Saturday, March 29, 2008

21st Amendment Brewing, Toronado, & The Buena Vista

A couple of my buddies had to go to San Francisco this week to take an ATF test, so I gave them 4 recommendations on where they need to go while they were in the city.

  1. Toronado. My friends like good beer so when you have 2 full days of nothing to do in SF how can you not go here?
  2. City Beer Store. Hopefully they bring me something back for my generous recommendations.
  3. The Buena Vista. We go to this Irish pub now every time we make a trip to see USC play Stanford. This is the spot for the best Irish coffee in America. That's not just my opinion, that's a fact.
  4. 21st Amendment Brewery. They were already at Fisherman's Wharf so they took my recommendation and made the 2 mile trip here.
So out of all my recommendations they have made it only to 21st Amendment so far, and I didn't like the level of interest I got in them of visiting the others. I've never been to the Toronado so I need them to go and have stories for me when they come back. They did send me some pictures from 21st Amendment which made me really thirsty. They also said all the IPA's were out this morning. The horror!

21st Amendment Brewery

21st Amendment Watermelon Wheat

21st A General Pippo's Porter

UPDATE: I motivated their lazy asses to get out of the hotel and go to the Toronado since it was only 2 miles away. I'm sure they will be thanking me later. I got a bunch of pictures text mailed to me, accompanied by captions of "Where are you, I'm shit faced!" and "Pretty drunk, taking pictures of tap handles."

The Toronado

Some tap handles

Russian River Blind Pig IPA

Don't know what this is

Some decorations

The bathroom art work

I'm proud that my friends mustered up enough energy this morning to go to the Buena Vista for Irish Coffees, which have of course been proven the best hangover cures.

The Buena Vista

Pouring the Irish coffees

Cream going on top

There she is, the famous Buena Vista Irish Coffee

My buddy Loren, this is what you need to pass an ATF test

My friend Steve

No comment

Frangelico Nutty Coffee - Frangelico, Bailey's, Coffee

Back to the Toronado Before the Flight Home

The sausage place next door to the Toronado

You can take your order over to the Toronado and...

...have a nice pint of Blind Pig with them.

Saison Dupont and Russian River Damnation

De Proef Flemmish Ale

Smuttynose Old Brown Dog Ale

It's been about a year now that I've been wanting to try beers from Smuttynose, a brewery out of Portsmouth, New Jersey. My first opportunity was with their Old Brown Dog Ale. This seems to be classified by Smuttynose as an American brown ale, as opposed to a more authentic English brown ale. At 5.7% ABV it's highly sessionable, at least by American Standards.

You can see the pour to the left, it comes out really nice on the pour. The aroma and taste are great though. A little caramel sweetness (they use 60°L) and light chocolate malt combine to form a really nice signature brown ale taste. For anyone keeping score they also use Cascade and Willamette hops and get an IBU of 15. They don't really stand out to me at all. This is a nice malty and sweet sessionable beer. Glad I got to finally try a beer from Smuttynose and I'm glad I have their pale ale and porter also to try.

This Might Be Your Lucky Day

On sale as of today at the Russian River Gift Shop are 3 of their barrel-aged beers.

Temptation, batch #3, is a sour blonde ale aged in French oak chardonnay barrels for 17 months.

Supplication, batch #3, is a sour brown ale aged in French oak pinot noir barrels with the addition of sour cherries.

Beatification, batch #2, is a 100% spontaneously fermented beer blend of two different spontaneously fermented batches, one from 2006 and one from 2007.

If you want to get your hands on these you need to know someone in California because Russian River can only ship to California addresses. The prices run $14, $14, and $15 per 375mL corked and caged bottles respectively (plus S&H of course, which is actually very reasonable at about $11 total for a purchase of 8 beers).

Monday, March 24, 2008

Beer Blogging the Mid-Atlantic: Baltimore Beer Guy

Maryland doesn't just do football and crab cakes. They do beer too. So if you have some spare time (and you obviously do if you've found your way to this blog) and you like beer (again...), hop on over to a new blog from The Baltimore Beer Guy.

