Thursday, May 4, 2017

A Good Listen

Last Friday's Voice of San Diego podcast included an excellent interview with San Diego Brewer's Guild President Jill Davidson.  The interview discussed the variety of brewers in San Diego and how the Brewer's Guild is more vital than ever, as large international brewers continue to buy craft breweries and blur the distinction between what is a real, locally owned brewery, and what is a subsidiary of a giant brewer.  This week's news that Anheuser-Busch InBev is buying yet another craft brewery, this time Wicked Weed, reinforces Davidson's message and the San Diego Brewer's Guild's mission to "promote awareness and increase the visibility of fresh, locally brewed beer through education and participation in community events."   The interview with Jill Davidson starts about twenty-six minutes into the podcast, but the entire podcast is worth a listen and a subscription.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Need a Mule

The Bruery's Offshoot Beer Co. is having its first can release this week.  I wrote about Offshoot here.  The two beers being released are an IPA and a double IPA.  The only problem is that you need to pick up these limited release beers at the brewery, and you only have a week-long window in which to claim your purchase.  Unless you live in Orange County, or are up in the Los Angeles area on a regular basis, it will be tough get these beers, especially since the Placentia brewery is not on a major freeway. 

Sparks Pale Ale

I had a bottle of Mikkeller Brewing's delicious Sparks (Gnister) Pale Ale last night.  This 5.6% abv pale ale is a light on the palate beer that was one of the more earthy tasting beers I can remember.  Its up front, piquant, almost vegetable character smoothed into the finish. This clear, gold, almost orange beer has a rough, shallow foam.  Sparks is not setting any new pale ale standards, and with its dark color feels a bit retro, which is to its credit.  This blog will always appreciate the brewery that can do the basics well, like Mikkeller does with Sparks.  In an age of hazy beers, which I like and which Mikkeller also does well, having a solid, great tasting pale ale is almost a rarity. 

I saw this San Diego Magazine list of the past year's top beers from four San Diego County publicans.  There are many new breweries on this list.  Of the forty beers on the list, Mikkeller only shows up once (and Stone not once).  I know these guys try way more beers than I do, but the beers I have tried from Mikkeller have all been standouts.  I get that a list full of hard-to-find beers is what to expect from a pub owner, but having an accessible beer is alright, too.  Sparks is that beer.

Benchmark In Bay Park

I was recently in the Bay Park area of San Diego, near Napier Street and Ashton Street and thought it would make a good location for a tasting room.  Even though its close to Coronado Brewing, and not far from Bitter Brothers and Ballast Point, or even Modern Times and Bay City, this little pocket of Bay Park, with its restaurants and a coffee house has its own charm.  San Diego Eater is reporting that Benchmark Brewing plans to open a satellite tasting room at 4112 Napier Street by the end of summer, so I guess I am not the only one who thought the area was a good beer location. 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Offshoot Beer Co.

I read a tweet on Saturday morning, April 1, 2017, that The Bruery had formed a new company, Offshoot Beer Co.,  to release IPAs, a style The Bruery had vowed to never release.  I immediately thought this was fantastic, The Bruery finally brewing complex IPAs, but then my saner self realized this was an epic April 1st prank - maybe the best ever.  I tempered my joy.

But on April 2, I still was reading tweets about Offshoot Beer Co.  It had a Facebook page that looked legitimate, a web page on The Bruery's website, a logo, and some cool can designs shown below.  You know, I guess The Bruery figured out a way to stay true to its claim never to brew an IPA, while brewing IPAs. 

Offshoot will "specialize in hoppy beers, primarily IPAs and Double IPAs, in 16 oz cans that will be available directly from our brewery in limited supply and on a monthly basis."  These beers will be hard to find, but that is part of the fun.  The Bruery is no stranger to hoppy beers, and with its Humulus Imperial Lager The Bruery showed it was IPA-curious.  With so many new hops available, and the rise of cloudy IPAs, I can only imagine what kind of creative IPAs Offshoot is going to brew.  Here is information on its first two IPAs:

Fashionably Late™ a juicy, hazy IPA
Hops: Citra, El Dorado, and Mandarina Bavaria
Malts: Two-Row and Pale Wheat malts, rolled oats
Yeast: S-04
ABV: 6.5%

Better Late Than Never™ a juicy, hazy Double IPA
Hops: Mosaic, Vic Secret, Citra
Malts: Golden Promise, Wheat Malt
Yeast: BSI-Barbarian
ABV: 8.5%

