California Wild Ales Sorrento Valley, San Diego

California wild ales had its first day open to the public on April 7, 2018 with the release of its salted yuzu sour. Before that, you could only taste the beers occasionally on tap around town or by purchasing bottles with the membership. The tasting room is located in an industrial area of Sorrento Valley. The front entrance is actually in a walkway between two buildings while the back entrance is the side more easily accessed near the parking area.

The tasting room itself is fairly typical in size with some small tables to hang out and drink your tasters but for the most part it serves as a location to pick up your bottles. I tried three of the beers they had on tap and found all three of them to be fairly subtle both in fruit flavor and tartness and acidity. Of the three, I found the stone fruit sour to be the most complex with more hints of earthy funk and overall more fruit flavor than the other two.

The other two beers that I tried were a guava sour and the salted yuzu sour that I was there to pick up. If I were to decide primarily based upon tasting the beer, I probably would not have picked up a bottle of the salted yuzu although the beer was a bit more complex in the bottle because the carbonation was be from a reaction to the yeast as opposed to forced carbonation. Both the guava and yuzu sour were fairly subtle in fruit lightly tart and lightly acidic. The yuzu tended to be a little bit more citrus in flavor but between the two the distinctions were fairly small.

Since visiting, I got to try the salted yuzu out of the bottle. The first bottle erupted with carbonation quite quickly. The beer has much better carbonation from the bottle. The beer has light buttery oak character and minimal citrus from the yuzu and much more funk than it did on tap at the release. It is a nice refreshing sour but not something that I would want to pay full price for at their bottle prices. Hopefully over time they will lower the price because with the small amount of fruit I taste here I don’t see the beer being worth $20 a bottle.

If you want to come and taste for yourself, for now the brewery will only be open during specific days when bottles they release are available to pick up. Eventually they will be adding public hours on weekends so keep up with them on social media to figure out the best time to stop by.

Come for:
California wild ales only produces barrel aged sour beers. You will not find any other styles on tap.

Disclaimer: I am good friends with one of the people who works for the brewery though I don’t sugar coat my review of places just because of that. I want to help friends achieve greatness just as much as anyone else.

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 serving clients in San Diego California.

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Los Angeles Breweries – Arts District and Mumford

Arts District Brewing


arts district brewery has a full food menu and bar aside from all the beers. I stopped by on a Sunday afternoon and tried four different beers. I could tell from the list that they still aim fairly traditional in the IPA area. This means I did not see any hazy IPAs like their neighbors modern times and Mumford. Instead I encountered IPAs that were traditional West Coast style. In some ways this meant they were a little too bitter for my current pallet.

Massive selection of beers to choose from!

I started with the Canyonero Hoppy Amber. He had a mix of citrus and spice from the hops and a good medium bitterness that balanced with notes of orange peel and herbal hops that seemed a bit strong for me on the finish. The other IPA, Kablamo, was more intensely bitter with strong pine on the nose and mix of herbal and pine that finishes with resin and sticks on the tongue. The level of bitterness is up there with traditional West Coast styles but was a bit much for me now that I am used to more modern styles.

While I found the traditional flavors of the IPAs to be a little bit much, I was refreshed by the traditional flavors of the various stouts they had. I started with the cowboy Curtis a smoked stout. The beer was super smoky on the nose but more balanced in the taste. It had a creamy body with flavors of dark chocolate, marshmallow, and light roast. The flavors balanced nicely and the smoke was not overpowering. The skeleton crew right Porter had a nice medium body with light smoke and roast and great balance. While nice, I preferred the cowboy Curtis for the more complex flavor and less herbal bite from rye.

Arts district brewery earns quite a few metals for their beers which suggests that they are fairly traditional and my tastes confirmed that. If you still love a traditional West Coast IPA, you will find plenty to enjoy here. For those who are not into the big bitterness anymore, I suggest you try their delicious stouts and porters.

Mumford


I stopped by Mumford to see how their hazy IPAs had improved since my last visit over a year ago. I was pleasantly surprised to find that there hazy beers were much softer than I recalled and that one of the two was up at the level that I would hope to see from more Southern California breweries.

The first beer I tried, projection circuit, was nice and creamy with bright citrus notes of pineapple. The beer had fairly low hop acidity and bitterness. This was my favorite of the two and I brought home a crowler. I also tried the mastermind solutions. It was a bit sweeter and thicker with bright character of ripe papaya and mango and strong hop acidity and caramel on the finish. After trying both beers, I am much more likely to return to Mumford when I am in the area next time.

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 serving clients in San Diego California.

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El Segundo Breweries – State Brewing Company and LA Ale Works

State Brewing Company


I stopped by state because I had heard that they make excellent hazy IPAs. As soon as possible walked in and scanned the tap list, I could tell that this brewery is almost exclusively trying to make everything in the hyper-modern styles. This included hazy IPAs, big pastry stouts, and a white stout with coffee. The brewery was also extremely loud on a Friday night when we visited. So I expect even if I had fallen in love with the beers after my first four, I would still have left to go elsewhere. It was like drinking inside a nightclub.

I tried two hazy IPAs. Both were fairly underwhelming and lacking in intense hop aromas as well as the traditional soft/creamy body that is characteristic of the style. The Super Smoove was boozy with light fruity character and floral hop taste. I found this and the other hazy to be overly sweet and boozy. The Can’t Floc had tons of overripe fruit character but as well was overly sweet and boozy. I did not finish either of these tasters.