Baltimore Beer Guy is a former San Diego-ite and immediately gained a love for Stone Brewing when he first discovered the world of craft beer (I know because we made the journey into the craft beer world our quest). There's no denying he has San Diego blood in him as he immediately gravitated to the IPA and DIPA's at that time. Obviously he knows a good beer when he sees one and, although he had recently been in the beer wasteland known as the Florida panhandle, he is now in a much friendlier beer environment and exploring it like there's no tomorrow. It doesn't hurt his credibility that he began, and is still publishing, a multi award winning sports blog.

This just-outside-of-Baltimore stationed beer blog will be especially useful for those located in the immediate area, but if you're also wondering what's going on with beer (and other stuff for his occasional tangent) in this area of the country then it'll be equally beneficial. So bookmark it, add it to your blog roll, or whatever, because this is sure to be a great resource for what's happening in the mid-Atlantic region.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

A Year Old Bell's Oberon Ale

This year's first batch of Bell's Oberon, a summer wheat ale, comes out next week I believe, but just recently having had a year old bottle sent to me I decided to get to it sooner than later. Bell's has a really cool batch number on the back of every bottle and when you log into their website you can type it in and it'll tell you exactly when this bottle was packaged. This bottle was packaged on May 10, 2007- yeah way too long ago for a 5.8% ABV wheat beer.

Unfortunately the aged showed. However it wasn't bad. In fact it was fairly good, just disappointing in that I realized how good this must be fresh. The wheat isn't huge but the yeast seems to be. I get a banana nut aroma from them along with some noticeably faded hops that left a small bit of bitterness. This is probably a fairly hoppy wheat bear- it reminded me almost of a pale ale. I'll be trying to get some fresh bottles soon so I can enjoy them during the next Summer of Beer.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Pre-Dinner Snack - Weyerbacher Hops Infusion

Weyerbacher, out of Easton, PA, calls this an IPA, 6.2% ABV. The name is actually much better than the taste. This beer didn't deliver any amount of hops and there's no indication on the bottle of whether it's old or not. There are no hops in the aroma, the bitterness is astringent and cheap feeling, and the toasty malt body completely outbalances anything else in the brew. Maybe I'm too spoiled by our west coast, or more specifically, Southern California IPA's. Time to move onto something better.

Next beer, Dogfish Head Festina Peche. Officially the first BerlinerWeisse style beer I've had, though I imagine this isn't the most classic example. Dogfish Head adds peach concentrate to this during fermentation. The bottle I have was brewed last summer so it's getting fairly old right now. The color reminds me of a wit, maybe slightly more gold. The smell is only very faint tartness which seems to be more wheat-derived than lactobacillus. Either way the smell was probably better when it was fresher... I couldn't pick up any peach at all. The taste is really refreshing. Light, faintly tart, slightly wheaty, and a bit citric. The acidity is overall lower than one would think. A nice beer to try, probably the best fresh though.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A Hoppy Great Night

Alpine Pure Hoppiness - Picked up this growler 2 1/2 weeks ago and the electrical tape I used on the cap worked perfectly to seal in the carbonation and freshness. This was probably the best tasting/freshest sample I've had and just keep getting reminded how amazing Pure Hoppiness is. My last growler of it will probably be consumed while I watch the USC vs. Kansas St. basketball game on Thursday.

