Archive | August, 2010

What have I been up to?

27 Aug

Well, folks, I’m officially a Summer School failure! But fret not, in light of it being back to school time, I have gotten The Naked Pint off the shelf and stocked up at the liquor store. I am now all set on supplies and have new resolve to get serious about my beer education. Look for a tidal wave of new beer knowledge coming at you very soon.

But in the meantime I’ll give you a few tidbits about my recent beer activities. After the birthday beer extravaganza weekend it’s been a little tame. My one big activity lately was venturing to OB to check out Olive Tree Marketplace. They’ve got a nice little set up there. I went down there because they tweeted that the San Diego County Session Ale collaboration from Stone Brewing, Kelsey McNair, and Ballast point was there. After battling after work traffic and some sort of street fair going on down there, I finally made it into the parking lot, got inside and found their beer section. I use the word section to define a few coolers and 2 metal racks with bottles on them. Small surface area aside, they had a nice selection. I got two bottles of the SD County Session Ale at $2.99 a pop, a bottle of Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast, a Consecration and a Supplication from Russian River, a Cuvee Renee, and a Hop in the Dark:

When I checked out the nice young man behind the counter asked if I was a beer club member, and as it turns out, I am. I registered on the online and saved me a few bucks when I checked out. They had a pretty killer looking cheese section as well, which will be explored in further depth later. 

Last night was also a new experience for me. After having a few beers with Bekah and her husband, Mike at Toronado, my pal Darrin gave me a call letting me know he was at Hamilton’s pub down the street. Since Darrin rules and I like bars, it was a no brainer to roll down there. It was really fun! A little crowded, but service was fast and beer selection was great. I had a Lagunitas Fusion II. I’d heard that it was a crazy limited release, so I was intrigued to see what it had to offer. It is listed as a Black IPA, and that’s pretty much what you need to know as a description. It was a little more viscous than a regular IPA, but it had nice citrusy hops and balanced pretty well with a little carmely malt. So, ending out the night with a Nautical Nut Brown from Alesmith, I went home and woke up this morning with that big smile that a great night with great friends gives you all day. Even if there are beer stains all over my light purple purse.

Older? Yes. Wiser? Questionable.

23 Aug

Thursday was a world-changing event: I turned 29. And what does one do to celebrate being another year older? Why drink beer with friends, of course! We started at The Bluefoot Lounge to appease the “I don’t drink beer” crowd (I’m working on them) and then after a few Hop Head Reds, walked up the street to Toronado. As it turns out it was Karl Strauss Pint night, and the AC was out of commission so it was abnormally busy and hot as hell. After getting my mitts on a nice cold Alpine Exponential Hoppiness, we lucked into a table on the patio. As I was sitting there with the remaining part of my party, I looked around at everyone that was there and was so grateful to be able to have a great time with a great group. What were these great people drinking? A bottle of Stone Imperial Stout, A Delerium Tremens, A Karl Strauss something, A Lindeman’s Framboise Lambic, A Sudwerk Berliner-Weisse, and an Allagash Curieux. Nothing like a little variety in your life.

Saturday, my best friend since forever, Darcy, got tickets for the Stone Brewing 14th Anniversary Celebration. She rules. After a preparatory breakfast burrito, we rolled up to the UC San Marcos campus, got our wristbands and taster glasses and headed inside for a great morning. A little overwhelmed with the choices available I panicked and went to Alesmith for my first taste. Something familiar to ease in to the situation. I had the Nautical Nut Brown, always a delicious choice. So, we sat down with our first beers, I pulled out my pre-printed beer list and tried to hash out some sort of plan. Yeah, that didn’t really work, we just sort of wandered around and stopped when our glasses got to empty. But, as a good little blogger should, I managed to scribble down notes as I went.

I got a Ali Rae’s Imperial IPA from Back Street Brewing Co. next. It was dry, and on the maltier side of an IIPA, “just OK.”

Third was Ska Brewing Co’s Merlot Stout. Yum. “Nice and roasty, just a little of that barrel taste to make it tasty.”

Fourthly I moved on to a Crispin Honey Cider from Fox Barrel Cider Company. The most noticeable aspect of this brew is the visual, its cloudy!

