Tenaya Creek Brewery – Las Vegas NV

Tenaya Creek has been around since 1999 though only recently moved to their location in downtown Las Vegas. They have a spacious tasting room with excellent air conditioning and a wide variety of guest taps besides their own house beers. I tried seven different beers while I was there and overall quite satisfied.

I started with Hop Ride, their flagship IPA. It was dank and resinous with a bitter bite and notes of pineapple and banana on the finish. While it was tasty, it had a lingering bitterness that I didn’t care for. The Gypsy Fade IPA was much more modern with a minimal bitterness and bright fruity hops that blended nicely with herbal hops on the base. I quite liked this one.

The Magnum Rye was a nice fruity saison with notes of white cake and mild floral and herbal hop character and hints of bubblegum on the finish. The hops are quite subtle here and not anywhere near as powerful as I would have assumed but they work nicely with the base beer. The Howling Oats oatmeal stout blended notes of cherry malt base with tons of roast and finished with a bitter bite. I enjoyed the chewy body and how the cherry flavor didn’t dominate.

The Old Jackalope barley wine had notes of caramel but the hops overpower it with a strong bitter finish that I didn’t care for. I did not finish the taster. The silencer double IPA had a nice caramel malt base that blended nicely with sweet candied mango notes on the finish. Hops were mostly subdued and blended nicely with the flavor of the mango. The Baltic porter was thick and roasty with bitter chocolate and mild notes of smoke. The flavors balanced nicely with hints of cherry giving it a cherry chocolate flavor. This is one of the more complex and delicious Baltic porters I have tried.

If you are in Las Vegas for the weekend and crave some good beers, stop by for a flight and grab some cans to bring back to your hotel room. They had six pack cans of many of their core beers.

Top 2:
Gypsy Fade IPA
Baltic Porter

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney focusing on serving the San Diego LGBT community.

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Colorado Springs Area Breweries – Paradox and Cerberus

Paradox Brewing

Paradox Brewing has developed a reputation for delicious and reasonably priced sours. Though we get the bottles in San Diego I wanted to visit the brewery directly to see how different it was at the source. Thought he building is quite large from the outside there is fairly limited seating in the tasting room. They serve food and offer flights that can be either sour or clean beer. Though at one time they rarely had clean beers they now had five different clean beers to choose from. They are about an hour outside of Colorado Springs but worth the trip at least once.

Clean beer flight (ordered by my friends)
Sour beer flight.

I stuck to the sours and did the sour flight and followed it up with a bottle of the mango habanero sour that they weren’t selling in bottles. The Passion of the Fruit sour was nicely balanced with tart passion fruit character and hints of apricot. This was one of my two favorites of the day. The hibiscus sour was funky and floral but overall a bit thin and super dry and lacking in intense hibiscus flavors.

The Salty Melon sour was mildly tart and lightly salty with mild melon character and lightly sweet finish. Though i enjoyed that it wasn’t particularly tart or acidic on tap it was lacking in flavor compared to a few others I tried on the same flight. The Alchemy Stone had a nice herbal funk with a light earthy base and subtle notes of peach. This beer tasted like it had mellowed out quite a bit since when it was first released. It was also fairly low in tartness and acidity.

The future knowledge tart saison was thin and dry with mild funk and light grape notes. I didn’t care for it that much mostly because compared to the other beers on the flight it was very subtle. The mango habanero sour was poured into a decanter and had notes of candied mango and mild chili that burned at the back of the throat. It had a nice mix of funk and tart and paired nicely with their fermented mango. As it warmed up the heat came through more strongly at the finish. Compared to some others, it was a good beer.

Top 2:
Passion of the Fruit
Alchemy Stone – Peach Sour

Cerberus Brewing

Cerberus Brewing was recommended to me by most of the people at Paradox. They have a full restaurant and serve a wide variety of beers from lighter stuff to IPAs and saisons. While the beers were good the most impressive part to me was the food. I had a flight of five beers and then finished with a full pour of one of the lagers.