Firestone Union Jack IPA - My buddy brought this back after he had stopped into the Firestone Taproom in Buelton this weekend. This beer was my recommendation to try when he was there and he liked it so much he rewarded me with a growler. This is a very good IPA. It has a lot of citrus to it and less pine (as compared to their very hoppy pale ale, that is big on the pine). It's a very juicy type of IPA with a lot of citrus and berry fruit flavors. Although this particular sample had lost a fair amount of its carbonation due to the screw top not being modified (taped up), it still held up nicely... In fact I was amazed how it held up compared to the Pure Hoppiness I had right before it which is a bit more harsh in the bitterness.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Brown Ales

I can't tell you how much Dogfish Head's Indian Brown Ale has rejuvenated my interest in brown ales (which wasn't all that much to begin with). I've had Sam Smith's Nut Brown, a seemingly classic for the style, but Indian Brown to me embraces to the fullest what a brown ale can be in terms of flavor. Luckily us Californian's are now gaining access to the Dogfish Head beers and will soon have a diverse lineup of beers to choose from (although I had to trade for the Indian Brown because at this time only 1 DFH beer is being distributed to CA- the Palo Santo Marron).

Sunday, March 16, 2008

What's For Lunch Today

Dogfish Head Raison D'etre, "a deep mahogany ale brewed with Belgian beet sugars, green raisons, & a sense of purpose." ........... Indeed

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Lost Abbey Bourbon Barrel Angel's Share Release Day

My buddy Steve and I departed from Upland at 8am and arrived at Port Brewing/The Lost Abbey at 9:15. We were #92 and 93 in line, with 45 minutes remaining before the doors open. Just to give a little perspective, we got to the brandy barrel Angel's Share release about 15 minutes early and were about #30 in line. We got to the Older Viscosity release about 10 minutes after doors opened and practically walked into the place and got our beers in 15 minutes. We got to the Red Poppy release about 30 minutes early and were #50'ish in line. As you can see, these releases are now getting really popular. Not just with the volume of people showing up, but at what time they show up.

The great thing about all the Lost Abbey releases is they serve you beer while you are in line (although you must get into the building before you qualify to buy some). As always, Beer Molly hooked us up right as we stepped through the doors, while Beer Sage was running around giving the sinners their shirts (pretty cool shirts too it looks like). Angel's Share 5oz. samples were $3 while a pint was $8. Also available for pours was Avant Garde on cask, Serpent's Stout, Shark Attack Double Red, and all the other good stuff they make here. We got a couple tasters of Angel's Share and although I must say the brandy barrel version was very good, this bourbon barrel version was even better. It hits you immediately with an oaky/malty taste that combines into something like molasses, and finishes with some lingering chocolate. I'll be saving these bottles for a really special occasion. Another great bonus was that each person could purchase 2 bottles of Veritas 003.

Overall it took us about 2 hours total with arriving 45 minutes early to purchasing our beer. After that we left pretty quickly as I had to get home in the afternoon to help my little sister do some moving. We did stop in at Oggi's and have some lunch accompanied by some Hop Juice, which as the guys at Pacific Brew News would say, "doesn't suck."

(all this means is I've got some really great beer and I'm now really poor-er)

A Couple Surprises

I found myself scratching my head last December, wondering how North Coast's Old Rasputin Imperial Stout was rated so high by beer lovers. The bottle I had was a drain pour. I had it fresh from the tap a couple days ago and it was a great beer, one of the best Imperial Russian Stouts I've had. My apologies to North Coast, I don't know what was wrong with my palate a few months ago.

A new beer I got to try was the Craftsman Heavenly Hefeweizen. Not very many people know about Craftsman but they make some very good beers close to home here in Pasadena. It's taken me a while to try most of their offerings so I decided to bite the bullet and order the hefe even though it's not particularly my favorite style of beer. Of the two basic flavors that generally come from the hefe yeast this one was tilted more towards the clove, and not so much the banana. The wheat provided a great backbone and it was overall a very good hefeweizen.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Lost Abbey Bourbon Barrel Angel's Share

Last November The Lost Abbey released it's Brandy barrel-aged Angel's Share. This Saturday, March 15th, at 10am, they will release the Bourbon barrel-aged Angel's Share. Though it hasn't been exposed much to the public in the past it's still ranked as the #5 beer in the world on If it's anything like the Brandy barrel version (and I think it'll even be better) than we're in for a great treat.

