Category Archives: Tasting Room

Savagewood Brewing Takes over O’Sullivan Brothers Space

I stopped by Savagewood for their industry appreciation night. Since I went with my brother I was able to try a few more beers than I might have if I was alone doing pints. I tended to stay away from anything O’Sullivan Brothers had already made prior because they were solid but nothing I cared for. They managed to license the recipes of a few of the more popular beers O’Sullivan Brothers had made, which is nice because otherwise they wouldn’t have a dark beer on tap.

I started with their ESB, which was solid though not up to the quality of my other favorites around town. It had a nice malt backbone with light apricot hop character and low bitterness. It could have been a little more attenuated (less sweet). They have the same beer available on nitro though they don’t seem to understand how nitro works because the nitro version is quite under carbonated and not all that different from the regular.

The saison was below average with a strong bubblegum flavor and an overpowering sweetness that bordered on cloying. I’m glad I wasn’t the one who ordered that pint. The session IPA was equally underwhelming with a strong malt backbone that wasn’t attenuated enough leaving a syrupy sweet base with minimal hop character to balance it out. The IPA was solid, if fairly standard for the classic West Coast style. It blended notes of grapefruit, pine, tropical fruit, and light floral hops with a dry finish and low bitterness. The IPA, while clearly better than the rest of the lineup, isn’t that different from the other offerings in the area.

Though Savagewood is still an overall improvement over O’Sullivan Brothers, they need to do more if they want to differentiate themselves from the crowded beer scene in the Mira Mesa/Miramar area. Their core lineup of a Mango Heffeweisen, blonde ale, ESB, session IPA, IPA, and saison isn’t going to do much to bring in beer geeks though the IPA should satisfy hop heads who are looking for a solid IPA to knock back.

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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Side Project Brewing Revisited March 2018

When I first visited Side Project a few years ago I ended up at their Cellar location, where they serve not just their own beers but many varieties of guest beers. I didn’t realize at the time that the main brewery location was down the street. Still, I returned a few years later, in March of 2018, because I was generally impressed by the quality of the beers the first time and my friends continue to post about how good they are. On this return trip, I was able to try three interesting beers on tap and ordered a bottle for on-site consumption because I wanted to taste something with fruit.

I started with the Foedre Fremier, a foedre aged golden sour. I enjoyed that it was complex tart and funky with a nice buttery oak finish. After that, I tried the Provence Lapsang, a barrel aged Saison with tea and orange peels added. While initially I thought the foedre version was more complex of the two, as both of the beers warmed up I’d had a difficult time differentiating between the two.

The Noir Fremier was creamy with light roast and notes of honey and citrus with vanilla on the finish from the bourbon barrels. I enjoyed this the most of the three on tap and brought home a bottle for myself. In order to taste some of their more sought after beers, I ended with a bottle of fence row. This is a popular blackberry sour that they bottle. I initially thought it had aromas of mustard although as it warmed up I found it mildly acidic, smooth and dry with flavors of a dry red wine with notes of berries. I thought overall that the berry character could have been much stronger but it was a solid beer.

While I was at side project, they also had some new IPAs that they were releasing. I did not try those because I was focusing on the sours. However, they appeared to be quite popular and there was a can release that same day. I look forward to trying more beers from side project in the future. When combined with the other breweries in the Saint Louis area, it is worth a trip out to Side Project or connecting with some locals to trade for some of their beers.

Known for: 
Come for farmhouse ales and wild ales though they recently started brewing IPAs and other clean styles 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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American Solera Revisited 2018 Edition

Since my last time visiting Tulsa, American Solera opened a second tasting room closer to downtown where you can generally get most of the bottles that they have at the brewery without the extra few miles drive out to the brewery. The new location is small but has some outdoor seating for when the crowds get a bit larger. You can tell most people come in for a few hours to try some beers on tap, grab a few bottles, and leave. Both locations have a wide variety of beers though certain sours may be available only at one location or the other. You also can not order archive bottles for on-site consumption at the new Sobo location.

