Pacific Brewing Celebrates One Year of Serving Beer

A year ago I was at Pacific Brewing Company when they had their grand opening party. Now they are still around and pouring their core beers. For the anniversary party they put on an anniversary double IPA, a barrel aged version of their stout, and a double dry hopped version of the Bombora IPA. Unlike other anniversary parties around they didn’t have a price at the door so you could come by and have a few tasters or a pint without any of the other stuff if you want.

Pacific Brewing 1 year Anniversary 05

I had a taster flight that included the barrel aged stout, anniversary double IPA, double dry hopped Bombora IPA and the Sticky Icky. To me the barrel aged stout was a bit more heavy on the vanilla and didn’t have much of the bourbon flavors I was expecting. They seem to have decided to showcase the flavors of the base beer. I could have done with more bourbon flavors because the vanilla gave it a little syrupy sweet flavor that didn’t work for me.

Pacific Brewing 1 year Anniversary 03

Then came the anniversary double IPA, a nice lightly herbal beer with a solid bitter bite and mild amount of sticky sweetness. This was great and would go nicely as a pint. Then I had the double dry hopped Bombora, a sticky dank citrus beer with plenty of extra kick thanks to the extra hops. It stood up to the anniversary even though I had it after the anniversary double.

Pacific Brewing 1 year Anniversary 02

I ended with the Sticky Icky to see how it held up since the opening. It seemed a little less sweet than I remember it being but it was a bit more balanced, which gave it a very pleasant taste. The beer had a nice light roasty flavor and mild hop bite, making it a proper stronger amber without going overboard like many try to do.

Pacific Brewing 1 year Anniversary 04 Pacific Brewing 1 year Anniversary 01

It was good to see Pacific sticking to their core beers they started with. Since opening they added the televisions so they have some of the games on as well. I’m glad they managed to keep similar hop flavors going in their anniversary beer despite the difficulty of getting many of the hops they likely used to start with. I look forward to what Pacific will come up with over the next year.

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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Council Brewing continues to release fantastic small batch bottles

Council Brewing started out strong when they opened last year, delivering a wide variety of beers to appeal to all sorts of craft beer drinkers. Since then they have done a few limited releases of beers in bottles starting with a sour saison then a barrel aged tripel then a bourbon barrel aged imperial stout then their tart saisons and finally yesterday they released Vienne, their first barrel aged french saison.

While I haven’t yet opened my barrel aged pirates breakfast imperial stout the barrel aged tripel they released last year was quite delicious. In the San Diego area the french farmhouse ale known as Biere de Garde is not widely produced. Lost Abbey bottles one that is available around town fairly regularly if you know where to look. Other versions are so limited that I did not know they existed. Stone brewed one sometime last year though I never heard about it.

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Council’s release of their own Biere de Garde is part of the brewer’s participation in the trend of local breweries exploring styles that are only known to a smaller group of enthusiasts. I had not been aware of the Biere de Garde style until I read “The Brewmaster’s Table” earlier this year that describes the style under the section for French beers.

I stopped by the brewery yesterday to pick up my two bottles of Vienne. While I was there, I had a taster of this new brew and also tasted their Irish Stout that was put on a few weeks ago for St. Patrick’s Day. Sadly, the bottles of Vienne sold out so quickly that your only chance of tasting this beer will be to visit the brewery over the next day or two and hope that they still have it on tap, or to find someone willing to part with their bottle. The quick sale of this beer shows just how much demand there is in the local market for beers in this style.

Bottles of Vienne with the Irish Stout and Vienne in tasters.
Bottles of Vienne with the Irish Stout and Vienne in tasters.

Taste wise, I really enjoyed Vienne. The beer was lightly tart, showcasing some nice peach and stone fruit flavors. At other times it displayed a sweet caramel flavor that balanced the tartness nicely. The flavors were smoothed out by the oak quite well. I am looking forward to tasting this beer again when I open my bottles in a few months. The Irish Stout was also impressive, giving a good amount of roasty flavor for the low alcohol content. This is a nice alternative to the stronger Pirate’s Breakfast double oatmeal stout.

