blondes and fish tacos. There was some meaning behind it that I still can’t grasp, on paper at least, and maybe this is the lesson that should be gleaned from it all: there is no lesson.
Still, though, I have been back to Southern California many times since I moved back east and there’s something alien and strange about being back. Everything seems distant and aloof and out of my reach, like a Delorean that refuses to bring me back in time.
Admittedly, I was forlorn and homesick when I lived that year in the sun. I was alone, mostly, and writing stories that were sad and unforgivingly bad. This is because I was young and those feelings of anxiety and malaise and moroseness stemmed from living life across the country without the safety net of friends or family for the first time.
But in my memories, I was none of those things and felt zero of those emotions. This is the way memories work: We remember things the way we wish to remember them. And so when I think of California, I think of the road leading to the beach while listening to Tom Petty in a convertible Mustang; I think of burritos on a balcony overlooking the ocean; I think of fruit cart vendors along palm-tree lined boardwalks in L.A. the morning after imbibing a little too heavily.
This beer forgoes the tartness of many examples of this style in favor of a more mild profile.”
Golden Road is a brewery in Los Angeles, who was purchased by AB InBev in September of 2015. Their new wheat beer series, the Fruit Cart Series, is inspired by iconic fruit cart vendors. Tart Mango Cart is the first in this series.
Technically categorized as a Berliner Weiss, this beer forgoes the tartness of many examples of this style in favor of a more mild profile. It’s frothy and thick because pureed mango was added to the beer. At 3.2% alcohol by volume, Mango Cart is refreshing and easy to drink, more like an alcoholic smoothie than a fruited sour beer. The slight tartness falls off the sides of the tongue at the finish, but it’s not overbearing or distracting.
I’m typically not a fan of sour beers; For the most part, I find them boring and cloying and disagreeable to my palate. Tart Mango Cart is an exception, and perhaps perfection for an avowed light lager drinker in the scorching summer sun. It’s a great fit for a marathon session on the beach, ice cold from the cooler after a dip in the ocean, or coming straight off the volleyball courts.
Southern California wasn’t the beer mecca back then like it is now. There’s a cast of hundreds of breweries all over the area now, each, it seems, doing their own version of a hopped-up bomb. Golden Road is no different in that they, too, have their hoppy offerings.
But there’s something different about the Tart Mango Cart. A bit of variety, a beer more conducive to the climate, a beer that will fit your feeling in the present, and will also hopefully stick out in your memories of the moment.