Category Archives: Brewery/Restaurant

Viewpoint Brewing – Del Mar San Diego

Viewpoint has the distinction as the first brewery to open in Del Mar. Many in the area resisted the idea of a brewery and tasting room so they made a compromise and exist as a tasting room only until 4PM and then at 5PM they open as a restaurant. Since even the people of Del Mar drink alcohol with dinner they are satisfied and the brewery gets to open. This is a unique thing for a San Diego brewery.

I ordered a flight of all their tasters while looking across the water to the racetrack on the other side. The view allowed me to forgive the wait for someone to take my drink order that you get when you aren’t sitting at the bar. I also recommend you don’t do a flight on a warm day because the beers warm up too quickly and the last quarter of the taster is going to be too hot if you take your time tasting.

My husband enjoying the fresh air.

The beers available focused mostly on the hops with three pale ales, a session IPA, a saison, and a red rye IPA. The choice to focus on lower alcohol beers probably has something to do with their location. Experiment A Pale, made with experimental hops, was smooth and balanced with biscuit malt base. It had some mild ester character and a mild bitter finish. Of all the pale ales this one is was the least hoppy.

The SMASH Chinook pale had a dank marijuana nose and tons of dank resin and pine on the taste with hints of marijuana. It had a mild sticky body fitting with the resin and a fairly low bitter finish. I enjoyed this one a lot but it is recommended for the big hop heads. The mandarina pale had notes of tangerine and bitter grapefruit and a stronger bitterness than the other two pales. It had some herbal character as it warmed up.

The session IPA was dank and resinous with strong pine on the finish and a medium bitterness. It was slightly darker than the pale ales but not overly malty. The saison was solid with lots of ester character, notes of vanilla, spice, and white wine. I didn’t get much hop character here even though smash in the name suggests it had some hops added. The red rye IPA was nicely balanced and not too bitter. The beer focuses on classic bittering hops as opposed to aroma and compared to the rest of the beers it seemed out of place.

The gorgeous view.

Viewpoint has an open patio mostly covered. If you sit at a table prepare for a slight wait to order beers and get them served. I was slightly disappointed that with so many beers they didn’t have them in an order that suggested tasting order though none of them was so bitter it would wreck your palate. If you aren’t into hoppy beers, they have plenty of guest beers on tap as well from various small local breweries. If you know what you like, I recommend trying a splash and ordering a full pour because they don’t warm up as fast as the tasters.

Top 2:
Chinook SMASH pale
Mandarina 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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Tired Hands Brewing Company – Ardmore Pennsylvania

Tired Hands is located in Ardmore, a 30 minute drive or 1 hour public transit stop from Philadelphia. I opted to stay in the area to make it easier and I’m glad I did because I had to leave during one of my visits to take care of some work for a client for a few hours before going back. Being a short drive away made things easy. They have two locations very close to each other, the brewery and the Fermentaria (their version of a brewpub but with more fancy food). I stopped by the brewery the first night and had a couple of beers though I had the most variety at the Fermentaria as well as eating lunch. Both locations are quite loud both with the noise of people talking and the music played in the background.

 

I started in the evening at the brewery with their cask ESB, done old school with a smooth light body and notes of caramel malts. It was even smoother thanks to being served on cask. I also tried their wacky Birthday Cake Double Milkshake, a hazy double IPA with huge amounts of adjuncts, including chocolate, vanilla, and the addition of an actual cake. They take advantage of the super soft creamy mouthfeel of their double IPAs and it works fairly well in the same way as other breweries serve white stouts with lactose and coffee. It is a super popular style but I didn’t personally care for it and I am a bit surprised I ordered a full 10 ounce pour after tasting it.

I started trying other beers at the Fermentaria the following day. Their Hop Hands, the flagship hazy pale ale, was fairly thin with notes of citrus, grass, and pine, though a bit too bitter for the style. Their other flagship, Saison Hands, was delicious, a classic saison with notes of citrus and spice with a dry finish. It paired quite nicely with the Veggie Banh Mi and the hot peppers. I was so impressed by this that I later ordered a few other farmhouse ales they had. My husband ordered the Coffee Only Voyd, imperial stout with coffee, which was thick and smooth with tons of roasty coffee as you would expect from the style.