If you are a fan of Council’s tart saisons, now called Beatitude, keep an eye out for future small releases of the beers in bottles at the tasting room. Also keep an eye out on the brewery’s facebook page for announcements of future small batch bottle releases because the next one may end up selling out just as quickly as Vienne.

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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Green Flash Silva Stout Release Party 2015

Green Flash had a special release party to promote the first of many barrel aged beers they are aging at their new facility out in Poway they call Cellar 3. Though they weren’t able to hold this event in Poway, they had a big bash and brought out a number of specialty beers for the occasion. Among the special versions was a special coffee version of the stout that somehow was stronger than the original version, clocking in at a gigantic 13%.

Silva Stout Release 2015 01 Silva Stout Release 2015 02

Also for sale at the tasting room were bottles of the barrel aged stout. Silva Stout is a blend of bourbon barrel aged double stout and the regular double stout. The coffee version was so strong that I could feel it seriously after only a small 4oz taster. Flavor wise it was not particularly boozy and had a good smooth caramel flavor along with a nutty coffee taste.

Silva Stout Release 2015 03 Silva Stout Release 2015 04

According to the flavor notes they handed out with bottles of Silva Stout the grand opening of their Cellar 3 will be held on May 16, 2015. I look forward to visiting that facility to taste the different beers they have but for now some of the special beers they brought out for the party should hang around for a little bit.

First set of tasters, Left to right, Brett Saison, Apricot Le Freak Barrique, Boysenberry Saison, Candella Barley Wine.
First set of tasters, Left to right, Brett Saison, Le Freak Barrique, Boysenberry Saison, Candella Barley Wine.

Among them they had some barrel aged Saisons with Brett, a delicious barleywine in collaboration with Cigar City, two varieties of Silva Stout on tap including one extra strong version with Mostra Coffee, a barrel aged Le Freak with Brett and an Apricot version of the same with Brett.

Second set of tasters, Cask Silva Stout front left, Black Tiger, back left, Coffee Silva Stout right back, Apricot Le Freak front right.
Second set of tasters, Cask Silva Stout front left, Black Tiger, back left, Coffee Silva Stout right back, Apricot Le Freak front right.

Of these the standouts to me were the Candella Barleywine, Le Freak Barrique, and Apricot Le Freak Barrique. The new recipe of Le Freak works great with the barrel aging and addition of Brett. The Silva Stout was also quite delicious with plenty of smooth chocolate and bourbon flavors. I also came home with two bottles of Silva Stout.

Mango Inferno (left) and Silva Stout (right).
Mango Inferno (left) and Silva Stout (right).

I was glad to see that the bottles of Silva Stout were still available three hours after opening and there will also be quite a few that were sent out to distributors you might find in stores. The opening of Cellar 3 should mean more availability of Silva Stout and hopefully some of these delicious Brett Le Freak varieties as well going forward. If you want to try some of these beers you should stop by the tasting room over the next few days so that you can taste some before they go.

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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Beachwood BBQ – Long Beach California

I visited Beachwood bbq for the first time on Sunday March 1st after driving 30 minutes north of John Wayne Airport where I landed coming back from a trip. I had heard such good things both about the food and the beers that I had to make the trip. What I found was some very tasty food and a great selection of house beers that were quite flavorful.  There are actually two locations, one in Long Beach and one in Seal Beach. I’m told that the Long Beach location is easier to park and that the Seal Beach location has better guest taps.

Beachwood Brewing 01

I tasted a lot of IPAs there because they have a good reputation for getting the flavors right. I also tasted a few saisons and a really delicious stout. From what I have been told very few of these beers are regularly available because they like to experiment with new things regularly. However, with such good beers in the range I tasted that day I have no doubt that future beers will be delicious as well.

My first flight of the day.
My first flight of the day.

My first flight started with the Alpha Bomb pale ale, the Thrill Seeker IPA, the FV8 IPA and the American stout. The alpha bomb pale was very tasty showcasing the typical West Coast style flavors perfectly. The beer had lots of citrus and kept the malt lower than the typical pale. Then I moved on to the thrill seeker that was a very enjoyable IPA showcasing some really bright mandarin orange flavor. I might have ordered a pint if I wasn’t tasting so many beers.

