Thursday, June 30, 2011

Stone's Fifteenth Anniversary Ale

I saw some information on Stone's Fifteenth Anniversary beer this morning on San Diego Beer Blog.  The beer is a black double IPA, which sounds like Stone's Eleventh Anniversary Beer that became Sublimely Self-Righteous.  The name of the new beer is Stone Escondidian Imperial Black IPA, and I think the release date is sometime in August.  I will post more as I know it.  Maybe Stone will do a video giving details on the beer.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Costco Beer Finds

I went to the Morena Blvd Costco in San Diego at lunch today for some office supplies.  I always check the beer aisle to see if Costco's random, small shipments of Saison Dupont are in stock.  No Dupont today, but there were a couple of other interesting deals from Duvel and Ballast Point.  There were a few remaining cases of 750ml bottles of Duvel Golden Ale at the bargain price of $7.99 per bottle.  Also in stock was what looked like a Costco-only Ballast Point 8-pack.  The eight 22 oz bottles included two each of Sculpin IPA, Big Eye IPA, Calico Amber and Black Marlin Porter.  There were plenty of boxes available, and at $29.99, its less than $4 per bomber bottle, which is worth it for the Sculpin alone.

Ovila Dubbel

Father's Day weekend always coincides with the US Open golf tournament.  I had a bottle of the Sierra Nevada Belgian-style collaboration beer, Ovila Dubbel, on Saturday night, and in the spirit of the weekend I am going to compare it to a golf shot.  Ovila Dubbel was like hitting a drive, but instead of hitting the ball square, you hit it fat, and while the ball goes straight and stays in play, it ends up about two-thirds or three-quarters of where you wanted it to land.  It's clearly a playable shot, a decent shot, you may even get a few "nice shots" from your playing partners, but not nearly as good an effort as you wanted or were expecting.  This sums up my impression of Ovila Dubbel, a fine beer, but one that came up short.

Ovila is a series of collaboration beers between Sierra Nevada and the Cistercian monks of Abbey of New Clairvaux, which is in Northern California, not Belgium.  The Dubbel was the first beer in the series and there is now a Saison on the market.  I am not sure what, if any, styles are planned after the Saison.  The Dubbel poured a dark brown with a solid layer of white foam that lingered.  My initial impression was that Ovila Dubbel was too malty.  It was a sweet beer, sweeter than I was expecting.  It had a pleasant Belgian yeast presence, some light spiciness, and a mild hop bitterness in the finish.  Ovila Dubbel was a dry beer, which worked in its favor.  The mouthful was somewhat thin, especially for such a sweet, malty beer.  The alcohol was a manageable 7.5%.  This beer was solid but not spectacular.  I was expecting more, and even as it warmed, its character did not improve.  Maybe it was too malty or too sweet, I don't know.  It was drinkable and enjoyable, don't get me wrong, just not a great beer.  Of course I'll need a second "shot" and I'll take my hack with Ovila Saison.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Fair Fail

I went to the Del San Diego County Fair today.  I was struck by the lack of local beer exposure.  For a county that prides itself on its local beer scene, San Diego's local brewers were almost non-existent at the Fair.  The San Diego Brewers Guild should sponsor a beer garden focusing on local brewers that is open throughout the entire Fair.   This booth could be manned by the many local brewers, with a different brewery having a spotlight on different days.  Fair attendees would appreciate such a booth.

I saw a couple of Coors-sponsored booths around the Fair, and the main beer garden had only two local beers, a Green Flash "special" beer (who knows what that was) and Coronado Brewing's Golden Ale.   There were a couple of out of town craft beers, one from Deschutes and Lagunitas' IPA, but the overall craft beer selection was pathetic.

I took a picture of the beer and drink list from the main beer garden.  I like that beer called "craft."  The sign sums up the importance given to craft and local beer at the Fair.  I know there are a few beer festivals during the Fair, so organizers have some ideas about beer, but local craft brewers deserve a higher visibility at the Fair.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Stone South Park Is Open

I went to the "soft" opening of Stone Brewing's new Stone Store in South Park this evening.  I arrived around 7:45 and the place was packed, with a line outside for people waiting to enter.  I was able to bypass this line as I only wanted a growler fill.  Once inside I was greeted by another line and it took me nearly 45-minutes to get to the counter.   The crowd was orderly and Stone had good control.  No one seemed upset about the lines.  Obviously, the lines will not be a common occurrence.  The crowd trended young and male, but there was a good mix of people, so the old guys (like me) and the several groups of women didn't stick out.  Stone didn't have anything special on tap, and stuck with the basics for the soft opening:   Pale Ale, Ruination, IPA, Arrogant Bastard, Smoked Porter, and Levitation.  (San Diego Beer Blog has a rundown of the proposed list for next week's Grand Opening.)

