Friday, October 22, 2010

Go To The Linkery

If you live in San Diego, go to The Linkery.  You owe it to yourself and your stomach.  I am on The Linkery's email list and last week email recipients were asked to take a survey, which I took.  The survey's tone, and follow-up conversations on The Linkery's blog, indicate that business has slowed and The Linkery's owners are exploring their options, which of course is not an encouraging euphemism. 

This blog has noted its disdain for phony gastropubs.  The Linkery is a gastropub that gets it right, maybe nearly perfect.  (Maureen Clancy wrote a weak article on gastropubs in Wednesday's San Diego Union Tribune, and unfortunately omitted a number of gastropubs, including The Linkery.)  The Linkery serves awesome food you can feel good about eating in a casual environment.   It is not an inexpensive restaurant, but you can eat sensibly for a reasonable price.  In addition to the quality food - The Linkery was a pioneer in the farm-to-table movement - the beer and wine are outstanding and well thought out.   You won't get a better meal anywhere in San Diego.  It would be a shame to see The Linkery close.

I visit The Linkery several times a year, but if I lived closer I'd be there once or twice a month.  I plan to make it a point to return soon, and to also visit its sister restaurant, El Take It Easy.   For beer drinkers The Linkery is just over two, easy-walking blocks from Toronado, so make a trip to North Park, you won't regret it.

(I wrote up my first trip to The Linkery here.  Since that first visit I figured out The Linkery's inclusive tip policy, which made my bill higher than it should have been.)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

New The Bruery Releases

Where are the posts?  I have been swamped with work, blah, blah blah.  I have to play some beer drinking catching-up.  There are two Stone Vertical Epic 10.10.10s in my fridge, one I bought a week that I've unbelievably let sit, and last week I had a fantastic Port Brewing High Tide Fresh Hop IPA on which I need to post.   Then today I received an email from The Bruery announcing its newest beers.  Here are the descriptions of The Bruery's latest installment of its Twelve Days (Beers) of Christmas and its homage to Orange County:
3 French Hens
The third in our collection of Winter seasonal ales, 3 French Hens is getting ready to hit shelves in early November and we couldn’t be more excited. For those who had the opportunity to try Partridge in a Pear Tree or Two Turtle Doves you know that we don’t go light on our 12 Days Of Christmas beer series. While this year’s batch doesn’t include the toasted pecans and cocoa of last year, it’s equally complex and possibly even more delicious, if that is really possible.

A Belgian dark strong ale, 3 French Hens was partially aged in – you guessed it – French oak barrels. Chocolate and pumpernickel come through instantly as well as a fragrant spice character from our house yeast strain. While only 25% is aged in French oak, a lovely Cabernet-like character comes through as the beer warms. Perfect for a cold winter night and ideal for cellaring until 12 Drummers Drumming is released. 10% ABV

Loakal Red

Our tribute to the growing Orange County beer scene. We brewed up this oak-aged hoppy red ale that will be released only in our home, Orange County. A hoppy red ale at heart, we, like many other SoCal brewers, chose the citrus & floral notes of the Centennial hop to balance the light caramel sweetness of the malt.  But, of course, we couldn’t leave well enough alone.  So a portion of an older batch, left to mature in new American oak barrels, is blended with the fresh dry-hopped batch.  The resulting blend has notes of toffee, orange peel, crushed herbs, vanilla & freshly sawn oak, for a beer that is intricate yet unassuming.
6.9% ABV
These two beers sound really good.  I like hoppy red ales as compared to malty Irish or Scottish red ales, so Loakal Red should be a treat.  (Is it irony or subversion, random or coincidence that The Bruery's tribute to Orange County is a "red" ale, when Orange County was the cradle of the virulent anti-communist John Birch Society in the mid-twentieth century?  I'd like to think it is subversive.)

The Bruery's copy for Loakal Red is ridiculous.  This "unassuming" beer "chose the citrus & floral notes of Centennial hops" to balance the "light caramel sweetness of the malt," and a portion was aged in oak barrels and a portion was dry-hopped, resulting in a beer that tastes of "toffee, orange peel, crushed herbs & freshly sawn oak."  Freshly sawn oak?  Is "sawn" even a word, and who knows what sawn oak smells like, let alone tastes like?  There is no way this beer will be "unassuming," even if half the mumbo-jumbo above is true.  Of course, I am just poking fun at The Bruery, because most breweries are now writing similar nonsense about their beers.  The blame for over-the-top beer descriptions lays at the feet of Stone's Greg Koch who's narratives get more hyperbolic with each new Stone beer.   Here is a portion of Koch's label description for Arrogant Bastard, the label that spawned hundreds of unworthy imitators.  

The first time I read the post on Loakal Red, I pretty much stopped after reading after seeing that The Bruery is making a red ale.   That was all I needed to know.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

La Jolla Brew House - Who Knew?

I read last week on a Peter Rowe blog post that former The Bruery head brewer Travis Smith is now brewing at the La Jolla Brew House.  Smith also worked at Russian River Brewing.  I have never been to La Jolla Brew House or tried any of its beers.  This will change soon.  If Smith was at all instrumental in the beers listed on Rowe's post - Russian River's, Pliny the Elder, Blind Pig, and Supplicaiton, and The Bruery's Orchard White and Saison de Lente - La Jolla Brew House is going to be a new beer geek destination.

Monday, October 4, 2010

What a Pairing

I have been, am and will remain skeptical about beer and food pairings.  With all respect to Garret Oliver, I just have not found that many food and beer combinations that make both sides of the equation better.  But last night I discovered a great food/beer pairing.  I had Mexican mole (don't know how to put an accent over the "e") along side Stone's Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale.  Mole is not rare, but not that common either.  It is a mixture of chocolate, nuts, chilies and spices cooked over hours or days.  A proper mole is complex mixture of heat, spices, nuts and sweetness.  The hoppy, dark roasted richness of Sublimely Self-Righteous was the perfect match for the mole sauce.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Stone's Vertical Epic 10.10.10

This year's Vertical Epic had completely slipped my mind until I saw this post on the Stone blog.   It is less than two weeks until the release of 10/10/10.  Here is a description:
That said, Stone 10.10.10 Vertical Epic Ale is mighty tasty right out of the gate. Fermented with the legendary Ardennes strain of Belgian yeast, 10.10.10 is a Belgian Strong Pale Ale brewed with pale malt and triticale (a cross of wheat and rye), hopped with German Perle hops, and steeped with chamomile during the whirlpool stage. In secondary fermentation, we added a juice blend of Muscat, Gewurztraminer, and Sauvignon Blanc grape varieties.  

The juice and beer blend fermented with surprising vigor to produce a dry, complex, full-bodied beer brimming with floral, fruity aromas. The beer cannot be described as “grapey” or “herbal,” as neither the juice nor the chamomile overwhelm the Belgian yeast character; in fact, identifying the ingredients would be a challenge for even the most astute nose. The constituent parts instead impart layer upon layer of nuance and flavor, with the result being a highly drinkable and royally delicious Belgian-style beer.
Sounds interesting.