Fall Brewing Company – Young San Diego Brewery that is Quite Impressive

There are a ton of breweries opening all the time and it can be hard for new ones to stick out among the crowd. That is unless they start out making beers as impressive as those from Fall. Fall is probably one of the most hyped up young breweries lately and I figured I would walk away disappointed but found myself really impressed by a lot of what I tasted. I tried two flights while I was there. My first full flight included the Interpretive Dance Session IPA, Jazz Hands Berliner Weisse, English Pale, Spirit of 77 IPA, and Green Hat IPA. I ended with three dark beers including the ever popular 2AM Bike Ride, Apocalypse Pony, and Fall & Oats.

Fall Brewing Company 01

The Interpretive Dance session IPA was surprisingly potent with tons of hop flavor and high bitterness despite a seriously low 3.5% alcohol. It was a solid mix of tropical fruit and citrus with a seriously bitter finish. The Jazz Hands berliner weisse was crisp and delicious with a mild fruity/tart flavor. It also was surprisingly flavorful for a low 3.5% alcohol. This was one of the more flavorful local versions of the style I have had. The English Pale primarily has a lot of apricot flavor with some mild earthy hops and a crisp sweet finish. It didn’t overwhelm with the malts and was overall a very nicely balanced drinkable beer.

Fall Brewing Company 02

First full flight.
First full flight.

Both the Spirit of 77 and Green Hat IPAs were fantastically balanced and delicious. They were both quite similar in many ways, both having a sticky icky sweetness and both not too overwhelmed by the malts. The 77 IPA was fruity with a piney finish and a little more malt balance. The Green Hat tended more towards the juicy guava and pineapple flavors and was overall deliciously fruity. Neither tasted much like any IPA I have had before while they both were excellent examples of the style. After all the hype for 2AM Bike Ride, I wasn’t too excited by it. It was a very smooth light-body stout with intense bitter coffee and a subtle vanilla in the back. It seemed to lack a complexity or roasted malt flavor that I love so much in the style.

Last set of beers, all stouts.
Last set of beers, all stouts.

The Apocalypse Pony has a strong vanilla flavor with a mellow coffee finish. Again I found the body lacking here and the vanilla was a little too overpowering for me. The Fall & Oats was quite fruity and the fruit was so sweet I almost thought it was vanilla at first. Like the other two I tried, it was lacking the thicker mouthfeel I love in my stouts and didn’t have the chewy oat character I normally love. Despite the stouts being mostly underwhelming for me, I recognize that they are quite popular among other groups. 2AM Bike Ride is a big hit with many of the local beer fans. Still, the two IPAs were so delicious and showed a real skill with blending hop flavors that I don’t see often with young breweries. If you haven’t gotten around to visiting Fall, you should do so soon.

The brewery has a nice wide open space.
The brewery has a nice wide open space.

Top 3:
Green Hat IPA
Spirit of 77 IPA
English Pale

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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Bitter Brothers Brewing – Impressive New Brewery in Bay Ho

I visited Bitter Brothers with a friend recently, and we both agreed about the most impressive beers in the bunch, which surprisingly were not the IPAs. Though the IPAs were all tasty, some less popular/common styles were among our favorites. We tasted the Berliner Weisse, Session IPA, ESB, Dunkelweizen, coffee porter, Amarillo IPA, and North West style IPA. Bitter Brothers is easy to find right off Morena Blvd in an area not yet surrounded by a ton of other breweries.

Bitter Brothers 05

The Berliner Weisse was a smooth mix of ginger and grapefruit with a mild tart finish. It had a bit more flavor than the typical new brewery version of the style and a lot of subtleties as well. The session IPA has a nice mix of pineapple and grapefruit with a strong bitter finish. I found this one a little too bitter for what it was but I enjoyed it a little more after it warmed up. The hops come on nice and strong for sure. The ESB was super smooth and flavorful with a nice balance of caramel malts and apricot from the hops. It had a lot more flavor than most local versions and we left wanting more.

First set of tasters.
First set of tasters.

The Dunkelweizen was also quite impressive with a sweet plum taste and smooth sweet banana and molasses finish. Both of these styles are quite difficult to execute well and often local ESBs are flavorless or Dunkelweizens are too sweet or lack balance. Neither of these beers had those problems. The coffee porter is available on draft and nitro but I asked the bartender which she preferred and she suggested the draft, so we had that one. It was quite tasty with a strong nutty coffee flavor and a medium body. The taste was almost like a cold brew coffee.

Second set of tasters. I forgot to take a photo right away.
Second set of tasters. I forgot to take a photo right away.

The Amarillo IPA was super fruity with flavors of mango and tangerine. It is a solid version of the local style, low on the malt bill and very hop forward. The North West IPA is the amber color beer you see. It was nicely balanced and bursting with herb and pine hops with notes of sage and a strong bitter finish. They were both enjoyable IPAs though neither of us was craving these as much as the ESB or coffee porter. The IPA you prefer will depend on your preference for hop flavors. Thankfully the North West IPA did not taste like a lot of the boring old-school Portland IPAs that rely too heavily on pine hops.

Bitter Brothers 02

For a brewery that has only been open a month or so, we were both quite impressed by the beers. Come visit Bitter Brothers with a friend and share a few tasters.

Top 3:
Coffee Porter
ESB
Dunkelweizen

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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Wicks Brewing – Riverside California

On a recent drive to Idyllwild I decided to go out of my way to Riverside and stop by a brewery. You may be thinking, that is not really along the way, why would you do something like that? And you’re right it is seriously out of the way but my husband wanted to stop in Riverside for something else so I figured let’s hit a brewery while we are there. I decided to stop by Wicks in part because I loved their medieval designs and names for their beers. They are a fairly large brewpub offering some solid food and a large lineup of beers. I tasted a total of 8 beers while I was there in two separate flights.

