Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Last Wednesday's Drinkabout

When you hear "it got a bit out of hand" or "it jumped up a notch real fast" it could have easily referred to last Wednesday's marathon of beering. The day started out innocently, as my Wednesdays off usually do, with a couple pints at O'Brien's while taking in the Champions League matches for lunch. I always tell myself I want to try something new when I go here but invariably end up ordering whatever ends in "IPA". This day involved a Green Flash West Coast IPA and a Pliny the Elder, the latter of which I don't partake in much anymore, but this one was pretty fresh and nice. I usually stick with the awesome 3 Grilled Cheese but I revisited the Spicy Pepper Jack burger which is a delicious burger (it has chili paste or something in it).

I usually retire back to my place for an afternoon nap to recover for whatever may present itself at night, but instead headed south towards SDSU for a visit to KnB Wine Cellar which the Booze Reviews crew always raves about. It's a cool little wine/beer/liquor store with a nice indoor/outdoor lounge area. They have about 10-12 beers on tap, mostly very high quality, although there was PBR also (on special to boot). I was shocked to see Flying Dog's Raging Bitch on tap so I immediately ordered one. The girl began to pour it and said the keg had kicked so I got a little taster glass. At that point I had to text my friend Brian in Maryland who happens to be the unofficial (or is it official yet?) spokesman for Raging Bitch. I also received a message that part of the Booze Reviews crew would be joining me at KnB in 45 minutes, so I had to order up another round- another Green Flash West Coast IPA.

When the rest of the crew arrived at KnB they inquired about Raging Bitch having had kicked, and guess what, it hadn't. Must've been a pressure issue before or something, I dunno, but we ordered another round of Raging Bitch. This beer is a delicious hoppy Belgian brew. I was amazed at how different the bottled and tap versions smelled, though both really hoppy and good, they had a different character each time. This time on the tap I got much more of a Belgian yeast thingy as well. After some appetizers and a couple rounds it was somehow decided that we should hit Blind Lady Alehouse for some pizza to wait for the DrinkAbout shuttle.

Blind Lady was offering a Twitter drinkabout special of $5 Margherita Pizzas if you mention the secret word. That was a great deal and the pizzas were much needed before what ensued. We also quickly downed half liters of Apline Nelson as the drinkabout bus was waiting outside. My beer drinking manhood took a bit of a hit as I think Ashley had to help me finish off the last of my Nelson to catch the bus in time. Thankfully they are sympathetic to someone who had a head start.

The first stop we decided to take off the drinkabout bus was Small Bar, a bar in north North Park owned by the Hamilton's people. This is where I had my worst beer of the night, Napa IPA. It was pretty bad and I didn't finish it (everyone else thought the same). The horrible Napa IPA does not change my view of the Small Bar though, I really like that place. Their food is really good too. After the quick round we hopped on the next bus to catch a ride to our next destination.

The next place we decided to visit was Live Wire, new to all of us I believe. It's a very dark/divey sorta place but they had a good set of taps there, even including Raging Bitch. More Raging Bitch was ordered here, along with Allagash Curieux. I don't even remember what I had here, that was the state I had entered after about 7 hours of beering at this point.

We took the next bus all the way down to Hamilton's, even though the word "Sea Rocket" had escaped our mouths at least 10 times earlier that night. I had never heard of Sea Rocket before and I'm still wondering what the hell the Sea Rocket is like. Anyway, the usual Hamilton's craziness ensued but I didn't even remember hitting Hamilton's until the early morning rehash as I was being driven to my car which was parked at KnB.

Back on the Bus.....

The night ended back at KnB for a round of Ballast Point Sculpin IPA. For as much beer as we'd drank by this point Sculpin still tasted really good. Oh yeah, the night actually ended with Sun Tacos. Can't forget that.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Saturday Morning Post-Hike Beer Session

After a 2+ hour hike through the Mission Trails Park early Saturday morning with the Booze Reviews crew it was time for beer tasting and English Premier replays from that morning. We were able to brave the snakes, poison oak, and ticks to make it back before noon for our first beer- Kriek De Ranke. This beer was crazy sour cherry. I don't think I'd met a sour beer maker that could match the mouth puckering ability of Cantillon, but they did. There was also a nice subtle funk thrown in there too, adding to complexity of this delicious kriek. A refreshing way to rehydrate after the 7 or 8 mile hike. Arsenal took a 1-0 lead right out of the gate. Lesson #1 learned on the day: [for certain reasons] the Booze Reviews crew may not be the best to ask for directions to the parking lot when you're lost on the trail with your kids.