These beers are scheduled for a late April release.  I have to admit, part of me still thinks this is some kind of elaborate joke.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Padre Fail

Gee, it is crap on Stone Brewing week (pun intended).  Today's San Diego Union Tribune's buiness section's front page has a headline blaring:  "At Petco, A Loss for Stone, Wins for AleSmith, Resident and Anheuser-Busch."  The headline does not seem to fully match the article.  Padre management decided to replace Stone Brewing's beer garden with some other pub concept.  You can still get Stone beers throughout Petco.   AleSmith's fantastic .394 Pale Ale, a beer brewed with Tony Gwynn, is the key beer in a new place called .394.  Good for AleSmith.  Local brewery Resident, gets a shot at the pub replacing the Stone beer garden, "for now" as the article warns. (If Resident can't keep up the Padres will replace it with that refreshing, kinda crafty Shock Top beer that comes with an orange slice.)  Come on Resident, deliver.

The big story of the article is Aneheuser-Busch dominating Petco's beer sales.  A-B's former craft breweries Elysian and 10 Barrel gets their own stands, and its Grupo Modelo unit is selling Michelada Especiales, in carts around Petco.  How much money did A-B pay the Padres to increase its exposure?  This is comes at the expense of local brewers.  In solidarity with Stone, I will drink Stone beers at home as I watch the triple-A Padres lose to major league teams.  The news about A-B's takeover of Petco's beer and yesterday's embarrassing opening day loss shows the misguided priorities of the Padre's bush league management.

No Sh#t

No, Stone Brewing did not brew a beer with reclaimed sewage.  It brewed a beer called Full Circle IPA to highlight purified reclaimed water with Pure Water San Diego's filtration system.  All breweries use filtered tap water, and a portion of tap water is recycled water.  I recommend listening to the March 31, 2017, Voice of San Diego podcast, where the first five or so minutes are devoted to the Stone Brewing misunderstanding and where San Diego gets its water. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Mikkeller Haze

I went to San Francisco and found good beers brewed in San Diego.  Mikkeller Bar in San Francisco sold four-packs of Bushel of Haze IPA, brewed at Mikkeller's San Diego brewery.  Bushel of Haze is was what I'd call a new style IPA, heavy in hop flavors, not excessively bitter, and cloudy.  It had a tantalizing floral whiff on its finish that added a bit of je ne sais quoi.  It is an Amarillo single-hop New England-style beer.  

Bushel of Haze was not heavy or overpowering, which I now find hard to believe.  I did not realize until writing this post and checking for facts on Mikkeller's website that this beer has an 8.9% abv and is a double IPA.  You won't know it drinking it.  I really need to be better about checking beer abvs.  I heard "haze IPA" and that was all I needed.  I'm not sure I would have bought this four-pack if I knew it was 8.9% abv, but in this case ignorance really was bliss.  

I trekked to Mikkeller Bar with the goal of buying a t-shirt.   Mikkeller did not have one in my size so I purchased Bushel of Haze instead.  Some consolation prize.  The restaurant/bar was crowded and noisy.  I felt out of place, much older than the other people in the bar.  I decided to have a beer in solidarity with beer drinkers over thirty.  Pariah that I was, I staked a claim on a small section of a long shelf and ordered an IPA.  The beer was named Hver Anden Uge and was brewed with Amarillo, Paradise, and El Dorado hops.  I have no idea what the name means or how to pronounce it, but it was pure gold.  (My lame picture of Hver Anden Uge does not flatter the beer, as it blends into the wood shelf.)

I noted that Hver Anden Uge was sweet and tinged with the taste of onions, along with a citrusy, earthy mix, too.  I have noticed many new IPAs with oniony flavors, which brings a better taste to an IPA than you think it would.  It must tamp down the flavor smothering bitterness of hops and allow other flavors to appear.   Hver Anden Uge, which sounds like a drunk saying "have another one," is a hazy beer.  Like Bushel of Haze, Hver Anden Uge is brewed in San Diego.  I need to visit Mikkeller's brewery and tasting room soon.  It is cranking out some good beers, and maybe there is some age diversity, too. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

So Sad

This is rare non-beer post.  I just read the New York Times' obituary of former major league manager Dallas Green, who managed the 1980 Philadelphia Phillies to a World Series title.  These two paragraphs are heartbreaking:
In his later years, Green struggled to recover after the shooting death of his 9-year-old granddaughter, Christina-Taylor Green, who was one of six people killed in the failed assassination attempt on Representative Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson in 2011.

