Pensacola Bay Riptide Amber

August 28, 2012

I had dinner this last Monday at The Lee House Bed and Breakfast with my friends Chef Blake Rushing and his wife, Amber. She was in charge of the kitchen that night; her Black & White menu a huge success — inspired, beautifully-plated and dang tasty.

I was seated next to a wonderful couple celebrating their 38th anniversary. Colonel Bill Givens, USMC (Retired) and his wife, Alida (hope I didn’t misspell your name, dear) proved to be enlightened and engagingly conversational company. Bill was fascinated with how broad and diverse beer can be, so we had much to discuss over our escolar tuna salad with American Hackleback sturgeon caviar.

My eyes darted out the window, across the fountain at the foot of Seville Square, and settled on the brick edifice of our local source of sudsy pride and joy, Pensacola Bay Brewing Company. In between bites of chicken mousse ballantine with black olive & white truffle oil over squid ink couscous and black summer truffle, he regaled me with his vast experience of beer from his 30 years traveling the world in service of the armed forces. I took him down a winding path of beer history settling down in our neighborhood beer purveyor’s tap room.

I also mentioned how I’ve driven their brewmaster, Mark Robertson, to distraction by picking up flavors in his beer that he swears I’m nuts to think are there.

The Filling Station just got its mitts on four hand-bottled flavors from PBB, not to be found anywhere else in the world except for the Wahoos games at Maritime Park, and the only one of them I haven’t reviewed yet is the Riptide Amber. As it’s also the name of our chef/host from the evening, I thought it serendipitous to choose this to review.

New-penny copper in color, Pensacola Amber pours a tall, fluffy head that settles down into a nice, milky cap with spotty lacing in the glass. Sweet and nutty scents of dulce de leche and hazelnut abound with notes of nutmeg and floral hops. There’s a forward hop bitterness on the palate that quickly submits to caramel, walnut, toffee and a hint of dried apricot.

Dessert was rootbeer gelato from Dolce — located next door to Pensacola Bay Brewery, no less — with fresh blackberry juice, black sticky rice, puffy fried rice noodle haystack and vanilla pod “pepper.” The diners’ eyes gave away their emotion; joy over a perfect ending to an amazing meal. I couldn’t help but feel affinity over how many good things can come together over dinner in two historic blocks of downtown Pensacola.