The brett IPA was bitter and funky with an earthy malt base. Though the brett didn’t overpower the beer it was quite bitter and dry and not really my thing. The coffee saison had a light saison base but the coffee flavor was on the acidic side for me and I didn’t care for the choice of coffee variety they used.

The Elysium IPA was bursting with flavor including tons of citrus and tropical fruit. It had a soft body and a light haze with a mild mineral taste at the finish. This was my favorite IPA of the night. The Caught in Thought IPA was more papaya forward with a medium bitterness and an acidic finish. It wasn’t as much my thing compared to the Elysium.

They had three versions of a beer called Tiny Umbrella. One was an IPA, then a double IPA and a triple IPA, each with the same malts and hops. I got a taster of the double IPA version and it had a thick creamy body with a mix of dank hop notes, some herbal hop character and bitter grapefruit on the finish. It wasn’t my preferred hop flavoring.

Delicious food at Cerberus.

I finished with the vienna lager, which was crisp and tasty with light dark fruit and caramel notes with hints of toast. It was a solid example of the style. I visited the brewery with three other people and we ordered quite a few things between us and I was impressed by most of it. My seasonal vegetable soup was a creamy squash soup that tasted great especially paired with the vienna lager.

Though I wouldn’t recommend making a trip just for the beer, if you are in Colorado Springs it is worth stopping by for the food and having some beer with it. All of the beers were solid even though a few of them weren’t my preferred flavor profile.

Top 2
Elysium IPA
Vienna Lager

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney focusing on serving the San Diego LGBT community.

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Seatthe Breweries – Populuxe and Cloudburst,

I missed both Populuxe and Cloudburst during my previous Seattle visit because they were closed the one day I had to visit breweries. Populuxe is in Ballard near a number of other breweries. Cloudburst is much closer to Pike’s Place Market in an old building with somewhat limited seating.

Populuxe

Populuxe has a nice outdoor area with picnic tables and room for food trucks to set up. I didn’t get to try their IPAs because they had run out. From the beers I had, many of the lower alcohol styles I expected to be nice and balanced were too intensely bitter.

The summer ale on nitro was quite subtle with light fruit notes and a creamy body from the nitro. This isn’t one that you would really sip but more something you would drink down quickly. I drank it so quickly that I forgot to take a photo of it when the glass was full. The hoppy wheat was quite bitter with notes of grapefruit rind and mild grassy hops. The bitterness overpowered the rest of the beer and I didn’t get much hop aroma.

The oatmeal stout was bitter and roasty with a dry finish. With the low alcohol it lacked the punch of stronger stouts. It might have been better on nitro. The ESB had a biscuit malt base with intense citrus and herb hops. Like the wheat, the bitterness was too much for the style. The one beer I enjoyed the most was the saison. It had some notes of orange peel with light brett funk and some light white wine character. I didn’t get to try their IPAs but based on the other beers I expect they would be similarly bitter.

I recommend visiting populuxe for the saison and otherwise passing them in favor of other local breweries.

Cloudburst


Cloudburst was highly recommended because they are run by one of the brewers who brewed for Elysian for some time before they sold out. I only tried three beers because they don’t serve taster flights. I was quite disappointed right off the bat because they charge $5 for a 10 ounce pour and $6 for a 16 ounce pour making it more expensive if you want to try multiple beers.

Such off-putting glasses to serve beer in. I couldn’t believe they used these glasses.

I tried one pilsner and two IPAs. The pilsner was crisp and fruity with light floral hop character. It was a tasty pilsner. The Whenever IPA was a light orange hazy color. Hops were herbal and bitter with notes of onion and garlic and a light salty finish. I didn’t much care for this one. The Lip Sync IPA had some notes of orange peel and citrus with a soft body but a salty/mineral finish. Both were decent IPAs but neither had the intensity of hop aroma that makes the style so much fun.

