Hopsaint Brewing Company – Torrance CA

Through a friend and fellow blogger I found out about Hopsaint, which had only been open for two months before I visited. The head brewer used to work for Stone and Abigaile and the experience shines through in the lineup of beers. As my third stop for the day I tried only four tasters but we also had some of their delicious chocolate pie to go with it. They have a full restaurant as well and a number of guest beers both on tap and in bottles. I tasted the Vienna Lager, pale ale, Cacophony IPA, and experimental stout.

Hopsaint 01

The Vienna Lager was a lot lighter in color than the typical yet it had a smooth dry finish with a very mild amount of hops. My friend who shared the tasters with me liked it enough to order a half pour after we finished all the tasters. The pale ale was light and crisp with a good hop punch and low malt bill with plenty of citrus and pine. I wasn’t too big on the hop profile but it was certainly well done. The Cacophony IPA was a real treat, thick, sticky, dank, and seriously fruity it had everything that I expect out of the new wave of IPAs. It fits in nicely with the recent trend away from serious bitterness in favor of hop aromas.

Hopsaint 03

Hopsaint 02

The experimental stout was smooth and roasty, with subtle notes of caramel, chocolate, and coffee with a dry finish. This paired delightfully well with their chocolate pie, which was also seriously impressive. Thick and rich, the pie had tons of dark chocolate without too much sweetness. Everyone agreed that pairing the pie with the stout was a perfect match. For such a young brewery, Hopsaint had an impressive lineup of beers. Unlike the other breweries in the area, they offer a full kitchen as well so you don’t have to rely on a food truck.

Top 2:
Cacophony 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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Breweries on Kauai Island Hawaii

There are two breweries on Kauai Island, Kauai Beer Company near the airport in Lihue, and Kauai Island Brewery and Grill, a sports bar on the South side of the island. Neither one bottles anything and both are in places the average tourist isn’t going to spend much time. I stopped by Kauai Beer Company when I landed because it is close to the airport and they were closed the day I flew out. I didn’t check if either of the breweries fill blank growlers but considering they both sell stainless steel growlers I would only recommend buying one of their growlers if you are going to be on the island for a few weeks, otherwise bring your own stainless steel growler if you are interested in some beer to go. Both breweries make a lager and a few other similar lighter beers. I skipped those in favor of the styles that I am most interested in, mostly because they charge $2.50 per taster.

Kauai Beer Company 01

Kauai Beer Company
I tried four beers at Kauai Beer Company, the Summer Red, IPA, Double IPA, and Oaked Porter. The Summer Red was good and balanced with fruity hops taking center stage with nice stone fruit flavors and a light bitterness. The IPA was pretty average with fruit and citrus at the front and a floral finish that I wasn’t a fan of. The Double IPA doesn’t have the same floral finish and is a bit more balanced and smooth with a citrus kick and strong bitter finish. The Oaked Porter was quite tasty with smooth body from the oak and a nice combination of light roast, mild smoke, and smooth oak. This was probably the best they had, and I can see why people are raving about it on Yelp.

Kauai Beer Company 02

Kauai Beer Company 03

Top 2:
Oaked Porter
Summer Red

Kauai Island Brewery and Grill

Kauai Island Brewery 01
At Kauai Island Brewery and Grill I tried four beers as well. I tried their Lilikol Ale brewed with passion fruit, Fonz IPA, red, and porter. The Lilikol Ale was smooth and delicious with plenty of passion fruit flavor. The beer was more sweet than tart and though it might have been more my thing with a light tart finish, it was still very easy drinking and delicious. The Fonz IPA has great flavors of mango and citrus with a strong bitter finish that didn’t overpower the rest of it. I thought this was much better than the Kauai Beer Company IPA. The red ale was nicely balanced with fruity hops and a bitter finish. It lacked the sweeter fruit taste from the other brewery but was still solid. The porter was pretty standard with a mix of roast and caramel and a nice medium body.

Kauai Island Brewery 02

Kauai Island Brewery 03

Top 2:
Fonz IPA
Lilikol Ale

Each of the breweries I visited had one or two beers that I really liked. If I had brought a growler with me I might have filled it at Kauai Island Brewery and Grill with their IPA or the passion fruit beer. If you are a big fan of IPAs, you should visit Kauai Island Brewery because I thought theirs was closer to the west coast style I love. Considering the selection of beers in most local grocery stores, many shipped from other islands, it s worth making the trip out to one of these two local breweries.

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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Arizona Breweries Part 2 – More Phoenix Area Breweries

In Part 1 of this two part post I wrote about Prison Hill Brewing in Yuma and three Phoenix area breweries, Papago, Fate, and Goldwater. In this post I include the remaining 3 breweries from my visit, Huss, Arizona Wilderness, and Beer Research Institute.