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Beachwood Brewing 08

Next came the FV8 IPA. Though this one was tasty, the floral hops just couldn’t stand up to the previous delicious citrus beers. Still it was very smooth and well made. According to the description these beers starting with FV are the first batch to come out of various fermentation tanks. This one being the first brew out of tank number 8. To end the flight I had the American stout. It was good and smoky with a nice thick body showcasing plenty of good caramel and toffee flavors. My husband was with me and ordered a pint of this stout. Stouts and porters are all he likes.

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My second flight of the day. Two saisons are the lighter colored beers.

 

For the second flight I added a few saisons and went for the stronger IPAs. I tasted the Rose Royce saison, Un Atout saison, Ultra Hop 2000, and Hop Ninja. The Rose Royce saison was a flavorful saison with good amount of pepper and spice sticking to the traditional flavors. In comparison the Un Atout saison had much more citrus. I enjoyed the departure from the traditional style here because the citrus went nicely with the beer.

Smokehouse burger.
Smokehouse burger.

The Ultra hop 2000 was a perfectly balanced and delicious west coast style ipa with plenty of grapefruit and citrus. It had a solid amount of bitterness as well. This one as well I would have ordered a pint if I wasn’t doing so many tasters. I really savored every sip of this taster. In comparison the Hop Ninja was a bit disappointing. Without the sweetness I wouldn’t know it was stronger than ultra hop. While not as bitter it had many flavors reminiscent of the Enjoy By IPA from stone but didn’t quite make it. I would almost suggest placing this one before the hop 2000 on the flight. I was also not a fan of the malts used and thought the hops didn’t balance out the malts enough.

Brisket Plate.
Brisket Plate.

Overall, this is a brewery that hop heads in the area should absolutely visit. Besides their stellar collection of house beers, they have plenty of guest beers as well. Food wise, I was very impressed by the smokehouse burger, though at half a pound you should split it with someone else. My husband really enjoyed his kale side and the sweet potato fries. The brisket was OK but I have had better elsewhere including San Diego bbq joints.

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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Culture Brewing Company – Solana Beach

The day after I visited Toolbox for the first time I stopped by Culture Brewing to see what they had available. Though there were a number of lovely specialty offerings available because they had an anniversary party the preceding two days I tried a few of their core beers as well because to me solid core beers are the most important to a brewery’s long term success. Sadly, the Mosaic IPA was out so I tasted a specialty version instead.

Culture Brewing 01

While I was there, I tried the Keyhole IPA, milk stout, brown, black IPA, coffee IPA, oaked saison, and triple IPA. Starting with the keyhole I thought it was a solid grapefruit/citrus IPA but it didn’t really blow me away or make me want to order a pint. Next came the black IPA, which I thought was too bitter for the malts. Mostly I got a ton of pine flavors from the hops but couldn’t taste much roasted malts or other flavors that I expect in the style.

My first flight. Yes, no taster glasses yet, but I'm not complaining.
My first flight. Yes, no taster glasses yet, but I’m not complaining.

The brown ale was an easy drinking beer with a nice light roast flavor and good caramel flavor. The light body makes this one you would want a few pints of. Then the milk stout was interesting because it had a light mint flavor that I wasn’t expecting. The mint combined nicely with the roast flavors that reminded me of coffee and the sweetness was not overpowering either.

Second flight.
Second flight.

Then I moved on to the coffee IPA on nitro made with coffee beans. It really had a strong coffee taste to it that reminded me of a fairly bitter cup of black coffee. This is one for the coffee drinkers for sure, and not those who feel the need to add sugar. The Oaked Saison was my favorite of the bunch, offering a delicious spice and mild pepper that was mellowed out by the oak. Later I learned that this batch was mixed with some of the regular saison to reduce the barrel aged flavors that were quite strong at first. I ended up having a bigger pour of this later and quite enjoyed sipping it.

Culture Brewing 02

Finally, I ended with the triple IPA, a sweet beer that had plenty of delicious tropical fruit, mango, and citrus flavors and wasn’t overly boozy despite a strong 11% alcohol. If I didn’t have to drive back I might have gotten a larger pour of this one instead.