I wasn’t particularly impressed by what they had at cloudburst. I can understand that they want to recommend ordering a full pint but this doesn’t work very well when trying to visit multiple breweries in one day. There are other seattle breweries that were more impressive on the IPA front. Cloudburst seems to be all hype to me.

Known for: People rave about their IPAs though I didn’t find them to be particularly standout in that area.

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney focusing on serving the San Diego LGBT community.

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Denver Breweries Black Project and Bierstadt Lagerhaus

I wasn’t planning on visiting Denver during my latest trip but once I ended up in Denver I had to visit both Black Project and Bierstdt Lagerhaus because I had heard great things about both of them. Black Project is known for their sours and Biersdt Lagerhaus is known for their lagers.

Black Project

I didn’t get to try more than one barrel aged sour at Black Project the time I visited but the beers overall were quite good. They have a small tasting room with some seating and serve their tasters in full size glasses.

I started with the IPA. It was soft and mildly hazy with a mix of grass and citrus notes with hits of herbal hops. It had a good balance and minimal bitterness but I could have done with more intense hop aromas. The grapefruit gose was acidic and tart with mild puckering. It had a light salt finish and lingers in the mouth. It was fairly bitter and not really my thing.

The passion peach gose was intensely fruity with tons of passion fruit and peach with a light tart and an overall juicy flavor. This was one of the more flavorful fruited goses I have had. The wild wheat was strong lacto tart with light berry notes but overall fruit was too mellow for the base. The sour golden was quite tasty with a sweet base with notes of tart apple and flavors reminiscent of a Belgian gueuze. It seems like it would make a good base beer for the addition of fruits.

Since I couldn’t try any of their barrel aged sours other than the sour golden I won’t be particularly critical but overall it was a worthwhile stop. Like many sour breweries, the beers available will change regularly including what they may have available in the bottle.

Top 2:
Sour Golden
Gose with passion fruit and peach

Bierstadt Lagerhaus


I was drawn to Bierstadt Lagerhaus because they focus on lagers exclusively and I have heard they are quite particular about what glasses they will allow their beers to be served in when they send them to various local bars. Two things struck me when I visited. They have a large space with tons of seating. They also sell crowlers for $5 a piece for most of the beers which is surprisingly low compared to what many charge.

Slow pour pilsner in their special lager glass.
Helles

I only tried three different beers while I was there because I was there with other people. Otherwise I wouldn’t have tried as many beers because they only serve the beers in full pours. The pilsner was crisp and dry with light biscuit malt base and a tasty mild lager yeast character. They serve it in a way that makes it quite creamy.

Their massive beer hall area downstairs with games.

The helles was more fruity than the pilsner and had some light floral hops with a good crisp finish and light white cake malt base. The dunkel had notes of caramel and toast with mild fruit and a dry finish. It was a tasty dunkel. I would recommend you stop by Bierstadt Lagerhaus if you are tired of all the IPAs and sours and want to try some solid lagers in Denver.

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney focusing on serving the San Diego LGBT community.

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Olympic Penensula Breweries – Silver City, Sound, Rainy Daze, and Propolis

I visited the various breweries on the olympic penensula. You can easily visit them all in one day on your way from Tacoma to Port Angeles. Silver City has two locations but I recommend visiting the tap room where you can try some of their pilot batches and experience a more relaxed atmosphere.

Silver City


I visited the Silver City tap room and tried four beers. My typical practice is to stop after four tasters if I don’t taste anything that really stands out. So here I left after the four tasters. From what I had heard I hoped to leave with cans of their IPAs but decided not to after my flight.

I tried three of their IPAs and one of their porters. The St. Florian IPA was resinous and dank with medium bitterness and a biscuit malt base. This is a fairly standard IPA though a bit old school. The porter was solid with a nice light roast and notes of caramel.

The two hazy IPAs were not particularly impressive. The pilot batch session hazy was intensely grassy and piney and lightly acidic. The tropic haze is one that has gotten them a lot of popularity but it didn’t have much hop aroma to speak of. Instead I got notes of cashews and minerals with hints of banana bread. The strong mineral character is common with haze but this one didn’t work for me. After the four I didn’t try anything further and went on to the next stop.

