Saturday, June 28, 2008

San Diego for Isabelle Proximus

There she is. Isabelle Proximus brought to us by the good brewers of Port/Lost Abbey, Russian River, Dogfish Head, Allagash, and Avery. This would of course be Tomme Arthur, Vinnie Cilurzo, Sam Calagione, Rob Todd, and Adam Avery. If you aren't familiar with this beer, the group brewed this beer together and then each one supplied a barrel and a yeast strain to the making of the beer. It was an excellent sour beer and I thoroughly enjoyed my glass. It is almost on the sour level of Beatification, had a tiny amount of funk to it, and just overall bright flavors and sourness. If you happen to get any of the 400 cases total that were made consider yourself lucky.

We didn't stick around at Lost Abbey too long since we had to get back by the late afternoon and we had other place we wanted to hit. First up was Green Flash brewing company a few miles down the road in Vista. Their website states tasting room hours on Saturday are from 11-3, at least when I checked it last week. We got there at 11:30 to visit the tasting room only to find locked doors. Yeah, they now open at noon for their tastings and I hadn't checked back on their website to see if any changes had been made. My bad I guess. But we were really hungry so we didn't want to wait around, so we made our way another few miles down the road to Pizza Port Carlsbad. Here we had some pizza and I had the Poor Man's IPA. I was really hoping Hop Suey would be on tap but it wasn't, and I figured Poor Man's IPA was a single IPA. After finishing my tasty pint of this I was informed it is actually a double (the bartender said above 10%, although Beer Advocate lists ~8%). Got a growler of that and we were on our way.

The next stop on our journey was kinda out of the way, about a 45 minute drive from Carlsbad down to Alpine Beer Company to get 3 growlers of Pure Hoppiness. Yes, we drove that far out of our way (opposite of the way home was) to get just under 200 oz's of Pure Hoppiness. That's how much I like it. Unfortunately no other IPA's were available (Duet IPA should be ready next week) otherwise I would have gotten more. Oh, one huge shout out to Alpine. They charge under $10 a 64 oz. growler for this amazingly tasty Double IPA known as Pure Hoppiness (earlier in the day I was surprised Pizza Port charged me $20 to fill a growler of Poor Man's IPA in a growler I already own! Yes I checked to make sure that was correct and the guy at the bar said pitchers of it cost that much so my growler does too- sucks huh? If he hadn't already filled it when I found out the price I would have passed).

After the quick Alpine stop we headed up to Stone World Bistro & Gardens to purchase some 12th Anniversary tickets and a growler of their IPA. We also went to the bar to have a beer. I chose Oskar Blues Dale's Pale Ale which I've had before and enjoy. It's really an IPA, and a tasty one at that. My friend Steve ordered a Mad River Steelhead Extra Pale Ale which he started to drink but didn't like. We switched glasses and I drank the Mad River. I actually really liked it, since I was in the mood for something lighter in alcohol and flavor at this point. It has a fairly subtle fruitiness to balance out the light grain that comes though. Refreshing on this warm windy afternoon.

We got home back to Upland and our friend Adam called us to let us know there were two extra tickets for his suite at Dodger stadium for that night's Angels (my favorite team) vs. Dodgers game. It was fun, I had 2 crappy Coor's Lights and a water that was more flavorful, and my Angels pitched a no-hitter..... AND STILL LOST! What a ridiculous game to have to watch amongst all the Raider... I mean Dodger fans. Anyway, we finished the night at The Back Abbey, a new Belgian beer bar close to home in Claremont, CA, with a Moinette Blond and Saison Dupont. I do recommend checking out The Back Abbey if in the Inland Valley, it's a great new place and not your standard Inland Empire trashy bar.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Russian River Blind Pig IPA

I think a lot has been said about Russian River on this website (go figure, it's a CA-based blog) and I know I've mentioned how much I love their Blind Pig IPA but I haven't given a good descriptor of it. A couple pints last night gave me a chance to really think about it.

As you can it pours clear with an orangish hue, which is probably escalated just a bit from the dark room and flash of the camera. They really focus on the hops in making this beer. If you've ever had a chance to taste their other single IPA which they just call "Russian River IPA" then you know that one has a touch more of a balance to it (while still being really hoppy). When you smell Blind Pig you get a huge wave of resinous citrus. The taste leaves you with that huge citrus punch combined with a bit of a tropical fruit like sweetness and a lot of bitterness. The body is really light. I could see some people wanting to use the term watery, but it's pretty much how I like them. It is such a tasty IPA, but to be honest it's one I could only drink maybe 2 pints of at the most. It just bruises my tongue so much I feel like I have a few layers of hop oils coating my mouth. Even when I woke up this morning I could still feel it (after brushing my teeth before I went to bed).