It was a “very sweet cider, crisp apple flavor, but not something I could drink for long.” Darcy had their Black Currant Cider, which was delicious, and made her way back for a few others they had to offer. Look for a guest Cider Blog post from her in the near future.

Our fifth stop was the Russian River tent for a Supplication. Man, that brewery sure knows how to do a sour right. “Tangy, and cherry, but not sweet. Good!”

After that was Firestone Walker’s Solace. The woman that handed it to me said, “This will be your favorite of the day!” I hate to say it, but she was wrong. It’s a wheat beer, so it had all of the clove/banana/cloudy characteristics that it should, but I also got a lot of a honey taste to it, which made it taste “sticky” to me the longer I sipped on it.

The Seventh beer I had was Brewdog’s Dogma, which I was told was a Scottish Ale when it was handed over. My experience with Scottish Ales in the past have been a malty sweet taste, so I was surprised to find this one to be tart yet a little sweet with a very grapefruity aftertaste. Very interesting. One I’ll definitely look into exploring a little deeper in the future.

Number 8, Number 8, Number 8 (for you Simpson’s fans) was Pizza Port’s Feeding Frenzy. A Red Ale coming in at 8.5% was “nutty, dry and had a little bitter aftertaste” I liked it.

The Ninth beer was chosen specifically for the name: Monkey Knife Fight from Rubicon Brewing. It’s Pale Ale that really didn’t stand out as anything great to me. I think that scribble on the side says “Meh.”

And finally, since it was a Stone event and all, I decided to go with the Imperial Russian Belgo Stout. Really smokey, to the point where all I could think was “Worcestershire Sauce” I’d be really interested to try this one with a big old steak.

All in all I had a really great day! The event was managed really nicely, getting there was smooth, parking was easy, and staff was friendly. For next year I think I’ll go for the full day pass so I don’t have to jam my last 4 beers into a half hour, and definitely have a better plan than “that sounds good” as far as what to taste. But it was a great end to a great birthday, thank you to everyone who helped to make it awesome!

Sunday Funday

16 Aug

Sunday was a beautiful day in my neighborhood. So, when I got a text from my friend Aaron, I was more than to willing ditch my laundry and head out the door to grab a few beers and a burger at a local joint, The Station Tavern. I’m a big fan of the Station, besides the fact that they have really tasty burgers and a small but good tap selection, my buddy Darrin works there. A friendly face and big hug makes any dining experience better. So, I met up with Aaron around 5, sat down and ordered a Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout from Anderson Valley Brewing. Chocolaty is the word that’s going to cover this beer. The color is a deep chocolaty brown, the aroma is smoky and chocolaty, and the taste was nice and chocolatey with a nice mild roasted taste as well. I had a few more beers and ended up coming back to this one.

After that I tried the Franziskaner Hefe Weissbier. Classic hefeweizen. A nice yeasty and spiced aroma, has a classic combination of clove and slight citrus with the banana-y end. Tasty.

Before heading back to the stout, the very kind bartender offered us a pint of New English Brown Ale, which was a mispour.  I wasn’t a huge fan of this one, it had an odd taste to it. Something nutty that had a sweet almost carmel-y finish, and that didn’t leave me with the most enjoyable aftertaste.

Weissbier, Brown Ale, and Oatmeal Stout

Three hours of great conversation later I finally said good-bye to Darrin and Aaron, and headed home. It was a fantastic Sunday evening…so far. By the time I got home I had a text from my best friend searching for someone to go to dinner with. So she and I walked over to Toronado to grab a sausage and a beer. I went with and Exponential Hoppiness from Alpine. This was a surprising beer. I guess I was expecting to get a lot more bitterness than I did. It was really crisp with a good amount of citrus and fruit, a nice hop snap, and very drinkable. Which can be dangerous considering it weighs in at something like 10% ABV. It was a nice end to a good day, and I slept like a baby last night.

