Cellarmaker has a great reputation in the Bay Area and is considered one of the best breweries in San Francisco, California. They are a small-batch brewery that does one beer at a time in order to keep the quality high and your taste buds wanting more. But if you go to their place, you’ll see that they don’t just do beer. If you look them up, their location is called Cellarmaker House of Pizza because they also specialize in Detroit-style pizza.
Today I have one of their best named brews - Highway to the Danker Zone.
This Double IPA was made with a bunch of Nelson Sauvin hops and smaller amounts of Citra and Simcoe backing up the Nelson. It is packed with a solid 8.4% ABV and costs $22 for a four-pack or $7 for a single can. It was just packaged on February 13th…so it’s super fresh (writing this on Feb. 20th).
Pouring a murky orange-straw color, Danker Zone was completely opaque and had a small amount of head build up. The thin, off white foam quickly fizzled up and then disappeared down into a razor thin ring around the edge of the glass with a single thin cloud of bubbles settling in the middle.
The smell was amazing. It was pure juice with some danker hop aromas settling underneath. There were massive notes of tropical fruits - like mango and passion fruit - along with sweeter berry, grape, and melon characteristics as well. Some flaked grain notes added a bit of breadiness but that was completely overpowered by those super juicy notes.
Each sip begins with a huge burst of fruit. It’s honeydew and melon flavors that start off strong before a quick shift. The Nelson hops explode after a brief moment, popping with big flavors of white wine/grapes and berries. Those big flavors continue to dominate the flavor for the vast majority of the sip.
But the Citra and Simcoe hops are not to be outdone. They add tropical mango and passion fruit notes that slowly begin to chip away at the Nelson hops dominant performance. As the beer begins its descent, there is also a grapefruit rind flavor and some orangey pithiness that brings forward a resinous bitterness that is slow to fade away.
Despite the thin layer of head that remained, it ended up lacing the glass nicely as I drank through the pint - creating well defined lines between each gulp and a nice webbing around the entire glass.
It does have a creamier body but still remains quite thin and insanely crushable. The finish is a little dry (a common symptom from the Nelson hops) and that citrus peel flavor, along with a light bitterness, do linger on for a few moments after every swig. And yet, despite that, this beer is impossible to put down. That 8.4% ABV? You’d never guess it was that high…it drinks like a 5% Pale Ale more than a DIPA.
I initially bought it for the name..but I’ll buy it again because it’s fantastic. It is simply delicious.