The Oat Tao, oat saison aged in barrels, had a funky barnyard nose and a soft and chewy mouthfeel. It was delightfully complex with earthy notes, mild citrus, and some green-apple lambic character. It reminded me of something similar from Hill Farmstead. I enjoyed it so much that I ordered a pint when I finished, though many others who visited around the same time thought it was their least-favorite.

The So It Goes red sour ale was quite funky with notes of caramel, cherry malt character, and a mild tart bite. I quite enjoyed this one I think in part to the hgher alcohol which gave it an increased sweetness that kept it from being one-note. The Tongue Extinguisher hazy DIPA was soft and pillowy with tons of pineapple and grapefruit hop flavor. It had minimal bitterness, hop acidity, or alcohol bite. It was like drinking Monkish fresh from the source, and immediately I understood where all the hype for them comes from.

If you go out to Tired Hands, I recommend planning to stay in Ardmore if you can. I loved he quiet area without the insane traffic of Philadelphia and one could easily spend days trying everything they have to offer. Since they price things to encourage ordering larger pours, I suggest trying a splash of a couple of beers to ensure you enjoy what you order. Not only was the beer a highlight of my trip but I can see myself returning to the area again to enjoy the slow, quiet feel of the surrounding town. I highly recommend the Fermentaria not just for beer but for their high quality food with plenty of vegetarian options to go with it. Just bring your ear plugs if you prefer a quiet brewery experience.

Top 3:
Tongue Extinguisher DIPA
Saison Hands
Oat Tao Saison

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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Maui Brewing Company – Maui Hawaii

It is becoming standard to suggest that going to the source to visit the brewery makes a difference. This difference is most obvious when you try Maui Brewing beers in Maui and compare them to how they taste in the mainland. Their Big Swell IPA is a standard West Coast style IPA inspired by the San Diego breweries but on the mainland you wouldn’t know it. I visited two locations, their brewpub out by Kahana and their main brewery location in Kihei. The beers were mostly the same but the atmosphere was drastically different in the two locations.
I did a small flight while I was at the brewpub and then had mostly full pours at the tasting room based on what I already tried. The saison was crisp and fruity with a dry finish, nicely done. The Big Swell IPA was an excellent classic West Coast style IPA with mild bitterness, citrus, tropical fruit, and pine. It was so much better than what I had on the mainland it was hard to believe it was the same beer. The pueo pale ale was a bit more malty than the Big Swell and more bitter. Though to style, I didn’t care for it.
At the brewery I had a couple of full pours of both the Vienna Lager and Pilsner they had on. The Vienna Lager was crisp and clean with a mild malt character. The Pilsner was also quite excellent. The Imperial Coconut Porter was a fantastic coconut bomb while I was at the brewpub where they served it on nitro. At the brewery it was enjoyable but a little more mellow on the coconut, but still a great beer. The Mosaic Double IPA was good but a bit bitter and sticky with not enough fruit notes from the mosaic itself.
Overall, every beer I had at Maui Brewing was well done and tasting great close to the source. If you are taking a trip to Maui and like a good San Diego style IPA, the Maui Big Swell should satisfy you as long as you get it fresh. The tasting room was a bit more quiet with more open space and food trucks than the brewpub though they are far enough apart that it is more likely your decision on which one to visit would come down to what happens to be closer to you.
Top 2:
Big Swell IPA
Imperial Coconut Porter

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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Pinthouse Pizza Austin Texas

Pinthouse Pizza has two locations in Austin and I visited the southern location. They have a spacious interior and a broad menu of house beers and guest beers. I stopped by for a flight of five of the most interesting beers on the menu and was quite impressed by their IPA.

The pilsner was crisp and clean with a mild hop bite. This is an excellent example of the style. The alt beer was a great mix of caramel malt and mild smoke with a clean finish. This is a style that I’m not too familiar with but every version I’ve had in Texas so far has been great. The IPA was soft and juicy haze with citrus and tropical fruit notes. The hazy IPA was up there with a lot of what is coming out of San Diego lately. I was very close to bringing home a few crowlers of this beer.

The stout was a bit unusual with prominent tart cherry flavors and some mild smoke in the back. It was almost a sour stout. Though I enjoy a good sour stout, this was simply labeled as a stout. The porter was good and roasty with a fairly dry finish, done nicely to style. Though dry it wasn’t nearly as dry as the classic dry Irish stout.