Wicks Brewing 01

Wicks Brewing 02

The first flight included the Paladin Pale, Battle Cry IPA, Hello Sunshine IPA, and El Robo Rye IPA. The pale was nice and fruity/juicy session IPA that was not too thin or too bitter. It is a nice and balanced, smooth beer. The Battle Cry IPA is a bit thicker and resinous with notes of grapefruit and pineapple. I really enjoyed this IPA out of all of the ones offered and picked up a 22oz bottle to go, which I enjoyed recently at home. While not as bursting with aroma in the bottle it stood up nicely to being a month and a half old. The Hello Sunshine was thicker and more bitter than the Battle Cry offering tropical fruit flavors including papaya. The El Robo Rye had a nice golden rye flavor with a slightly darker color and a strong bitter finish presenting flavors of apricot and peach. This was a nicely balanced rye beer.

First flight of beers.
First flight of beers.

The second flight included the Hellified double IPA, Morning Star coffee oatmeal stout, Jasmine Noir black ale, and Black Knight imperial porter. The Hellified double IPA was not that much stronger in alcohol than the single IPA offerings but was quite tasty with intense citrus flavors and a solid bitter kick. The Morning Star coffee oatmeal stout presented a quite mellow coffee flavor and smooth mouthfeel. This is a good stout if you like subtle flavors. The Jasmine Noir was basically a stronger version of a schwartzbier, a German style black lager. It had a light roast flavor but otherwise was very light bodied and easy drinking. I could barely taste the higher alcohol. The Black Knight was a combination of fruity and roasty with a boozy kick on the end, also not very thick. Because I am used to stouts and porters that have more intense flavors I was fairly disappointed by the tasters but looking back now they did a good job making subtle beers for the styles.

Second Flight.
Second Flight.

I enjoyed the food I had at Wicks and especially enjoyed the IPAs. They are worth hitting if you are in the area and are looking for your West Coast style IPA kick. If you are a fan of dark beers, don’t expect anything exploding with flavors but you will find some smooth and drinkable beers.

Wicks Brewing 05

Top 2:
Battle Cry IPA
Paladin Pale

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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Pure Project – A Fantastic New Addition to a Crowded Miramar Brewery Scene

I visit a LOT of breweries in any given year and some of the new breweries come out of the gate a little less than ready but that is not the case for Pure Project. With a full 12 taps of beer to choose from on the grand opening day and a wide variety of styles to suit all palates they delivered one of the most impressive local launches of a brewery in quite some time. Out of the 10 beers I tasted and shared with a friend, five were very impressive and the other five were solid. We both left pleasantly surprised by the quality of beers available and excited to see what they have in store going forward. A few of the launch beers would make really good core beers that I hope don’t change very much going forward.

Massive tap list when I visited.
Massive tap list when I visited.

I tried the Gose with grapefruit, the cream ale with orange and vanilla, saison with hibiscus and honey, rye pale ale, dry stout with coffee, IPA, brett IPA, Double IPA, imperial porter, and Belgian Quad with coconut. The Gose had an interesting mix of funk and subtle grapefruit. It was quite effervescent and mildly citrus, a solid Gose though I hope future versions will have more pronounced fruit. The cream ale did a fantastic job of making a creamsicle, vanilla orange popsicle, with a great mix of orange and vanilla and a really smooth mouth feel. The beer wasn’t too sweet and I could see myself drinking much more of it on another visit.

First two tasters.
First two tasters.

The saison was a nice balance of hibiscus and honey without getting too sweet. It finishes lightly sweet and a bit dry. A solid saison. The Milagro dry stout with coffee and vanilla was quite smooth thanks to the nitro with plenty of prominent coffee and a light body. The vanilla was quite subtle but the overall beer was very satisfying. We preferred it over the imperial stout because it was a bit more flavorful. The Rye Pale was so good that we thought they had to have made a mistake and given us the IPA instead. They managed to squeeze a ton of hop flavor and aroma into a light 5.5% beer with tons of tropical fruit, pineapple, and citrus without much bitterness. When we actually got the IPA to compare we could see the difference. I came back a few days later with some friends and ordered the pale again. The alcohol percentage is more evident when you start with it but it is still quite delicious.

Second set of tasters.
Second set of tasters.

The IPA was a more bitter and dry finishing beer than the pale though it lacked the burst of hop flavor that made the pale so delicious. It is a solid IPA but compared to the pale and double IPA it just didn’t stand out. The Brett IPA was fantastically balanced between a good citrus hop kick and some fruity Brett yeast. The beer has a subtle grapefruit flavor as well.

Pure Project 05

The Double IPA comes on strong with a serious bitter grapefruit flavor and a surprising lack of sweetness and detectable alcohol for a 9.3% double IPA. It is a very impressive double IPA. The imperial porter was a super smooth nitro pour with some fruity malt character and not much roasted malt kick or body to it. It went down easy but lacked the flavor of the coffee porter. The Belgian quad has a fantastic coconut nose and it comes through very strong in the taste. At first all I tasted was coconut and a surprisingly smooth beer for 10.8%. Over time as it warmed up the coconut faded a little, letting me taste the base beer, which was still very tasty.

Pure Project 06

I got to speak with the brewer while I was there and he mentioned that he has quite a few sours in the pipeline that he hopes to present in the coming months. I look forward to returning to try the sours but also to see what he does with hops because it is very rare that the pale at a brewery is more impressive than the IPA. Pure Project joins a crowded market both in San Diego and along Miramar Road but it will be one I will return to regularly.

Top 4:
Coconut Quad
Double IPA
Rye Pale
Dry Stout with Coffee

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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