Category Archives: Beer Reviews

10 San Diego Breweries Making Great Hazy IPAs in 2017

The Haze Craze is here to stay and is just going to grow bigger in the coming months. While a few Los Angeles area breweries have been getting a lot of attention for the style, I want to focus this post on where you can find the haze in San Diego. I hope to do new posts throughout the year as this information changes rapidly.

1) Modern Times Brewing

(Sports Arena and North Park)
The brewery is doing monthly can releases you can pre-order online or buy direct from the source starting the release day party. Most of these beers show up on tap at the tasting room prior to release so you can figure out which ones you like best. Word on the street is the Modern Times hazy IPA cans hit the sweet spot after two weeks.

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Photo by Mike Lindeblad

2) Pure Project

(Miramar)
Pure Project releases small batches of hazy beers at their tasting room on tap and does small batch can releases. People report the first canned IPA release the hops faded quickly and the beer sold out same day.

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3) Mikkeller San Diego

(Miramar)
Mikkeller is doing regular small batch can releases and have already announced that they expect to do a number of hazy releases throughout the year.

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4) Council Brewing

(Clairemont)
Though Council has only done one hazy can release so far, a collaboration with Alvarado Street Brewing, they already have a great reputation among hop heads. I expect we will see more hazy can releases throughout the year. They may decide to stick with the sour hazy IPAs like their first release, which would help them differentiate from the rest.

Photo from Councils official Facebook Page.
Photo from Councils official Facebook Page.

5) Coronado Brewing

(Coronado)
Though not released in small batches at the tasting room, Coronado recently released their North Island IPA, their attempt at the style. I haven’t tried it but I heard great things from fellow enthusiasts. This one is in bottles as opposed to cans.

Breweries with hazy IPAs on tap only

6) Abnormal Beer Company

(Rancho Bernardo)
Abnormal has released an astounding number of IPAs over the short time they have been open. In 2016 they released New Money, their hazy IPA and it disappeared quickly from every bar that had it on tap.

7) Resident Brewing

(Downtown San Diego)
Resident released a hazy galaxy hop IPA in 2016 and followed it with other delicious hazy offerings. So far they have only been available on tap.

My additional pour of the delicious Chasing Galaxy IPA.
My additional pour of the delicious Chasing Galaxy IPA.

8) Half Door Brewing

(Downtown San Diego)
Despite opening in the style of a traditional Irish Pub, Half Door hasn’t wasted any time experimenting with other styles. Though I haven’t tried their hazy IPAs, word around town is that they are just as good as Resident.

9) Burgeon Beer Company

(Carlsbad)
This small brewery barely had a grand opening but already when I visited they had some excellent hazy IPAs. I expect more to come this year as word gets out.

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10) Burning Beard

(El Cajon)
Burning Beard is known mostly for their traditionally balanced IPAs but they have been experimenting with hazy IPAs and they released a couple of small batch hazy IPAs in 2016 that were quite popular. With how delicious their core IPAs are, you can’t go wrong with anything from them.

Photo from Burning Beards official Facebook Page.
Photo from Burning Beards official Facebook Page.

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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Beer of the Week – Foggy Window Double IPA from Monkish

In the beer enthusiast world, Monkish Brewing has been a known quantity for a while for their sours and farmhouse ales. Then they got access to hops and started doing hazy IPAs as limited release cans direct from the tasting room. I’ve heard stories of the crazy lines for these beers but haven’t gotten to have more than a small taste of a couple at a festival, until I stopped by on a whim and they had Foggy Window on tap.

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Foggy Window is a double IPA at a solid 8.2% alcohol but looks like a mango smoothie more than a beer. The beer is not very bitter or boozy as you can sometimes get in this style but instead creamy and tastes like mango and pineapple juice. I was hooked after I tried it and now understand why people from San Diego drive 4 hours round trip to get their hands on this beer (just not the choice to wait in line). Even having enjoyed a few phenomenal hazy beers, I was not expecting the explosion of flavor that I got here.

If you are on the fence about whether you should pick up some hazy IPAs from Monkish or try to get some on tap, do not delay. Hopefully sometime this year they will get to the point where the demand dies down a bit and I can more easily stop by for some cans.