New Friends, New Beer, and Orange Jogging Shorts

14 Aug

Those three things can sum up the highlights of my Thursday night. I went to Pizza Port’s Solana Beach location after work to meet up with Stonepurist from the rad site The Beer Commune. I wandered up to the bar, saw that Consecration was on tap, grabbed a glass and wandered outside. Stonepurist/Mike’s out there with his friend Rebecca, she’s working on a Stone Smoked Porter with Vanilla Bean, and he’s got about a half glass of Consecration. Sitting down and seeing that, I knew it was going to be a great night. Let the beer geekery commense! Through out the night and some great conversation I also tried the Pizza Port Commando Scottish Ale, it was a nice follow up to the Consecration. A little mild, but not too malty sweet. Tasty and very drinkable. After that, out of jealousy of Rebecca’s first beer I hit up the Stone Smoked Porter with Vanilla Bean that was on cask. Being a fan of the original Stone Smoked Porter I was intrigued by this one. I was not disappointed. The taste experience was so different than the original, the vanilla really evened out the smokiness and left a really nice aftertaste without being sweet. About half way through that pint, a once in a life time happening went down. I was stopped mid-sentance (which is a big deal, I rarely shut my mouth) when I man walked by us wearing a pullover windbreaker and some obscenely short bright orange jogging shorts. As this fellow looked like he didn’t actually do much jogging, we weren’t the only people to notice. A fellow patron, who may have been a beer or two up on us, came over and said “Holy shit! Did you see that? I saw that!” and went on for a little while before he had to go over for a closer view. It was pretty funny when I got the thumbs up from him on the other side of the patio.  A perfect ending to a great night. I look forward to having another beer or three with Mike, and am really thankful for the opportunity that being out and about in the craft beer world has afforded me.

Check out beercommune.com for pictures since I can’t seem to ever rememer to get my camera out of my purse. There may just happen to be a picture of the shorts…

Mini Brewery Tour Saturday: Hess and Alesmith

9 Aug

Aaaaand it’s Monday again. What better way to shoo away a case of the Mondays than to reminisce about the fun beery activities I participated in this weekend?

 On Saturday my friend Bekah and I attended the grand opening celebration of Hess Brewing Co. The festivities started at 12:30, so when we rolled up at 12:32 I was a little surprised to see the line to get beer extending all the way into the parking lot. Apparently other people had the same “get there early” idea that we did. We parked it at the end of the line, checked out the menu board, and got the tasting flight when we got to the bar. For ten bucks I got the glass and six tastes. Not shabby. They’ve got an interesting mix of styles that they brew there. We started with their Kolsch:

 It’s called Claritas(5.8%ABV 23.3 IBUs), and is “right in the center of the Kolsch-Konvention standards. Pours a light straw color, light, refreshing, crisp,” according to their taster list. This one was not my favorite. It just didn’t have that bright, refreshing taste that I was expecting from it.

After we downed that taste we moved on to their Jucundus Orange Honey Wheat (5.8% ABV 20 IBUs):

 It’s “An American-style wheat beer packed with 12 pounds of orange blossom honey from Temecula, 8 ounces of Orange Zest, and plenty of coriander and other spices.” When I first got my hands on this and stuck my face in the glass all I could think was, “It smells like a Creamcicle.” So I was really expecting to get hit with a lot of sweetness when I tasted it, but it had much milder taste. The orange was apparent, but not sugary sweet as the aroma suggested. It had a really fun little carbonation-y tingle at the end.

Next was the Grazias Vienna Cream Ale (5.4% ABV 37 IBUs) modeled by the lovely Bekah: This one I was really intrigued by as “This beer is of our own invention” It was definitely not like anything I’ve ever had before. It smelled just like an A&W Cream Soda, with a shot of maltiness. That’s pretty much where the taste went too. A lot of malty sweetness, a little too much for me. Bekah really liked it though, it was her choice for the post tasting glass fill.

 Next we moved into the higher ABV beers. They make a pretty big jump right in the middle of the tasting from under 6% to 8+%.

First up was The Intrepidus IPA (8.4% ABV 88 IBUs):

Their IPA “is brewed with five different hops and has a simple, complimentary malt bill.” That pretty much sums it up. It was a simple, straightforward IPA. I actually found this more refreshing than the Kolsh.

