Category Archives: Brewery/Restaurant

Engine House No. 9 – Tacoma Washington

Engine House Number 9 recently started brewing sours to add to their other lineup of house beers. I visited them during a trip out to Olympic National Park because we decided to start our trip in Tacoma. I had a flight of a few of their house beers and then simply ordered a full pour of the one sour they had on tap.

Their lager was fruity and delicious with a crisp biscuit malt finish. Their two IPAs were both lovely. The house IPA was juicy and soft with notes of mango and melon. It has a light bitterness and nice creamy mouthfeel. The Donna IPA was good but a bit more acidic with notes of grass and herb hops and light caramel on the finish. The Berry Manilow sour was jammy and had tons of berry notes with a light tart finish. It was super drinkable and not particularly acidic, making it approachable to even someone who isn’t into sours.

I left with a bottle of their rhubarb sour, Flanders style red and brett saison. The rhubarb was tart and funky and quite delicious. The Flanders style is bright and fruity with a tart finish that balances nicely with biscuit malts and notes of oak. If you see Engine House Number 9 sours around they are worth picking up in bottles if you would rather not make it down to Tacoma. They are a brewpub so expect it to get quite noisy inside.

You could order food to go with your beers here as well. I got a hummus appetizer the second time I visited when I was preparing to leave the area. If you like IPAs or sours, you will find quite a bit to enjoy at Engine House No. 9 though I did not see any house brewed stouts on tap when I visited.

Top 2:
House IPA
Berry Manilow Sour

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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Chicago Breweries – Forbidden Root and Corridor

On a Sunday in mid-August 2017 I visited four Chicago area breweries. I focused on some that were more highly recommended than others. My first post in the series will focus on Forbidden Root and Corridor while the next post will feature Half Acre and Un Annee. Both Forbidden Root and Corridor serve brunch and Corridor was quite crowded when I visited fairly early on a Sunday.

Forbidden Root

Forbidden Root was my first visit of the day and one of the most impressive in the IPA front. When you walk in to their brewery restaurant space it is striking how beautiful the decor is. They focus heavily on beers with botanical ingredients added. I didn’t try many of those but their hazy IPAs were fantastic and I immediately see why the releases sell out as fast as they do. I only had four tasters when I visited.

Radio Swan IPA is their hazy rye IPA. It was soft and creamy with a hazy yellow appearance. The beer has notes of peach and mango with a light grassy finish. I was very impressed with this and wish they had cans available. If I was to do the day over again I would have ordered more of this beer before leaving. The Ghost Tropic IIPA was a bit thicker giving it a milkshake quality. It was creamy and thick with notes of melon and peach with mild alcohol notes on the finish and minimal acidity. If I hadn’t had Radio Swan in the same visit I would have been very impressed by Ghost Tropic. Though ghost tropic didn’t have the super soft mouthfeel that makes Monkish so popular.

The King Hell cherry beer had tons of jammy cherry character combined combined with tons of winter spices and light caramel that reminded me of a Christmas beer. It wasn’t for me. The imperial stout had some light coconut and vanilla notes with tons of dark cherry and spices. In this one as well the holiday spices seemed a bit too prominent for my tastes and I would have preferred a bit less cherry malt notes, though it was well done.

Forbidden Root is a restaurant as well and has a solid menu. They do limited can releases that sell out fairly quickly. They also offer growler fills of most of their beers that they fill using a counter pressure system that keeps the growlers fresher longer.

Top 2:
Radio Swan Hazy IPA
Ghost Tropic Hazy IIPA

Corridor

Corridor is one of the other breweries popular for hazy IPAs in Chicago. They are also a restaurant like Forbidden Root and in their case you can’t order taster size unless you get one of their pre-designed flights. This meant I only tried two beers because I had to order either 10 or 16oz pours. The Pulp Hogan was the only hazy beer I got to try, and at 5% it is a bit lighter than I generally prefer for a hazy beer.

Pulp hogan had notes of pine and candied fruit with a mild bitterness. It was lacking in both the soft mouthfeel and intense hop character I expect from the style. This is also quite common with lower alcohol hazy beers even from the bigger breweries so it may be more my preferences than bad beer. Their year round IPA was an excellent modern west-coast style IPA with fruit notes and pine, tons of hop character, and a mild bitterness.

In my limited tastes I preferred Forbidden Root to Corridor but both are worth visiting for IPAs. Corridor has the benefit of offering crowelrs to go 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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Stone City Ales – Kingston Ontario Canada

Stone City is the most recommended brewery in Kingston and I was blown away by every beer I had there. They had eight beers on tap and my least favorite of the bunch would generally be a standout anywhere else. They also serve food and have seating inside and out. To prepare for the beers I ordered their large hummus plate that had so much hummus that I couldn’t eat it all, but it was fantastic.

I started with the newer specialty beers. The first flight had their English Mild, Gose, and Saison. The English Mild was soft and mellow with notes of apricot and caramel, mild vanilla, and a creamy finish from the lactose. When I got a larger pour of this later I got some notes of black tea and almonds as it warmed up. This is a great modern take on the classic style.

The gose was a creamy white/yellow color and had a fantastic mix of lime, ginger, and mild tropical fruit. The creamy mouthfeel reminded me of some of the softer hazy IPAs out there. The modern take on the style was so delicious that I predict it will spawn a whole new version of gose like the first hazy IPAs did. The saison was soft and fruity with notes of crisp pear, and a light grassy finish.

Their American wheat is like a session hoppy wheat from San Diego. The beer had tons of fruity hops on the nose and flavors of guava, pear, pineapple, and a soft creamy body with minimal bitterness. The Belgian Wheat was more classic to style with notes of spice, vanilla, and mild white cake. The other two hoppy beers were similarly soft, all in the style that I have tasted at breweries like Fieldwork or Crux. The session ale was very similar to the american wheat with notes of juicy pineapple and tangerine.

The IPA had notes of white cake, pineapple, and citrus, like eating pineapple cake. The stout was creamy and mildly sweet with notes of marshmallow, vanilla, and caramel and a mild roast at the finish. It is quite impressive for the style as well. Another thing that I liked at Stone City is that they sell growlers pre-filled after they are sterilized, purged with CO2 and capped and encourage people to bring back their growlers to be sterilized prior to filling. This is one way to get around the issue of dirty growlers.

Full pour of the gose
Full pour of English Mild.

Stone City was one of the most impressive breweries of this trip and their beers were all fantastic. I drank a bit more of the English Mild and Gose because they are very different than what I can get of a similar style out in California. I hope to make my way back there again in a few years to see how they’ve grown.

Top 3:
English Mild
Gose
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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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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