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sweetwater IPA

Maybe not the most notable brew from the Sweetwater brewery in Atlanta, that would of course be the Sweetwater 420 Extra Pale Ale. They also have beers called Happy Ending, Donkey Punch, and Jack Ass for your personal information. This IPA turned out a little better than I expected, as the brewery has a somewhat good reputation but from what I have gathered none of their beers are really that highly rated. There's quite a malt base to this with more of a lightly toasted feeling but the citrus tasting hops are there too. Really a pretty easy beer to drink. If it wasn't almost 7% ABV I would say it's pretty sessionable. 3.95/5

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Dogfish Head Aprihop

I couldn't find a whole lot to say about this beer. It's pretty soft in flavor, maybe due to it being bottled about 4 months ago. Being a form of IPA, I assume it's lost some of its luster in that amount of time. Either way, the main player- apricot- comes though subtly against a grainy malt backbone. Not a lot (if any) hops to be detected in any distinctive way. With all that said, it disappeared from my glass pretty darn fast. Mom and Dad enjoyed it as well. Probably a real winner when it's at its freshest.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Smuttynose Big A IPA

Big thanks to my friend Brian for sending this beer to me. At 9.2% alcohol this Double IPA is a palate bruiser. Primarily what aromas and flavors that come through are pine (big time) and orange zest. The taste has more of a sweet orange to it backing up the abrasive resinous hop feeling that coats the mouth. The most amazing thing I think is that they got big flavor and made it a hefty 9.2% alcohol, yet kept the body a steady medium and not a thick gooey syrup like some Double IPA's. It's definitely not a beer you're going to be able to quaff at any respectable rate, it's a sipper for sure. 4.05/5

Thursday, June 19, 2008

NorCal Trip Roundup

I hope this post serves as a "what-to-do" and "what-not-to-do" when on a Northern California Beer Trip.

Monday Night- Day -1
I picked up my friend Brian, The Baltimore Beer Guy, at Union Station in the evening after work and we headed home to get ready for our trip in the morning. Since he had never had a Russian River beer I decided to get my sours out and put together a little tasting since I wasn't sure if any would be available up at the brewpub. What started with a simple lineup of Temptation, Sanctification, Supplication, and Beatification quickly mushroomed into a hell of an experience as I decided to get out a Lost Abbey Vertias 003 to try. Since that is made partly with Cuvee de Tomme I decided to get a bottle of that out for him to see what it tasted like on its own. Then lastly it was time to consume the bottle of Lost Abbey Veritas 001 that the good folks at Lost Abbey let us hand-bottle during the Barrel Tasting last year. This was probably the best lineup of beer I've ever had at one time and the nice surprise among the bunch was how good the Veritas 003 was. It is honestly what I wish every Strong Belgian type dark ale could mimic. It was very hard to describe other than really sweet with a bit of fruit, yet not cloying at all. It went down easier than probably most beers I've had. After that we finally got some sleep for our early departure.
Pictures -

Tuesday - Day 1
We left Southern California at around 8:30am and made great time getting up to the world famous Toronado in San Francisco at 2pm with only one stop in between. Being a weekday afternoon it was actually more crowded than expected with most of the bar seats taken, but we were able to grab the last table available. It would probably be considered a light crowd for the regulars. The big tap board was easy to navigate and it took me a whole 5 or 6 seconds to make up my mind that I wanted a light, crisp, refreshing Moonlight Reality Czech Pils, ranked as the #51 beer in the world on Beer Advocate's Top 100 imperial stouts list (think about that for a second). It certainly did hit the spot and the beer sausage with mild chilis and spicy chili was a great compliment. We stayed for another round, this time I ordered a beer I'd never seen before- Firestone's Lil' Opal Saison (pictured left). It definitely had a lot of the saison thing going on and was interesting, although I liked Reality Czech better.
We left after our second round and went straight to Santa Rosa to check in to our hotel and then walked over to the Russian River brewpub. This was the second time up there for my friend Steve and I, but the first time for our friends Adam and Brian. I just stayed with my Summer hop kick and had the RR IPA, Blind Pig, and Pliny the Elder before we called it a session and headed over to Third Street Aleworks. Third Street was a quick stop as we ordered 1 sampler between us and a couple appetizers and killed it all in a short time. After a long day we headed back to the hotel and turned in, since there really isn't anything to do in Santa Rosa after midnight.
Pictures of day 1 -

