Friday, February 19, 2010

Serpent's Stout

I have been in one of my too frequent IPA ruts and tonight I decided to break the routine.  I reached to the back of the beer fridge and grabbed a bottle of The Lost Abbey's Serpent's Stout.   I received it as one of a four bottle birthday present last summer.  As soon as I popped the cork, Serpent's roasted aroma leaped out of the bottle.  It poured near pitch black and had almost no foam.  What little foam there was gathered around the walls of my chalice and was dark brown. 

The initial taste was sweet with a large dose of dark dried fruit, like raisins and plums.  Flavors of roasted, dark, bittersweet chocolate were also prominent.  There is a faint, but noticeable earthiness in the taste.  Serpent's initial sweetness gives way to a long bitter finish.  Serpent had an intense effervescence, despite having no foam.  This is a big beer.  It has an 11% abv, and as it warmed the alcohol came forward with a burn, but strangely, it never took over the beer.

I don't drink too many imperial stouts.  I like them, but they're just too rich and complex for my simple beer mind, and they usually take to long to drink.  That being said, I know a good beer when I drink one and Serpent's Stout is a good beer.  It's massive, full of flavor and keeps your attention.


The large chalk board listing the beers Downtown Johnny Brown's said High Tide IPA but my brain read Wipeout IPA.  We went to DJB's for an early dinner last night and the the draft beer selection was almost all big beers.  I wanted something less than a monster and chose what I thought was Wipeout IPA.  I have had Wipeout a number of times, and think it an OK beer.  I didn't bother to take a picture because I wasn't planning on writing about Wipeout again.  As I was drinking the beer I kept thinking, Wipeout is better than I thought, so fresh and hoppy.  As we were leaving I re-read the sign and saw I had been drinking Port's High Tide Fresh Hop IPA.  No wonder it was so good. 

The Good Old Days

In Mesopotamia workers were paid in beer.  One of the oldest examples of writing is a record of workers' beer rations.  How did any work ever get done with workers getting paid in beer?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Rowe Ramble

My original ideas for this post were spawned by this article two weeks ago by Peter Rowe, the San Diego Union's beer reporter.  I could not (and still don't) understand why he would waste his time writing on some beer called Dutch Republic 1581, available only at Fresh & Easy Markets.  This is a beer no one from beer geek to beer know-nothing would want to drink.  Why not before the Super Bowl, one of the biggest excuse-to-drink-beer days of the year, give the spotlight to a local beer or beers rather than some awful import.  (I have not tried Dutch Republic 1581, and don't plan to try it.  I will grab a Heineken if I ever get the urge to drink a fizzy yellow Dutch beer.)

Rowe, among other writing duties at the Union, writes a periodic (usually every other week) column called the Pint-Sized Pour where he reviews a particular beer and lists any San Diego beer news.  Rowe regained some beer geek cred today with a review of last year's Deschutes' The Abyss.  But The Abyss is released once a year and does not stay on shelves long, so good luck finding the late-2008 release Rowe reviewed.  He has now spent two columns reviewing a beer no one wants and one no one can buy.

San Diego is one of the best beer cities in the nation, and it is good that the Union has a reporter dedicated to beer.  Rowe's columns should focus more on local beers and the Southern California craft beer scene, and less on the crap beers that seem to find their way into his columns.  Rowe's review of beers that are less than pedestrian or obscure, unfortunately, are not uncommon.   He should start a blog for these reviews because his column reads like a blog post or a BeerAdvocate review. 

Rowe's review of Dutch Republic 1581 made me mad.  More reviews like it are going to make Rowe's column and opinions irrelevant.   This is too bad, because the best part of his reviews are that he does not seem to take himself or beer too serious.  Rowe has a unique pulpit to promote San Diego's wonderful beers, and I like'd to see him exploit it.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Glissade is a new spring beer from Sierra Nevada.  It is a golden bock, a style I am not familiar with, so this post is solely my impression of the beer and not in context of its style.  It poured a dark yellow with not much foam.  It had a unique taste, prominent malts and not much hops. It is lighter than a pale ale, but with enough flavor to keep the beer interesting.  I could not discern too many distinct flavors, and am not going to try to guess at what I thought I tasted.  There was a subtle sourness throughout the beer that I liked.  Here is what Sierra Nevada says:
With restrained sweetness, we emphasize subtle malt flavor, balanced against delicate aromas of spicy and floral European hops. This complex balance helps Glissade slide across the palate—bracing us against the last cold nights of winter, while its bright golden color turns our thoughts toward spring
I didn't catch the sweetness, and will take Sierra Nevada's word that it had a floral flavor.  It had a more "beery" flavor than an ale.  I'd call it a grown-up pilsner.   It was a balanced beer with a solid mouthful.  It's a perfect weeknight beer.

Gilssade is another well made, interesting beer from Sierra Nevada, which has been producing excellent beers over the past year.  I am not sure I'd like to drink Glissade every day, but I sure would not turn one down.  I think I'm going to go get a couple of more six packs while it is still on shelves.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Third Corner Update

I posted a few weeks ago that The Third Corner restaurant in Ocean Beach, long an outstanding restaurant for great food and excellent wine values, had added taps. I made it back last week and saw that four taps were added.   The four beers are diverse but I question the glassware and was taken aback at the prices.  The four beers were Ballast Point's Yellow Tail Pale Ale, ubiquitous in San Diego, Boont Amber Ale, Allagash White, and  Unibroue's Maudite.  

For all the great brewers in San Diego, I'd of thought that at least two of the taps would have been local.  Maybe the taps will rotate frequently and the likes of Alesmith, Stone and The Lost Abbey will make an appearance.  I am going to guess that part of the reason why there is only one local brewer is that Boont and Uniborue are distributed by wine distributors, and with The Third Corner being primarily a wine shop these distributors got the first opportunity.   This hypothesis makes sense to me, but it's only a guess, as I have no idea who distributes Boont and Unibroue.  I will see how the taps evolve.  As they are, I am not going to complain about the Allagash (shown at right) and Unibroue selections.

I will bitch about the prices.   You'll probably have to click on the picture to enlarge it, but all the drafts are six and seven dollars.   This is a lot for a draft beer, and the seven dollar Maudite is only 8 ozs.  Note under the bottled beers that a 12 oz Stone IPA is a whopping seven dollars.   It must come in a gilded bottle.  I start to question draft beer prices too much above five bucks, especially for the Ballast Point Pale Ale and any amber ale.

To add to my concern about the prices is the glassware.  As you can see in the picture of the Allagash White above, it is served in a beautiful tulip glass.  The glass is cool, but how big is it?   I spent the entire meal wondering how ripped off I was getting.  I knew at seven bucks I was being over charged, but how over charged?  I might feel better about paying seven dollars if the glass held more than a typical pint.

I bought the beer, which I shared with the Beer Rovette, for the sake of the blog.  I was put off by the high prices.  This beer list is a great reason to buy an excellent, reasonably priced bottle of wine, which The Third Corner has in abundance.   

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

OB Pizza Port Update - Late January 2010

Here is a picture taken of the under construction Ocean Beach Pizza Port.  It looks like two stories along with a deck that can't be seen in the picture.  The stucco has been applied, but I could not see the inside.  A commenter noted that the restaurant/brewery is scheduled to open on February 15th.  That is less than two weeks away, so I don't see that happening.  My estimate of March or April does not look too bad.