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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Lagunitas Born Yesterday Fresh Hop Pale is my Beer of the Week

I post a lot about beers on tap at local breweries. But I also drink a lot of beer out of bottles at home. Every once in a while there is a beer that stands out form the rest and these are the ones I want to recommend to readers. This week the beer that stood out to me was Lagunitas Brewing Fresh Hop Born Yesterday Pale. Though sadly not bottle-dated, if you buy it anytime in November 2016, preferably in the first two weeks of November, you can rest assured it is fresh.

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Born Yesterday has a strong grapefruit nose and pours a clear golden color. The beer has tons of grapefruit and a good amount of dank pine and the hop character is bursting like you only get on a beer that is extra fresh. When I had my first bottle earlier this week I immediately compared it to Zombie Dust from Three Floyds in Northern Indiana because the beer reminded me of what it was like to drink that delicious beer on tap at the brewery.

If you like a good IPA, go out and grab some Born Yesterday yesterday, or as soon as possible. Try to drink it within the first two months of November for optimum freshness and enjoyment. Make sure you store this beer in the fridge as well once you buy it.

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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Prairie Artisan Ales – Tulsa Oklahoma – Bottling Delicious Stouts and Sours

Due to the various laws in place in Oklahoma I wasn’t able to visit Prairie and do tasters. So while I was in town in April of 2015 I stopped by to pick up a few bottles around Oklahoma City from one of the best known Oklahoma breweries. Prairie is known for its farmhouse ales and imperial stouts. I got to try a few examples of both. I tried the different beers listed here over the course of many days after I came back from Oklahoma.

Set of Prairie Ales.
Selection of Prairie beers I brought back with me (along with another Oklahoma Imperial Stout I did not open yet)

The Prairie Cherry Funk was a nice highly carbonated and lightly tart cherry beer that tasted like carbonated juice. Given its 7.5% alcohol it was hidden very nicely. The Funky Gold Amarillo was a nice strong citrus tart that blended nicely with the inherent tart and the hops. It had a very interesting tart lemon flavor at the end. The Eliza5beth, a tart farmhouse was a nice beer that poured a cloudy lighit orange flavor with a lot of carbonation. The flavors were a mix of tart peach and belgian yeast. It was mildly tart but could have gone more tart from what I tasted.

IMG_20150422_181838 Prairie Funky Gold AmarilloPrairie Eliza5beth

Prairie Bomb is one of the most popular beers from the brewery. A strong imperial stout, this beer is sold in individual 12 oz bottles. At 13% it was strong yet not boozy and had a perfect balance of the coffee, chocolate, and chili peppers. It was lightly sweet with just enough hot pepper flavor and a nice mellow chocolate to make a world class beer. Compared to this, the Bible Belt, a collaboration brew with another brewery, was not as sweet and had a lot more prominent flavor from the peppers. It was almost acidic cherry and lacked the balance of the Bomb. As the beer warmed up, the coffee became more pronounced.

IMG_20150420_185032 Prairie Bible Belt 01 Prairie Bible Belt 02

The final beer I tried from Prairie was called OK Si, a tequila aged imperial stout. I thought that the tequila added a nice bite to the overall beer though I still preferred the Prairie Bomb as the best of the three. Prairie is a highly rated brewery and it deserves the praise. The Bomb is still my favorite of all of them and is worth checking out if you are able to get it for a good price. Hopefully one day Oklahoma will change their beer laws to allow people to visit the brewery for a flight of tasters.

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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Stone Brewing Side by Side Imperial Mutt Brown and Chai Imperial Russian Stout

Stone brews so many different beers each year that sometimes it is better to review two at once. This time I happened to find the new Imperial Mutt Brown in the store at the same time as the 2015 Odd Year Chai Spiced Imperial Russian Stout so I thought I would review them together. Since I hadn’t tried any sort of imperial brown ale before I was interested to see what I would find.

Stone Imperial Mutt Brown Ale 01

Though I really enjoyed the bottle design I was pretty let down by the overall flavors presented. Overall I found it to be  heavily boozy and not presenting a lot of roasty flavors. While it pours thick it doesn’t have any of the flavors of an imperial stout. Many of the mellow flavors that you get in a brown ale are still present here though slightly stronger. Overall it doesn’t have the strong amount of flavor that should be expected from a 9% beer. It does have a small amount of chocolate flavor that is revealed when it warms up. While I know this is not an imperial stout, the alcohol content and price are such that I think it is a fair point of comparison.

