Showing posts with label San Diego. Show all posts
Showing posts with label San Diego. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Citrus And Piney IPA

San Diego County's The Hop Concept puts the sensation of their brews right on the label, right in the name.  Their beers all utilize hops in inventive ways to offer a variety of tastes and aromas.  Names like "Dank and Sticky" and "Tropical and Juicy" advertise themselves truthfully in their names.

I had their "Citrus and Piney" IPA.  They describe it on the can as boasting "bold orange peel and honey aromas" followed by a "faint hint of bready malt."  Alcohol is 8.5% abv and a four-pack of 16-ounce cans ran me about $15 at my neighborhood specialty market.

The hops are right out front, as they should be with an IPA.  Six varieties of hops were used in this brew: Amarillo, Centennial, Chinook, Citra, CTZ and Simcoe.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Dank And Sticky IPA

San Diego County's The Hop Concept puts the sensation of their brews right on the label, right in the name.  Their beers all utilize hops in inventive ways to offer a variety of tastes and aromas.  Names like "Citrus and Piney" and "Tropical and Juicy" advertise themselves truthfully in their names.

I had their inaugural beer, the "Dank and Sticky" IPA.  They describe it on the can as boasting "aromas of dank, resinous pine" which give way to "a malty backbone and a drying hop bitterness on the finish."  Alcohol is 8.5% abv and a four-pack of 16-ounce cans ran me about $15 at my neighborhood specialty market.

The hops are right out front, as they should be with an IPA.  Seven varieties of hops were used in this brew: Columbus, Chinook, Centennial, Exp. 05256, Simcoe, Mosaic, and Comet.  It was a great addition to the time I spent grilling a steak on the patio. 

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Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Never Better DIPA - San Diego Strikes Again

When I drink beer, it is usually an IPA, or India Pale Ale.  When I'm twice as thirsty, I make it a Double IPA.  Here's one I like a lot, which I ran across at my local Whole Foods Market.

Never Better DIPA hails from San Diego County, which is an area that has yet to disappoint me when it comes to brewing.  The Coronado Brewing Company is a family owned concern on San Diego's Coronado Island.  They have a tasting room and some sort of food service there, too, as I understand it.

This double IPA was made with four varieties of hops: Citra, Mosaic, Vic Secret and Simcoe.  Alcohol hits a lofty 8.1% abv.

The Never Better DIPA shows a beautiful golden-copper color in the glass and a rather hazy appearance.  The suds disappear quickly.  A nose of flowers, pine and citrus is quite inviting, and the palate brings the herbal angle home, along with malt and a slight bitterness, which lingers on the finish.  It's a smooth drinker, too, so the DIPA aspect and the comparatively high alcohol content does nothing to ruin the sipping experience.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Arrogant Bastard Ale

The makers of Arrogant Bastard Ale do all that they can to live up to their marketing.  On the can: "Drink Fresh Numbskull," and on the website: "You’re not worthy."  There is an accompanying monologue which lambastes the makers of "fizzy yellow beer" and the numbskulls who drink it.

The can also reads: "True arrogant bastards refuse to be ignorant.  Know where your beer comes from!"  In the interest of being as arrogant as possible, this beer comes from Escondido, California.  I have yet to try a beer from San Diego County that I did not like, at least a little bit.  Most of them I like a lot.  Like this arrogant bastard.  

It is brewed and canned by Arrogant Consortia, Escondido, CA and Richmond, VA, so they are bicoastally arrogant.  It is actually a subset of Stone Brewing, which launched Arrogant Bastard in 1997, and for my money Stone is the best damn brewery around.  Arrogant alcohol tips 7.2% abv.

Arrogant Bastard Ale is a strong American ale, dark and malty and laced with a caramel note. It is dark enough to be getting close to porter territory.  The palate is slightly bitter and carries a nutty sensibility that is completely charming.  

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Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Beer From San Diego County

Much as I am amazed at how many great wines come out of Lodi, I find the same fascination with beers from San Diego County.  They're all good.  Some are pretty damn good, like the Mosaic Double IPA from Belching Beaver Brewery in Oceanside. 

I snagged this off the shelf at Whole Foods, almost without looking, after waiting in a short line to enter the store.  I knew others were waiting for me to leave, so I played the good neighbor and forfeited my treasured ten minutes scanning the beer cooler.  I grabbed a colorful label, so sue me.

Mosaic is made with 100% Mosaic hops, which are complex enough to generate many descriptors from tasters.  They definitely give this India Pale Ale a different angle than most IPAs.  Alcohol tips in at 8.8% abv.

The nose on this brew is hoppy, for sure.  It is more floral/herbal than citrus, though.  On the palate, the hops turn in some grapefruit flavors and there's a bit more maltiness than I usually find in an India Pale Ale.  It's a complex enough package that it could be considered a "sipper" rather than a "gulper."  You will want to savor this one, not merely quench your thirst with it.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Mom-In-Law Comes Through With Choice Stout

Old jokes about mothers-in-law don't apply here.  My wife's mom loads me up with booze at Christmas, for which I am grateful.  There were two nice bottles, one of gin and another of vodka, and she knew I liked craft beer so she threw one of those into the stocking.  It was an imperial stout that she probably picked up at random.