Wednesday - Day 2
We first went The Flavor Bistro, a really nice little restaurant in downtown Santa Rosa. We arrived when it opened at 11am and the beer of choice here for myself was another Reality Czech Pils. Brian went with the Moonlight Bombay By Boat IPA I believe. Needless to say, Moonlight makes some great beers, so if in Northern California you have to seek them out, and one of the best places is at The Flavor Bistro who has about 7 or 8 moonlight beers on tap.
After that early lunch we took off and headed 15 miles north to Healdsburg to visit the Bear Republic Brewpub. We are very familiar with their big 4 beers you see around here- Racer 5, Hop Rod Rye, Red Rocket Ale, and Big Bear Black Stout. I didn't expect them to have 13 beers on tap though so that was awesome. We got 2 samplers between the 4 of us and went to town. The standout in the bunch to me was the Rebellion IPA, an all-simcoe hopped IPA. It was bursting with that awesome simcoe smell and flavor. They also had a black witbier called Black Mamba which took me by surprise because I had previously only seen this style once before brewed by our local The Bruery.
When we finished at Bear Republic we thought it would be a good idea to switch things up and hit a winery, so we chose "J," also located in Healdsburg. They make really good champagne... er sparkling wine... that's how I knew about them but my friend Steve knows more about wine than I do so he was quite familiar with them. This stop was really fun but it was the beginning of a turn in the wrong direction. After that we went to two other wineries- Longboard and Kendall-Jackson. We finished with some food at the Healdsburg Pub & Grill where I had a very refreshing Alaskan IPA. That trio of wineries just killed me though, I was asleep in the car on the way back and asleep for a couple hours at the hotel after that. Somehow the guys got me to muster up enough energy to get back out to the Russian River brewpub that night though. Here I started with a Fleurette- a beer they brewed with Italian brewer Agostino Arioli. It is brewed with violets, roses, some black pepper, and some other stuff... none of which I could taste any of. I just didn't like this beer... it didn't taste like anything to me. So I moved onto and finished the night with the super hoppy and always refreshing Blind Pig IPA.
Pictures of day 2 -

Thursday - Day 3
I woke up this day with a headache thanks to all that wine that I'm not use to. Rule #1 I'd like to pass along- When planning a beer trip, just stick to beer (and water)! That's the last time I ever throw in wine on a beer trip. We got up and went over to The Flavor Bistro again and I had another Reality Czech Pilsner, which didn't help the headache much.
At about noon we took off down into the bay area because we had to drop our friend Adam off at the Oakland airport in the evening. This wasn't really my ideal situation since it's hard for me to be away from where I'm staying (ie home, a hotel, or whatever) for an entire afternoon and evening. Thanks to the genes I inherited I'm moderately anemic with a form that is not treatable so I get tired pretty easily (ok, that's about all the sympathy I want). Well this outing for our Thursday was a bit draining on me. So already having a headache and feeling tired due to not sleeping well I was already falling behind. We went from the Flavor Bistro to Lagunitas, but got there at 1:30 and the only time they are open is at 3pm for a tour and tasting. So we left and went to Moylan's where I had their cask ESB- easily the worst beer I tried this week. In general, Moylan's beers don't really excite me, although I do like their Hopsickle. After that we sotra started in with the time-filling activities... hitting up Fisherman's Wharf for some seafood, then 21st Amendment Brewpub for a Watermelon Wheat. I want to think all the beers I had on this day were not that good because I was I wasn't in peak form, but Watermelon Wheat is also another letdown. It tastes just like a standard wheat beer when you take the watermelon wedge off the rim of the glass. We had a round there and left to take Adam to the airport. After the airport we went to a newer Belgian beer bar in Oakland called The Trappist. This was a stop I was very excited about this week and it lived up at least in atmosphere. I had a Moonlight Working For Tips, which was interesting- a dark kinda beer brewed with redwood tips. It wasn't my favorite beer in the world, but it was interesting. My next beer was the Linden Street Common Lager, from the Linden Street Brewery in Oakland. Again, didn't impress so much. Keeping with the disappointments, we split a couple bottles of Duchesse de Bourgogne which was so overpoweringly sweet it wasn't funny. Lastly we found one that could not be ruined by it's predecessors, Fantome Printemps. That was a very good saison. Fruity, belgainy, light, refreshing, and funky with notes of my feet after a long day's work... all that good stuff.
Pictures of Day 3 -

