Friday, May 28, 2010

La Rulles Triple

La Rulles Triple, Biere de Gaume, had been staring at me for months.  The dark label, with the elfin guy in desperate need of a dentist holding an illuminated glass in one hand and a bottle of beer in the other, was hard to miss.  It had been tucked on the shelf with other Belgian beers at The Olive Tree Market for months.  I have wanted to try this beer since Jay at Hedonist Jive reviewed it last summer.  When I saw it on sale for $9.99 last month, I had to buy it. 

This beer poured a cloudy orange.  It is a spicy, aggressive, no nonsense tripel.  La Rulles' modest smell belies a complex taste.  It is a dry beer, and the Belgian yeast flavor immediately jumps out.  It is a sweet beer, but it is also has a harshness to it, especially in the aftertaste.  I tend to like my tripels on the mellow side.  La Rulles is not mellow.  I am not exactly saying I didn't like this tripel, but I don't think I'll be rushing out to buy another.  This is not an easy drinking beer, and not a beer for someone looking for an entry level Belgian beer experience.

Beer Tasting Rooms

Beer tasting rooms - what a concept.  Here is an article from the New York Times on tasting rooms in San Francisco, Oakland and Portland.  I have been to San Francisco's City Beer Store, which is profiled in the article.   San Diego has The Olive Tree Market, which has opened a small tasting room with hours on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings.  Like City Beer Store, Olive Tree's tasting room's main goal is to sell bottled beer.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Mission Brewery Building - Brewery Open Tomorrow

I posted in early March that beer was being brewed in the old Mission Brewing Building along Interstate 5, just north of downtown San Diego.  The post explained that New English Brewing and a new brewer, 5 Points Brewing, are using the brewing facilities.  I on a BeerAdvocate post that there was a soft opening on Friday.   I tried a few Google searches and could not find anything on 5 Points Brewing, and the New English website has not been updated since March.  I emailed Peter Rowe, the San Diego Union's beer and food critic and beer blogger, to see if he knew any news.

Rowe emailed back that he thought the "soft" opening had occurred last Friday.  I went down to the Mission Brewing Building this afternoon to see if the brewing facility was open.  I smelled the brewery, saw the brewing facility, but found no signs or entry to the brewing area.  Late today, Peter Rowe emailed back saying he had just received an email from 5 Points' Clint Stromberg, and there were over 200 people at last Friday's "soft" opening and that the grand opening is tomorrow.  Regular hours for the tasting room will be Wednesday through Friday 4:00 PM through 8:00 PM and 11:30 AM through 5:30 PM on Saturdays.

I want to try to go soon to see what is going on in the Mission Brewing Building.  I think Coronado Brewing may be using the facility, too.  I will post what I find.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Ladyface Ale Companie

I went to the Ladyface Ale Companie Alehouse and Brasserie on Saturday. This is a new brewery and brasserie in Agoura Hills.  It is in a stand alone building that is part of a little strip shopping center located just west of the 101, about forty minutes from downtown Los Angeles.  Like most of greater Los Angeles, the Agoura/Westlake/Thousand Oaks area has long been a beer desert.  My impression is that Ladyhouse has gone a long way to change that.

Ladyhouse is a Belgian-centered brewery.  Its house beers on tap included a wit, a blonde (Belgian pale ale), a Belgian amber ale and a tripel, along with a porter and an IPA.  In addition Ladyhouse had nine guest taps that included two beers from Oskar Blues, Pizza Port's Wipeout IPA and Lost Abbey's Judgement Day, Allagash White, and beers from Sierra Nevada and Green Flash.  I got the sense that the guest taps changed on a regular basis.  The brewery and brasserie are in the same building.  The brasserie's interior has a European feel to it, but with a strong California influence.   There is a large outdoor patio filled with tables and Parisian brasserie-style chairs.   The patio offers unobstructed views of the Santa Monica Mountains, and I can imagine this patio being a popular spot during summer evenings when temperatures in that part of Los Angeles routinely reach 100 degrees.

I ordered Ladyface's Blind Ambition Belgian-style Amber Ale.  This was a copper colored beer without much foam.  It was quite malty with spices and prominent Belgian yeast. It did not have much of a hop profile.  This was a solid, drinkable beer, and a good beer for someone who likes Fat Tire but wants more flavor.  