Or not. A true Las Vegas resident, Verna loves the trappings of Sin City, and a beer called Sin Tax surely beckoned her.

Handcrafted in Vista, California, north of San Diego and east of Oceanside, this beer comes from a great area for the craft style.  When I lived in San Diego decades ago, there weren't so many options, but what was there was choice.  Today, you can hardly miss with a San Diego County bottle or can.

Mother Earth Brew Company makes the Sin Tax Imperial Stout with "premium British crystal and roasted malts melded with a Maris Otter base and American hops."  It's dry at 8.1% abv and they call their flavor-laden creation a "guilty pleasure."  "Don’t let it fool you," they say.  "This is an imperial stout first and foremost.  The peanut butter is simply featured to augment what is already there…a fantastic example of a legendary beer style."

This crazy brew has a nose that knocked me down.  Shades of blackstrap molasses hit first, then brown sugar, then caramel, then coffee.  Talk about aromatic and expressive, this is it.  The medium mouthfeel isn't creamy, but almost - it's smooth and gentle.  Flavors of espresso, Mexican chocolate and cocoa beans fill the flavor profile with dessert ideas.  I had one large bottle, and it satisfied both my sweet tooth and my taste for beer.

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Monday, November 20, 2017

Wake Up And Smell The San Diego Stout

San Diego's Modern Times Beer is an inventive and committed craft brewery. I tried their Orderville IPA a bit ago and loved it. More good news: they make a terrific stout. Black House doesn't knock one over the head, but it sure knocked me out. It's light on its feet and laden with fragrance and taste. Alcohol hits 5.8% abv is this easy-drinking stout. They list the ingredients as kiln coffee malt, oats, pale chocolate malt, black malt, along with roasted barley, biscuit and crystal 60 malts. The coffee used was three-quarters Ethiopian and one-quarter Sumatran.

The Modern Times Black House stout is a must for coffee lovers. This oatmeal-style beer smells like a cup of very strong coffee. It's fairly light-bodied for a stout but carries the heaviest, darkest aromas and flavors. The sip brings not only coffee, but chocolate into the party. The mouthfeel is perfect for food, and it pairs well a fall-influenced roasted butternut squash as well as pan roasted chicken on toasted couscous.

Monday, October 23, 2017

San Diego Beer: Orderville IPA By Modern Times

You've probably experienced the same sort of thing that happened to San Diego’s Modern Times Beer, only maybe not with hops. The story of their Orderville IPA is all about great passion, the best intentions, bad luck and a happy ending. Er, a hoppy ending.

Their blog, by proprietor Jacob McKean, describes how they set out to make a "wet-hopped" beer, using freshly harvested, green Mosaic, Simcoe and Chinook hops. They intended to brew the beer and dry-hop it with those wet hops. Not being a brewer, I'm lost already, but they say it sounded cool at the time and I agree with them.

This is where things went wrong. I'll let McKean get all beer-nerdy again. "The harvest, of course, didn’t shake out at all as predicted, and we were forced to brew two entirely separate beers: one with wet Simcoe, another with wet Chinook. The wet Mosaic showed up late—naturally—so we dry-hopped the Simcoe beer with the wet Mosaic. But we ordered so much Mosaic that we literally couldn’t fit
anywhere near enough of it into the fermenter, so we filled the hopback with the wet Mosaic and recirculated the beer through it over and over and over and over again." Then the two beers were blended, and that's Orderville. It is, by their own description, a "completely absurd and radically inefficient" way to make beer. But it's a happy - and hoppy - ending.

This Point Loma beer is one of the most distinctive IPAs I've ever tasted. As an IPA true believer, even I recognize that the style tends to taste almost interchangeable at times. This one most certainly does not. The green hops give the beer a less "roasted" feel. The aroma is fresh and almost biting, less floral and more herbal. The flavor profile has a bit of a cantaloupe note amid the citrus, which is something I've never experienced before. It's dry, it's fantastic, it's food-friendly and it paired very well with a pepperoni flatbread.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Stone Ruination Double IPA 2.0

Escondido's Stone Brewing has long been a favorite in Southern California. They are probably a favorite in other areas, too, but I don't know what their distribution is like. You have to feel like you've made a good beer choice at the market when the guy behind you in the checkout line says, "Mmm, Stone. Good stuff." I understand that women sometimes talk to each other in the checkout line, even in restrooms, but men as a rule don't, so it's high praise when they do.

Stone Ruination Double IPA 2.0 debuted in 2002 as a "liquid poem to the glory of the hop." They like to say they bow to both the beauty and the boldness of the little flower. They draw all the "piney, citrusy, tropical essence" of hops to make the craft beer lovers of today glad it's not the '70s anymore. For hops nerds, it's reportedly Centennial, Citra, Simcoe and Azacca hops that give Ruination its character.

