Fal Allen on Boont Amber

Fal Allen on Boont Amber

Amber Ale
First Brewed
Malt Varieties
Pale Two-Row and Crystal (40L & 80L)
Hop Varieties
Columbus, Bravo, Northern Brewer, and Mt. Hood
Anderson Valley Ale Yeast (British Ale strain)
Onion rings, grilled steaks, roasted chicken, pasta Bolognese, poached pears, Herbed goat cheese, or Romano cheese.
Anderson Valley Brewing Co.
Fal Allen on Boont Amber

Anderson Valley Brewing Company was founded in 1987 in the small town of Boonville, California. Boonville is nestled between the western edge of the coastal range and the ocean, oaks and rolling hills on one side and towering redwood trees on the other. Boonville’s water is slightly higher than normal in minerals and that makes it really good for making dryer and more sessionable beers. The very first beer we brewed was Boont Amber, our ode to one of our favorite styles; the British Pale Ale. The recipe, developed by our original brewer David Norfleet, was put together with the help from books like Dave Line’s “Brewing Beer Like Those You Buy” and Byron Burch’s “Quality Brewing.” Back then there was not a lot else out there for guidance.

Dave Norfleet once told me that right from the start, from the very first batch, they knew they had a winner with Boont.

The equipment we brewed on was made up of used dairy cast offs and a self-designed kettle made for us by a local stainless steel welder. We put together a 10-barrel brewhouse and three fermenters and set it all up in the basement of our original brewpub, The Buckhorn Saloon. At the time, we were one of only 20 craft breweries in the United States. We soon brewed two other beers; Poleeko Gold Pale Ale and Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout, but from the very start Boont Amber was clearly our best selling beer and the favorite of locals and visitors alike. Boont Amber is the beer that really put the Anderson Valley Brewing Company’s name out there.

The appeal of Boont Amber is its easy drinkablility. Designed to be quaffable, it strikes a balance between a rich malt character and a balanced hoppiness. The hop bitterness is mild, but solid. It is the kind of beer you would find in a local London pub; a “best bitter,” a step up from the regular pale ales. Boont Amber’s balance is what makes it such a great food pairing beer. It matches and meets other flavors without being overpowering. It is satisfying and delicious, a dance of flavors, and Boont is much more about panache, than it is about punch.

Brewmaster Fal Allen in the Anderson Valley Taproom.

In the early days, Dave Keene, owner of the Toronado pub in San Francisco, would drive his little Honda Civic up the twisty, turny roads to Boonville, where he would load it up with as many kegs as he could manage. Then he would swerve and warble his way back to San Francisco to put the Boont Amber on at his pub, where it’s remained a standard for decades. Many of the people who came into the Toronado also frequented other watering holes, like the Mad Dog in the Fog across the street.. Some of those folks started asking for Boont Amber – and soon it could be found at good eating and drinking establishments throughout the city.

In 1996 we bought a 100 barrel copper brewhouse and moved our brewing operations a mile down the street to our current location. Today we sit on 28 acres of land with a stream running through the back of it. We still have a pub, but now we have a much larger beer garden and an 18 hole disc golf course — and Boont Amber is still our best selling beer.

One of our favorite things to hear from people (and we hear it fairly often) is that Boont Amber was their very first taste of craft beer – their introduction to good beer. We are all very proud to over the years have helped to make a beer that people love so much. Boont Amber: Brewed in California, but made for a thirsty world.

Fal Allen grew up in Hawaii and when he finished school moved to Oregon and discovered home brewing. Starting out at Redhook in 1988, the brewmaster there took him under his wing, mentoring him in the lead-up to his landing a job as head brewer at Pike Place Brewing. He worked there for nine years  before deciding to come south, ending up at Anderson Valley Brewing Company. He fell in love with Anderson Valley and worked there for five years until he was lured away to open a brewery in Singapore. After five amazing years, he faced a decision that confronts every expat and elected to return to the United States, where there just happened to be an opening for head brewmaster at Anderson Valley, where he’s been ever since. He is also the author of two Brewers Publications, “Gose: Brewing a Classic German Beer for the Modern Era,” and “Barley Wine: History, Brewing Techniques, Recipes (Classic Beer Style Series Book 11),” co-written with brewer Dick Cantwell.

Flagship beers were chosen by the individual writers with no input from the #FlagshipFebruary partners or sponsor breweries.

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