White Labs, Experimenting with Beer

White Labs 01

White Labs is an interesting brewery to visit because it is not your ordinary brewery. Most breweries will go with one beer in a specific style or two if you are lucky in an effort to brew the best beer they can. In certain cases breweries end up with an iconic beer like Ballast Point’s Sculpin IPA. White Labs decided instead to focus on exploring the flavors of different strands of yeast. So while it has beers in a number of styles you might recognize they aren’t going to be like everything else you taste in San Diego.

White Labs 02

White Labs 03

 

I went with three sets of four tasters for a total of 12 tasters while I visited. I decided to go with the pale ale, the IPA, and the porter. I probably wouldn’t have been able to try all of them even though I was there with a friend. White Labs is exciting for two types of people; those interested in home brewing, and those looking to learn more about how beers are made. White Labs even has home brew classes available so that newbies can get a start by brewing their own beer. To help out those interested in brewing they allow you to download the recipes for any of the beers you taste.

White Labs 05

As far as the actual beers go, while I enjoyed comparing the four varieties of each style I tried I was not blown away by any individual beer. The pale ales were interesting because I could certainly recognize some of the yeast but they didn’t have the hop flavors I expect out of a good pale ale. Similarly, the IPAs were interesting because they weren’t dry-hopped like most San Diego IPAs are, and they were also un-filtered (pictured above). Flavor wise though, I didn’t really get any of the complex hop tastes I expect in a good IPA. This is to be expected though because their goal here is to educate by getting people to compare the strands of yeast. In order to taste the yeast you have to keep the hops slightly subdued. To finish things off I tried the porters. They were pretty similar to me and all on the bitter chocolate side. Anyone looking for something a bit sweeter out of their porter is not going to like these.

White Labs is an interesting brewery to explore if you are looking to learn more about beers. Though you won’t find any amazingly hoppy beers that will bring you back you might find a better appreciation for certain beers you enjoy at other breweries. For example, fans of Belgian styles of beers might not be familiar with the big part the yeast plays in the flavors. You can certainly taste the flavor in the Belgian Yeast pale ale. Similarly, one version of the IPA has similarities to Green Flash’s Le Freak and I appreciate knowing that this is because of the yeast.

 

 

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.

More Posts

Follow Me:
TwitterPinterestGoogle Plus

Stone Enjoy By 02 14 2014

Stone’s Enjoy By Double IPA is a great way to educate the general public about the importance of freshness when it comes to IPA. A good IPA will last for about 2-3 months before it becomes skunky.  It can be so significant that a beer that was really well done at first is hard to enjoy six months down the road. With the Enjoy By series from Stone, Stone gets the beer out to stores within a week of brewing so that you know it is going to be fresh while you drink it before the enjoy date.

Stone Enjoy By 02 14 2014
Stone Enjoy By 02 14 2014

Rich grapefruit and citrus flavors from the hops come through good and strong. This beer is light on the malts compared to the ordinary Stone IPA that I find a little too strong on the malts. The delicious flavors are made even better because you know it is going to be fresh when you drink it. I buy this over other similar beers because I don’t always know how fresh my IPAs are. Hopefully this will get other breweries to start posting enjoy by dates on the bottles. Freshness is so important that I love to buy IPAs from smaller breweries that don’t last long enough to become bad.

If you love hops you probably already wait with baited breath for the next batch of Enjoy By. If you haven’t tried this beer yet, you will find it to be a delicious adventure in hops.

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.

More Posts

Follow Me:
TwitterPinterestGoogle Plus

Wiens Brewing Company Descend Black IPA

Temecula is a bit far for me to go to hit up breweries right now. I may eventually make it up to hit up the breweries there but until then I rely on breweries with big enough distribution to get beer down to San Diego. I couldn’t resist when I saw Descend Black IPA at Bottlecraft in Downtown San Diego. It was everything I hoped for and I will certainly keep an eye out for more from this brewery in the future.

Descend Black IPA
Descend Black IPA

I could smell the hops on the nose quite nicely though they don’t really show up in the flavor. To me Black IPAs have always been a strange beast. What separates it from a hoppy porter? Hard to say. This one certainly has a lot more in common with a bitter porter than anything else. On the front I could taste a strong bitter chocolate flavor. The bottle claims there is a malty caramel flavor on the back end. I could taste it but just barely. This would have been too bitter for my husband but totally hit the spot for me.

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.