Thankfully, I was more impressed by the two stouts that I tried. They had a couple of other varieties as well but I skipped the one with Maple syrup added because I do not care for that flavor. The project shadow, a base beer for many of their additions of adjuncts, was complex with notes of cherry malt and a dark chocolate finish. Though 10% alcohol, this did not have significantly noticeable alcohol. The project Nicaragua had coffee, vanilla, and graham crackers added. All three of these flavors blended nicely together along with the base dark chocolate finish. I immediately tasted notes of dark chocolate, coffee, and graham crackers and enjoyed how all of the flavors blended together. State brewery also offers crowlers of most of their beers to go.

LA ale works


A flight of beers at LA ale works is typically either five or six beers. I ordered six and most of them were good with a couple that stood out. The brewery itself has a nice outdoor seating area that we appreciated because they were playing somewhat loud music inside. They had quite a variety of beers on tap so it is difficult to choose six.

I started with their Pilsner. It was tasty with fruit and notes of grape and a clean finish. The saison was strongly hoppy and quite herbal with a bitter finish. This did not particularly taste like a Saison and was more like a pale ale. The IPA I tried was an excellent example of the modern style. It was soft and exploded with aromas of melon and light citrus with a mild herbal hop finish.

The milkshake IPA was very disappointing. It tasted very medicinal to me and the lactose did not seem to work in the beer without a hazy base beer. I got some mild characters of orange and spices but overall the beer was undrinkable. After that, I tried the buttress of Windsor, a coffee stout. The beer had a strong flavor of nutty coffee with mild roast. While quite delicious, it tasted more like iced coffee than a coffee beer. To some people this may not seem like a bad thing. I finished with their Russia Attack Imperial Stout. It was strong in the cherry malt flavor and lately Smokey on the finish. Though similar to the Imperial Stout from state, I preferred the base beer at state.

The only thing exciting enough at both of these breweries that I would suggest go out of your way to visit either of them was the pastry Stout at state. Still, they are good additions to the El Segundo neighborhood and great places to hang out for the locals.

Top 2:
IPA
Buttress of Windsor

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 serving clients in San Diego California.

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Savagewood Brewing Takes over O’Sullivan Brothers Space

I stopped by Savagewood for their industry appreciation night. Since I went with my brother I was able to try a few more beers than I might have if I was alone doing pints. I tended to stay away from anything O’Sullivan Brothers had already made prior because they were solid but nothing I cared for. They managed to license the recipes of a few of the more popular beers O’Sullivan Brothers had made, which is nice because otherwise they wouldn’t have a dark beer on tap.

I started with their ESB, which was solid though not up to the quality of my other favorites around town. It had a nice malt backbone with light apricot hop character and low bitterness. It could have been a little more attenuated (less sweet). They have the same beer available on nitro though they don’t seem to understand how nitro works because the nitro version is quite under carbonated and not all that different from the regular.

The saison was below average with a strong bubblegum flavor and an overpowering sweetness that bordered on cloying. I’m glad I wasn’t the one who ordered that pint. The session IPA was equally underwhelming with a strong malt backbone that wasn’t attenuated enough leaving a syrupy sweet base with minimal hop character to balance it out. The IPA was solid, if fairly standard for the classic West Coast style. It blended notes of grapefruit, pine, tropical fruit, and light floral hops with a dry finish and low bitterness. The IPA, while clearly better than the rest of the lineup, isn’t that different from the other offerings in the area.

Though Savagewood is still an overall improvement over O’Sullivan Brothers, they need to do more if they want to differentiate themselves from the crowded beer scene in the Mira Mesa/Miramar area. Their core lineup of a Mango Heffeweisen, blonde ale, ESB, session IPA, IPA, and saison isn’t going to do much to bring in beer geeks though the IPA should satisfy hop heads who are looking for a solid IPA to knock back.

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 serving clients in San Diego California.

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Narrow Gauge Brewery – Northern Saint Louis Missouri

Narrow gauge is inside an Italian restaurant and bar slightly north of the St. Louis airport. When you drive up, it is easy to expect that the brewery should have its own space and entrance, although it is inside the Italian restaurant. When I stopped by they only had four hazy beers on tap that they brewed although thankfully they also had quite an extensive guest tap list.

In essence, they really only had two beers on tap because two of them were variances of others. For example, I had both the standard cloud city and the DDH cloud city. All of the beers were generally excellent hazy with creamy bodies and soft mouth feel. The standard cloud city was a nice mix of citrus and tropical fruit with mild hop acidity. The DDH version was stronger with flavors of tropical fruit and overripe fruit typical from the use of galaxy hops. I preferred the standard version but both were excellent.

Similarly, the next two beers were both variances on a beer they call flag. The Queen flag is different because of the addition of honey. It had a slightly boozy bite with bright citrus hops and mild honey sweetness at the finish. Comparatively, the DDH flag was equally acidic and grassy with notes of grape. After having four tasters of their Hoppy hazy beers, I decided to order more traditional styles to finish off the visit. If you are already staying in down town St. Louis, I recommend stopping by narrow gauge before you go to the airport rather than making a separate trip because of how far North they are from everything.

While the hazy IPAs I had were all a bit green at the time I visited, I expect they will mellow out nicely like most proper examples of the style. They were so good that I am a bit sad that I was unable to get some cans to bring home.

Known for:
Come for hazy IPAs and an extensive guest tap list.

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 serving clients in San Diego California.

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Exploring San Diego's Craft Breweries