This beer is being sold in 375mL corked and caged bottles, and is $15 a bottle, with a limit of 12 per person. I plan on being one of the many in line on Saturday morning, probably a good hour or so before the doors open.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Coronado Idiot IPA

I hadn't given the Coronado Brewery over on Coronado Island just outside of San Diego much thought until I heard the guys at Pacific Brew News sample a bottle of the Idiot IPA. They all loved it and I was stoked when I unexpectedly came across it while browsing through Holiday Wine Cellar in Escondido.

It only stayed in my fridge about a week until I got the opportunity to open it up today. I had high expectations for this and unfortunately they weren't met. The beer pours a very dark hazy orange, as pictured. The smell was very much malty. It's hard for me to describe the kind of maltiness that comes in these syrupy double IPA's, but it's not something I like too much. The taste brought me back to the hops. Floral initially, with a rush of sweetness followed by a sticky pine finish and a citrus twang aftertaste. This wasn't as syrupy as some double IPA's I've had- it was slightly below that at about a light-medium mouthfeel.

I'm not sure this is the freshest bottle ever. I also don't think it's super old, so I think I got a fairly good example of it's overall flavor. Unfortunately I won't be seeking this out in bottles again, but I would give it a try fresh from the source on tap if I'm ever at the Coronado Brewery. 3.15/5, C+

Sunday, March 9, 2008

A Little Beer Tasting

Tonight the beers we sampled were:

1. Krait Prestige Champagne Lager
2. Mammoth Floating Rock Hefeweizen
3. Mammoth Double Brown
4. Ballast Point Black Marlin Porter
5. Alpine Captain Stout
6. Bayhawk Chocolate Stout
7. Stone Imperial Russian Stout '05

The Best: I would have to say the Alpine Captain Stout (as expected) along with the Mammoth Double Brown and Mammoth Hefeweizen (a Bavarian-style Hefeweizen).

The Pretty Good: Krait Prestige was effervescent, and although a lager, was fruity enough to remind me somewhat of Duvel. Ballast Point Black Marlin Porter was also pretty good though there was nothing about it that would stand out to me. But by itself it was a pretty drinkable porter.

The HUGE disappointment: Stone IRS '05. I made a whole day down in San Diego basically to get a growler fill of this beer last Saturday. It tasted WAY off. It reminded me of the same taste that made me dump the '07 Dark Lord that I tried this last Christmas. It is a very sad state of affairs. One person exclaimed "it smells like soy sauce," and I agree. It had a twang that was way different than the Stone IRS's I've had in the past. And I've had the '05 vintage on tap at Stone as recent as late November last year and it was the best IRS I've ever tasted (the '04 and '06 I've also had were damned good). Something was wrong here and I don't know what.... bad keg? Bad Growler? I've never had growler problems before.... who knows what's up with this.

Overall: It was a fun night. People loved the Alpine slogan on the growler- "Drink Alpine Or Go To Bed." Mammoth really got a boost as far as my ratings go. I bought a bottle of their IPA over a year ago and hated it, though I then realized I bought a very old bottle. Their Double Brown and Hefeweizen were excellent. I've had enough of the porters and stouts for now. I have a real hop-tongue. Right now I need hops. Once spring break starts in a week I'm going to overload myself with Nugget Nectar, Hopslam, etc.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Alpine Beer Company - Not All About The Hops

No sir, Alpine can bring the malt and bring it hard. This growler of Alpine Captain Stout has now kept in my fridge for 6 days so I opened it up to get a taste. Captain Stout is 5.5% ABV with 34 IBU's and described by Alpine as...

This year round specialty is a Chocolate Oatmeal Dry Stout. Generous usage of roasted malt and a delectable array of Carmel malts give this remarkable beer a coffee, maple, smooth chocolaty flavor one must experience.