The store seemed small, and is probably not much bigger than the store at the Stone World Bistros and Gardens in Escondido.  But the amount of people may have made it feel smaller than it is.   It did not seem that all the merchandise was in place.  There was no beer fridge for six-packs and bottled beer to go, and the walls seemed pretty barren. This makes sense because tonight was a "soft" opening not a Grand Opening.  (For next week's Grand Opening, Stone would be well served by adding a second or third register.)

I did not taste any beer to avoid the longer wait.  Stone was only serving what looked like 4 oz tasters.  I wonder whether, after the initial opening rush, it will serve pints?  No one seemed too upset about not having a pint, and tasters seemed like the right decision tonight.  I debated whether to get a growler of Arrogant Bastard as a tribute to Stone or Ruination.  I chose Ruination, and the picture below shows the growler being filled.

Stone seems to have picked an awesome neighborhood.  There were a number people buzzing about the streets, and there are plenty of nearby restaurants, shops and salons.  There is an adjacent wine bar named The Rose Wine Pub, and I bet it's going to love the spillover business that the Stone Store will generate.  Parking is a pain, but it's a bother everywhere in South Park and North Park, so it's an issue not unique to the Stone Store.  It looks like Stone has another winner on its hands and I plan on heading back after the Grand Opening.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Bruery's Workman's Friend Imperial Porter

I remembered after reading The Drunken Polack's tale of an epic tasting of big The Bruery beers that I had a big Bruery beer review I needed to post.  Last winter, I had a bottle of The Burey's Workman's Friend Imperial Porter and took plenty of notes, but just did not get to posting it until now.  I had never had an imperial porter before Workman's Friend.  I am not sure of the nuances between and imperial porter and an imperial stout (or a Baltic porter), but am guessing that the imperial porter is a bit lighter on the palate. 

Workman, which is part of The Bruery's Provision Series, poured dark and thick.  I had to break some beer pouring rules to get some meager foam - glass flat on  the counter and a fast upright pour.  I immediately smelled the roasted malts, and I also picked up anise.  The taste is all sweetness and roasted malts, with a minimal hop profile.   The sweetness, present throughout, never became cloying.  Don't be daunted by the 'imperial" moniker as Workman's ABV is about 8%, which is sizable, but not in the class of imperial stouts.   Its mouthful was somewhat light for a beer that poured so thick.  Workman's Friend is a drinkable and surprisingly approachable beer. As I drank the beer it made me wonder about the origins of the porter style, as it used to be the beer of English workers, hence (I am guessing) the Workman's Friend label.  While Workman's Friend wasn't a "huge" beer and was drinkable, I know I could not drink it regularly after a hard day's labor. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Ballast Point's Expansion

I saw this article from San Diego Magazine referenced on BeerAdvocate.  The article discusses Ballast Point's expansion plans at its Scripps Ranch brewery.  The expansion will allow Ballast Point to double its beer production and grow its spirits business.  Here is the key passage in the brief article:
At their main brewery in Scripps Ranch—a smaller brewery, located in Linda Vista, focuses on specialty beers—Ballast Point has started construction on a project that will expand their footprint to 25,000 square feet. This will enable the brewery to more than double beer production, the size of the tasting room, and the distilling capacity of Ballast Point Spirits, a passion project for head brewer Yuseff Cherney.   
Owner Jack White forecasts Ballast Point will soon outgrow their current digs, even with the expansion. He envisions dedicating the Scripps Ranch space solely to producing spirits and shifting their beer operation to an even larger space, perhaps with its own restaurant.
The last sentence brings up the obvious question.  If Ballast Point moves its brewing operations to a larger facility, what happens to its Linda Vista location?  This is darned important to me due to its close proximity to my house, and especially since I recently counted that for some reason I have four Ballast Point growlers.   As an aside, if you have not tried Ballast Point's Big Eye IPA lately, do yourself a favor and get a pint, bomber or a six-pack.  Big Eye is overshadowed by Ballast Point's other IPA, Sculpin, but to me, it is the most underrated IPA in San Diego.  It is maltier than most local IPAs, which gives it a pleasant richness, and its hop profile is outstanding. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Stone's South Park Store Set To Open

I have been traveling and doing work related activities the past week and just saw that Stone is going to open its South Park store in just over a week.  San Diego's craft beer scene is moving so fast that even a few days away causes you to miss some news or event.  San Diego Beer Blog posted late last week that Stone's store in South Park is scheduled to have a "soft" opening on June 15th.  Stone's store's address in South Park is 2215 30th Street.  San Diego Beer Blog reports the proposed hours are:

Wed-Thu: 4-9pm
Fri-Sat 11am-9pm
Sun 12-6pm
Mon- Tue: Closed

(I borrowed the picture above from the Stone Blog.)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Green Flash's New Facility Opens

The Traveling Correspondent texted me first thing yesterday morning to meet him at Green Flash's new brewing facility in San Diego's Miramar area.  I could not go but asked him to shoot some pictures and file a report.  Today I got a text back telling me that he had no pictures and did get any beer.  He said there was a swarm of people and Green Flash's one cashier was overwhelmed.  He left empty handed and decided it best to visit the new brewing after the initial rush subsides.