The second beer I had was the Ladyface IPA.  The description said it was brewed in the English style.  I usually take that description as a euphemism for bland and not too hoppy.  Not so with the Ladyface IPA.  It had a good hop bite right from the start, and it lingered long into the finish.   I thought this was a piney IPA, and it reminded my of Alpine's Duet.   This IPA was excellent and a solid new entry into the league of West Coast IPAs.  I suspect this IPA will gather a following, even though Ladyface is focused on crafting Belgian-style beers.

Ladyface's food menu is limited, mostly appetizers, salads and sandwiches.  I had to try the Pommes Frites, after all this was a Belgian brasserie.  They were offered with various seasonings and dips.  I chose the cracked pepper and sea salt seasoning and garlic mayonnaise dip.  The fries were outstanding.  This may sound like a no-brainer, but I have found getting good fries is not that easy.  Sure, fries are commonplace, but memorable fries are rare, and I would call Ladyface's pommes frites memorable.

If I had one knock on Ladyface it's that its wait staff did not seem to knowledgeable about the beers being offered.  Ladyface did not keep any descriptions of the beers on its tables, which would help its servers.  The hostess finally gave me a binder (training book?) with detailed descriptions of the beers.  This is a minor quibble for an excellent new place to get a good beer.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Pizza Port Ocean Beach - A Drink Come True

I drove by the Pizza Port Ocean Beach (PPOB) location this morning and saw that the chain-link fence was down.  A short time later I read comments from J Rhode and The Hop Daddy that PPOB had its opening yesterday - the first day in about three weeks I did not bothered to drive by.  So, I missed the opening - what a douche bag.

I ran over early this afternoon, and PPOB was packed - inside and out.  I ordered a Jetty IPA and absorbed the atmosphere.  There is no upstairs patio, as it's reserved as an apartment for the owner - must be nice.  The restaurant is big, with five lines of typical Pizza Port picnic tables, as well as tables along the windows and outside on the Bacon Street patio.

There were thirty-eight taps working - and more taps that were not hooked to kegs.  Amazing.  I took a few pictures, but there were so many people, I didn't feel comfortable shooting restaurant shots.  I will try to post more at a later date. 

My first impression is that this place is awesome.  The tap list - both Port/Lost Abbey and guest taps - is stellar, and it is only going to get bigger.  The term "No Crap on Tap" is over used, but it sure applies at PPOB.

The Beer Rovette came up with the title to this post sight and tap list unseen.  It's the most appropriate title this blog has ever used.  I think I'm going to like it here.

(I apologize for the crappy pictures, I will get better ones after the crowds subside.)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Catchup Post

I just synced my iPhone, saw some beer pictures, and realized I needed to get some of these pictures and comments on the blog.  I had a cask version of Green Flash Hop Head Red at San Diego Brewing Company a few weeks ago.  The non-cask version is hoppy like an IPA with the rich malty characteristics of a good red ale.  The cask version is a different.  It is malty, but my notes say it had hints of chocolate and fruit, too.  The malt is on the front and the hops appear in the long bitter finish.  I have found some cask beers to be muted compared to their non-cask versions.  Not so with the Hop Head Red.

We had a Trumer Pils on Mother's Day.  When I see this beer on a tap list, I instinctively ask if its served in the proper Trumer glass (what a pain-in-the-ass snob).  The Fishery restaurant had the glass, and we ordered the beer.    This is an unremarkable beer, but there is no denying the glass is cool.

The Bay Park Fish Co. has a tap list that never changes, and I mean never changes.  Firehouse Pale Ale, Ballast Point Calico Ale, Stella Artois, and Dos Equis, have been permanent fixtures since the restaurant opened.  The bottle list, however, has expanded and occasionally  changes.   I saw that beers from Mission Brewing, the Blonde and the Hefeweizen, and Green Flash (West Coast IPA, I think) had been added to the bottle list.  We split a bottle of the hefeweizen.  I was taken aback at this beer.  I don't think too much about hefeweizens, as they are generally soft, easy drinking beers.  Not so with the Mission Hefeweizen.  This is a bold hefeweizen, with an up front tastes of bananas and clove, and it seemed spicy.  It had a full mouthful, almost meaty.  It drank much bigger than its 5% abv.  If you like hefeweizens but are tired of bland hefeweizens, like those from Widmer and Pyramid, which seem to show up in more than their fair share of restaurants and bars, look for the Mission Hefeweizen, even if you have to pick up a bottle and drink it at home.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Fallows the Beer Geek

The superb journalist James Fallows, who writes for The Atlantic, is a beer geek.  Here he raves about Indiana's Three Floyds, and here he is praising Three Floyds while writing smack about Stone, North Coast, Victory, Rogue and Lagunitas - nice. 