Friday - Day 4
Ideally, on our last day, we would have just stayed around Santa Rosa, maybe gone up to Bear Republic or even Anderson Valley but for some reason we decided to drive to a winery that was a little over an hour away for some overpriced tasters and cheese plates. Gotta admit, the place was cool... a nice structure with a great view. But I shoulda remembered this was a beer trip. The trip was already taking it's toll on us and the 2+ total hours of driving in the morning here wasn't that great of an idea. Thankfully there is that little thing called the Russian River Brewpub to revive the spirits. The rest of the day concluded with much Pliny the Elder and pretty much everything else on their menu. I came home pretty light, with only 3 growlers- one each of their IPA's (the Pliny of which has already been exhausted).
Pictures of Day 4 -

Saturday - Day 5
We had to drop off our friend Brian at his parents Hotel in Buellton, and thankfully that was only about 1 block away from the Firestone taproom so we stopped in for some lunch and pints of the tasty Union Jack IPA. That pretty much concluded what was a pretty good trip. Overall I would have liked to have laid low and drank at the Russian River brewpub more often, but you live and learn I guess. It was still a fun trip with some good memories, and I calculated that I consumed just over 300 ounces of beer during the trip.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Last Day Up Here

We got up and went to Napa to the Domaine Carneros for some champagne and cheese. Then came back and got some beers and lunch at Russian River.

Yesterday consisted of Moylan's, 21st Amendment, and The Trappist.  The Trappist was the best place of this bunch, really cool feel to it, and a few good beers as well ;-)

We will put in a long evening at Russian River tonight and head back early tomorrow morning. We have to stop by the Santa Barbara area to drop a friend off and may stop at Firestone. Other than that, our vacation is just about over.  I may need to take a day or two break from beer after this.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Checking In From NorCal

Got up here Tuesday as expected after a couple rounds at the Toronado. I was pleasantly surprised to find Moonlight's Reality Czech Pilsner which was so tasty. Once we got to Santa Rosa we stayed at Russian River for a handful of rounds while watching the Laker game. There's seriously not too many better things than enjoying a RR IPA, Blind Pig, and Pliny the Elder in a night.

Wednesday morning we hit the Flavor Bistro for an early lunch. Again had the Reality Czech Pilsner here. We then headed up to Healdsburg for a visit to Bear Republic's brewpub. To our surprise they had about 13 beers on tap. Some of their specialties were GREAT, including my favorite the "Rebellion," which was an all-simcoe IPA.

After that we hit the J, Longboard, and Kendall-Jackson Wineries. Finished the night back at Russian River.

Today we have to head down into Oakland to take one friend to the airport. We will probably try to stop at Lagunitas, Moylan's, Tornado, 21st Amendment, and The Trappist. Will have a bunch of pictures up when we get back home on Sunday. All I have to work with right now are pictures from a friend's blackberry.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Aaaaaand We're Off

In about 8 hours and 457 miles we'll be up to Santa Rosa. There probably won't be too much stopping since it's just a straight shot up the 5 for the most part, one of the most boring drives possible through CA farm country, until we get to the Toronado that is.

Our list of places to get to looks like this:

  • Toronado, SF
  • Russian River Brewpub (duh) (many times over the 4 days)
  • Third Street Aleworks, Santa Rosa
  • The Flavor Bistro, Santa Rosa
  • Bear Republic Brewing, Healdsburg
  • Lagunitas Brewing, Petaluma
  • HopMonk Tavern, Sebastopol
  • Maybe a winery (J Vineyards in Healdsburg possibly)
If you know anything else worth hitting up there, even if it's a nice restaurant for dinner or something, let us know!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Alaskan Smoked Porter

Yesterday I saw an episode of The Thirsty Travel on Fine Living Network where he visited some Alaskan breweries. One of the beers highlighted was the Alaskan Smoked Porter. That prompted me to finally pull out a bottle from the fridge and try it. The only smoked porter I've ever had is that made by Stone. I know they keep their smoky flavor in it pretty low, and I've heard Alaskan lets the smoke fly. I must say, the smokiness in this isn't overwhelming or anything but it does add a really nice dimension to the smooth dark malt used. 4.5/5

Night of Sours

My friends basically bought these beers by giving me a gift certificate to Hi-Time Wine Cellar, so naturally they needed to be around to share them with me. And I've been waiting a while to finally try some Cantillon beers.