Stone Chai IRS 01

 

Next came the Chai Imperial Russian Stout. At first I was hesitant to give this a try but I heard good things so I picked up a bottle.  Spices are good and mellow balancing nicely with the imperial stout flavors that are always enjoyable. I was very unsure if I would enjoy this but it really makes a great stout and stands out among the crowd. The tea flavors are mostly overpowered by the spices so I didn’t notice them very much here. This is a nice mellow beer that packs enough flavor to go up against the classic Stone Imperial Russian Stout.

If you have a choice between the two beers above, I would absolutely go with the Chai Stout over the Imperial Mutt Brown. If you had a different experience with the Mutt Brown I would love to hear about it in the comments.

 

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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Abita Wrought Iron IPA – a Delicious New Favorite of Mine

Part of what got me started with this blog is the desire to cut through the noise and let people know when a great beer shows up. Usually this is from local breweries, but occasionally something from out of town gets wider distribution and becomes available locally. That happened to be the case with Louisiana brewery Abita that I just noticed in the local shops with an interesting IPA.

Wrought Iron IPA 02

What first stuck out to me was the fantastic little informational chart on the six pack itself spelling out the different types of hops, malts, yeast, and water used as well as how dark and bitter the beer is and even suggested food pairings. Based on the description I was intrigued because it seemed to be a lighter color hop-forward beer just how I like it.

Wrought Iron IPA 03

When I poured my first glass of Wrought Iron IPA I was hooked and immediately went back to where I got the six-pack to buy another one in case they ran out before I got back. Grapefruit flavors balance nicely with the malts leading to a distinctive flavor that I haven’t had elsewhere. The light grapefruit closely resembles Alpine’s Nelson. Bright general citrus flavors give a solid bitterness as well.

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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Some delightful new beers available from Stone, Modern Times, and Alesmith

Part of what I love about this blog is being able to give people some idea what to expect with some new brew they might not be familiar with. Two of these are not completely new, but they are newly bottled recently and might be new to some people. The beers I am going to discuss today are Stone’s new Delicious IPA, which seems to have been flying off the shelves, Modern Times’ City of the Sun IPA, newly bottled, and the 2015 version of My Bloody Valentine from Alesmith.

First up is the Stone Delicious IPA. This new brew is unique in a number of ways. Firstly, it is stronger than the typical Stone IPA, all the way up to a whopping 7.7%. (regular Stone IPA is 6.9%). It is also lighter on the malts and lighter on the bitterness, really focusing on the more delicate hop flavors, including some lemon. It also was brewed in a way that makes it officially gluten reduced.

Stone Delicious IPA

To see just how good this one was, I had to compare it side by side to the original Stone IPA. The first two I compared really did have a stark difference. The Stone IPA was satisfyingly bitter while the Delicious IPA had a lighter citrus flavor supported by some nice juicy flavors. Though the second Delicious IPA I opened was a bit more bitter, so not every single one you get in that six-pack is going to taste as delicate. I would be interested to see if this really converts any new hop-heads but it will certainly satisfy those of us who already exist.

Next up is the City of the Sun IPA from Modern Times. This is the first in a series of bottle releases of IPAs that were previously available only at the tasting room. So if the name sounds familiar, you might have tasted it before on tap. If you had, you will remember just how much this is a delicious burst of flavor. Rest assured those flavors are still very much present in this beer and it will satisfy in the bottle. The only one that might have been better was that delicious fresh-hopped version I got to taste. Still, if you are into IPAs, this one should not be passed up. Also keep an eye out for the upcoming seasonal IPAs from Modern Times to be released throughout the year, including a return of the delicious Rye IPA Aurora later.

City of the Sun 2015

Finally we have the Alesmith My Bloody Valentine, a delicious darker hoppy beer meant to satisfy those who can’t seem to find love come Valentine’s Day in February. This is very similar to the Evil Dead Red that Alesmith puts out in October for Halloween. My Bloody Valentine has some roasted malts with a little chocolate and a nice floral/citrus hop bite. Despite the darker color this is not one for your friends who only drink stouts. My husband would dump this out if I made him taste it and then I might have to celebrate Valentine’s alone.

My Bloody Valentine 2015

 

Bottom line, if you like IPAs, don’t miss these new delicious offerings from Stone and Modern Times. And if you enjoy more complicated black IPA style beers, try the Bloody Valentine.