Two years later, on the release of his autobiography, “The Mouth That Roared,” he conceded that he was still dealing with the death. “They say time heals,” he said. “Time, I don’t think, will ever heal that part of my life.”
It reminded my of a passage in William Maxwell's haunting autobiographical novel So Long, See You Tomorrow, where years after his mother's death when he was ten, he realized he had not gotten over it. 
I meant to say to the fatherly man who was not my father, the elderly Viennese, another exile, with thick glasses and a Germanic accent, I meant to say I couldn't bear it, but what came out of my mouth was "I can't bear it."  This statement was followed by a flood of tears such as I hadn't ever known before, not even in my childhood.  I got up from the leather couch and, I somehow knew, with his permission left his office and the building and walked down Sixth Avenue to my office.  New York City is a place where one can weep on the sidewalk in perfect privacy.
Other children could have borne it, have borne it.  My older brother did, somehow.  I couldn't.
Godspeed Dallas Green.

South Bay (San Diego) Beer Revolt

The Voice of San Diego published an article last week on craft beer in the South Bay area of San Diego, which includes Chula Vista, National City, and Imperial Beach.  The point of the article is that major craft breweries have avoided the South Bay due to the assumption that residents only have "taste buds for macro brews, like Bud Light, Corona and Dos Equis."  Anyone who visits a local San Diego brewery knows that the craft beer drinker stereotype of twentysomething bearded white guys is wrong. 

If nothing else, this blog has advocated that quality beer prevails.  This is happening now in the South Bay.  Local residents have taken up the craft beer challenge and are opening restaurants, bars, and breweries.  It sounds like 3rd Avenue in Chula Vista is the epicenter of the #SouthBayUprising.  Note the picture in the article of the guy drinking a beer at La Bella Pizza Garden, the mug is huge.  It alone is reason enough to explore Chula Vista's beer scene.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Heady Topper Article

My last post was on hazy IPAs.  I saw this article from Longreads the day after I wrote the post.  It is an excellent article on Heady Topper, the beer from Vermont's Alchemist Brewery credited with starting the cloudy beer trend.  The article details how Alchemist had its brewery wiped out by Tropical Storm Irene in 2011 and how the brewery's recovery from disaster and focus on brewing helped Heady Topper rise to cult status.  Ultimately, it is an uplifting story about a beer that sounds fantastic and the people who make it.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

It's All A Bit Hazy

I like hazy IPAs and I have been wanting to try a derivative style IPA I have heard about called New England IPA.  I did not know until today they were the same thing.  I get the sense from my twitter feed that hazy IPAs are a fad that beer purists should avoid to maintain self-respect.  This article from NPR's The Salt breaks down the "haze craze."  This passage from the article explains where these offshoot IPAs get their murk:

The haziness in these beers is caused by a variety of techniques that brewers say are primarily aimed at enhancing aromas and creating a smooth, creamy mouthfeel while also reducing the stinging bitterness associated with more conventional IPAs. Some brewers, for example, are using certain yeast strains that leave fruity esters in the beer, as well as suspended particulate matter. 
You have to love a beer with "suspended particulate matter."   The few New England IPAs I have tried are thick and fruity, like fresh squeezed juice.  I'll shed some beer dignity for more murk.   The one negative part of these cloudy beers is that they are so dense that about half a pint is enough. 

Some fads are easy to see as fads, like Pokeman Go, the Mannequin Challenge, or paddle boards.  It's harder to tell when a fad becomes ingrained and permanent.  The sudden popularity of hazy IPAs is a craze but that does not mean their appeal will fade before the suspended particulate matter settles at the bottom of a pint glass.  These beers are good, which will help their longevity and keep them in regular rotation.  I don't expect to see a whole tap room of murky beers any time soon, but having an unfiltered option or two seems reasonable.  But if I see a cloudy lager in the next month or so I'll know I am wrong and that hazy beers are doomed.

I find the term New England IPA funny.  Without reading much about them, I assumed New England IPAs were maltier, less hoppy IPAs - an anti-West Coast IPA - which is why I wanted to try one.  I had no idea they were bold, living, swirling, opaque beers that are the latest frontier in craft beer.  It is not my mental image of New England.  Here in San Diego, Pure Project Brewing makes hazy beers and Pizza Port had one of its hazy IPAs available recently.

I had a precursor to the haze wave about nine years at Stone's Escondido World Bistro and Gardens.  Stone had an unfiltered version of its then new Cali-Belgique IPA.  It was fruity, yeasty, and excellent.  The picture I took in August 2008 is above.