Besides the beers I tried, Pinthouse had a number of lighter alcohol options, but I did not have the capacity to try everything. If you are looking for excellent hoppy beers in Austin, Pinthouse Pizza is the place to go.

Top 2:
IPA
Pilsner

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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Los Muertos Brewing – Puerto Vallarta Mexico

Most visitors to Puerto Vallarta will stay in the Hotel Zone where all the big hotels have their resorts. In those areas you are better off bringing your own beer from home if you are there for a while and want to drink something other than Corona. Make sure you read the amounts that Customs allows you to bring with you if you decide to do that.

Los Muertos 01

We decided for a visit that gives us a true feel of the town and stayed in the Romantic Zone, where Los Muertos sits surrounded by other restaurants and shops. I enjoyed a flight of beers at Los Muertos and they are much better than any of the other Mexican craft beer available locally in bottles. While they don’t live up to the quality of breweries in Tijuana, Ensanada, and other parts of Mexico, they are good enough to satisfy your craving for craft beer.

Los Muertos 03

The first three beers were all overly thin and lacking in flavor. The blonde was almost like water. The wheat beer was a little better with some mild citrus notes and hints of lemon. The chili beer was most likely chilis added to the blonde and the chili notes were very mild, giving it very little heat. The amber ale made with agave was more flavorful, mixing notes of caramel and honey on a soft light body with very low bitterness.

Los Muertos 02

The IPA was light and soft and emphasized a mild bitterness instead of aroma in the traditional style. It is clean and easy drinking but compared to the modern style of IPAs being made it falls short. The Hop On strong ale was soft and mild with roast and mild smoke and very low bitterness. This was a standout for me compared to the rest. The stout was super smooth with mild roast and a dry finish in the traditional dry Irish stout style.

After trying a few other local bottles, I would say Los Muertos is your best bet for beer in the area. Otherwise you might as well order margaritas. They have a fairly americanized food menu so we didn’t eat there. They also sell bottles you can bring back with you to your hotel room.

Top 3:
Hop On strong ale
Stout
Amber ale

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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Alvarado Street Brewing Monterey California

In the quaint beach town of Monterey about an hour south of Santa Cruz and a nice place to stop after driving up the Pacific Coast Highway from Paso Robles you can find Alvarado Street Brewing, a spot that has been getting a lot of hype lately. After my visit, I can  say it was quite well deserved. They have a large space with a spacious restaurant, some outdoor seating in front, and a beer garden in the back where you can enjoy some beers outdoors or walk up through the back to pick up some cans or crowlers to go. I didn’t do a flight of tasters while I was there because they were only doing full pours in the beer garden so I didn’t try everything on their expansive tap list. But I quite enjoyed what I tried.
Alvarado Street Brewing 02
I started with the Wharf Rat IPA, a balanced IPA with notes of pine and tropical fruit. The beer had a nice orange haze while not super cloudy. This was also the favorite of a friend who met us there. The Vengeful Barbarian hazy IPA pours a super cloudy yellow haze with notes of mango and pineapple and a mildly acidic finish. My mom really enjoyed this one.
Alvarado Street Brewing 03
Yes that one in the center is an IPA.
My sister ordered the cherry vanilla kettle sour, a tasty mix of strong cherry flavors and mild vanilla in the back, mildly tart and very nicely done. The minesweeper IPA was my favorite, a great mix of fruit, mango, and pine with a medium bitter finish and similar orange haze to the Wharf Rat. I left with a four pack of this one though I should have gotten two because I gave two of the cans to other people and after my second can I really wanted more.
Alvarado Street Brewing 05
If you are already in the area of Santa Cruz for breweries, taking the trip down to Alvarado Street is worth it. Or you can sometimes find their cans around the bay area. They had a bunch of different styles inside but we decided to eat outside instead. If you are vegetarian or vegan, their vegan double double burger (modeled after In N Out) was really good and tasted almost like the real thing.
Top 2: 
Minesweeper IPA
Wharf Rat 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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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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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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Dogfish Head Brewpub Falls Church Virginia

At the beginning of my recent trip I spent a few days in Washington DC. There was one brewery I could visit within the city itself but it was so out of the way without a car I skipped it (The brewery is called DC Brau). I was beginning to think I wouldn’t visit any breweries and then I realized that dogfish head has a few different brewpubs within a quick train ride from the city. I visited the closest Virginia pub and ordered a flight followed by some other specialty beers. Because I visited a brewpub I is not surprising that they only had one flight to choose from and a very expensive specialty flight option.