We started off with a mild sour calibration consisting of Rodenbach Flemish Sour Ale. This beer is really nice, as the tartness is somewhat mellow and a whole lot of fruit comes out of it. The darker base gives it more of a deeper, richer taste. A nice beer, certainly similar to Monk's Cafe Flemish Sour.

Next we got into the heavy hitters. Cantillon Iris is a lambic with a bit of a twist. They hop it a little more aggressively than usual and use all malted barley instead of a portion of unmalted wheat. To be honest I couldn't really detect any of those differences. What I could detect was a pretty sour beer with a mild fruitiness to it. The smell even beat out the amazing taste. At first it's a whole lot of smelly funk. I mean it's almost off-putting, except that we are weird and like beverages that smell like feet. Overall this was really my favorite of the night.

The third of four beers was Cantillon Rosé De Gambrinus. This beer is a Framboise, containing a good amount of raspberry flavor. The raspberry isn't in-your-face dominant like the New Glarus Raspberry Tart, but has a nice amount hiding behind a pretty strong sourness and acidity. Sour raspberry isn't my favorite flavor for a beer but it was cool to try at least once, and I would have it again if it were the only thing that could give me a sour fix.

Lastly was Cantillon Classic Gueuze. As expected this was more intense than the Iris. Less fruit, more sour, and much drier. It was really great, but exhausting on the palate after the previous three beers. It also loses its carbonation really fast which was kinda odd. I would definitely get this again when in need of a gueuze though.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Rubicon IPA

I love not working cause it means I can enjoy a bunch of beers while sitting around and watching baseball. Today was my undergrad alma mater, UC Irvine, taking on LSU in the super regionals. UCI, despite only re-starting their baseball program back up about 6 years ago, made it deep into the College World Series last year and is threatening again this year (with an ex-USC head coach legend leading them).

So today's choice was made based on what would work well with my spicy chili and nachos for dinner. The choice was Rubicon IPA, from the brewery based in Sacramento. It's ok overall. I probably wouldn't get another bottle of it just cause there are so many really great IPA's out there. I still enjoyed a full bomber of this. It's very floral in it's aroma and taste, very similar to Ballast Point's Big Eye IPA. It has a pretty good maltiness to it, which I don't actually prefer too much. I like a lighter IPA with only a hint of malt backbone in to let the hops shine through unimpeded. It still carried a nice hop flavor and moderately resinous bitter finish. Giving this a 3.75/5 and would still order it if I was ever at their brewery, but probably not seek out another bottle.

As for UC Irvine, 1 more win to go against LSU to get to the College World Series! Zot!

Complaining About Beer Prices?

This story in the Wall Street Journal got me thinking again about ordering beer at bars. I've seen so many people complain recently about how they order a pint and get shortchanged on the quantity served, as if that $6 price listed on the menu is the exact price of 16 ounces. I have never understood the way these people think. When I go to a bar, whether the "pint" is $2.50, or $7, I am basically expecting a pint glass of beer with a bit of foam on the top- the way a beer is correctly served. I don't expect it to be exactly 16 fluid ounces. In fact I hate when beers are served with the liquid to the very top without any head whatsoever. Beer drinkers should assume the beer they are going to be served is a an ounce or two smaller than what is advertised. See, when a beer is served correctly a pint isn't an actual quantity but a combination of quantity and presentation. Because they are typically served in pint glasses the actual quantity you are going to get with a well poured beer is less than 16 ounces. So stop complaining!

On the other hand, if order a pint and are served something in one of these "falsie" glasses that are mentioned in the article, that is just plain misrepresentation and the establishment should be called out on it.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Ommegang Hennepin

A really good Saison! I'll spare the review since most everyone has probably had this but I'm loving me some good saisons right now! Sadly I did drink this whole bottle all by myself, but happily it was while watching the Angels beat the A's 3-1!