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ocean Beach Pizza Port Update

The Ocean Beach Pizza Port was supposed to open yesterday.  It didn't happen and the chain-link fence is still around the building.  I called Pizza Port and was told the restaurant is ready to go, but is pending its alcohol license, which it expects soon.  Hmm....

Monday, May 10, 2010

Green Flash West Coast IPA

Green Flash's West Coast I.P.A. is a hop lover's Nirvana.  When you get a taste for hops, you'll want to keep graduating up the hop scale, seeking out the bitterest beers you can find.  To me, West Coast I.P.A. is at the top of the hop scale.  There are beers with higher IBUs (International Bittering Units) than West Coast IPA, but few have its sharp bitterness that's so enjoyable in an IPA.   Many high IBU beers, like double IPAs along with Ballast Point's Tongue Buckler Imperial Red Ale, which clocks in near 100 IBUs, have their bitterness muted by their necessary sweetness, which is needed to balance these hop monsters.  Because of "imperial" IPAs' cloying characteristics, I find traditional IPAs to have more intense bitterness and distinct hop profiles, as the hops are not competing as much with the malts and sugars.

The first few times I tried West Coast I.P.A. I did not like it.  I thought it unbalanced, and way too bitter.  I avoided it for about two years, until I decided to give it another try earlier this year.  I was amazed by how much I liked West Coast IPA, and have come to love this beer.  My IPA palate has evolved and I can now appreciate West Coast's piercing bitterness.   Like the Stone IPA, it falls in to the citrus side of the citrus/pine IPA flavor profile, but it is much more biting than its North San Diego County neighbor.  The hop bitterness hits you upfront and stays well past the finish.  There are enough malts and sugars to keep West Coast balanced enough to stay drinkable, but they are clearly secondary to the hops.  This beer is for the advanced hop aficionado, and not for the faint of tongue.  I am not ready to say West Coast is my favorite IPA, but it's not far from top.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Nice Friends

There are few BeerAdvocate posts more pointless than some poor sap telling the world about his awesome beer store shopping trip.  At some level, we all share the poster's enthusiasm, but no one cares.  To that end I am sharing the picture below of the case of beer I received this afternoon from some friends in Texas (the beer was ordered from a store in Los Angeles).  The case consisted of four Avery Collaboration Not Litigation Ales, four Russian River Consecrations and four Russian River Damnations.  This is an outstanding selection of beer and will make for many enjoyable evenings.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Stone's 14th Anniversary Ale

Last week Stone Brewing released information on its upcoming 14th Anniversary Empreial IPA.  It's an all-English ingredient IPA, based on a research obtained when Steve Wagner and Mitch Steele visited England in February.  Stone is even treating the water in the beer to make it more like the water from Burton-on-Trent where the India Pale Ale originated.  Here is a video describing the beer:

Stone 14th Anniversary Emperial IPA Announced from stonebrew on Vimeo.

Typically, Stone's Anniversary beers are "big" beers and the play on "imperial" in 14th's name, Emperial IPA, makes me think this beer will be big as well.  This runs counter to British IPAs, which are muted compared to their American namesakes, and benign next to a West Coast IPA.  If I remember correctly (thanks Pete Brown), the traditional British IPA was much higher in alcohol than the modern, post-War version.  I am hoping Stone sticks to its aggressive nature with Emperial.

San Diego Brewers' Tasting Room Snafu

I encourage you to read several posts (here, here and here) at The Lost Abbey's website about a minor uproar that roiled the San Diego brewing community late last week.  Apparently someone complained about The Lost Abbey's tasting room (not sure what the exact complaint was) and the San Diego County Department of Heath threatened to shut down all the tasting rooms in the County, unless the rooms were brought to a code they were not previously subject to (Tomme Arthur describes it better).  To make a long, complicated story short, the dust-up has been settled (State supervision of tasting rooms not County) and all San Diego County tasting rooms are now back to business as usual.    I received an email from Alesmith stating that its tasting room is back up and running.  Alesmith did not have too much to worry about because most County inspectors probably aren't working the fifteen minutes a week its tasting room is open.