Next was their Double IPA: Amplus Acerba San Diego Pale Ale (11.3 % ABV 120 IBUs):

I was expecting a lot more bitterness from this one, and fully thought that the alcohol would be more apparent. But I got an enjoyable level of bitterness, it didn’t have that really long linger that a bit too much bitterness can give. And the higher ABV only made itself known when I realized I was talking way too loudly.

And finally we ended on the Ex Umbris Rye Imperial Stout (9.8% ABV 65 IBUs):

 This one turned out to be my favorite of the day. It had a nice roasted taste, which got a little chocolaty too. Had a nice velvety texture. This is the one I chose for my glass fill. 

After all of those tastes, we got our glasses filled once more and meandered outside to enjoy the nice day. There was a gourmet Asian-Mexican fusion lunch truck on site, and everyone kind of took over the parking lot. It was cool to stand there and look around at the diverse crowd who all had the same glass in hand. While we were chit chatting a guy came up with the free t-shirts they were handing out that day. Of course, in true nerd style I squeezed it on over the shirt I was wearing and made Bekah snap a pic:

We had a great time. Thanks, Hess, for a fun event!

After that we drove up the street and stopped at Alesmith for a few tastes and a growler fill. I’ve been craving a little X lately. I tried their Decadence, Old Numbskull, and Nautical Nut Brown. I have to say; Alesmith never fails to impress me with their tasty tasty brews.

Da, Darlink! A weekend with Russian River Brewing

3 Aug

Hello, Comrades! This weekend’s activities turned into a Russian River Brewing drink-a-thon so get out your fur hat and come on along the journey with me.

 

It all started Thursday night (yes, Thursday is part of the weekend) when plans fell through with a friend, it became Self Date Night. Around 7:00 I grabbed a book and headed out the door. When I got into Toronado, there were no seats left at the bar and I asked the bartender if I could pull up a stool to the serving area. She said no, but to hang out for a minute because they just closed out the guys at the end of the bar. So, looking at the tap list I saw they had Russian River Consecration #004 on tap, ordered one and stood there for a minute to wait for the increasingly loud men at the end of the bar take off. Well, it turns out that by “closed out” the guys at the end of the bar, she meant, “cut off” and weren’t exactly understanding that concept. Since it was taking a little longer than expected to get a seat at the bar, I grabbed a table to wait and write down what I thought. So between shouts of, “I can drink 10 beers in a night! I’m not done!” and “You’re racial profiling me!” (His exact wording) here’s what I wrote down about Consecration:

“It’s a really pretty deep brownish red with a sour grape-y flavor. A wine-like flavor. Very fresh and tangy tasting. Yummy.” The Russian River Website says, “Consecration is a dark Belgian style ale aged in American oak Cabernet Sauvignon barrels. Not only do we use Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus, & Pediococcus, we also add currants to beer while it is aging in the barrels.” I guess that explains the wine-like flavor…

On Saturday I made it back over there with a friend, and started out with a Pliny the Elder. I have to say, this beer is very quickly making its way into a “one of my favorite beer” slots. There’s just something about the level of citrusy piney taste and aroma, and the right amount of hoppy snap, that I find myself ordering whenever I see it on the board. So, speaking of Pliny, as I was sitting and enjoying a pint with the Bestie I overheard the barback on duty that night recommend it to one of the other patrons. She said “Yeah, it’s a lager so it’s really good,” with the authority of someone who works at a beer bar, I just smiled and thought, “I think she must have read the wrong description, even at my novice level I know an India Pale ALE isn’t a Lager.” But she said it with such bravado that the men tasted it and went “Yeah, that IS really good.”

Sunday I had an early evening beer sesh that started with a Pliny and ended with a few Russian River Blind Pig IPAs. Also pretty damn tasty. It has a bunch of hoppy goodness that ends with a taste that took me a while to pinpoint. It was more of a sensation in my mouth that I couldn’t quite put my finger and I kept thinking “summer, breakfast, vodka” and like a lightening bolt it hit me: grapefruit. Not that sourness that grapefruit has, but the crisp citrus that is unique to grapefruit.

In summation, thank you Russian River Brewing for being a major player in another great summer weekend.