Tired Hands Brewing Company – Ardmore Pennsylvania

Tired Hands is located in Ardmore, a 30 minute drive or 1 hour public transit stop from Philadelphia. I opted to stay in the area to make it easier and I’m glad I did because I had to leave during one of my visits to take care of some work for a client for a few hours before going back. Being a short drive away made things easy. They have two locations very close to each other, the brewery and the Fermentaria (their version of a brewpub but with more fancy food). I stopped by the brewery the first night and had a couple of beers though I had the most variety at the Fermentaria as well as eating lunch. Both locations are quite loud both with the noise of people talking and the music played in the background.

 

I started in the evening at the brewery with their cask ESB, done old school with a smooth light body and notes of caramel malts. It was even smoother thanks to being served on cask. I also tried their wacky Birthday Cake Double Milkshake, a hazy double IPA with huge amounts of adjuncts, including chocolate, vanilla, and the addition of an actual cake. They take advantage of the super soft creamy mouthfeel of their double IPAs and it works fairly well in the same way as other breweries serve white stouts with lactose and coffee. It is a super popular style but I didn’t personally care for it and I am a bit surprised I ordered a full 10 ounce pour after tasting it.

I started trying other beers at the Fermentaria the following day. Their Hop Hands, the flagship hazy pale ale, was fairly thin with notes of citrus, grass, and pine, though a bit too bitter for the style. Their other flagship, Saison Hands, was delicious, a classic saison with notes of citrus and spice with a dry finish. It paired quite nicely with the Veggie Banh Mi and the hot peppers. I was so impressed by this that I later ordered a few other farmhouse ales they had. My husband ordered the Coffee Only Voyd, imperial stout with coffee, which was thick and smooth with tons of roasty coffee as you would expect from the style.

The Oat Tao, oat saison aged in barrels, had a funky barnyard nose and a soft and chewy mouthfeel. It was delightfully complex with earthy notes, mild citrus, and some green-apple lambic character. It reminded me of something similar from Hill Farmstead. I enjoyed it so much that I ordered a pint when I finished, though many others who visited around the same time thought it was their least-favorite.

The So It Goes red sour ale was quite funky with notes of caramel, cherry malt character, and a mild tart bite. I quite enjoyed this one I think in part to the hgher alcohol which gave it an increased sweetness that kept it from being one-note. The Tongue Extinguisher hazy DIPA was soft and pillowy with tons of pineapple and grapefruit hop flavor. It had minimal bitterness, hop acidity, or alcohol bite. It was like drinking Monkish fresh from the source, and immediately I understood where all the hype for them comes from.

If you go out to Tired Hands, I recommend planning to stay in Ardmore if you can. I loved he quiet area without the insane traffic of Philadelphia and one could easily spend days trying everything they have to offer. Since they price things to encourage ordering larger pours, I suggest trying a splash of a couple of beers to ensure you enjoy what you order. Not only was the beer a highlight of my trip but I can see myself returning to the area again to enjoy the slow, quiet feel of the surrounding town. I highly recommend the Fermentaria not just for beer but for their high quality food with plenty of vegetarian options to go with it. Just bring your ear plugs if you prefer a quiet brewery experience.

Top 3:
Tongue Extinguisher DIPA
Saison Hands
Oat Tao Saison

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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Other Half Brewing – Brooklyn New York City

Other Half Brewing is one of the handful of breweries that has rocketed to fame, success, and trade value through their limited release hazy IPAs in cans. At the time when I visited they still had a fairly tiny tasting room near the subway stop for Smith and 9th. They offered either 5 or 10 ounce pours of most of the beers but due to the pricing I went for he 10oz pours of most of them. The beers available were almost all hop-forward and there were no sours or stouts to be seen. I tried 4 out of the total beers available because I was ordering larger pours. I focused on the higher ABV offerings for which they had cans available and then double IPAs because in general I find hazy double IPAs to be more flavorful than the lighter versions.

The Still Shining IPA was a solid Hazy IPA with mild acidity and bitterness but not a ton of hop aroma either. It didn’t stand out from all he other hazy offerings I have had. The Citra Everything was much thicker and had a fantastic mix of citrus and mild pine with a sticky finish. I thought that the hazy double IPAs I tried could have been softer and have more hop kick but they were well done. All my criticisms about these beers come from comparisons to the best of the best and my own preference for a hazy IPA because the style is not clearly defined yet officially.

