Category Archives: restaurant

Half Door Brewing Downtown San Diego

I had been to Half Door brewing a few times but never got around to writing a full post about them. Recently they expanded into brewing hazy IPAs and I featured them in my list of San Diego breweries making hazy IPAs. Half Door serves beer in a restaurant in Downtown San Diego where they also offer a modern take on pub grub. I visited them recently on a Sunday morning and tried a flight of tasters.

All of the IPAs I tried were of the hazy style known to some as the North East style of IPA. I started with the Hoban House. It was fruity and soft with a light acidity and low bitterness, exhibiting notes of pineapple. The Hype Machine single-hop Nelson IPA was soft with subtle grapefruit and a mild bitterness that lingers on teh back of the tongue. It is a great example of what a Nelson IPA should taste like. The Buzzwords double IPA is an intensely fruity double IPA, soft and hazy with very mild hop acidity. This stood out from the rest on the list as the best of the IPAs for the day.

I tried the IIIPA, which was an insane hop bomb with little alcohol flavor or sweetness, and mild bitterness. The only reason I didn’t like it as much as the Buzzwords IIPA is that I got some herbal notes in the IIIPA that I didn’t care for. Otherwise, it is an exceptional example of what a IIIPA should taste like. I also tried two stouts. The Coleman’s Stout is their dry Irish stout on nitro. It is dry and roasty with a smooth body and a mild floral hop kick. This is one of the beers I tried the first time I visited and it is still just as good as it was then.

The Coleman’s on Craic imperial stout with coffee was smooth and roasty with notes of chocolate and coffee excellently balanced. I slightly preferred the dry version though they are both delicious. Before leaving I got a taster of the tripel just to see how well they handle Belgian styles. It was one of the more impressive San Diego tripels, lacking in the ester notes that tend to overpower American-brewed Belgian-style beers. It had a bready malt character with some earthy malt notes and a well-attenuated finish (not too sweet). If the hazy IPAs weren’t so good I might go back for this one.

Half Door brewing is one of the few San Diego breweries, maybe the only one, that doesn’t sell bottles or growlers to go. This is due to their license and hopefully will change soon. Though I didn’t eat anything when we visited, my friends who joined me were very impressed by the food they had. Parking can be crazy around Half Door during the weekdays but it is worth visiting if you are already downtown or can park nearby and Uber in.

Top 3:
Buzzwords IIPA
IIIPA
Coleman’s Dry Irish 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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Breakside Brewing Portland Oregon

Breakside also came highly recommended for my latest Portland trip. Most of the beers I had when I visited were solid but it is hard to follow something like Great Notion. They didn’t have any of their sours on tap, though I did bring a few home with me so I finish with some information about those sours. I had six tasters, mostly a mix of hoppy beers and stouts.
Breakside 01
The pilsner was quite good with a good mix of spice and fruit and a mild bitterness at the finish. The Breakside IPA was a good balance of pine and fruity notes, a nice modern take on the Pacific Northwest style of IPA. I preferred this over the Wanderlust IPA, which was more dry and had strong notes of citrus with a mild bitter finish. Though part of that might be that they call Wanderlust “West Coast style” and I think they slightly missed the mark here.
Breakside 03
I was very excited to try their salted caramel stout but I found it to be smoky and quite mildly sweet with minimal caramel. The bourbon barrel aged salted caramel had a thicker body and a solid bourbon finish with a good amount of sweetness and some mild salt. This was the highlight of the stouts for sure. The Breakside Stout had some notes of caramel and roast but it was overpowered by a strong bitter finish that I didn’t care for.
Breakside 02
From what I had on tap I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to visit Breakside for stouts, though they are doing a good job with the modern hoppy beer styles. They also have a restaurant so the place was full of brunch crowds as well when we visited on an early Sunday afternoon.
I came home with a brett pale ale and dark sour. Both were quite good for the style and I’m glad I picked them up. The dark sour was especially nice and smooth without being overly tart.
Top 2:
Breakside IPA
Bourbon Barrel Aged Salted Caramel 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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Great Notion Brewing – Portland Oregon

Great Notion is a young Portland Brewery that has gained a huge following thanks to their embrace of quite a few beer trends including juicy IPAs and big adjunct stouts. When I visited on a Sunday they had a decent crowd upon opening because they also serve food and many people were there for brunch. They offer a few of their beers on any given day in crowlers that you can bring home with you. I had a flight of the seven beers they had on tap and was overall quite impressed.