Sound Brewing

Sound was recommended to me based on their Belgian style beers. I would recommend similarly that you stick to the Belgian styles. I started with their porter and Baltic porter. The porter had some light smoke, caramel, and molasses with a dry bitter finish. The Baltic porter had some strong cherry malt character with bitter chocolate and caramel on the finish. Both were drinkable though I preferred the Baltic porter out of the two.

The NEIPA was not hazy in the slightest and had some notes of grass, herbs, and pine with medium bitterness. I didn’t find the beer to be particularly fruity or juicy at all. It was an OK IPA but not remotely NE style. The double IPA was a dark brown color with sweet caramel malt notes, mild bitterness, and some apricot hop character. The beer was far too sweet and malt-forward and tasted more like a barley wine than a double IPA.

 

Things were more interesting when I got to the Belgian styles. The dubel was tasty with notes of dark fruit and caramel on a nice dry finish. My husband enjoyed this one as well even though he generally only likes stouts and porters. The Monk’s Indiscretion is a nice heavily hopped Belgian strong ale. It had intense herbal and grassy hops that balanced nicely with the esters and Belgian yeast character. For 10% the beer hid its alcohol well and had a nice dry finish. The Belgian tripel had notes of banana and clove over a biscuit malt base and a good dry finish.

Belgian style beers tend to be brewed overly sweet in the US but not so much at Sound. If you like Belgian styles I recommend trying some of their bottles if you can’t make it out for a visit to the brewery directly.

Top 2:
Monk’s Indiscretion
Belgian Dubel.

Rainy Daze

Rainy Daze was recommended to me by a fellow beer blogger. The Pourhouse IPA had notes of herbs and citrus rind on a nice soft body with a mild bitterness. The Goat Boater IPA had some notes of citrus and floral hops though the mineral taste on the finish. The Peace hazy IPA had a hazy appearance but hardly any detectable hop aroma to speak of.

The stout had some notes of root beer and caramel with light lemon hop character. The coffee porter was nutty with good strong coffee character on top of mild roast. Rainy Daze had a few decent IPAs but nothing that was exploding with hop aroma or particularly memorable. They were fairly standard.

Top 2:
Goat Boat IPA
Coffee Porter

Propolis

Propolis focuses on wild ales and sours often adding various herbs to them. They charge $3 to $4 for each taster. I had some interesting beers but nothing that was particularly memorable or that made me want to leave with a bottle that they charger more than $20 for.

Mellow had some notes of citrus and herbs on a light sweet funk base. The spruce had notes of honey and light sweetness with berry notes from the spruce. Wild Woods had some berry character from the wine with a dry finish with bitter tannin kick. The Gordin had a light fruit character with some honey flavor.

The Apricot Ostara blended apricot with chamomile nicely with a light acidic finish. The oud Bruin was thin and smoky with an acidic tart cherry finish on a mild caramel base. As far as wild ales go, I didn’t find the beers at Propolis to be particularly complex or flavorful. I finished each taster but nothing made me crave for more either on tap or in a bottle to take home.

If some of their sours sound interesting to you, you can find them as far south as San Diego in the bottles. I recommend trying a few bottles before taking the trip to the brewery directly.

Top 2:
Wild Woods
Oud Bruin

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney focusing on serving the San Diego LGBT community.

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Engine House No. 9 – Tacoma Washington

Engine House Number 9 recently started brewing sours to add to their other lineup of house beers. I visited them during a trip out to Olympic National Park because we decided to start our trip in Tacoma. I had a flight of a few of their house beers and then simply ordered a full pour of the one sour they had on tap.

