Friday, January 30, 2015

Beer Art Collector

I am now a beer art collector, having received my first print this week.  Alec Doherty is the artist who creates amazing beer labels for London's Partizan Brewing.  I may get my beer geek card revoked, but Doherty's cool labels were one of the main reasons I trekked to Partizan when I was in London.

My Bloody Valentine

My Bloody Valentine, the unromantically named annual treat from AleSmith, is a straightforward red ale.  It has a subtle dryness that moves in tandem with the heavy malts.  A sharp hop bitterness on the finish cuts through the malt to round out the beer.  The hops, in addition to countering the malt, seem to lighten the beer, making it easier to drink than more grain-laden red ales.   This beer will not stun you with its brilliance, but it will not disappoint, either.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Empty List

It is great that five Sand Diego craft beer spots made Draft Magazine's list of  top 100 beer bars.   The deserving five are O'Briens Pub, Hamilton's Tavern, The Blind Lady, Tiger!Tiger!, and Encinitas Ale House.  I have been to all except Encinitas Ale House, but its sister pub, The Public House La Jolla, has one heck of a Belgian heavy tap list.   To me - and taking nothing away from the five outstanding San Diego locations that Draft included - any list that excludes Toronado and the San Francisco Toronado makes me question the whole list.  By what criteria could have the Toronados fallen short?

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Winter / Summer

I had two beers over the past week that were complete opposites - one a cold weather complement and the second tasted like summer.  Different as they were, both were excellent.  As its name declares, Stone's Winter Harvest Golden Ale is a winter beer.  Golden Ale in its name belies its heft and Winter Harvest weighs in at a staggering 11% abv.  Each drink delivers silk encased heat.  Winter Harvest was aged for nearly two years in Pinot Noir barrels, and along with the booze, you taste the tart influence of the time spent in the wine barrels.  Winter Harvest, outside of its complexity, is unlike other Belgian golden strong ales I have tried.  I could write a whole post on the variances of golden ales, so it is best not to get dogmatic on convention and focus instead on the beer not the brewer's attention to style guidelines.  From this perspective, Winter Harvest is a sophisticated, delicious beer, and despite its strength the 500 ml bottle seemed too small.  I bought two Winter Harvest bottles and plan to store the second bottle for at least a year.

A few days after my winter adventure I drank some liquid sunshine.  Purchased at the source last summer in London, Partizan Brewery's Saison Lemongrass Grisette was as light and carefree as Winter Harvest was serious and complex.  Lemongrass was, of course, full of citrus, but it had a nice floral flavor, too, to go along with its mellow Belgian yeast.   It was crisp and bright, with a refreshing, intense effervescence.  Lemongrass was delight on the palate.  Sharing a 33 cl bottle (about 11 ounces) made me wish I had brought back more of this saison gem.  

Monday, January 5, 2015

A Delicious Release

I tried Stone Brewing's Delicious IPA about a year ago at Stone's Liberty Station World Bistro and Gardens.  I was told by someone at Stone that it was a one-time brew, and remember thinking that it tasted great and it was unfortunate it was only a single batch.  I guess I was not alone in my opinion that Delicious delivered on its name in taste.  Stone is releasing Delicious IPA starting today in bottles and on draft.   I am not sure whether it is scheduled for regular, seasonal or periodic release, but do know for certain that it is a solid IPA worth buying. 

Delicious is also near gluten-free.  Here is a Stone video on Delicious IPA that goes into detail on its hops and why it is near gluten-free:

Friday, January 2, 2015

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!  I enjoy reading year-end best of lists.  Below are three best of 2014 lists that I liked, and I am amazed that there are so many beers on these lists I have not tried or even knew about.  The first article is from The New School and a blog post written by Mike Sardina who works at Societe Brewing His article is more than just a list and is not limited to San Diego but includes beers and breweries from all of California.   His top two beers are session IPAs, a style I have not embraced.  The top pick was Firestone Walker's Easy Jack, and honorable mention was Karl Strauss' Mosaic Session Ale, which I agree was one heck of a beer. 

The WestCoaster, in its December/January 2014-2015 magazine editorial, lists its three favorite San Diego beers of 2014.  Two were not released in 2014, while the third was 2014's Karl Strauss' Mosaic Session Ale.  Again, two session IPAs make the list with Port Brewing's Pronto SIPA joining Mosaic.  WestCoaster's third entry was Modern Times' Lomaland saison, which was one of four core beers released when Modern Times opened in 2013.  This is a great, no frills saison that deserves more recognition. 

Finally, Brandon Hernandez, writing in the San Diego Reader, did not limit himself to four or five beers on his best of 2014 list, instead he selected fifty beers.  Karl Strauss' Mosaic completes the trifecta.  Many of the beers on the list seem like draft-only beers that were available only at the breweries, which is OK because it makes me realize I need to get out more in 2015.  Mr. Hernandez works for Stone Brewing and its beers were conspicuously missing from the list, so I suspect the list would be closer to 60 beers if it included his favorite 2014 Stone releases.