 

 

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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Live Blogging on Twitter

One of the interesting things about the Beer Bloggers’ Conference was getting us to write about beers as we taste them. But for those of you who weren’t following along on Twitter, lets take a look at how this looked to someone following the feed.

One thing I enjoy doing is comparing a beer on tap vs the bottle. Even though I had already tried the Citra Session from Green Flash, I hadn’t had it in the bottle.

I say that the flavors are balanced here because so many sours to me are a little too intensely sour.

I found it a bit hard to jump between styles as you can see from the two tweets about pilsners. The lack of consistency between beers shared made it hard to truly try everything.

The Lost Abbey Deliverance was an amazingly delicious beer. It combined two different styles of beers and had one of them aged in bourbon barrels. If you want a chance to drink those bourbon-barrel-aged beers at home this might be worth the extra high price.

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I have been asking the servers at Rough Draft for quite some time when six packs of the session IPA would come out so this was very exciting for me.

The Mexican Hot Chocolate style stout really tasted very different than all the other stouts Stone has put out so far. Stone brought this for us in their modern-looking growlers you can now get at the tasting room. This collaboration beer will be available in 22oz bottles in stores starting September 8, 2014.

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We were blessed with so many breweries showing off their bourbon barrel aged beers. I have seen this becoming popular lately but I am not sure that you can easily go back to more subtly flavored beers after something so strong.

If you enjoyed my post about live blogging, consider following me on Twitter where you can see all the photos I take on Instagram and possibly catch my next live blogging attempt.

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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Stone Brewing W00tstout 2.0 a Standout Stout

It seems like Stone puts out a special beer every month. Though they have a lot of really tasty mainstay beers available, they put a lot of effort into crafting interesting beers to change the perception of what can be done. Imperial stouts are delicious, and stone has a really good one with their Imperial Russian Stout. However, with the w00tstout 2.0 they decided to take things a little further. 

w00tstout 2.0 pours dark black.
w00tstout 2.0 pours dark black.
The w00tstout 2.0 is the second version of this delicious beer. This stout pours thick and black and offers 13% alcohol. It mainly smells like sweet bourbon and caramel. When you taste it, it has a lot of these same flavors. The bourbon and caramel are balanced nicely so neither one overpowers the other. There is also a distinct flavor of burnt sugar that you might recognize if you are a fan of creme brulee.
w00tstout 2.0 bottle closeup.
w00tstout 2.0 bottle closeup.
I tend to not focus too much while I am tasting the beer on what the bottle says though later I checked and it claimed there were some flavors of chocolate. I didn’t notice much chocolate in this beer. I was quite satisfied with w00tstout 2.0. Despite its high alcohol content it is not particularly boozy and has delicious sweet flavors. Keep in mind that this is not a beer that presents heavy chocolate or coffee flavors so if you prefer that in your stouts you should look elsewhere.

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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Stone Unapologetic IPA – Pure IPA Goodness

When Stone announces a new IPA I jump at the chance to try it. While it may sometimes seem as if there are enough IPAs out there, breweries always manage to find some unique way to explore the style. For this specific brew, Stone decided to explore some new varieties of hops to give this beer some flavors that you probably have not experienced before in an IPA. I know I had a difficult time describing this beer.

Unapologetic IPA

As you can see, this beer pours a nice golden color very similar to the Enjoy By line from Stone and the Green Bullet from Green Flash. The aromas do not linger very long but if you give it a nice sniff right away or after a little shake you will notice some bright tropical fruit and melon aromas. Many of these same flavors come through nicely in the beer itself, with delicious flavors that remind me of ripe fruit. To me it tastes like the sweetest cantaloupe you’ve ever tasted with some hints of ripe peach and pineapple. Though this is a lightly sweet brew, it is not too much. The sweetness is nicely balanced with a medium level of bitterness.

I had to wait until I opened my second bottle of this stuff to give it a rating because the flavors were so new and different. When I opened the first bottle I did a short video explaining my thoughts on this beer and as you can see below I was a bit at a loss for words. In the end this is a very satisfying IPA that explores flavors I hadn’t tasted before in an IPA. Pick up a bottle if you see it and see what I mean. Did you taste any different flavors than the ones I described in here? Let me know in the comments.

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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