Ruination's nose gives a refreshing blast of citrus and floral, with a hint of that lovely bitterness you await on the palate. When you sip it, or gulp it, depending on how thirsty you are, you get that pleasure. Flavor is what IPA is all about, and Ruination delivers. The foamy head dissipates medium-quickly and leaves nice traces on the glass. Call it ruination if you like. I call it refreshment.

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Friday, October 13, 2017

IPA: Redhook Long Hammer

Redhook Brewing was founded in Seattle in 1981, when beer was bad and everybody knew it. The craft beer movement was the best thing to ever happen to beer drinkers. Once I broadened my beer horizon with Guinness, Newcastle, Fuller's ESB and the like, I could only smh - if that abbreviation had existed then - that American brewers couldn't seem to get beer right. Yet they sold damn much of it.

Redhook was a favorite tap choice of mine in my San Diego years, of which there were only two. That handle seemed to be poking its head up from every bar in town, including the one across from my Pacific Beach apartment. I saw it a lot, and I called its name a lot.

Before that, in L.A., my drinking buddies and I had the idea that you could order any beer with the word "red" in its name and feel secure that it would satisfy. Red Stripe, Mendocino's Red Tail, San Diego's Karl Strauss Red Trolley - there were probably more that I don't remember. The trick worked until Michelob, I believe, came out with a red-branded beer of some sort, then Bud. The novelty didn't work anymore. But Seattle's Redhook was always reliable. Plus, it has a cool logo. Oh, and they make a Purple and Gold version which I suppose is in honor of the University of Washington Huskies, although I'm sure the NCAA would not sanction such a thing. The NFL might, but the Seahawks' colors were too ugly for a beer can. Full disclosure: Redhook does actually incorporate an approximation of that green not found in nature on their Long Hammer cans and bottles.

Redhook Long Hammer Dry Hopped IPA is an amber beer has a little oomph and a little less citrus than a typical India Pale Ale. The nose has a nutty, grainy texture - not really too floral at all. That's unusual in an IPA, which is usually hopped to the max. The Cascade hops used to make Long Hammer are administered with care and reason. It drinks smooth and easy, even when the chill has worn off a bit. A nice frothy head whips up on the pour and gets out of the way quickly. An earthy finish provides a nice memory. Alcohol at 6.2% abv means a couple of pints won't do you in. It hits me as a winter IPA, while the style typically makes me think of relief on a hot, sweaty summer day. This will do then, too.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

San Diego Beer - Sculpin IPA

Sometimes those 22-ounce bottles of beer come in pretty handy. If you're a beer lover, and you're only having one beer, this is a good one to have. Either this or a 40. It's a good size for anyone who is the recipient of stares that say without speaking, "You’re having another one?" Well, if you can only have one without "getting into it," this is certainly a good choice.

Ballast Point Brewing and Spirits is one of the better reasons to go to San Diego, Temecula or Long Beach.  They have a lot of tasting rooms open in Southern California, but it all started in the place Angelenos like to think of as "Iowa by the sea." The thinking there is that Midwesterners, when listing places where they'd like to escape a bitter winter, have only place on the list. Fortunately for them, San Diegans make a lot of good beer.

This zippy Sculpin India Pale Ale carries a chestnut golden color and a slight head of fine white froth, which clings to the glass. The nose is loaded with fresh pine needles and lemon zest, with a hint of grapefruit running behind. The palate is creamy and very hoppy with a floral trace on the more beery notes. The Sculpin is a perfect example of why I like IPA enough that I'll often go without a beer if one is not available. And that's a big sacrifice for a beer lover to make.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Green Flash Imperial IPA

When I lived in San Diego in the mid-'90s, one of my favorite late afternoon hangouts was a restaurant in Pacific Beach called Armando's The Green Flash.  What I liked best about the place was sitting at the bar near sunset with ceviche and an I.P.A.  Looking right out over the Pacific Ocean I tried over and over to see the elusive green flash - the flash of green light that occurs at the exact spot and the exact time the sun sets into the water.  I think I saw it, but maybe I just let myself believe I did.  Either way, the ceviche was outstanding and so was the I.P.A.
Green Flash Brewing Company is not affiliated with the restaurant.  I don't know if they take their name from the atmospheric phenomenon or from a superhero, and it doesn't matter to me.  They brew some truly great beer in Vista, CA, just a little bit up the coast from San Diego.
The Green Flash Imperial India Pale Ale is a rocking good beer.  Deep amber in color, it looks great in the glass.  The nose is extremely hoppy, bursting with floral notes and showing a twist of citrus.  The taste is also full of flowers with a broad lemon streak and a slight hint of almond.  This I.P.A. has a wonderfully creamy texture in the mouth - very full and opulent.  It's definitely a "desert island" beer, and there are few brews I enjoy as much on a warm afternoon while awaiting the green flash.