The next beer was Smuttynose Wheat Wine, a beer from their Big Beer Series. I've had a wheat wine before but I don't remember it being anything like this. This brew smelled and tasted like the aroma that fills the area when you're in/near a brewery (usually the vapors coming off the boiling wort). Now I like that smell in that setting, but not condensed into the final beer. JTH was right when he immediately said I would not like this beer as he handed it to me. Actually, I didn't hate it, I just wouldn't drink more than a couple ounces of it at one time.

Up 3rd, batch #1 of Brooklyn Local 1. I acquired this bottle long ago, it's gotta be at least 2 years old now... maybe more? I remember it being better fresh. It was aight now but nothing spectacular. Flavors were kind of a bit muddled in my opinion. I dunno. Arsenal was up 2-0 by this time and on another station Senor Greasy was crying as usual. Lesson #2 learned on the day: It's probably wise to eat before this sorta thing, especially when it's already past noon and you've been exercising all morning. Lesson #3: Sun Taco saves the day, but they need to work on tortillas that are a bit stronger for their burritos and don't explode out of the bottom.

All 3 of the Booze Reviews Crew had raved about Flying Dog's Raging Bitch while we were hiking. I was caught by surprise. I had never heard anyone in Southern California mention this beer. I didn't know it was even in bottles out here, and had only ever seen it tapped at Beachwood BBQ a few weeks ago. Of course, I've heard about it relentlessly from The Baltimore Beer Guy. Flying Dog Raging Bitch seems to be worshiped in Baltimore... I think BBG is forming a cult... instead of Kool-Aid... Raging Bitch. Well it makes sense because this beer was fantastic. The smell was like a citric, fresh green hop sorta thing punch to the face. Very clean hoppy aroma, slight Belgian background but not much- that was more in the flavor. Probably 1 of the top 2 Belgian IPA's made on a semi-large scale in the world (along with Green Flash Le Freak).

At some point in the last couple years I had officially declared myself NOT a Maharaja fan. It's just too boozy for me. The alcohol heat overtakes all the orange citrusy goodness coming from the hops. But this batch was supposedly a little more refined. Either I was still just really thirsty or it was actually much better, because it was a taste of tropical goodness.

Lastly, a bottle of Ithica Le Bleu made an appearance. A new beer to me, it was a really nice tasting sour. Quite sour. But I didn't taste any blueberry. Still grateful to have tried it!

Lesson #4 learned: Morning sessions are pretty draining when it comes to having to go out and start drinking beer again later in the afternoon. I forced a pint of Dorado Double IPA down at Ballast Point and then switched to scotch, Captain & Coke, and back to a tall boy of Miller Lite (at a concert) to round out the day.

Great day all around!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Weekdays off are a good excuse for a beer or few

I usually have a weekday off, and O'Brien's is a good place to grab a couple beers, a grilled cheese, and sometimes garlic fries (when I don't mind breathing fire the rest of the day).

Alpine Duet IPA --------- Bear Republic Apex DIPA

Finishing the day off with a tasting session is not bad either. We tasted Southern Tier Unearthly IPA, Gemini, Raspberry Wheat, Ithica TEN, the new small Supplication bottles, and probably another somethin or two. Unearthly was pretty nice, and earthy. Alcohol well hidden for such a huge beer. Or was that the Gemini? Ithica TEN was a killer imperial red tasting sorta beer.

And Green Flash Imperial IPA is king. A kick ass beer. I forgot exactly how much this bottle cost but BJR of got a sweet deal (somethin' like $3 a bomber?) on a case of these suckers which were "short pours." The fill barely came up to the neck so I guess Green Flash holds them back instead of sending them into distribution. They lack probably about 20 mL less than a normal bottle but still totally, Totes McGotes worth it. Just a fantastically pungent and aggressive beer when fresh. Some people say it's the quintessential "grapefruit bomb" type DIPA.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Some Sunday Beers Cruisin Around SD North County

We started up at the Brigantine in Poway for our obligatory 10am fish tacos. Usually they are accompanied by an Alaskan IPA or Lightning Elemental Pilsner but they had just replaced that with Lightning Thunderweizen. This might've been the cloudiest hefe I've ever seen (fairly meaningless but someone's gotta win that title right?). Super yeasty with a good deal of clove in it. Not bad, but I like my hefe's a little more "clean."