More Posts

Follow Me:
TwitterPinterestGoogle Plus

Mission Brewing Shipwrecked Double IPA

I remembered enjoying the double IPA from Mission Brewing the last time I was there so I couldn’t resist the idea of two 32oz cans when I saw them at Costco. The beer pours thick and amber. First thought on tasting it was “where are the hops?” I can taste some strong caramel flavor followed by some tropical fruit and citrus hops in the background.
Mission Brewing Shipwrecked Double IPA
Mission Brewing Shipwrecked Double IPA
I’m not sure what it is that leads double IPAs to be made so malty but this one is far too malty for my tastes. If you enjoy the flavors of Green Bullet I would stay far away from this one. I can’t believe I bought two 32oz cans of this. It is a bit too syrupy sweet for my flavors. Glad I had someone to share this can with. I couldn’t even drink a pint before I was ready to move on to something else.

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.

More Posts

Follow Me:
TwitterPinterestGoogle Plus

My Bloody Valentine, Alesmith Brewing Company

Alesmith has some delightful beer names and labels inspired by horror movies. I really enjoyed the Evil Dead Red last year so I was excited to see similarities listed for this one. My Bloody Valentine is a delicious dark beer with a hoppy after taste. At times it is smoky and a little caramel flavor. The hops are on the floral side and are balanced with it nicely. Light flavor of bittersweet chocolate rounds it out nicely.

My Bloody Valentine
My Bloody Valentine

The fresh batch was just released this week so make sure you grab some before it is done. It might hang around a little bit after Valentine’s day but probably not too long. I was quite satisfied with the first bottle and look forward to trying it on tap at the brewery soon.

Alesmith Bloody Valentine 2014 02

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.

More Posts

Follow Me:
TwitterPinterestGoogle Plus

Favorite San Diego Beers of 2013

I am not exclusively including beers that were first introduced in 2013 but I limited this to San Diego beers because otherwise I would never be able to come up with 10. I also excluded any specialty versions of existing beers. This means cask or nitro versions of certain beers are not eligible, nor are barrel aged beers that are only available on tap for a day or two and then gone.

1. Green Bullet – Green Flash (Triple IPA)
This is my new gold standard for insane hops in a beer. I was lucky enough to try this when it was first debuted in late 2012 for a very short time at the brewery. For most people though, this is a 2013 beer because it was made much more broadly available in bottles. It is pure New Zealand hops all the way and gives me all the hop flavors that I am addicted to.
Green Bullet fresh at the brewery.
Green Bullet fresh at the brewery.
2. Stone Punishment (Double Bastard barrel aged and infused with spicy peppers)
This is the only barrel aged beer on the list and it counts because it was bottled and made widely available. Though it would be a favorite simply because of how spicy it is what gets this on the list is the complex flavors that it has besides the heat. Some sweetness is present from the barrel aging as well as all the complex flavors of double bastard itself. Though this was the most expensive beer I had all year it was totally worth it.
Stone Crime and Punishment.
Stone Crime and Punishment.
3. Stone Enjoy by IPA (Double IPA with a clear enjoy by date)
Though half of what makes Enjoy By so good is that it is going to be fresh when you have some, it is also just a deliciously balanced double IPA. The brilliant thing about this beer is that the batches are kept small enough so that it sells out pretty quickly. The next batch comes out pretty soon so make sure you grab a bottle of the first Enjoy By batch of 2014.
Stone Enjoy By IPA 2013.
Stone Enjoy By IPA 2013.
4. Humbly Legit IPA – New English Brewing
I wasn’t expecting this to blow me away as much as it did. When I first had it on tap I just loved the hop-forward flavor of this beer. For a brewery that originally focused on English styles of beer, this one is up there with the best IPAs in San Diego.
Humbly Legit west coast style IPA.
Humbly Legit west coast style IPA.
5. Perseus IPA – Intergalactic Brewing
One of my favorite IPAs comes from a newer brewery that knows how to satisfy those who prefer a lighter colored IPA. Because the brewery is fairly small, it doesn’t last long enough to become skunky. I had quite a few growler fills of this beer throughout the year and can’t wait for the next batch to show up.
Intergalactic Perseus IPA (right).
Intergalactic Perseus IPA (right).
6. Blazing World – Modern Times (Hoppy Amber)
I left the brewery with a four pack of cans as soon as I tried this one and I already bought a few more since then. The nelson hops are prominent and give this a delicious flavor that would satisfy any hop head.
7. Evil Dead Red – Alesmith (Imperial Red with some strong hop flavors)
It was a toss up between this and the Winter Yulesmith. Both gave me plenty of hops in a satisfying darker brew. I ultimately gave the spot to Evil Dead Red because it was so unexpected. If you liked this one, make sure you get out and buy a bottle of My Bloody Valentine, already in stores.
Evil Dead Red
Evil Dead Red
8. Hop Therapy Double IPA – Rough Draft 
I really enjoy a lot of the IPAs Rough Draft makes but I ultimately gave the spot to the double IPA because it is nice to see a solid double that is always around. There is a huge difference in taste if you have this one fresh so if it doesn’t have enough hop flavor for you give it another try.
9. Ballast Point Victory at Sea Imperial Porter 
Though I love a lot of different Ballast Point beers, this one got the spot because the coffee flavors were just what I needed. Another favorite that almost made this list was the Fathom India Pale Lager, which has now become a mainstay.
Devil's Share Victory at Sea (Left), Bourbon Barrel Aged Black Marlin Porter (right)
Devil’s Share Victory at Sea (Left), Bourbon Barrel Aged Black Marlin Porter (right)
10. Green Flash Symposium IPA
I’ve always found the West Coast to be a bit too heavy on the malts so this lighter colored IPA was just what I needed. I hope to see it available in bottles with a fresh batch in 2014.