Their lager was fruity and delicious with a crisp biscuit malt finish. Their two IPAs were both lovely. The house IPA was juicy and soft with notes of mango and melon. It has a light bitterness and nice creamy mouthfeel. The Donna IPA was good but a bit more acidic with notes of grass and herb hops and light caramel on the finish. The Berry Manilow sour was jammy and had tons of berry notes with a light tart finish. It was super drinkable and not particularly acidic, making it approachable to even someone who isn’t into sours.

I left with a bottle of their rhubarb sour, Flanders style red and brett saison. The rhubarb was tart and funky and quite delicious. The Flanders style is bright and fruity with a tart finish that balances nicely with biscuit malts and notes of oak. If you see Engine House Number 9 sours around they are worth picking up in bottles if you would rather not make it down to Tacoma. They are a brewpub so expect it to get quite noisy inside.

You could order food to go with your beers here as well. I got a hummus appetizer the second time I visited when I was preparing to leave the area. If you like IPAs or sours, you will find quite a bit to enjoy at Engine House No. 9 though I did not see any house brewed stouts on tap when I visited.

Top 2:
House IPA
Berry Manilow Sour

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney focusing on serving the San Diego LGBT community.

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KC MO Breweries Part 2 – Torn Label, Boulevard, and KC Bier Works

Torn Label

Torn Label is one of the smaller breweries I visited. They had an interesting lineup of beers and solid impressive hoppy offerings. The Alpha Pale was delicious with tons of hop aroma and notes of tropical fruit and citrus that balanced nicely with a light acidic finish and low bitterness. This is an excellent pale. The house brew coffee brown was thin with bitter coffee notes and mild molasses. I would have gone for more coffee character. The Monk and Honey had notes of spice, citrus, and lemon peel with a mild honey sweetness.

The Hang Em High IPA was biter and resinous with notes of grapefruit on a sticky body with hints of lychee and an herbal hop bite at the finish. The 3 Heroes Wheat IPA was soft with notes of tangerine, tropical fruits, and candy orange. The beer showcased tons of hop aroma with minimal bitterness. The Shake Hands with Danger Imperial Brown was sweet with notes of caramel and light coconut. The beer hides its alcohol very well and despite being fairly thin packed tons of flavor.

 

Torn Label had some impressive IPAs and a tasty imperial brown that suggest to me that they will continue to brew lots of great beer.

Top 2:
Alpha Pale Ale
Shake Hands with Danger Imperial Brown

Boulevard

Boulevard is owned by Duvel. They have a massive beer hall area where they have 20-24 beers on tap on the second floor and a massive shop on the first floor. They have a limited food menu as well and depending on how busy it is they may limit you to certain pre-selected flights. I tried a ton of different beers at Boulevard but I will highlight some of my favorites rather than going through all of them.

One flight came with a mystery beer that turned out to be a cranberry sour. It had notes of cherry from the malts that blended nicely with cranberry notes and a light tart finish. The latest collaboration release available was an oak aged lager and it had a light sweetness with an oaky finish. I enjoyed this quite a bit. The IPAs I tried were all fairly herbal and didn’t really stand out to me. I wouldn’t recommend you visit just for the hoppy beers.

The berliner weisse had notes of ginger with light lemon notes and a crisp tart finish. The brett saison had a nice white cake saison base with mild citrus, funky brett, and a dry finish. I left with a bottle of this to try at home. The 2015 imperial stout from bottles was delicious with notes of caramel and molasses with a nice thick sticky body and light fudge on the finish.

It is worth taking the trek to the brewery to try various tap room exclusives and to try the various barrel-aged or collaboration offerings. I wouldn’t recommend that you visit for IPAs but they had delicious berliner weisse, Belgian styles, and various stouts.

KC Bier Company

KC Bier Company focuses almost exclusively on German styles. They have a large outdoor beer hall atmosphere and serve beers in full 1 liter steins if you feel so inclined. I only tried four beers there because I had already visited two previous breweries.

The Helles was crisp and light with mild herbal hops and a clean finish. Compared to the helles the pilsner had a bit more citrus notes and slightly more hop character and bitterness with a dry finish. I ended up ordering a liter of the pilsner to enjoy after my flight. In a full pour it had a nice fruit character I enjoyed.