A Nice Beer & Cheese Pairing

I never really knew much about cheese before, but recently started to branch out and buy different cheeses. Today at Trader Joe's I picked up Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar. Generally I might enjoy this with a nice hoppy IPA, but a lighter, yet still pretty hoppy Gumballhead sounded really good today. And it does go together very nicely. Try it!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Parallel Blog Tasting: Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron

This is the first parallel tasting between Summer of Beer and my friend across the country, Baltimore Beer Guy. Having had Dogfish Head's Palo Santo Marron sitting on our fridges it was only natural that we enjoy them together through the power of AOL Instant Messenger. Here are some highlights.

On the pour...

BBG - pitch black, slight hint of purple, not much head here, smells like a porter
BBG - mine says bottled 2/11/08
SOB - same
SOB - this thing pours beaut, I got a big head, finger and a half
On the aroma...
BBG - smells sweet, bit of brown sugar in the aroma...they say vanilla on the bottle, and caramel.
SOB - I thought I was gonna get a bunch of weird smells from the wood but I can't really detect any. still smelling it.... seems to be a faint dirt sorta thing in it
On the taste... (PS- we know the wood used here is not oak)
BBG - oh yeh I taste wood, lol.
SOB - ok now i'm on the taste with you
SOB - wow, that is oak.
BBG - lol yeh, not like bourbon oak, but straight up raw oak.
SOB - yeah pure wood... with alcohol.
SOB - is it my dry mouth I have this afternoon or does this beer finish really dry
BBG - seems dry to me.
BBG - that porter smell gives way to a think a slightly sweetened brown all taste... not much alcohol in the taste.
SOB - just now I get a lot of up front sweetness, then this bitter tannic finish.
BBG - definitely getting the sweetness.
SOB - yeah the wood is bigtime in this
BBG - not too sticky either, which doesnt bother me, but surprised its not sticky sweet. they say caramel, I say brown sugar... molasses even.
BBG - I'm enjoying my beer burp there, tastes good in the way back lol
Back to the aroma...
SOB - oh wow the aroma is getting better now after swirling some more. it's a sweetness in there, jumps out of the glass. I wanna say grapes is a pretty close description, but big alcohol soaked grapes.
BBG - the smell has really toned down on mine
BBG - the smell is starting to remind me of the raison d'etre by DFH
SOB - yeah, the aroma is somewhat dominated by a fruity sweetness
Back to the taste and the overall impression of the beer
BBG - you know what this wood is doing, its sort of mellowing the beer out, its doing like it does to wine.
SOB - oh the beer would kick our ass without the wood
BBG - this beer almost might be too damn sweet without the wood, well I think it would be a lot like their worldwide stout which was just way sweet and loaded with alcohol.
SOB - I'm torn on what to give this beer as a taste rating. Not sure it's something I am a huge fan of, although I surely do appreciate it if that makes sense.
BBG - yeh its starting to improve... still a one timer...or just on a whim one day trying another... but not a regular beer
SOB - I think this'll be pegged at about a 3.8-4 overall for me
Overall Scores
  • Baltimore Beer Guy: 3.9/5
  • Summer of Beer: 3.65/5

Hitting The Road For A Beer Vacation

A year ago my friend Steve and I (also Steve) embarked on an interesting journey to Northern California. The main reason was to do a little rafting up near Sacramento, but I used that as an excuse to leave a couple days earlier to stay in Santa Rosa to visit the Russian River brewpub. Even though I had previously had a handful of Russian River beers, the experience just blew me away.

This year I planned a 4 night stay in Santa Rosa from Tuesday June 10th to Saturday June 14th, just to experience it without interruption. Whereas last time we stayed less than a mile away (a nice walk) at the Marriot, we are going with the Hyatt this time which is basically in the exact same location the Marriot is. I foresee a bit of stumbling from brewpub to the hotel again this time. It's me and Steve again this time, but we got a nice surprise that our friend Brian from Baltimore (formerly Pensacola and San Diego) is flying out to take the trip with us. He has yet to have a beer from Russian River but has probably heard me talk about them way too much. In fact I almost feel like I would be setting him up for a letdown, although I'm figuring that's probably not possible with Russian River.

