Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Backhanded Reference

I received one of Alpine Brewing's periodic update emails last Friday.  In the email it had this line:
Here’s what some are saying about Nelson Click here: HEDONIST BEER JIVE
Jay's post references the Vice Blog's opinion on Nelson and a post from this blog.  In my glass half full mode, I am taking it that Alpine (and some of the recipients of its email) read all three posts.  I just hope the people at Alpine didn't read this post on Mclhenny's Irish Red.

(The original link in the Alpine email was to Hedonist Beer Jive, not the referenced post on Nelson, and the prolific Jay at HBJ had already added an additional two posts after his Nelson review, so the link above is to the exact post.)

Pizza Port Update - March 2010

I am a little late in posting these pictures.  I took them in early March.  The facade is coming along and looking good. Brewing equipment has been installed.  I have not been able to access Pizza Port's website today to see whether an expected opening date has been announced.  I saw the restaurant job notice posted on Craig's List that was dated March 16.  I think an April opening is planned.

You can see the tanks in the window.

Here is another external tank just off Pizza Port's minuscule parking lot.  I'll try to get updated pictures this week and get more definitive information on a planned opening date

Friday, March 19, 2010

Port's Truck Stop Stout

We had visitors from the South for past the week and the beers I served and recommended were a Tour de West Coast IPA - Stone, Alpine, Russian River, Alesmith and more.  The West Coast (and my) craft beer obsession has not engulfed the South, so they'd not had too much exposure to the big hoppy beers we expect and sometimes take for granted in San Diego.  We took them to The Linkery on St Patrick's Day for the farm-to-table dining experience, and of course some good beer.  The Beer Rovette and I wanted corned beef and cabbage in honor of St Patrick's Day, and The Linkery was serving it up.  

In the spirit of the holiday, I took an IPA detour and ordered Port's Truck Stop Stout, a dry Irish stout that I thought would be a courtesy nod to my fractional Irish heritage.  I was expecting a forgettable beer and a quick return to The Linkery's IPA offerings, but was instead floored by Truck Stop.  What a treat.  It was served on Nitro so it came with a rich, thick foam.  I was immediately struck by Truck Stop's smooth drinkability.   I am not a fan of the term or classification "session" beer (if you like a beer drink it and don't complain about the ABV), but it's easy to envision drinking multiple Truck Stops over an evening in a smokey, noisy Irish pub.  Truck Stop's roasted malts gave it a taste of coffee.  It was not at all bitter, either from roasted malts or hops.  It was a dry beer, so each drink begged another.  The alcohol was low, like 4%, so nursing this beer is not an issue.  The ubiquitous Guinness Stout dominates this category, and if you're like me and base your non-imperial stout decisions on mediocre Guinness recollections, you're cheating yourself.   This is a far better beer than Guinness, with its smooth initial taste and satisfying finish.  When was the last time Guinness caused you to raise your eyebrows?  I am looking forward to trying other non-imperial craft stouts.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Drain Pour

We went to San Diego Brewing Company for dinner last night, and lurking among its many taps was Bud Light Lime.  Yikes.  Our waiter said that it was on special for $3.50 a pint, as SDBC was trying to get rid of it.  I suggested employing the drain as a faster way to empty the keg.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Dorado on a New Fence

"It never rains in California, but girl don't they warn ya, it pours man it pours."  So said Albert Hammond in his dreadful song from the early '70s.  I can attest to the pouring part, and when it rains the long-term dearth of rain seems to magnify the water flow and its impact.  During January's rains I lost a section of a wood and concrete fence in my back yard.  Cleaning and hauling, and buying and hauling material for a stone mason has taken up most of the past few weekends.  The new concrete block fence is now up and the picture above is a Ballast Point Dorado double IPA sitting on top of the new fence, along with a new cedar fence in the background.  My friend, who helped with the cleaning and hauling, and I shared the growler of Dorado after back filling the fence with rock over the French drain pipe.  The Dorado smelled grainy, just like brewery, and tasted of pure hop brilliance.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Stone's Old Guardian Barley Wine Ale

It's strange.  I aggressively seek out and drink certain Stone Brewing releases while overlooking others.  I try to buy Stone's special Vertical Epic series and Anniversary Ales as soon as they are released.  But I am not too eager to try its regular, annual releases.  The two Imperial Russian Stouts I've had have been outstanding, and I occasionally drink a Double Bastard before Christmas, but I don't mark their release dates on my calendar.  Until last Saturday, I had never tried Stone's third regular release, Old Guardian Barley Wine Ale.  The reason, I am sure, why I don't rush to buy Double Bastard, Imperial Russian and Old Guardian is their high alcohol level.  All three have abvs higher than 10%, which eliminates casual drinking and requires a sizable time investment.