The gose had a nice citrus forward taste with light tart on the finish. The dopple alt had a nice mix of caramel and toast with a soft dry finish. I enjoyed this style that is not often brewed. Typically an alt bier is 4% or so and this one was a double so it was over 7%.

KC Bier Company is worth a trip to enjoy their varied offerings at the source or if you are simply into a pilsner or hefeweizen they are easily available around Kansas City in six packs.

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney focusing on serving the San Diego LGBT community.

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Serpentine Cider – Miramar Area San Diego

Serpentine Cider is a new craft cider brewery right next to Thunderhawk Alements. They have a kitchen inside serving delicious food and will be adding a mead company in November. Though they had only been open for a week when I stopped by, they impressed me both with the overall feel of the place and the quality of the meads. The head brewer has been home-brewing cider for seven years and the quality shows. They had a good variety of meads available and I tasted five that seemed to be the most interesting.

Two that stood out from my flight were the Passion Fruit and Hopped ciders. Passion Fruit had a good balance between sweet apple and the a passion fruit kick. The hopped beer had tons of hop aroma with an emphasis on citrus flavors with a nice dry finish.

The raspberry blackberry had a mix of jammy black berry and acidic raspberry. The lemongrass and ginger had a mild citrus character and some light ginger on the finish. The guava had a fairly mild guava taste. They indicated this had to do with some fruits they got a bit too early in the season.

All of the ciders are made with beer yeast and this gives them a character closer to beer than the incredibly dry ciders you may find at other spots like Newtopia Cider. I thought the hops worked better with the cider here than they did at Newtopia. Though the cost of pours is higher than beer, the quality was there and I hope to return soon to see how the mead company that is joining them turns out.

Top 2:
Passion Fruit Cider
Hopped Cider

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney focusing on serving the San Diego LGBT community.

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Breweries in KC MO – Crane, Cinder Block, and Calibration

Crane Brewing

Crane made its name with a Berliner Weisse brewed with beets and since then they serve a number of different lacto-fermented sours, either Berliner Weisse or Gose showcasing various fruits. I came for the sours and would suggest that you do too, provided you can stomach the intense tartness that comes from a lot of lacto-sour character. Though they appear to be a far distance from downtown Kansas City on a map, it isn’t that much of a drive and they are near most of the big BBQ spots.

I started my tasting flight with the farmhouse IPA. It was bitter and resinous with notes of grapefruit and a light-malt base. The trailsmith farmhouse ale had strong ester and alcohol notes with flavors resembling dry white-wine. I didn’t care for this one myself. The azaca session farmhouse was crisp and dry with strong herbal hop notes and a bitter finish. I don’t care for azaca much and on its own the herbal notes were too much for me. Both the azaca session and farmhouse IPA were on the bitter side, a bit more than I am used to these days.

The apricot weiss had intense lacto-tartness with some prominent apricot notes that balanced it out. The orange gose was tart and puckering with notes of lemon, bitter orange-peel and reminded me of a lemon-drop candy. I didn’t care for this one as much. The kumquat weiss was the most tart of the bunch with tons of citrus character. The tea weiss had fruity notes resembling berries from the tea and a nice balance of tartness. I left with crowlers of the tea weiss, kumquat weiss, and apricot weiss. Though I enjoyed them on a flight I have a hard time drinking more than a pint of either of them with the intense acidity they present.

Crane is the only brewery in my visit that had any sours besides a couple at Boulevard. Though I generally prefer barrel-aged sours, there is something about the intense lacto-tartness in their beers that I enjoy.

Top 2:
Apricot Weiss
Tea Weiss

Cinder Block

I won’t be too harsh in my review of Cinder Block because I heard they tend to have some delicious sours or barrel aged beers and when I visited they only had a few of their core beers available. The pale ale was balanced and lightly bitter with notes of citrus and pine. The porter was smooth and roasty with a bitter chocolate finish. The IPA was soft and mildly bitter with notes of tropical fruit and lychee. The three beers I tasted were all done well but didn’t blow me away. Because I only had a few tasters, I ended up nearby at Calibration next.