We're going to leave Los Angeles early, although since we're leaving on a Tuesday and have to make our way through LA, it might be best to wait until morning traffic dies down. We'll stop in San Francisco at the Toronado for a couple beers and a sausage and then make our way up to Santa Rosa after that and let the fun begin. We also plan on making visits to Bear Republic, Lagunitas, and maybe Third Street Aleworks over the next couple days. Of course there will also be one or two stops at The Flavor Bistro for their Moonlight Brewing selections.

I'll most definitely be blogging away our experiences during the trip.

What's Really Good?

The new brewery in Placentia titled "The Bruery." They make some really good beers (see a few posts below). This is their Orchard White, a witbier made with the normal stuff plus lavender. I can't really pick up any lavender but I'm not claiming to have the most advanced palate ever. It holds up nice against all the good witbiers you can find out there. If you're in Southern California and out at the good beer shops in the area (Hi-Times, Hollingshead's Deli, Lone Hill Liquor), check them out. They have a few different beers for sale right now.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Clipper City Pale Ale

I just received a little care package yesterday from my friend and fellow beer blogger, The Baltimore Beer Guy. One of the beers in there was a local Baltimore brewery named Clipper City who I have in the past only had, and enjoyed, one beer from. Not only that but it came with a beautiful Victoria Gastro Pub pilsner glass (if I lived close to this place in Columbia, MD, I would be there a few times a week like he is also!). I was itching to try it out so I poured me one tonight.

To start off, it just looks awesome in that beautiful glass. The aroma is bready, more so than most pale ales you find out here. It has a nice peppery hop balance to it. I was having this with some pizza and the caramel maltiness on the light body of the pale ale paired really well. It's a super easy drinking and very tasty beer. Some of the hop flavor is similar to Sierra Nevada Pale Ale- the pale ale I drink most often probably, but it has more caramel to it and none of the somewhat sharp bitterness left in the mouth by SNPA. That makes the 2nd nice beer I've had from Clipper City. 4.15/5

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Three Floyds Dreadnaught IPA

Well, I did it. I was told not to waste the money on this beer. At the brewery (in Munster, IN) it goes for $10 a bomber. I think that makes it one of the most expensive non-barrel aged bombers I've seen. It's also ranked on BeerAdvocate as the #15 beer in the world (how much stock you wanna put in that list is up to you). I decided I might as well take the plunge and find out for myself.

To sum this beer up quickly, it smells and tastes pretty syrupy malty. I don't like syrupy DIPA's. However, it isn't as bad in this respect as others I've had, so I found this somewhat enjoyable. The aroma also has hints of pine and orange, although the malt takes over after the first couple whiffs. The taste has a fair amount of citrusy hops, but again mostly overpowered by the syrupy malt body. I thought this glass was good enough, and wouldn't have too much of a problem finishing off all 22 ounces (although the 9.5% ABV might have it's own opinion).

After being able to drink Alpine Pure Hoppiness, Stone Ruination, and Russian River Pliny the Elder on semi-regular occasion, I just don't see how this comes even close to measuring up. Since Dreadnaught IPA is pretty local to Indiana I can see this is the best double IPA a lot of these people have come near. If they lived on the west coast they would probably realize this is a ho-hum beer compared to the amazing hoppy beers west coast brewers know how to pump out in their sleep. This beer averages 4.45 on BA, I'll give it a respectable 3.65/5.

Three Floyds is one of the most talked about breweries in the US, mostly thanks to Dark Lord, their overrated Imperial Russian Stout. I've now had 4 beers from them and here's how they stack up:

  • Gumballhead Pale Wheat Ale - awesome
  • Alpha King Pale Ale - good
  • Dreadnaught IPA - not bad
  • Dark Lord - drain pour

Ommegang Three Philosophers

There probably isn't too much I can say about Ommegang Three Philsophers that hasn't been said on a million other blogs. I just wanted to try this because I heard it was the premiere "panty-dropping-beer." A beer that any girl would fall in love with. After tasting it for myself I don't really see what the big deal is. It's ok. A quad mixed with a kriek. There is a bit of sweet dark fruit from the quad and a bit of fruitiness (although really subdued) from the kriek and I can't really detect a whole lot of cherry from it either. It also finishes with a dirt-like taste. Honestly I could see either a quad or a kriek by itself doing the trick, but not this concoction. Anyway, no panties were dropped during the tasting of this beer and maybe that's why I didn't enjoy it that much. 3.35/5 for me.