Great Notion 02

The Old Barn tart saison was a light amber color with an excellent balance of citrus notes and a mild tart finish. It was an excellent beer for the style. The Blueberry Muffin takes a style of saison that tends to taste like white cake and adds blueberries. The flavors blend together wonderfully so that it really tastes like you are drinking a blueberry muffin. If you are in the mood for something sweeter, but not overly sweet, this one is for you.

Great Notion 04

On the IPA side, I had the Grass Roots, a dank IPA with mild herbal finish and notes of grass. Though ordinarily I wouldn’t be the biggest fan of the hop profile the flavors were balanced and it worked quite well. The Juice Junior was the hazy IPA of the day and it had a super soft body and tons of melon and sweet tropical fruits without much bitterness. After these, the Black Math, black IPA didn’t stand a chance, despite being well done. It had notes of smoke, toasted marshmallow, and bitter chocolate with a light bitter finish. This was a well done black IPA but I much preferred to drink the others on my flight.

Great Notion 01

The double stack imperial stout with maple and coffee came on strong with tons of coffee and maple with a smooth lactose sweetness that didn’t overpower the rest of it. I can see why this one is so popular. I finished with Stacks of Coconut, their imperial stout with coconut. It was pure liquid coconut, a total coconut bomb with hints of vanilla on the finish. Like double stack, it was just the right amount of lactose to support the beer.

Great Notion 03

For IPAs and Imperial Stouts in Portland, Great Notion rocketed to the top of my list in this short visit. I hope to return soon. Keep in mind that since it is a restaurant it has a fairly high amount of ambient noise and the seating at the bar is fairly limited.

Top 3:
Old Barn Tart Saison
Juice Junior
Double Stack

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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Portland Beer Adventures Part 1 Raven and Rose

I started my Portland beer adventures at a little restaurant called Raven & Rose. I hadn’t planned to stop there and we only arrived there because my husband was getting tired of my inability to find a place to eat and decided to park and make us get out of the car so we could walk rather than drive while searching for a place to eat. Right across the street from where we parked I saw this quaint little building that called out to me. As soon as we walked in, my husband Rommel took one look at the menu and declared “I’ll be having the Shepard’s Pie” before we could get a seat. Thankfully, they had a decent tap list as well and I was able to taste my first Oregon beer.
My husband tasting my beer.
My husband tasting my beer.
While waiting for our food to come, I ordered an India Red Ale from Double Mountain Brewery in Hood River Oregon on cask. The beer was very mellow with a strong focus on the malts and a slight tart flavor to it. Somewhere hiding behind all that was a hint of citrus hops. It was the perfect beer to start off the day so that I could enjoy a pint without getting bogged down too much.
Portland Beer 02
While eating at Raven and Rose, I ordered the Bangers and Mash, a simple dish yet one of the best sausages I have ever eaten. The sausages were juicy and bursting with flavor and had some delicious mustard sauce to go with them. They went perfectly with the mashed potatoes and the red cabbage. And yes my husband was very satisfied by the shepherd’s pie. Beer and food in hand, we went off to our first hike of the weekend before returning later to visit Deschutes.

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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Sublime Tavern in Del Mar, Great Food and Exhaustive Beer Selection

As a sign that I have become too hooked on craft beer, or maybe just lazy when it comes to visiting breweries lately, I tend to go straight to The Westcoaster (San Diego’s Craft Beer Magazine) whenever I am looking for some place to eat. Wanting to find a place in Del Mar to meet a friend? Check The Westcoaster and find an interesting place like Sublime Tavern.

A little off the beaten path and further inland than you might expect to go in Del Mar lies Sublime Tavern. It isn’t where all the other Del Mar restaurants are, but instead is a few miles inland from the 5 freeway in what looks like an office building. Thankfully, once you make your way inside you easily forget its outer appearance and find yourself drawn in by the beer selection and food options.

