Friday, July 29, 2011

Where's the Kitchen Sink?

Sometimes, I have to call "BS."  Here is an over-the-top description from the latest BeerAdvocate magazine:
"Brown bread, mango, plum pudding, banana taffy and some lemongrass make for a complex nose." 
All this in just the scent of a beer?  Wow, the reviewer must have quite a schnoz, or more likely, a flowery imagination.  The beer with the four-course smell is Cathedral Square Brewery's Belgian-Style Abbey Ale, which despite its dessert tray aroma only rates a B- on BeerAdvocate.

Monday, July 25, 2011

New Beer Blog for San Diegans

I added a new blog named The Sip-SD Magazine on the blog roll.  It is a beer blog on the San Diego Magazine website and is written by Brandon Hernandez, also known as the Off Duty Foodie.  I have never met Mr. Hernandez but have read his articles on beer in various publications, including the WestCoaster.  I first read an article by him last year in Beer Connoisseur, a high brow national beer magazine, where Mr. Hernandez detailed San Diego craft brewers in knowledgeable and enthusiastic fashion.  I generally have disdain for "professional" beer writers, finding them pretentious name-droppers that seem more concerned about the their place in the craft beer world than the beer itself.  (Plus, many are just poor writers -  I cringe every time I read "veritable plethora" in a beer article.  I suspect many beer writers are journalists that failed to get plum reporting jobs and were assigned the food page, and therefore did not come to beer writing through a love of beer but through career necessity.)   Professional beer writers are the reason I read beer blogs.

Mr. Hernandez is one of the few professional beer writers I like to read.  I get the impression that he is a beer lover first and a journalist second, and it shows in his writing.  I don't know if he is concerned with ingratiating himself with local beer celebrities, but I know I am looking forward to reading his blog and Twitter feeds.

While I am throwing out rare compliments, I would also recommend another local beer blog, San Diego Beer Blog, and its author Jeff Hammett.  He mixes beer reviews, with local beer news and events, and he gets some good scoops.  Mr Hammett also writes for the WestCoaster, which has become a solid publication in less than a year.  You can pick-up the WestCoaster at most bars and restaurants that sell good beer.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Alpine Expo Email

I received an email from Alpine Brewing this evening.  Alpine announced that Exponential Hoppiness, its triple IPA, will be released on Tuesday.  Here is the language from the email:
First, for the news most of you appear to be clamoring for, a release announcement. If the bottling goes well on Monday, then on Tuesday, July 26th, when we open, we’ll have another fresh batch of Exponential Hoppiness. But wait, there are conditions. We will be applying the 2 – 4 – 6 rule for this release:

·         No more than 2 new growlers of Expo (we’re short on growlers and all the suppliers are out right now),

·          No more than 4 growler fills of Expo per person per day,

·          No more than 6 bottles of Expo per person per day.

We won’t argue about the restrictions. If you want to break the rules you will be denied service and be told to leave.

There is some rational to the restrictions. Our beer is meant for our local customers first. We don’t care to see people sending growlers, meant for local use, being shipped off to far away destinations where the growler becomes useless, the environment needs consideration. The economy behind growlers makes them sensible only when they are refilled, not sent to the recycler or landfill. And, our beer is best fresh, hording bottles only lessens the quality of the old beer stored in your garage, warm, yuk.
Later in the email, Alpine braced beer drinkers for a price hike, as it raises capital to expand its facilities.  Alpine's beer prices are already low compared to other craft brewers, so a little short-term pain for a long-term benefit seems to make sense to me.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Belgian Independence Day

Maybe it's me, but before this year I don't remember hearing about or ever celebrating Belgian Independence Day.  Now, I am seeing emails and web postings announcing celebrations in honor of this new found excuse to drink a good beer.  I was curious about this upstart holiday and went to my go to source for all important information -  Wikipedia.  Apparently, Belgian Independence Day is a real historical event.  Belgium declared its independence from the Dutch on July 21, 1831, and crowned as its new king, a prince from a German duchy (after a French duke turned down the job).  I guess we're supposed to overlook Belgium getting valiantly steamrolled by Germany in World War I and II.

Let's call Belgian Independence Day what it is, it's craft beer's answer to Cinco de Mayo and St Patrick's Day.  These two beer drinking days are dominated by macro Mexican beer and green beer - styles that make a beer snob shudder.  Belgian Independence Day, now that's a date a serious beer drinker can get his or her arms around.  Cantillons instead of Coronas, and gueuzes rather than green beer, what's not to like.  Here's to Belgium and good King Leopold!

Thursday, July 14, 2011


This morning I saw on a Greg Koch tweet (which I no longer see) a link to Travel & Leisure magazine's latest article on the best beer cities in the United States.  San Diego is ranked an unbelievable eighteenth.  It ranked below those famous beer cities Savannah, Charleston, New Orleans and Nashville.  Old stereotypes die hard, as Portland and Seattle were ranked one and three, respectively.  If T&L was going to focus on the South, why not Atlanta, which deserves inclusion for the Brick Store Pub alone.  T&L must not like bold IPAs - it's not worthy.