Calibration

I almost skipped calibration but I would not recommend you skip it. I was impressed by the various beers I had when I visited. The IPA had a nice caramel malt base with a mild bitterness and notes of citrus and floral hops. The black IPA was roasty and bitter with hops more for bitterness than aroma. I enjoyed how it didn’t try to showcase aroma because it works nicely with the style.

The bartleywine was delicious with no bitterness and flavors of caramel, toffee, and light cherry. The beer hid its alcohol really nicely and had a solid sweetness. The coconut brown was smooth with notes of caramel and mild coconut. The flavors were all quite subtle. The coffee porter was a delicious mix of notes of marshmallow and caramel and light coffee on the finish. There is something about the quality of the malt character in all the beers I tried at calibration that was very impressive and made it stick out. Sadly they didn’t have bottles of the barleywine for me to bring home.

Top 2:
Barleywine
Coffee Porter

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney focusing on serving the San Diego LGBT community.

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Chicago Area Breweries – Half Acre and Un Annee

Half Acre

Half Acre is more established than the other two breweries I visited for IPAs. Their beers have a bit more of a classic feel than the others. Daisy cutter is one of their core offerings and it is a classic pale ale with prominent citrus and a crisp finish with a light malt base. Space was slightly hazy with a caramel malt base with light notes of coffee and mild bitterness. Though a bit hazy this is fairly traditional English style.

Pony pilsner was excellent with light fruity character, biscuit malt base, and a crisp clean finish. I brought home some cans of this one. Daisy Toronado is a more modern take on daisy cutter with tons of juicy hop character at the front and light onion hop character at the base. Vallejo IPA had an interesting mix of note of grape and plum that I don’t usually get in an IPA. I didn’t really care for the hop profile of this one.

Half Acre is a bit more classic in approach than many other breweries in the area for the hoppy beers. They also have a young sour program that is getting some acclaim. I got a small taste of one of their sours and it was quite complex and delicious. I am excited to open the bottle I brought home with me.

Known for:
Half Acre is known for their pale ales and IPAs though they also have a young sour program that is worth checking out.

Un Annee

Un Annee is known for its barrel aged and fruited sours as well as their hazy IPAs and imperial stouts that they put under a different brand. They are located in a strip mall so that before you enter you may wonder if this is really a brewery. Once you step inside you get the feel of a standard tasting room. They are also a long drive out of town and best to visit only if you have a strong preference for sours. I started with their sours and then tried a few of their other beers. With so many on tap I asked the server to pick three of his favorites to start, which got me a few of their bigger barrel aged sours.

My first 3 tasters of various sours.

Le Grand Monde 7 had a nice mild oak base and a great balance of cucumber, mint, and other flavors that I rarely experience in a sour without too much acidity. I paired this with some grilled fish from a Filipino restaurant we got to bring to the brewery and it was delightful. Le Grande Monde 4 had such an intense hibiscus character that it was jammy and a highly acidic base. An enjoyable beer. Le Grande Monde 2, a flanders red style sour had good caramel notes with hints of molasses and tons of acidity.

The elderberry Le Seul VI was jammy and mildly sweet with light acidity. Overall the sours I tasted were quite impressive and I left with a few bottles to take home. Their hazy IPA, Hubbard’s Cave, was soft and creamy with light pine and herbal character with mild bitterness. It had notes of candied mango and peach as it warmed up. Though it could have been softer, it was an impressive hazy IPA and should satisfy any hop heads dragged there by sour fans.

This shows the wide variety of beers they had available to go when I visited.

Known For:
Un Annee focuses on sours but also has stouts and hazy IPAs available. The bottles range from $13-25 for a 750ml bottle, which is within the norm.

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney focusing on serving the San Diego LGBT community.

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Exploring San Diego's Craft Breweries