Monday, November 10, 2014

Green Flash Buys Alpine Beer Co.

Green Flash Brewing has agreed to purchase Alpine Beer CoBrandon Hernandez has the details here.  The Union Tribune's Peter Rowe's article is here.  Green Flash agreed last year to allow Alpine to produce some of its beers at Green Flash's Mira Mesa Blvd facility, so the transaction is not unexpected.  I suspect Alpine's Nelson IPA will see increased production, which is good, because it has become so rare that it's now a cult beer and sells out as fast as the once-a-year release of Pliny the Younger.  My main concern on the merger is whether Alpine's Pat McIlhenny will continue to send out his brilliant, periodic emails. 

Welcome to the Neighborhood - Culture Brewing Opens OB Tasting

Culture Brewing opened its Ocean Beach satellite tasting room on Saturday, November 8, 2014.  I did not make opening day, but made it a point to stop in last night to try a beer.  Culture's spartan tasting room feels like a clean, spacious garage.  The Newport Avenue entrance is open across the entire storefront.   The interior, which is open to the roof, contains a big bar, a few wood barrels that function as tables, and not much more.   Culture fills blank growlers, and I had mine filled with a Mosaic-hopped IPA.   I had never tried a beer from Culture, so an IPA initiation was essential.  It is my simple opinion that if a brewer can make a decent IPA, especially when stacked against other San Diego IPAs, than its other beers will likely be solid, too.  Culture's Mosaic IPA was fantastic (more formal review in another post).  I am looking forward to proving my theory and putting my unlabeled growler to heavy-duty use.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Coronado Karma

Last Friday, on Halloween, I went into Coronado Brewing's Linda Vista brewery and tasting room looking for a bottle of Coronado's Punk'in Drublic pumpkin ale.  There were no bottles of it in the tasting room's fridges, and I asked a woman working at the brewery if there were any more bottles available.  She checked with several people and then told me that the beer was sold out at that location, and that a barrel-aged beer version of Punk'in Drublic would be available during San Diego Beer Week.  Disappointed, I decided to get a taster of Punk'in Drublic to see what I was missing while I thought of where else I could buy a bottle.  (It's good; a dark, chewy ale.)

While I was waiting for my taster, the same employee came up to holding three bombers of Punk'in Drublic, and said the owner had kept three bottles for himself, but wanted me buy them.  I bought two, not wanting to seem greedy.   I was impressed by Coronado's  effort - from employee to owner - to help me, just a random customer.   Respect.

I will write up my review of Punk'in Drublic in a separate post.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

By Halloween I had already seen a number of Holiday or winter seasonal beers on store shelves.  Sierra Nevada's Celebration Ale, Stone's Double Bastard, The Bruery's Seven Swans A Swimming, and Deschutes' Jubelale, with its annual Oregon art label, were out before the trick-or-treaters.  When it comes to special release beers, I'm ok with early Christmas commercialization.  Bring 'em on, the more the merrier!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Glaring "Best Of" Omission

I wrote yesterday about a new list of the twelve best breweries in San Diego, and the limits of any "best of" list.  Then last night in the Financial Times' Weekend edition I see it has an article on the five best* craft beer outlets in San Francisco.  I have no problem with the five breweries in the story:  21st Amendment, Anchor Brewing, Almanac Beer Co., Speakeasy Ales & Lagers, and Magnolia Pub & Brewery.  But any "best of" list of San Francisco craft brewers that excludes Cellarmaker Brewing invalidates the entire list.  The two authors clearly did not fully research San Francisco's craft brewers.

* The print edition states that the list is the "five best," while the on-line headline states that the list is "five of the best," giving the authors some flexibility.

Monday, November 3, 2014

San Diego Beer Week

The ten-day, two weekend San Diego Beer Week starts Friday, November 7, 2014, and runs through November 16, 2014.  There are too many events to list on this website.  The essential San Diego Beer Week website lists all the events here.  Looking at the list of events, there are some on November 6th, so it looks like eleven days of beer-filled fun.  The beer events range from big to small, so pick your event and try some interesting beers!

San Diego's Best Breweries?

The San Diego Reader has produced a list of San Diego's top twelve breweries*.  In the article, the breweries are listed in alphabetic order:

AleSmith Brewing
Alpine Beer Company
Amplified Ale Works
Ballast Point Brewery and Spirits
Benchmark Brewing
Green Flash Brewing Company
Monkey Paw Pub and Brewery
New English Brewing
Pizza Port
Port Brewing / The Lost Abbey
Rip Current
Societe Brewing

"Best of" lists are fun, but frivolous.  Sure, I read the articles touting the 100 greatest movies of all-time, or the ten best books of the year, or the top fifty beers to drink before you die, but there is bias and personal preference in any 'best of" list, which make them more opinion than fact.  Some of my favorite movies are not going to show up on any "greatest" list, just like some of my favorite beers won't be on a "best of" list.  I'm sure the publication of the supposed twelve best breweries in San Diego corresponds with San Diego Beer Week (SDBW).  I would not argue against any of the breweries on the list, but there are plenty of good breweries in San Diego not on the list, so don't limit yourself to just a handful of breweries. SDBW is a great opportunity to sample the best from many different breweries.

*  Brandon Hernandez who wrote the article for San Diego Reader also works for Stone Brewing, so Stone was excluded from the list.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

CAPT. Sacramento

Black IPAs are the commodity of craft beers in their bland, roasted lack of distinction.   Ruhstaller's  CAPT. Sacramento Black IPA shows that a black IPA can be an interesting beer, separating itself from the generic pack.   CAPT was roasted and not overly bitter, similar to other black IPAs, but it had a spicy characteristic I have not noticed in other black IPAs, and this spiciness gave the beer its personality.  It was rich like a porter (7.6% abv), not thin, a flaw suffered by some black IPAs.  CAPT. is dark mahogany, not black, again more porter-like.  The beer's hop bitterness occurred in mid-taste, and gave way to a soothing sweetness.  Spices and roasted flavors lingered long into the finish.

I have found Ruhstaller beers as far south as Central California, but Ruhstaller's website lists where its beers are available in San Diego:

Best Damn Beer Shop (San Diego)
Bine and Vine (North Park)
Holiday Wine Cellar (Escondido)
K N B Wine Cellars
Major Market (Escondido)
Major Market (Fallbrook)
Specialty Produce
Texas Liquors (Carlsbad)
Valley Farm Markets (Spring Valley)
Whole Foods (San Diego) – Hillcrest
Windmill Farms Market (San Diego)