To many of us who have lived in the coastal valleys of California, the words “El Camino Real” conjure up images of golden hills, California sunsets, and oak, eucalyptus and pepper trees. Offering a glimpse into what many feel is the “real” California, the El Camino Real wends through the state’s coastline, mountains, fertile farming valleys, and traffic-heavy urban and suburban areas. And of course, you’ll also find the 21 California Missions, reminders of Father Junípero Serra’s and the Spanish missionaries’ attempts to convert the indigenous California residents to Catholicism.
In the 1700s and 1800s, missionaries and Native Americans grew a variety of crops along the El Camino Real. Apart from the famous mission grapes, mission figs, barley, and olives, fennel and chia were also grown in abundance along the trail by Europeans seeking the familiar flavors of home.
Shaun, Matt, Steve, and I tried to recapture some of the historic flavors of the old El Camino Real by brewing this beer with fennel, chia, peppercorns, and mission figs. It was a fun beer to brew, and in some ways took us (way) back to the 4th grade, when our schoolteachers first introduced us to the history of California and its Missions.
We hope you enjoy this black ale, and that it sparks your imagination about life along The Royal Highway (or as we now call it, “the 101”).
Mitch Steele, Head Brewer
Stone Brewing Co.