My half pour of the oaked saison for more delicious beer.
My half pour of the oaked saison for more delicious beer.

Culture also had fairly loud music playing through a pair of studio monitors on the ceiling. It made it difficult to order a beer because the bartender couldn’t hear orders the first time. Also, being close to the beach be prepared for some cool sea breeze that might come in through various open doors and windows. They also have food trucks occasionally parked in the back where there is an enclosed outdoor 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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A Hoppy Visit to Rip Current and Belching Beaver

Sometimes as a blogger I am not able to try every single beer at a brewery, either because certain styles aren’t interesting to me or because there are too many beers on tap, or other times because I plan on visiting two places in one trip. In this case when I visited Belching Beaver and Rip Current together in their North Park locations, especially because of their proximity, I mostly tried the hoppy beers available at both.

At some point I may go back and update the blog with information about some of the other beers they have but for now this will be the first in what may become a series of Hoppy Visit series of posts primarily aimed at telling hop-heads what is good at a brewery.
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Before I get into the beers though I wanted to make an observation about the atmosphere at Belching Beaver North Park. Like other bars in the area I found Belching Beaver to be the sort of place I would not want to spend much time, due to loud music, often in the form of hip-hop that made me leave as soon as I finished my four tasters. The music was thankfully not as loud as I tend to encounter at Toronado but not something I like to see at a tasting room.  I’m sure I will en joy Belching Beaver’s beers in bottles elsewhere but I probably won’t be returning to the tasting room anytime soon.
Belching beaver is known for the peanut butter milk stout and horchata imperial stout because they get the most buzz. If you like flavored stouts these are great but I did not try them in this visit. I tasted the Hop Highway IPA, Rabid Beaver Rye IPA, Great Lei pina colada IPA and Damned Imperial IPA. As you will see in the photo, Belching Beaver uses some interesting tall skinny taster glasses.
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The Hop Highway IPA was a solid balanced west coast style IPA with lots of citrus and not too bitter. It is a nice easy drinking beer. Compared to hop highway, the rabid beaver is a bit more bitter and has some of the additional bite from the rye but is otherwise a very similar flavor of beer. I prefer the rabid beaver personally and think it is more of what I look for in an IPA.
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I actually really liked the great lei pina colada IPA with its light body and low bitterness and plenty of great coconut flavors. It did a great job creating the pina colada flavors without making it too sweet. Finally, the Damned, a boozy double IPA with plenty of caramel malts and tart apple flavors that are balanced by some intense bitterness. This is much more interesting when you get to sip a larger pour, like in a 22oz bottle I have tasted before, but it is still an interesting beer overall and a solid double IPA.

 

Next came Rip Current where I tried their Impact Zone, Lupulin Lust, Double Impact Zone, and In the Curl. I also added the Palomar Chocolate Porter and Vanilla Coffee Stout after that. Rip Current was noticeably less busy and more importantly less noisy. I was able to relax and take my time to sip my beers.
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The Impact Zone IPA was a solid basic IPA with plenty of good citrus and low bitterness. Though here as well I preferred the Lupulin Loop sporting much more flavor and a nice balance of citrus and resin.
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Next came up the Double Impact Zone which was much more flavorful though a little boozy and more what I like to taste. The higher alcohol intensified the citrus flavors, making it more tasty. Then came the In the Curl, another double IPA that was very similar to the Double Impact Zone. Both were quite good.
Rip Current North Park 02
Rip Current North Park 03
Finishing with some dark beers, the Palomar Chocolate Porter had some nice dark chocolate and roasted malt flavors. The beer was overall good and smooth, a solid porter. The vanilla coffee stout was a bit higher on the alcohol but it really hides it well. It had some great tastes of nutty coffee and vanilla like you typically see from this style.
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Though both breweries had some solid offerings I found myself favoring Rip Current due to the more relaxed atmosphere and lack of loud music. If you are a fan of IPAs or stouts you will find plenty at both though the flavored stouts at Belching Beaver are not for everyone.

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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