The server seemed to have a decent knowledge of his beers. I was more interested that the bartender came out to deliver things himself. His enthusiasm and knowledge of his beer styles was quite impressive. My husband was trying to decide on a stout to order and he was quickly informed that the Old Rasputin on the menu was on nitro (a huge plus for an imperial stout) and that the Yeti (Great Divide’s Imperial Stout) was aged in oak barrels. This was not your typical presentation of beers by any means. He ended up with the Old Rasputin and quite enjoyed it.

I was also quite impressed that they served most of the stronger beers in 11oz pours, in contrast to most newer beer bars that serve pints of everything including Alesmith’s 12% Speedway Stout. IPA wise there were a number of available offerings, though I started with a Belgian Session IPA from Belching Beaver called Ivan The Terrible. I finished off with an Ommegang beer called Chocolate Indulgence, a delicious dark Belgian style beer with just a hint of chocolate to the taste.

Other memorable beers on tap included a special Mayan recipe beer from Dogfish Head that was an interesting twist on the traditional Saison thanks to the introduction of cacao nibs that I tried a small taste of. There was also an Oak Aged version of Stone’s Double Bastard that I didn’t get to taste. Like any other restaurant with a large tap list, the beers will likely rotate fairly regularly but if they continue to keep this variety I will likely be back. Price wise, the beers ranged from $6 to a little over $8 for some of the specialty brews. The prices were largely in line with what I would expect at similar restaurants.

On the food end, my husband ordered a pizza called Sublime Pizza that tasted very similar to the Mac N’ Cheese I was sad to have not ordered that evening. Since I had been overdosing on carbs earlier in the day I went for a single sausage from a sausage platter that normally came with two with a side of garlic roasted kale ordered separately. The sausage was delicious and came with some tasty grilled peppers. The kale was a good sized serving with nice big chunks of roasted garlic here and there. Both were just what I was looking for.

Considering the lack of breweries in the area and beer pubs in general, Sublime Tavern was a welcome find. You can’t go wrong with their beer selection or food if you are looking for craft beer in Del Mar.

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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San Francisco Adventures Part 3 – Local Flavors

On day 3 I enjoyed the morning at the local Botanical Gardens in Golden Gate Park. It was pretty cold but I enjoyed the sights. Just in time for lunch I headed down to Rosamunde Sausage Grill on Mission hoping to find the right sausage to go with my beer and maybe some local beers. The German vibe of the place got to me so I did not end up having anything local. One taste of the Belgium IPA from Germany, the Houblon Chouffe (9%) and I couldn’t pass up a chance to enjoy a full pour of it.

Taplist and taps, quite a large selection.
Taplist and taps, quite a large selection.
Bottle list.
Bottle list.

I tried a few of the local double IPAs but none of them were really doing the same for me as this Belgium IPA. I’ve had a few San Diego examples of this style of beer but I couldn’t resist trying one from the source. Surprisingly I hear that Germany has a lot more amazing beers than we typically see in the US. This was a rare opportunity to see what I was missing.

Houblon Chouffe Belgium IPA with Sausage Plate.
Houblon Chouffe Belgium IPA with Sausage Plate.

Many find the Belgium style of beer to be too sweet and don’t like the spice. This beer is the perfect answer to that with plenty of delicious citrus flavors from the hops. I enjoyed a beer sausage and a chicken habanero sausage with my beer.

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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Woody’s Burgers

Besides pizza, beer goes with beer like hops and ipas. When Woody’s opened I came to love the Angus patties. Later they added on a ton of local beers. Located right off Miramar Road they are surrounded by breweries. Saint Archer is right around the corner and Rough Draft, Alesmith, and Hess aren’t far.

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With sixteen different selections that change regularly you will likely find something to drink. Local ipas are common and also lighter wheat beers.

Do you like their burgers? 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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Best Pizza and Brew

Pizza and beer have been going together since before craft beer became a huge phenomenon. It seems only natural to open a pizza place with tons of beer taps. Pizza port of course did this first and even included their own beer. Along comes Best Pizza and Brew to combine big pizza slices with fresh beer from around the area.

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There are plenty of options for the pizza whether you like the traditional works or something with ricotta cheese or pesto. Stop in for a slice or two or grab a full pie to share with your friends. The beer selection will satisfy most with a variety of wheat beers and ipas and the occasional stout or porter. The selection changes frequently so the list in the photo should be used to get an idea but not to rely on for your next visit.

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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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