I focused on the sours this visit and was glad to see that the selection was much better than the last time. They had quite a few different sours on that I was able to enjoy in full 12 ounce pours in large wine glasses for $10 a pour. I can tell that all of these sours were barrel aged for a time and some of the bottles available now were spontaneously fermented. While I really liked the beers the last time, the sours have taken a massive leap forward in quality and maturity of the whole program. I am very excited to try the Amso Dry, 2 year spontaneous sour that I brought back bottles of.

Peach sour (right) and zinfandel sour (left)

I started with the Peach Fellowship, a barrel aged sour with peaches. It was quite peach forward in flavor and aroma with mild acidity and great balance. This is one of the more peach forward sours I have had and I was sad to see it was off the tap list the following day, perhaps because they sold through the keg. The zinfandel grape sour called biere de zinfandel was delightful, and tasted to me like carbonated red wine. The grapes flavor came through strongly both on the nose and on the taste and it had nice jammy character of currants and cherries. Though 10% alcohol, this beer was incredibly dry on the finish and scary easy to drink. This was my favorite beer of the whole time there though others were also quite good.

The Party Stout had notes of cinnamon, vanilla, dark chocolate, and graham crackers. I only had a few sips from my husbands’ beer but it was quite delicious as usual. The raspbarrel, barrel aged sour with raspberries was an explosion of raspberries both on the nose and in the flavor, reminiscent of raspberry jam or juice with a nice mild tart finish and fairly low acidity. It was so good that I bought two bottles to bring home. I also tried an interesting beer called Rymera, which is described as a rye beer. It was low alcohol and dry with notes of spice, a tart kick from behind, and a light sweetness on the finish. This went down easy and I was tempted to get a crowler but they weren’t selling them. They later released bottles of this delicious beer.

I came back the next day after Heirloom Rustic Ales and tried a few more beers at American Solera. I started with the Solera Kush, and ended the hoppy beers there, because it wasn’t as good as the Terp Serp was the last time I visited. It was a solid hazy IPA though with lots of notes of candied fruit. My notes left off anything else. The Biere de Picpoul, a sour beer with white wine grapes, was fantastic. The wine grapes were very mild in the beer either because of the choice of grapes or because it had been aged a while. I got tons of great house lambic character that reminded me of a bottle I had the last time I was at the brewery. It had some light notes of peach but otherwise I would not have noticed the white wine grapes if it was not mentioned.

I was already a huge fan of American Solera when I visited but this time I left even more excited for the next time I return. It is one of my favorite sour breweries in the country within reasonable plane rides from San Diego.

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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Tulsa Breweries – Cabin Boys and Heirloom Rustic Ales

Cabin Boys Brewing

Both Cabin Boys Brewing and Heirloom Rustic Ales have not been open very long when I stopped by. Cabin Boys had an interesting line up of beers though sadly they were having issues with the big imperial stout that I was most interested in trying. I tried a flight of four and then went on to American Solera where I planned to spend the most time. I was surprised by the taster prices at these new breweries but it seems that $3 tasters (and thus $12 flights of 4 beers) are here to stay in some parts of the country. Cabin Boys has a great little tasting room with a fantastic theme that you can see in the photos included here. I think they will grow into a solid spot for the locals.

I started with the saison, which was good though a bit unbalanced. It had notes of spice and a good dry finish but also a strong bubble gum flavor that may be from their choice of yeast. The bubble gum flavor was strong and overpowered the rest of the beer but with some tweaking this could be a great saison. The stout was excellent with tons of smoke and notes of toffee with a thick chewy mouthfeel. This should stay on as one of their core beers if it isn’t already. It also makes me extra sad that they had issues with the imperial stout while I was there.

The IPA was very classic west coast with low aroma and high bitterness with notes of grapefruit and pine. Though I am generally not into this style anymore, they nailed the classic flavor. This again should stick around as a mainstay. The wheat beer was also a bit unbalanced like the saison, though this one a bit bitter and spicy on finish. If actual coriander was added to the beer, they could have added too much to cause this. Since this was recommended to me by the bartender, I think it may simply be a variation between batches that isn’t common to this beer.