Chocolate Oatmeal Dry Stout. I don't know about you but how could you not like a beer described as that. Upon first whiff this beer seems pretty roasty, but when you get your nose down in there you get a ton of caramel malt and a little bit of chocolate too. But wow is that caramel high. The taste is very caramel sweet as well, and a nice roastiness comes in at the end to give it that stout stamp of approval. Overall it's not that heavy of a stout and it goes down pretty easily. I liked it a lot.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Another San Diego Marathon

Everything went pretty much as planned yesterday for our beer run into Alpine and San Diego. I picked up my friend Steve and we made our 2 hour drive to Alpine on Chik-fil-A and Girl Scout Cookies as fuel. When we finally made it down to Alpine around 12:30 we went to the Liars' Club. I ordered a Moonlight Sour Puss (pictured left), which I found is a sour version of their black lager Death & Taxes. The sourness was not hard to find in this beer and when I first tasted it I could easily notice its uniqueness which contained roasted malt in the finish. It was quite good. The next beer I ordered was an Alpine Ale (pictured right), an extra pale ale. Well it wasn't extra pale, as it had a nice golden color to it, but it was extra pale in taste. I couldn't get a whiff of hops at all, or in the taste either. Mainly what I got was a pale malt graininess, and that was about it. It was hard to finish such an uninteresting beer. My friend Steve ordered an Alpine Pure Hoppiness and a Stone 10th Anniversary with his fuego melt that destroyed his mouth and probably everything else along his GI tract.

After lunch we headed down the street to Alpine to pick up some growlers and bottles. Got 2 growlers of Pure Hoppiness, 1 growler of Captain Stout, and some bottles of each. Although it was pretty overcast all day I didn't want them heating up in the trunk so we stopped by a liquor store and got some ice, and I taped the growler screw tops up with electrical tape I had brought since I don't want to drink them for a couple weeks. And we had to keep to girl scout cookies cold too...

After the liquor store we drove over to O'Brien's in San Diego, and got there around 3:30. We ordered some garlic fries and I had a Mission IPA, which won a bronze medal at the 2007 GABF. Very citrusy, with a little grapefruit and a lot of orange, but also the most bitter high citrus IPA I've had. Usually I find the really citrusy IPA's to be lacking in the bitterness category but this had a real harsh (in a good way) bitterness. It was a very good IPA. I wasn't trying to overdo it while I was driving so this was my only beer at O'Brien's and Steve wasn't feeling like having more at this point so we drove our way up to Escondido.

At this point it's about 5:00 and the whole point of staying this late was to get a growler of 2005 Stone Russian Imperial Stout that they were going to fill from 8-10pm. Since we had some time to kill we stopped by Holiday Wine Cellar a few blocks away from Stone. I bought a few things here, the most exciting of which was the Coronado Idiot IPA which I've heard the guys at Pacific Brew News talk about with great applause.

After spending a while in there we got over to a very crowded Stone with 2 hours to kill, and we were tired. It didn't actually turn out to the be longest 2 hours of my life as I thought it would have. I ordered up an 8oz glass of Pure Hoppinees which came served nicely in a warm mini-pint glass. After that we got a bottle of Jolly Pumpkin Maracaibo Especial, a brown ale made with cacao, orange peel, cinnamon, and of course funkified in those barrels they use for all their beers. This beer was actually the least funky I've had from JP, though it did have the standard amount of sourness that all their beers have. I tried hard but couldn't pick up any orange peel or cinnamon, and if anything some of the chocolate character made it though way deep in the background. What I found it to be was a very nice sour beer on a brown ale body. After this beer and a buffalo burger it was almost 8pm so we headed over to the Stone Company Store and got our growler in the queue for the '05 RIS. I'm planning on bringing that to a tasting at a friend's house next Saturday.

That pretty much wraps up that trip. I'm beer'd out right now (yeah right) and have to study today and pretty much every day this week as usual without any extra time for fun, but should be able to get to some good beers next weekend.