Beer Rover Turns 4

I have a mean-spirited post kicking around my head about the large number of anniversary celebrations that litter the craft beer world.  I thought it best to add my own bit of garbage before I type that post.  The Beer Rover turns four today.  The first post, typo and all, was July 14, 2007.  What started as an idea to document places to find good beer in airports and cities across the country, was derailed by the credit crisis shortly after I started beer blogging.  The Beer Rover quickly morphed into a more San Diego-centric blog, but with all the breweries in San Diego that's not a bad thing.  A quick note on the name.  I wanted a name that captured my original intent of seeking out good beer on business trips and other travels and writing about my findings, but Beer Seeker sounded lame and Michael Jackson had already immortalized Beer Hunter.  I settled on Beer Rover because "rover" works in the travel / seeker vein, but mostly because I like the traditional Irish song Irish Rover performed by The Pogues and The Dubliners.  Yes, the creative spark fueled by a couple of craft beers is powerful.  Cheers!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Collaboration Green Tea Beer

Stone Brewing, Baird Brewing and Ishii Brewing collaborated on a Japanese Green Tea IPA to benefit Japan's earthquake victims.  I agree on the cause and will support it with a bottle purchase, but I'll admit that I am skeptical about this beer.  I hope my reservations are allayed.  I have never been a fan of Japanese beers - fizzy yellow beers at their finest - but the one Hitachino beer I had was pretty good.  The one time I had tea as a food ingredient, an Extraordinary Desserts pastry (or some sweet) made with Earl Grey tea, was not enjoyable.  I do like IPAs, though, so Japanese Green Tea has that in its favor, and this is one big beer, weighing in at 9.2% abv, which is good.  I think the hops required for an IPA and the high abv will work in this beer's favor.  I'll let you know my opinion, I am hoping for the best.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Linkery Adds Taps

The outstanding North Park restaurant, The Linkery, has increased its tap selection.  Here is The Linkery's blog post describing the new taps.  It now has ten taps and one cask.  I did not see a link to a beer list, but The Linkery always has interesting beers, or you can check TapHunter.   I'd recommend going to The Linkery tomorrow for its Reuben Tuesday.

San Diego Reader "Beer Heaven" Article

This week's San Diego Reader has a great cover story on the rise and importance of San Diego beer.  It is worth reading.  I don't think the article was written by a beer geek, so it doesn't come across as someone "preaching to the choir."  I share Stone's Greg Koch's anger at "beer-purveying establishments" that don't offer local beer:

The one thing that makes him really mad is local San Diego beer-purveying establishments who won’t welcome San Diego beers into their line-up.
Like Qualcomm. “Here we are, San Diego, one of the most famous brewing cultures in the entire world, and no local beer at Qualcomm Stadium? Instead, it’s corporate facsimiles. Tell me whether you think that’s the result of local demand or corporate machinations behind the scenes? It infuriates me. It should infuriate a beer enthusiast. It should infuriate a San Diegan.”
Qualcomm Stadium is not alone (see last month's rant on beer at San Diego County Fair).  Near the end of the article the author describes a secret beer club that meets "every Wednesday around sunset over a keg of some craft-brew. They enjoying (sic) a couple of hours sitting around outside this garage, talking beers, mostly, because there’s something new every week to talk about. To join the club, you bring a peace offering: a keg."  How do you get an invite to this speakeasy?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Alesmith Summer Yulesmith

I had almost given up on Alesmith's Summer Yulesmith.  It is one of the original double IPAs that captivated my attention and palate in the mid-2000s.  It was big, sweet and bitter, everything you'd want in a DIPA.  But over the past few years, even though I'd mark my calendar for Yulesmith's mid-June release date, I'd lost my affinity for it and other big DIPAs, finding them too cloying, syrupy, and boozy.  I almost didn't buy this year's Summer Yulesmith, but thought I'd try it just to write a snarky post on the demise of the DIPA.  Well, the joke's on me, as this year's Summer Yulesmith is excellent.

Summer Yulesmith is a sharp-hopped, piney IPA, with a clarity that has been lacking in past years.  The thick, syrup taste is gone, replaced by a refreshing bitterness.  The alcohol is present from the start, so Yulesmith won't sneak up on you.  It's a big beer, and tastes like one.  Because this year's Yulesmith lacks the stickiness of the past, it is much easier to drink.  I really enjoyed this beer.  But I was so sure I was going to not like this beer, I didn't even take a picture.  I am guessing Alesmith tweaked this year's Yulesmith.  Drinking it in early July means it's still fresh, which may have had something to to with how good I found it.

Alesmith makes two versions of Yulesmith, Summer, which is a DIPA, and Winter, an imperial red ale.  I had ceded the winter version as the better of the two, but this year's Summer Yulesmith may make me rethink that.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Pretty Things in Ocean Beach

Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project beers are now in stock at Olive Tree Market in Ocean Beach.  I have read and heard good things about Pretty Things, which is based in Massachusetts, but have never tried one of its beers.