The galaxy-hopped double IPA, Space Diamonds, was similar to the Citra in style but flavor wise had a lot of sticky overripe papaya and citrus. The overripe fruit flavor wasn’t really my thing in part because it reminded me of a few actual experiences with overripe papaya. Next the Forever Simcoe was a tasty citrus-forward hazy beer without much noticeable pine. I was glad that it wasn’t like sipping a pine tree but I didn’t love it enough to get cans and think about the logistics of getting them home with our other stops still to come.

Overall, I’m glad I made the trip to Other Half to try their beers. I found Tired Hands and Crime and Punishment brewing to be the most impressive though of the East-Coast hazy beers this trip with Trillium coming up behind them and Other Half after that. If a beer is sold for $20 a 4 pack I have to really be blown away by it to bring it home when so many San Diego breweries do the same style really well. When I visited, Other Half had a tiny tasting room but they are opening a larger location soon that should hopefully make for a more relaxing experience.

Though I didn’t find them to be as impressive as a few others in neighboring areas, it is absolutely worth stopping by for a few tastes and some cans if you are in the New York City area. My descriptions can hopefully help you decide if this is the style of hazy IPA you like. Unlike Brooklyn Brewing, they are quite close to the nearest station, making it easy to get there. Just don’t expect to find anything other than hoppy beers and make sure you bring a cooler to keep the cans cold on the subway. Even if it is cold outside, they tend to keep the subways toasty. Also keep an eye out for a new location to open soon as I heard that is in the works too.

Known For:
Come to Other Half for hazy IPAs. They haven’t branched out much from the hoppy beers so this is not a stop for people who aren’t into IPAs.

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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Novo Brazil Brewing Company – Chula Vista San Diego

I only made it down to Novo Brazil because I came back from a flight into Tijuana airport and was on my way north. To get there you have to take quite the drive as they are not just far south but also far east. Still, they are a great addition to the southern San Diego beer scene. I tried 8 beers when I visited and most of them were quite good.

The Chula Pils was fruity and crisp with a nice clean finish. A tasty hoppy pilsner. The berliner was a pilot batch so I wasn’t expecting much. It needs some work, lacks in complexity and has a mild tart finish. The Otay IPA was good and balanced in the classic West Coast style, resinous and fruity with some mild citrus kick. The beer was neither too malty or too bitter.

The Samba Haze was delightful, soft and fruity while not particularly bitter. Most lighter alcohol hazy beers don’t do much for me but I could have enjoyed many pints of this one. The Ipanema double IPA was solid. It hid the alcohol well though it had a bit of a sweet finish it lacked the strong alcohol bite or bitterness that often comes with this style.

The wine aged brett beer was solid for the style even if it could have dialed down the sweet aftertaste. It largely hit the notes I expect for the style. The Corvo Negro is a fantastic imperial stout with tons of coffee, no noticeable alcohol, and a smooth mouthfeel. The bourbon barrel aged version though, not so much. It seemed overly sweet with tons of molasses and didn’t taste like bourbon at all.

Overall Novo Brazil was an impressive spot with only a couple misses from what I tried. The two best were quite good and stand up to other local versions of the same style.

Top 2:
Samba Haze hazy pale ale
Corvo Negro Imperial Stout

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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Pariah Brewing Company – North Park San Diego

Pariah opened up in North Park in between San Diego Brewing Company and Eppig brewing in a space designed for easy opening of a brewery. Pariah’s head brewer used to brew for Helms before he left to do his own thing. I stopped by for a few tasters to see what they are brewing. I had 4 tasters and overall they are off to a good start. They have a nice open tasting room that kept cool even on a hot day like when I visited.

The Mayor and Monk is a hoppy saison described on the board as a hoppy version of an abbey-inspired ale. The beer had plenty of ester character without being too sweet and featured some fruity malts and lightly floral hops. This was one of the best beers I tasted there. The Indie or Bust IPA, made in the style of the 11-Barrel IPA some other local breweries made to highlight independent breweries, was good and balanced amount of malts with fruity hops, medium bitterness, and some mild pine and resin.

My previous post had indicated Clearly Juicy was a malt bomb incorrectly. Though that was what my notes indicated from that time I decided to come back to give it a second try. Clearly Juicy is still not a juicy IPA but it is a solid west-coast style double IPA. The beer has a low malt base and notes of grape, resin, and pine with a sticky bitter finish.  It is a little sweet because of the higher alcohol.

The Dank Drank was resinous and classic west-coast style IPA. Resinous and mild notes of onion and red grape. It has a solid medium bitterness. The Dorcha stout had a nice mix of caramel and roast on the nose. On the taste it mixed nicely with burnt caramel, coffee, and toffee. This was nicely done and to-style.