Huss Brewing Company

Arizona Beer 18

In typical brewery style, Huss is tucked away in an industrial park and has a fairly small tasting room though with a decent amount of seating. They only serve their house beers but they have quite a lineup such that I didn’t taste everything, especially because this was my fourth stop for the day! I tried the Southern Hussy peach ale, Husstler milk stout, Peanut Butter Husstler, That’ll Do IPA and Grapefruit IPA. The Southern Hussy is a delicious barrel-aged peach ale lightly tart and very strong peach flavors that were balanced out nicely by the oak.

Arizona Beer 19

Arizona Beer 20

The Husstler Milk Stout is a fairly light body milk stout, not too sweet and very smooth. I liked it but the Peanut Butter version was much better, with a good amount of nutty flavor and mild chocolate. I filled a growler of this one to take home and it was quite delicious 5 days later. The IPA was very nicely done with good balance and solid bitterness. The flavors were mostly on the citrus and fruit side. The grapefruit version was even better, with a nice blend from the added grapefruit.

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Top 2 from Huss:
Southern Hussy
PB Husstler

Arizona Wilderness Brewing Company
AZ Wilderness is one of the more hyped breweries I visited. They brew a lot of different beers all the time so the lineup changes quite regularly aside from their IPA which is always available. They have a large restaurant with parking that fills up quickly and a lot of people hanging out in the tasting room area were just waiting for their table. Thankfully they cleared out quickly so I had plenty of room to hang out and do a few flights. They have delightful hardwood all around, including a huge piece for the bar and smaller logs for holding your flights.

Arizona Beer 23

I did two separate flights for a total of 10 tasters while I was there. The first flight included a berliner weisse, saison, oak aged bitter, Dekopa Belgian pale ale and milk stout. The second flight included the coffee stout, peanut brittle ale, Big Eye Rye double IPA, Refuge IPA, and Biere de Wassail Belgian Christmas ale. The Berliner Weisse was quite well done just as you would expect with a nice light fruity flavor, very mild tartness, high carbonation, and a light hop flavor. I recommended it to quite a few people at the bar when they asked for something light when the bartender for some reason didn’t think that it was a good idea. Most liked it.

Arizona Beer 24

Arizona Beer 25

The Saison was a delightful peach/orange color and had a good combination of fruity flavors primarily peach with a nice sticky finish. It had just the right amount of saison funk and not a ton of intense spice as you sometimes get. The Oak Aged Bitter is a traditional English style bitter aged in oak barrels. It was quite mild with flavors of coffee and light earthy hops. It was smoothed out nicely by the oak without getting too much intense wood character. The DeKopa Belgian Pale did not taste right to me at all. At least one person confirmed what I tasted while others thought it tasted much different and more typical floral hops with Belgian yeast. To me it had a scent of mildew with flavor of sweaty socks. I even asked the bartender if it was supposed to smell how it did and he confirmed it was. I also had a similar (though not as extreme) experience with Cantillon Grand Cru so if you find similar flavors in that then avoid this. My best suggestion is to ask for a splash before ordering much in case you experience this similarly.

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The Milk Stout was good and smooth on nitro with a nice mild smoky flavor and hints of caramel. Very drinkable and delicious. The Coffee Stout was similarly smooth and mild with a nice nutty coffee taste, also very nice. The peanut brittle ale was quite sweet with lots of lactose flavors and a smooth peanut butter flavor. It was quite tasty. The Refuge IPA is a really crisp IPA that to me tasted like fresh cut apples. It had a lot of flavor without a high malt bill and a good medium bitterness that didn’t overpower. The Big Eye Rye is a fantastic sticky dank double IPA bursting with fruity guava and tropical fruit. While a little more bitter than the Refuge it wasn’t overly bitter and I quite liked it.

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The Biere de Wassail is a Belgian style Christmas ale. As such I was not surprised that it had quite a lot of spice flavor, high alcohol, and was essentially a fruity version of a Belgian Dark Strong. It was quite sticky sweet and very strong reminiscent of apple pie. I was satisfied by a taster of this but many people were ordering full pours and loving it. Everything I tried at AZ Wilderness was delicious with the exception of the Belgian Pale listed above. I don’t think there was anything wrong with the way they brewed it but there are certain flavors that certain palates taste differently. Some people taste certain stouts as if they have soy sauce, and I apparently taste certain types of Belgian yeast as if they are mildew.

Top 3 from AZ Wilderness:
Big Eye Rye
Refuge IPA
Saison
Beer Research Institute
My last stop of the trip was Beer Research Institute. Though I did stop at Alpine for a bottle pickup and growler fill on the way back I did not do tasters there so I consider this my last stop. Beer Research Institute is surprisingly located in a strip mall. They look like any small strip mall restaurant from the outside and they serve food. We ended up only eating their bread pudding, which was absolutely delicious. I tasted 6 beers while I was there in one flight, Morning Sex coffee porter, Dark Side imperial stout, Intergalactic saison, Street Cred black IPA, Mjango Unchained mango imperial IPA, and Lolli Belgian Tripel.