It was worth the time it took to drink Old Guardian. The beer's color was lighter than I was expecting.  It poured a deep amber and had big, Navajo White foam.  It reminded me of a hopped-up imperial red ale.  Its roasted malty flavor was matched by a long bitter finish.  The alcohol, at 11.1% abv, did not dominate the beer.  It was present throughout but did not burn, even as Old Guardian warmed.   Old Guardian was the first barley wine ale I ever drank, and if it's true to style, barley wine ale was more approachable than I was expecting.  Not sure why I had a picture in my mind of a dark booze-infused beer.  It is always good to learn new things about beer.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Mission Brewery Building - Finally There's Beer

The imposing red brick Mission Brewing building located along I-5, just north of downtown San Diego, has teased beer drinkers for years.  A large sign at the top of the building announces "Mission Brewing," but no beer has been brewed here since before Prohibition.  I think a brewery was scheduled to open in the building in the late 1980s but it never happened.  It has been an office building since.  Until now.

The Beer Rovette saw on TV that beer is being brewed at the old brewery, and I set to work to get the story.  Here is a link to the local TV show, Then and Now, that gives a history of the building and explains about the new beer being brewed.  But here is where it gets confusing.  The brewer at the Mission Brewing building is New English Brewing Co., a recent addition to San Diego's list of brewers.  San Diego has another brewer named Mission Brewing that is named after the original Mission Brewery, but it brews its beers in Chula Vista.

New English describes its move to the Mission Brewing Plaza building here.  It expects to have a tasting room open sometime in March.  Here is the quote from the News section of New English's website:
The old brewery at the Mission Brewery Plaza has been expertly reconditioned by Clint Stromberg of Stromberg Tanks International. Clint will be brewing beer there under the name "5 Points Brewing" and New English will also be brewing on-site. We fired up the kettle for the first batch of "Brewers Special Brown Ale" on January 8th and have been steadily brewing up batch after batch and working through teething issues since. Almost all remaining issues are behind us and there will be a tasting room opening at the brewery sometime in March (with luck)

I had New English's ESB last year and thought it not too bad.  I drive by this building several times a day, and I'm looking forward to hitting the tasting room.  I am curious to learn more about 5 Points Brewing.

NY Times Reviews Belgian Golden Ales

The New York Times reviewed Belgian Golden Ales last week.  The article is here.  Included in the tasting along with Belgian brewers were American craft brewers and their interpretations on the Belgian style.  Jolly Pumpkin's Oro de Calabaza topped the list.  San Diego's Alesmith's Horny Devil ranked third.  The article is a good read, but it's hard not to think that the panel would be more interesting if Aaron from The Vice Blog was on it shaking things up.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Karl Strauss' Tower 10 IPA

I've wanted to try Karl Strauss' new Tower 10 IPA since it was released.  I originally thought Tower 10 was going to be a limited or periodic release, but it looks like it has replaced Stargazer as Strauss' IPA.  What I really wanted to know was whether Karl Strauss going to join other San Diego brewers in making a top quality IPA, or was it going to continue to produce a sub-par IPA.  Tower 10 is an improvement over Stargazer and Strauss no longer has a "sub-par" IPA.   While Tower 10 is a decent beer, Stone, Alpine, Green Flash, Alesmith, Pizza Port and Ballast Point still make superior IPAs.

I don't think Strauss was trying to emulate other San Diego brewers in creating a West Coast-style IPA, which is an aggressive, hop-centric beer style brewed with a variety of American hops.  The West Coast-style IPA is San Diego's signature beer, and its brewers have defined and perfected it.   Tower 10 is not as aggressive as its San Diego competitors, even though it's brewed with many of the same hops.  It had an earthiness and a touch of vegetal flavor, rather than the pervasive taste of hops.   It weighed towards the grapefruit end of an IPA's pine/grapefruit taste spectrum.  To me, Tower 10 was like a Northwest IPA, in particular, it reminded me of Rouge's various IPAs.  The initial hop bitterness was subtle and more pronounced in the finish.  It was malty IPA, which was probably accounts for the earthiness.  

I did not read the BeerAdvocate reviews on Tower 10, but I don't suspect that the beer geeks fell in love with this beer.   I didn't.  But I get where Karl Strauss is coming from.  It has an excellent distribution system and, in my opinion, is as much a restaurateur as brewer.  Crafting Tower 10 as an accessible beer, rather than a West Coast hop bomb, makes sense for the majority of restaurants that will sell it.  I'd definitely order Tower 10 over many other beers.  Karl Strauss is crafting other beers that will appeal to the beer geeks, which are special releases, some of which get bottled.  I'd like to try its Big Barrel Double IPA and its To The 9s Holiday Ale, both big hoppy beers.  While Tower 10 did not not overly impress me, it's good to see Strauss stepping up its craft brewing game.