I was a bit disappointed that they didn’t have any sort of discount on the price of tasters for buying 2 or for buying 4 like you usually see. With a name like Pariah it is not surprising that they buck the local IPA trends for a more classic west-coast style approach. All 3 IPAs were either classic west coast to nicely balanced. Pariah has some solid beers and is a worthwhile stop for people living in the area. They don’t offer anything that stands out from the sea of other local breweries unless a stout brewed with umi is your thing.

Top 2:
Mayor and Monk
Dorcha Stout

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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Maui Brewing Company – Maui Hawaii

It is becoming standard to suggest that going to the source to visit the brewery makes a difference. This difference is most obvious when you try Maui Brewing beers in Maui and compare them to how they taste in the mainland. Their Big Swell IPA is a standard West Coast style IPA inspired by the San Diego breweries but on the mainland you wouldn’t know it. I visited two locations, their brewpub out by Kahana and their main brewery location in Kihei. The beers were mostly the same but the atmosphere was drastically different in the two locations.
I did a small flight while I was at the brewpub and then had mostly full pours at the tasting room based on what I already tried. The saison was crisp and fruity with a dry finish, nicely done. The Big Swell IPA was an excellent classic West Coast style IPA with mild bitterness, citrus, tropical fruit, and pine. It was so much better than what I had on the mainland it was hard to believe it was the same beer. The pueo pale ale was a bit more malty than the Big Swell and more bitter. Though to style, I didn’t care for it.
At the brewery I had a couple of full pours of both the Vienna Lager and Pilsner they had on. The Vienna Lager was crisp and clean with a mild malt character. The Pilsner was also quite excellent. The Imperial Coconut Porter was a fantastic coconut bomb while I was at the brewpub where they served it on nitro. At the brewery it was enjoyable but a little more mellow on the coconut, but still a great beer. The Mosaic Double IPA was good but a bit bitter and sticky with not enough fruit notes from the mosaic itself.
Overall, every beer I had at Maui Brewing was well done and tasting great close to the source. If you are taking a trip to Maui and like a good San Diego style IPA, the Maui Big Swell should satisfy you as long as you get it fresh. The tasting room was a bit more quiet with more open space and food trucks than the brewpub though they are far enough apart that it is more likely your decision on which one to visit would come down to what happens to be closer to you.
Top 2:
Big Swell IPA
Imperial Coconut 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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Toolbox Brewing adds more variety of beer

When Toolbox first opened they had a variety of beers available including a milk stout, a pale ale, an IPA, and their various sours, kettle and barrel aged. At the time, the idea of eventually having an all brett brewery (brett stands for a form of wild yeast that is common in sours and wild ales) seemed extreme. I still think so, even though now I have gotten more familiar with the style of beer. Though I and many beer drinkers enjoy a good sour, there are still people who want a stout or IPA and who may visit Toolbox with their friends who enjoy sours. Now, some time later, they have brought back the traditional styles along with a line of North East style hazy IPAs, a sweet stout, and a barrel aged imperial stout.

This is a subtle shift because they still have their numerous core kettle sours and various barrel-aged sours. The change in the menu should help them attract a wider audience and over time convert more people to the delicious sour beer side as well. In my visit I tried a few of their new offerings and overall they were quite impressive. In total I tried their wild lager, hazy IPA, sweet stout, barrel aged stout, and hazy double IPA.

The wild lager had delicious fruity notes that blended nicely with earthy funk in the background. It was a crisp, clean, lager that I would enjoy having more of. The hazy IPA was soft and full of aromas while not too bitter. I enjoyed it though the galaxy hops came through with a lot more herbal notes than I expected, which I don’t particularly care for. The sweet stout was sweet with a thin body that presented just the right amount of chocolate and vanilla while finishing with a mild lactose sweetness.

The bourbon-barrel-aged imperial stout was sticky and thick with a fantastic balance of fudge, caramel, mild salt, and subtle bourbon. I was quite impressed for their first release of the style. The double IPA was hazy and started off with intense fruit and a mild acidic finish though I got some of the same herbal notes as I did from the single IPA that pushed me off. It had a properly thick mouth-feel and is well on the way to joining other local hazy offerings.