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The Morning Sex coffee stout was slightly sweeter and more balanced than the AZ Wilderness version and had a nice caramel malt background. This is one of the favorites of the guys at AZ Wilderness and I can see why. The Dark Side imperial stout is fruity and slightly sweet with mild smoky and roasty flavors. The Intergalactic saison was a nicely balanced beer with fruity tastes of grapefruit and pineapple and a mild funk. I really enjoyed this one. The Street Cred black IPA was roasty and fairly bitter with fruity hops that are almost hidden under the silky caramel dark malts. I expect a lot more roast and bitterness from my black IPA and I found the hops didn’t really work with the underlying beer too well.

Arizona Beer 30

Arizona Beer 31

The Mjango Unchained was a super delicious mango double IPA with a sweet mango flavor and very light bitterness. It hid its alcohol really well. My husband actually thought it was pretty good and he hates IPAs. I wish I could have filled a growler with this one. The Lolli was quite sweet and fruity and closer to a tripel than the Belgian Blonde they claim it is on the menu. It has some mild spice on the back from the Belgian yeast. It is solid for a tripel but I was more in the mood for a blonde at the time.

Arizona Beer 29

I really like the setup at Beer Research Institute and they are brewing some solid beers for such a young brewery. I understand the limited growler fill options because they seem to be brewing on a very small system. I didn’t try any food other than the dessert but they seemed to be quite popular for what they had.

Top 2 Beer Research Beers:
Morning Sex coffee stout,
Mjango Unchained mango Double IPA

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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Arizona Breweries Part 1, Yuma and Phoenix

Living in San Diego, I decided to take a road trip to Phoenix for New Years Eve and New Year Day at the end of 2015 and beginning of 2016. We rented a car and drove through Alpine out past El Centro, and stopped by Yuma on the way for Prison Hill Brewing before crashing in Phoenix and hitting four breweries the first day, Papago, Fate, Goldwater, and Huss. We then hit 2 more breweries on the following day, Arizona Wilderness and Beer Research Institute. At each brewery I found something interesting that I appreciated or found to be impressive. This first part of the tour will cover the first four breweries while the second part will cover the last three. I had the most tasters at Arizona Wilderness so it fits that they fall into part 2.

Prison Hill Brewing Yuma Arizona

Arizona Beer 33

Prison Hill Brewing was a place we stopped mostly because we needed somewhere to eat on the long drive from San Diego to Phoenix. We left San Diego around 3 and so if we waited 5 hours or more until we got to Phoenix we would have eaten at 8 or later, so we stopped by Prison Hill for dinner and beer. Prison Hill is a brewpub so I had a few tasters while I was there plus we both had dinner. I had four tasters, the Oatmeal pale ale, pumpkin chocolate brown, IPA and Double IPA. The Oatmeal pale was smooth with a nutty malt backbone and mellow hops that balanced nicely. It was quite tasty and worthy of ordering a pint. The pumpkin chocolate brown was smooth and spice forward with more pumpkin spice than chocolate with some hints of caramel malts on the back. The chocolate is quite subtle here and mostly on the bitter side. This is a beer for those who like a lot of spice.

Arizona Beer 34

Arizona Beer 35

The IPA had aromas of fresh guava on the nose and that was mostly what I tasted as well in the taster. It is a sweet and sticky IPA with other fruit flavors that come through at the end. I ended up ordering a pint of this one and I quite enjoyed it until the end. The double IPA was boozy and sweet with tropical fruit notes towards the end. It wasn’t too bitter and was nicely balanced. Though I found the boozy notes to be a little much, it was still a quite solid double and it could have been a lot worse. Food wise, I really enjoyed their burger and my husband enjoyed his blackened salmon. Both were done properly. It is a nice little place to stop on your way to Phoenix or back to San Diego. Prison Hill also has a full bar available and plenty of bottles available for those who don’t like craft beer.

Top 2 at Prison Hill:
IPA
Oatmeal Pale

Papago Brewing Scottsdale Arizona

Arizona Beer 02

Papago brewing is a brewpub in Scottsdale that serves a few house beers, brewed by Huss (see part 2) and has a decent selection of guest beers and a solid lineup of bottles from all over. Word from the locals is that they started out as one of those bars serving mostly imported beers. When I visited I tried the four house beers, the Coconut Joe, Orange Blossom, IPA, and Oude Zuipers, a Belgian strong ale.