Churchill's: Firestone Saucerful of Merken. Suppose to be some sort of stout/barleywine/Belgian strong ale hybrid. Smelled sweet like a barleywine, tasted roasty like a stout with some fruity Belgian dark ale type notes in it. Quite interesting.

Allagash Fluxus - very saisony... light fruits such as peach and mango wrapped around a heavy earthy yeast presence.

Deschute's Dissident. Nice little tart beer, lots of fruit in it.

Pizza Port C-bad: Pure Hoppiness... redeemed itself a bit. Very fresh, pretty tasty.

Pizza Port Slap & Tickle (pickle). On cask. Bartender said it's a "hoppy american pale ale." Quite good, wonder how much better it woulda been on tap.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale at Mas Fina Cantina up the street from Pizza Port. This is where better judgment didn't prevail this day.

Callahan's pub in Mira Mesa. SD Brewing Co Hopnotic IPA. Very good, but a victim of overindulgence here.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Southern Star Buried Hatchet Stout

Before a couple days ago I had never heard of this brewery, but here sits a can of this 8.25% "Strong American Stout" as it's called by the brewers. This would be my second craft beer ever from my least favorite of our 50 united states (Texas, if you haven't looked it up yet). The head builds up nicely in this brew and is actually much lighter than I expect, it's pretty close to off white (the picture makes it looks a bit darker). This sucker is smooooooth, no doubt from the rolled oats they use. The taste is really rich with tastes of mild coffee and Whoppers malt balls. I consumed this in 3 stages. Those first flavors came out before I started eating. Then as I drank it with my spicy chili I got more of an alcohol presence (like that you pick up in a cocktail) along with a bit of licorice. When I was finishing it with my Samoas girl scout cookies I got the first flavors but much less of the coffee bitterness, probably because the chocolate was coating my tongue.

I think there might be a special ingredient in this because when I drank it I was knocked the fugg out. Like someone had shot shot me IV with 2 mg of Versed.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Surprise Box 'O Beer from East Coast

My friend and beer brother, Steve, stationed in the middle-of-nowhere Georgia right now took a little trip last week into Charleston, SC and sent be back a few brews. This box of beer is a very welcome surprise! 4 of the 5 beers I haven't had before. I've really liked everything Southern Tier has made (except that horrendous buttered-popcorn pumpkin ale they make) so I'm looking forward to trying these others!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Day-off of Beer

Meaning a day off from work filled with beer. First hit O'brien's for a grilled cheese and garlic fries paired with a nice fresh Alpine O'Brien's IPA. Great IPA as always. The malt bill in that is fantastic! (I rarely will even want to say that about an IPA but the complexity WORKS here)

After that I made my way to SD Brewing Co. Their sampler is pictured. The hefe, nut brown, and amber were all solid. The blueberry ale and the raspberry chocolate porter were, well, fruity. They didn't have Hopnotic IPA on but after the bartender noticed my disappointment he magically found me a sample. It was a very delicious IPA. My tasting notes said "citrus, mango, blind pig like, citric bitterness, light fruits"

From there I met Bohdon and Ashley at Toronado. Their Bad Boy, El Camino IPA, and Duet's were much better than the dud Red Chair Pale Ale I got (it was the dregs, was cloudy, tasted muddled and bad- definitely not Deschutes' fault). Strike 2 Toronado.

Lastly that night we had a little growler sess with growlers my friend Steve (steve #2) who is currently in GA sent me. The first was Coast Hop Art IPA. It was pretty good, not great. It had a really big bitterness to it but lacked something overall in the flavor and crispness category. The second was a growler of Double Simcoe IPA which tasted a lot better than any time we've had it out of bottles. Lastly a bottle of White Zin made an appearance (thanks!). It was delicious. The thing smells like a white wine and champagne and then tastes like a bourbon barrel. Really weird how the smell and taste are so polarized!

Couldn't think of a better way to spend a day off!
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