Toolbox succeeded in adding to their already impressive lineup of beers with their solid hazy IPAs and stouts to push them further past other Vista breweries in quality. They will go nicely along with Burgeon to bring hazy beers to the 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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Scofflaw Brewing Company – Atlanta Georgia

My trip to Georgia was mainly to visit some breweries in Athens, but since I was flying out of Atlanta it made sense to hit a brewery there before leaving. To avoid driving with too much beer, I kept to one brewery and so I went with my friend’s recommendation to try Scofflaw. They are in an area of Atlanta a bit North West of downtown, a ways away from anything. That didn’t stop people from coming out and enjoying beer though. The crowd was quite respectable.

During my visit their tap list was almost all IPAs with the exception of an imperial wit and a barrel-aged strong ale. All of the IPAs I had were quite well-done, juicy but not hazy, in the modern West-Coast style. I might have even brought back some cans of the IPA they had available if I could have done so while still buying the strong-ale bottles, but since I had to pick I got the strong ale. Your preference between the varioius IPAs they make will come down to your hop profile of choice. Their double IPA was also quite impressive, fruity, mildly sweet, and not really boozy at all.

The barrel-aged strong ale was good and medium body, mildly sweet, with a good mix of caramel and light whiskey character. It was also barely boozy despite the high alcohol content. I left with a bottle because it was quite well-done and the price was right. If you are in to the juicy (not hazy) style of IPAs, Scofflaw hits the spot nicely and should satisfy any hop-head who ends up in Atlanta.

Known for:
Come visit for modern-style IPAs and barrel-aged stouts

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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Newtopia Cider Company – Scripps Ranch San Diego

Though cider isn’t beer, beer fans would feel immediately at home walking into Newtopia. Their tasting room has all the feel of a proper tasting-room with taster flights available and a wide array of options to choose from. I had a variety of different ciders though two of their core offerings were unavailable, perhaps because they have been selling so well they can’t keep them on tap.

Their Belgian style cider had a dark red color with notes of pineapple and spice that finished with notes of currants. I enjoyed it though I thought the flavors could be a bit more balanced with each other. The twisted takes a cider and adds some citrus to it. It had a bitter citrus finish with notes of light ginger, with a bitter and dry finish. The chai is their award-winning offering and I can see why. It had a perfect balance of mild spice and light sweetness that reminded me of a classic spiced-cider. I was sad I couldn’t bring some home in my growler.

One of their core offerings is their IPC, a dry-hopped cider, though the only version available when I visited was the double of the same. It had a fantastic strong hop flavor of citrus and grass with a medium sweetness. The semi-sweet had notes of herbs and light mint with a crisp finish. I wasn’t a fan of the herbs or the mint. The Sleepless in Sumatra is their cider with cold brew coffee and vanilla added. It was smooth with light sweetness and nice balance of coffee and vanilla.

I enjoyed most of what I had at Newtopia and hope to stop by again to try some of their core offerings that I missed. I was glad to see that they started with having an outdoor patio and a crowler machine to offer their cider to go. They also stand out with their unique cider glasses that help make the aromas prominent in the experience.

Top 2:
Chai
Sumatra

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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Creature Comforts and The Southern Brewing Company Athens GA

Creature Comforts

Athens Georgia is a small college town about an hour and a half drive East of Atlanta. I visited mainly for Creature Comforts and while I was planning the trip I read about The Southern Brewing Company and their barrel aging program. People rave about the Tropicalia IPA from Creature Comforts, though when I tasted it, it didn’t blow me away, perhaps because I assumed from the name it was going to be a hazy IPA. I had two IPAs at Creature Comforts and they were both excellent examples of the West Coast style of IPA, hop-forward, low malt bill, and crisp dry finish while not too bitter.

What really impressed me though was their berliner-weisse. I didn’t drink any of the base while I was there but when I visited they had a number of versions available. Both the Terry Swish, with three kinds of fruit, and the dry-hopped variant were fantastic. I enjoyed both of them so much that I brought back a six pack of the base to explore it further. I enjoyed the cans so much that I wished I had brought back a second six-pack. This is the new standard against which I will rate berliner-weisse beers for some time.

 

 

San Diego breweries sell a lot of fruited berliner weisse and gose but usually they go a bit too light on the fruit for my tastes. This one was bursting with fruit and so good that I got two of it out of the tour. The dry-hopped version was perfectly balanced, with tons of hop aromas and no bitterness. The fruity hops went nicely with the citrus kick of the gose.

A note on the way breweries sell beer in Georgia, or at least while I visited, they can’t sell beer directly. Instead, they sell you a tour that includes a glass and six six-ounce pours. They have tours available but you don’t have to take one. It is their way around the silly laws. Other silly laws limit your ability to take home beers, so that you can’t buy more than 72 ounces of beer to go in one day per person. The tour thing should be changing soon for smaller breweries based on a law that has already been passed, which would allow them to sell directly. It will be interestin to see if they start doing taster flights like other tasting rooms.

