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No Pumpkin Belly Here 

E.S. Chi Beer: an herbal remedy?

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The last thing that comes to mind with beer is the idea that it could be healthful. Beer that's good for you? Preposterous!

Not so, says Marin Brewing Company, purveyors of E.S. Chi Tonic Herbal Ale. A proprietary blend of "wild chinese herbs," the beer is the result of a collaboration between Marin Brewing Company owner Brendan Moylan, brewmaster Arne Johnson and Dr. Yen-Wei Choong, master herbalist (he provided herbs to Jerry Garcia back in the day) and director of the Yellow Emperor Natural Healing Center in San Anselmo.

Though beer gut is an accepted and expected sacrifice in favor of drinking of the hoppy fountain, the good doctor Choong claims that E.S. Chi won't slow metabolism, cut into energy levels or cause the dreaded "pumpkin belly." This particular brew contains less "coldness" than other ales, created from the "wisdom of ancient China," he says (sounding like those old Calgon detergent commercials from the 1970s). Made from an ESB base, the ABV is 5.4 percent, giving it the lighter quality of a session beer with a bready malt character and, not surprisingly, an herbal tea–like taste.

For anyone who wants a beer that'll improve health prospects and get the chi flowing instead of slowing, it's available in 22-ounce bottles. Call ahead to make sure stores have stock—it can be a bit hard to find in the North Bay.—Leilani Clark

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