Reviewed: Sante Adairius Rustic Ales Spots and Dots
Official description: The story of our latest beer, “Spots and Dots”, begins back in early April when Owner/Brewer Tim Clifford made the pilgrimage to Nelson, New Zealand to hand-select hops from this year’s harvest. Accompanied by Shaun Hill of Hill Farmstead and hosted by Joss of Garage Project, the trip proved to be momentous in many ways. “Spots and Dots” is our first expression of what we think is one of the world’s finest hop varieties, Nelson Sauvin.
Sante Adairius Rustic Ales – Sante Adairius Spots and Dots – 16oz can served in Rastal Harmony glass – 7% ABV
Just a few weeks ago, I finally made the pilgrimage up to Sante Adairius Rustic Ales in Capitola, CA, a small town outside Santa Cruz. Though Sante Adairius has expanded with a Santa Cruz Portal location now, it was still closed due to the pandemic and was operating as a pickup window for beers to-go only. But as serendipity would have it, just a few days prior to my arrival, the original location in Capitola had reopened. Here, I was able to try some of the most coveted saisons in the country like Saison Bernice and West Ashley. But Sante Adairius also brews some mean IPAs and pilsners that have flown under my radar. Their signature West Coast IPA called 831 was spectacular as was Bed Level, a rustic Southern Hemisphere Pilsner. I was able to try Spots and Dots on tap after having already reviewed the beer from a can a month earlier. My review below combines notes from both samplings from the can and on tap at the source.
I’m reviewing Sante Adairius Spots and Dots from a 16oz can dated 3/16/21, which places this at around 1-month-old at the time of review. Interspersed, I’ll add some comments from tasting this beer on tap at the source in Capitola. On the can, there’s no description at all. You get the beer style and ABV and that’s it. On tap at the brewery and on the brewery’s Instagram posts, Spots and Dots is described only as “100% Nelson Sauvin IPA.” I asked one of the brewers during my visit and was told that it is unfiltered and may look like a Hazy IPA, but it isn’t meant to be a New England-style IPA especially as it doesn’t use English ale yeast as many NEIPAs do.
Though it isn’t meant to be a Hazy IPA, looking at the beer in the glass – especially when trying this on tap – it certainly looks the part. Spots and Dots is unclear, pale golden in color with a beautiful backlit glow. There’s sediment at the bottom of the can that clouds the beer up even further than the photo shown above. Fizzy, off-white foam consists of a variety of bubble sizes and sticks around for a few minutes before collapsing.
The nose brings out expressive Sauvignon Blanc grapes, kumquat, green papaya, tangerine, and white peach; then segues to orange marmalade cake as it reaches room temperature. It’s less “in-your-face” gooseberry-driven vs. similar Nelson IPAs I’ve tried in the past. Flavor-wise, sometimes I forget that Nelson, such a coveted aroma hop, is also high in alpha acids comparable to Chinook or Simcoe at around 12-13%. That translates to an IPA with powerful, aggressive bitterness that digs deep with flavors of bergamot orange, white grapefruit rind, pine sap, and Brazil nut. It’s not what I originally expected with this beer, especially since my initial impression was that this beer would be closer to New England-style than anything else.
Spots and Dots actually leans a bit dry, is highly effervescent, and is slightly minerally with modest chalkiness; which all combine to give it a refreshing, thirst-quenching quality. It’s far from light-bodied though. Lacking a bit in sweetness, Spots and Dots is still impressively chewy and fatty in the mid-palate, which keeps overall bitterness from going overboard into chemical or astringent territory. Brazil nut flavors persist for a lengthy, satisfying finish.
Perceived Specs for Sante Adairius Spots and Dots
Spots and Dots is one of the few holy grail IPAs that fuse the best qualities from different IPA substyles. It’s powerfully bitter with incredible depth, which satisfies a West Coast hophead’s cravings. But it’s well-mannered too, with soft mineral and refreshing qualities like more modern, lower alcohol IPAs. Its unfiltered nature and extra chewy body bring out the best attributes of NE-style IPAs. It may be the best IPA I’ve ever tasted.
VERDICT: 100 pts (SUPERLATIVE)
Spots and Dots on tap at Sante Adairius Rustic Ales in Capitola, CA
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