Windsor brewery produces PG&E-themed Mandatory Blackout beer

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Barrel Brothers Brewing Co. has joined the group of local craft brewers with special beer releases tied to the Kincade fire that ignited in late October and the spate of PG&E intentional power shut-offs.

Windsor brewer Barrel Brothers released a canned beer called Mandatory Blackout, an imperial porter to commemorate the brewery losing power for 10 days.

“We were one of the closest breweries to the (Kincade) fire,” said Wesley Deal, the co-founder and brewmaster of the brewery that opened in 2015. “It seems like a kind of an appropriate theme.”

The beer has dark roasted malts balanced with noble hops to provide a smooth taste with hints of chocolate, coconut and espresso. The cans are decorated in a blue-and-white pattern similar to PG&E’s colors, as well as the same lettering that the utility uses on its logo.

Last month, Shady Oak Barrel House released F--- PG&E beer that triggered a social media uproar because some perceived it as a slight against the utility’s work crews who logged many hours inspecting lines before power restoration. Shady Oak founder Steve Doty said he was merely expressing his frustration at company management, not PG&E employees.

Barrel Brothers harbors no ill will toward the power company, its brewmaster said.

“It wasn’t done to be mean to anyone,” Deal said of the special release. “We’re trying to do it in a pretty tasteful way.”

The label on Mandatory Blackout beer cans notes “Power’s out? Party’s on.” It is available in a four-pack for $20 at its Windsor tasting room as well as Oliver’s Markets and Bottle Barn.

Russian River Brewing Co. last week released Sonoma Pride, an India pale ale Lager produced to pay for scholarships for the Santa Rosa Junior College Fire Academy and contribute to local fire agencies that battled the Kincade fire. The special batch was brewed with four different hops, and features a lot of citrus aroma. It is available on draft at Russian River’s Windsor and Santa Rosa brewpubs and in bottles.

Meanwhile, Barrel Brothers was fortunate that it did not end up with much stale beer when its power was cut before and during part of the Kincade fire because of the early warning PG&E provided, Deal said.

Nonetheless, the brewery enduring the prolonged period in the dark “was a significant hit” in terms of unexpected costs, Deal said.

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