Dogfish Head 01

I stuck with the core beer flight. This meant I got to taste the wheat, 60 minute ipa, 90 minute ipa, Indian brown, raisin d’etre, and pumpkin ale. My husband also ordered a goblet of the chicory stout because it was not included in the flight. I also tasted the choc lobster in a pricy $10 goblet. The wheat was well done and to style offering plenty of added spices and Belgian yeast. The 60 minute was a light color and light body ipa with a mild citrus kick and some resinous hops that finished nicely with a light bitterness. It was miles different fresh from the source than anything I’ve had in a bottle.

Dogfish Head 04

The chicory stout was nicely balanced with a light smoke and light coffee flavors that blend nicely with some bitter chocolate. It is surprisingly light body and almost looks like a brown ale. This was a beer I didn’t expect to enjoy from the description but really liked. My husband was satisfied as well. The 90 minute was very fresh and surprisingly different even from the somewhat fresh bottles I had bought in DC. It is a combination of resinous hops and a syrupy honey like thick body that finishes with a boozy after taste. If I didn’t have two more bottles of the 90 minute in my hotel room I would have ordered a pint fresh right there.

Dogfish Head 05

The Indian brown had a nice sweet caramel back from brown sugar added with roasted malts and heavy hop bitterness. This was great most bitter of the bunch. The raisin d’etre is a strong dark Belgian made with beet sugar and green raisins added. The raisins left a strong after taste that lingers heavily and I did not particularly enjoy. My husband finished the taster and liked it surprisingly.

Dogfish Head 02

The pumpkin ale was mostly a light ale with a ton of spice added. It was easy to drink but didn’t have any particular quality to recommend it. I tend to prefer pumpkin ales with higher alcohol so they have more sweetness to balance the spice. Finally the choc lobster sounded like a good idea when they described it but neither of us was particularly impressed. It is a beer made with chocolate, basil, and lobster added. The basil and chocolate together gave it a cinnamon taste and it ends with a light salty taste. I much prefer the chicory stout to this. Though it improved somewhat when it warmed up it didn’t have the complex flavors I would expect for such an expensive beer. If all you ever had from dogfish head was in a bottle on the west coast you should absolutely check out the brewery if you are in the area. I enjoyed the IPAs so much that if I find them fresh in town I will probably buy some more.

Dogfish Head 03

Top 3
90 minute
60 minute
Chicory stout

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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Revolution Brewing – Chicago

While in Chicago I visited Revolution Brewing based on a recommendation from a friend. I wanted to visit the taproom but it was closed for a wedding. Sadly the brewpub gets very crowded and they don’t have much space for people who are just there for a few beers. It was also very loud and difficult to have a conversation. Thankfully they do allow you to order five ounce tasters, even if the service away from the bar is quite slow.

While at Revolution Brewing I tried their Anti-Hero IPA, Zyclhops, Rise (stout), and Eugene (porter). I thought the Anti-Hero IPA was a solid IPA offering a nice medium body with citrus, tropical fruits, and resin. It was a bit sticky sweet but overall a solid IPA. In comparison the Zyclhops was a double kolsch IPA with a heavy boozy after taste with a lot of noticeable alcohol. The hops came in with a lot of pine but it otherwise didn’t have much resemblance to an IPA. I did not finish the taster.

Taster flight at Revolution Brewpub.
Taster flight at Revolution Brewpub.

The Rise stout was quite bitter and smoky and not particularly smooth. This one also had quite a bit of pine flavor. As someone who likes stouts to be more roasty and smooth this one wasn’t hitting the spot for me. My husband wasn’t particularly impressed either. The Eugene porter was better, giving a nice mix of chocolate and dark fruit and a smoother overall flavor. It was closer to what I expect from the style.

Chicago - Revolution Brewing 01

Overall two of the four beers were enjoyable although the other two were so off-putting that I didn’t end up ordering extra tasters. The other reason I didn’t order more tasters was the slow service and my plan to visit another brewery later that day. Perhaps the specialty IPAs they had on the menu would have been more my style but I wasn’t feeling like staying longer. If you are planning on visiting Revolution I suggest that you go to their tap room if you can because the brewpub gets very crowded and is better for people going to eat.

Top 2:
Anti-Hero IPA
Eugene Porter

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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