Though I didn’t find anything particularly unique, the beers at Cabin Boys were good enough that I would visit again the next time I am in Tulsa for American Solera. The stout and IPA were well done and to style. Plus their space is quite welcoming in the winter when it is cold outside.

Top 2:
IPA
Stout

Heirloom Rustic Ales

Heirloom Rustic Ales is also quite new in Tulsa though they appear to be enjoying quite the following. When I visited they had recently released some crowlers and they were mostly sold out on the Saturday I was there (the day before Super Bowl) so I was told by the brewery I should buy cans on Saturday if I wanted any. I stopped by on Saturday first to get two cans of Sticky Bottles, their deliciously hopped pale ale with Vic Secret and Citra hops. Because I had crowlers i did not drink it while I was at the brewery the following day. It was a delicious pale ale bursting with hop aromas including citrus and light herb character. I am also glad because this taught me well what Vic Secret hops taste like.

I started with Caves, an open-fermented lager made with all French hops. It had lovely notes of toast and funk with light hop character and a good full body. This is fairly unique as far as lagers go. Next I tried Plains, an open fermented farmhouse ale. This was my favorite of the day, with bright notes of peach and tangerine, some light funk, and a good dry finish.

The Black Cauldron, dark lager, was delicious and balanced with light caramel and raisin notes. This is quite a tasty dark lager. I finished with a strange beer called Devil’s Snare that was more of a novelty beer than anything else. It was unique and something I would not try again but since they mentioned it was made more for novelty I won’t bother going into tasting notes, though I would warn you to not order more than a taster unless you have tried it and know you like it.

I finished with three other tasters though I preferred the first flight minus the novelty beer. The Porter was quite good with notes of cherry and roast. The old ale had notes of maple, apricot, and bitter grapefruit with mild hop bitterness to finish it off. Sub genre, their dry hopped Trappist ale had notes of bright tangerine, mild sweetness and flavors of candied apricot. None of these three beers inspired me to order more although I was also encouraged to leave because my husband wanted to go somewhere else.

I quite enjoyed the feel of their tasting room and may have stayed longer to try more beers if my husband wasn’t pushing me to go on to another brewery. I quite liked the Plains and would love to see where they go from here on future visits. They seem to have some interesting ideas of brewing styles and so they should mature nicely.

Top 2:
Plains – open-fermented farmhouse ale
Caves – open-fermented 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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Live Oak Brewing – Austin Texas

Live Oak is out of the center of Austin and much closer to the airport. It is so close to the airport that for beer drinkers it is a bit of an unofficial cell phone lot, a great place to stay while you are waiting for your flights to depart. They have a wide variety of beers available, though no food. They also server their flights featuring half pints of beer, rather than 4 ounce pours. If you don’t feel like taking the trek outside of central Austin you can always find their beers on tap and in cans all around town.

Their pilsner was dry with notes of toast and crackers with light spice and herbal hops and a medium body. This is one of their flagship beers and available around Austin and I can see why. Their Berliner Weisse has some smoked malts though they are quite mild. The beer has light citrus notes with a tart finish though i would have preferred to try what they would do without the smoked malts it was quite good.

The dopplebock had notes of caramel and plum with a nice dry finish and notes of molasses and mild herbs. I preferred this to the weizenbock which I found was overpowered by the flavor of cloves. The weizenbock had a clean amber base and was nicely done. My husband preferred the weizenbock so if you don’t mind cloves that is a good beer to try. The Vienna Lager was dry and tasty with a light herbal finish, and an excellent example of the style.

Though this is my third time visiting Austin, this was my first time visiting Live Oak. I will certainly try to visit again next time I am in town as it makes a great stop on your way out of town if you enjoy a good German style beer.

Top 2:
Pilsner
Dopplebock

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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