Creature Comforts makes some great beers and everything I tasted when I visited was well-made. I also brought home a bottle of one of their sours to try later. They have a large open tasting room with plenty of seating inside and outside and it can get quite busy on weekends. I happened to visit on a particularly busy weekend because it was graduation time for many and they celebrated by going to breweries.


Top 2:
Terry Swirl
Dry-hopped Berliner-Weisse

The Southern Brewing Company

Compared to Creature Comforts’ West Coast style IPAs, everything hoppy I had at The Southern Brewing Company was more malty in the classic style. I didn’t even bother with their IPA once I realized it was as malty as their pale ale. There is nothing wrong with the style but I don’t particularly enjoy drinking it. The pale ale was really well made and a good mix of fruity hops and biscuit notes from the malts.

What I really enjoyed was their Berliner weisse and their Cherokee Rose. The Berliner weisse was complex and balanced. The Cherokee Rose tasted like an earthy saison with some mild funk. They also had a barrel-aged saison on tap that was funky as expected and nicely done. I also enjoyed their mexican-chocolate stout that was left over from Cinco De Mayo. It was appropriately balanced and medium body with notes of spice and mild hot pepper heat on top of a nice roasty stout.

I wanted to try some of the sours they were selling bottles of but besides the saison I couldn’t try them. Thankfully I found a bottle of their peach sour at a local shop and brought one of those bottles home along with their bourbon barrel aged stout. Southern also had a nice tasting room with an even larger lawn area for people to hang out in the sun. It is a shame California has such restrictive laws that require enclosed spaces at breweries or we could have something similar. They used the space to put on live music and it was good and relaxing. The crowd was even more insane at Southern.

If the sours from both breweries turn out as good as I hope, it makes for a great visit to enjoy the laid-back town of Athens and have some great beer while you are there.

Since writing this post, I tasted the peach sour and barrel-aged stout I brought back with. The peach sour was well-made though pretty standard for the style. The barrel-aged stout was also quite tasty though a bit thin because I assume they blend it down after aging in the barrel. It is a nice change from some of the thick sludgy stouts I see a lot of. Both were nicely done but not something I would make a separate trip to buy bottles of.

Top 2:
Cherokee Rose
Mexican-Chocolate Stout

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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Protector Brewing – Impressive new Miramar Brewery

Protector opened in the crowded Miramar area. All their beers are made with 100% organic ingredients. This makes the beers more expensive to produce and so the prices are slightly higher than other breweries in the area. People don’t seem to mind though and some batches of IPA have sold out in 5 days. Though Protector hasn’t had a grand opening yet, they have already proven that their brewers have an immense skill. My first visit they only had three beers, two IPAs and a pale ale.

The hoppy pale was grassy with light citrus notes and a solid finish. I couldn’t tell if it was the grassy notes I didn’t like or the choice of malts but it wasn’t much my style. The traditional IPA was a fantastic balanced beer with mild citrus and mild bitterness. Both this and the West Coast style IPA had a solid malt character without being overly malt-forward. The malts balanced perfectly with the hop notes. The West Coast style IPA had a great blend of resin and citrus notes with a light bitter finish that wasn’t present in the traditional IPA. While slightly more malty than the typical West Coast style it was quite a good beer.

Over the coming weeks, I returned a few times to try their new beers. First time back they added a porter and a session heffeweizen. The porter was good and roasty with notes of caramel and cherries and bitter dark chocolate on the finish. The hefeweizen had a good dry finish. Flavor of cloves dominated over banana and the beer finished fairly astringent. While very easy drinking, I found the beer a bit too heavy on the cloves.

I returned a third time and tried their coffee imperial stout. Though expensive at $3.50 a taster, it was quite impressive. It had intense coffee on the nose. The beer had a silky mouthfeel with notes of caramel, roast, and coffee. Traditional ipa batch dialed up the citrus character even more though still with mild resin on the finish. Bitterness is still mild.

In a crowded area, Protector stands out with an excellent lineup of beers. Their IPAs showcase hops while supporting them with a mild malt backbone. This balance is difficult to achieve and a rarity among local breweries. Their tasting room is spacious from the get-go.

Disclaimer – Though I did receive the occasional free taster while visiting protector, my views have not been altered in any way.

Update – Post has been updated to reflect the brewery’s change of pricing for the Imperial Stout. It is now $3.50 a taster instead of $5.

Top 2: 
West Coast IPA
Imperial Stout

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