Tap list at Papago
Tap list at Papago

The Coconut Joe is a coconut coffee stout with a light body and a nice mix of mild nutty coffee flavors and stronger coconut. It reminded me of Death by Coconut from Oskar Blues though I don’t know that I would drink a full pint of either. The Orange Blossom is a Mandarina Wheat with vanilla added, and seemed to be a crowd favorite when I visited. It was quite crisp and light with vanilla and orange flavors that balanced nicely with a sweet but not too sweet beer. I could certainly see myself ordering a larger pour of this.

Flight at Papago
Flight at Papago

Arizona Beer 05

The IPA was very citrus forward and seemed to be a clone of Stone IPA with a strong bitterness and fruity aftertaste. The Oude Zuipers Belgian strong was intensely fruityi and quite sweet with flavors of fresh apple and a nice effervescent carbonation. It hid the high alcohol quite well and I may have gotten a growler fill of it if I had brought along any 32oz growlers. Papago has a solid lineup of both house and guest beers and is worth a visit. I wouldn’t have hit Goldwater Brewing if I hadn’t been suggested by a few guys in the bar.

Arizona Beer 06

Top 2 from Papago:
Mandarina Wheat
Oude Zuipers Belgian Strong

Fate Brewing Scottsdale Arizona

Arizona Beer 07

Next up is Fate Brewing. They have a new restaurant location called Fate Brewing South and a tasting room location at Fate Brewing North that was closed the day I visited. The restaurant has a lot of seating and a good number of seats at the bar. Besides their house beers they have a full bar and a number of guest beers available though it seemed like most people were there for their house beers. I had a flight of six tasters and mostly found their beers to be quite well done. The flight included a single-hop simcoe sour, English pale ale, SPA2.0, American style Pale Ale, brown ale, and export stout.

Arizona Beer 08

Arizona Beer 09

The single hop sour is light and refreshing and mildly tart with a light hop kick. The beer is mildly bitter like grapefruit with some good fruity flavors, a solid sour. The English Pale is surprisingly light color for the style and had some nice crisp tropical fruit flavors mixed with earthy hops. This was one of the highlights for me. The SPA2.0 was super delicious 5.5% pale bursting with hop flavors, low on bitterness and finishing nicely with grapefruit. I was going to fill a growler of this but the brewery said they decided not to fill outside growlers. I brought 4 San Diego growlers with me to fill along this trip and ended up filling 3 elsewhere.

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The American Pale Ale was peach forward in flavor and more malt balanced than the previous two pales. It was also a bit more bitter. I didn’t like this one as much but it was still quite well done. The brown was super smooth thanks to oatmeal added and was nice and thick with plenty of roasted malt flavors. I could have almost mistaken this for a stout. The export stout was nice and lightly smoky with some bitter chocolate finish and a fairly light body. I would have preferred it a little more sweet and thick but it was well done.

Top 2 from Fate:
APA 2.0
English Pale

Goldwater Brewing Company

Arizona Beer 11

After Fate my husband drove me to my next stop, Goldwater Brewing, not too far away. He went to do a few other things while I enjoyed the beers there. Goldwater is a proper tasting room not offering food or guest beers. It has a nice laid back atmosphere and I really enjoyed chatting with the people I met there. I tried 5 tasters there, the Desert Rose cactus ale, Dynamite Pale, Birthday Suit IPA, What a Day IPA, and Brutus Imperial Stout.

Arizona Beer 12

Arizona Beer 13

The Desert Rose is a delightful pink-colored beer slightly sweet with a very mild tartness. You can taste the cactus fruit. I ended up filling a growler of this beer and everyone back home loved it too. The Dynamite Pale is a balanced pale ale bursting with melon and passionfruit. The beer is balanced nicely with some smooth oatmeal with the malts and it finishes with a solid bitterness. The Birthday Suit IPA is poured fresh from the tanks, a quite tasty fruity IPA with notes of pineapple with a nice dank finish and medium bitterness. I also filled a growler of this one to take home. It was quite nice two days later, though a little more dank.

Arizona Beer 14

Arizona Beer 15

The What a Day IPA was more balanced and pine forward than the Birthday Suit. It was slightly sweet and tasted like it had similar malts to the Dynamite pale. Those who like the West Coast style of IPAs will likely prefer the delicious Birthday Suit. The Brutus Imperial Stout is a super thick and smooth imperial stout with light caramel and chocolate flavors that balance nicely. It was quite impressive. One thing to note is that aside from filling outside growlers Goldwater Brewing also has a Crowler machine so they can offer you beer to go in a large 32oz can if you prefer.

Arizona Beer 17

Top 2 from Goldwater:
Birthday Suit IPA
Desert Rose

In the second part of the Arizona Breweries list I will discuss Huss brewing, Arizona Wilderness, and Beer Research Experiment.

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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