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.

More Posts

Follow Me:
TwitterPinterestGoogle Plus

Black Market Rye IPA

Living in Mira Mesa I haven’t made my way up to Temecula to visit breweries yet. Thankfully, some of them have been bottling and distributing beers down to stores near me. I’ve seen the beers from Black Market before but haven’t given them a taste until I grabbed a bottle of the Rye IPA. I am glad I did.

Black Market Rye IPA

The Rye IPA has plenty of caramel up front with some citrus hop flavors on the back. It has everything I used to love about the Green Flash Rye IPA before it disappeared. I can tell from the flavor that I had this one fresh and it was very nice. It pours a nice amber color and is well balanced so that you get just enough of each flavor. Make sure you pick up a bottle if you like some rye in your 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.

More Posts

Follow Me:
TwitterPinterestGoogle Plus

Wet N Reckless Brewing

NOTE: Wet N Reckless has closed for some time because of a fire at the brewery. It is still unclear if they will open again later.

I had visited this brewery a few times before starting this blog but I wanted to make sure to wait until they had some stuff I enjoyed before writing an entry. Like many smaller breweries, the lineup changes pretty regularly and the beers are sometimes hit and miss. Wet N Reckless doesn’t bottle any of their beers for sale in the grocery store and they still use plastic cups for the tasters. If you want to have a glass to use to enjoy your pints, you have to buy one and put your name on it. Despite all that, when you find something you like there, it is usually quite good.

Wet N Reckless Inside.
Wet N Reckless Inside.

From the outside it is your typical small brewery in an industrial area. When you get close, the breweries signs help guide you to the parking lot. Otherwise you might miss it and wonder where you went wrong.

Wet N Reckless 03 Wet N Reckless 04

As you can see from the names, Wet N Reckless likes to use creative names for beers. The selection is broad and has something for everyone. Though I don’t appreciate some of the beers heavier on the malts, the honey badger, or the mead, these beers are what sets them apart from other breweries. If you like honey in your beer or are gluten intolerant, you might find something to love about some of the different brews here.

Wet N Reckless 05

I went with three tasters, the Floral Pleasure, Harmless Fun, and More Cowbell. Floral Pleasure is an interesting beer that is different from what you might expect. It is not an IPA and it isn’t an IPL. Instead, it is a beer with heavy floral hops on the front end. This is the closest beer you will find here to a traditional San Diego IPA. While they have an IPA, it is too malty for my tastes, so I prefer floral pleasure. The Harmless Fun has a nice wheat flavor but not enough hops for my tastes. It is described as a wheat beer dry-hopped with Citra hops. I don’t taste enough citra to give it the flavor that I would like to taste.

Pint of More Cowbell.
Pint of More Cowbell.

Then we are up to the most interesting beer of the night, the More Cowbell. Somehow I hadn’t tried this beer before today. I always love a good double IPA and this one was just what I liked to see. At first I was a bit unsure if I would like it but by the time I finished my taster I was ready to order a pint, and then another one. Made with exclusively with Summit hops, this is a grassy IPA and at times I was ready to call it too malty but I could taste enough hops in the beer that I was hooked. As I could tell, everyone else who was visiting knew exactly what they were getting and was back for more.

To show how addicting this beer is, there is a cowbell on the bar that has a sticker on it reading “More Cowbell” I was ready to ring it a few times though after two pints I was satisfied. I saw a number of people ordering multiple pints of this delicious beer while I was there. Clearly, I had missed something and I will be back to try some more. If you love your hops, make sure you keep an eye out for Floral Pleasure and More Cowbell. Follow Wet N Reckless on Facebook to make sure you get notified when the beers are available.

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.

More Posts

Follow Me:
TwitterPinterestGoogle Plus

Ballast Point Little Italy

I’ve been visiting Ballast Point for some time now. When I first visited the Scripps Ranch location it was really small and had hardly any space to sit if any. Now it is three times as large inside plus has a nice outdoor sitting area. When Ballast Point announced the new location in Little Italy I was excited but I didn’t go down there until now because I am so close to the Old Grove location. After making it down to meet with a few friends I am glad I made the trip and got to try a few interesting beers they don’t have at the other location.

Ballast Point Little Italy 01

Ballast Point Little Italy Tap list part 2.
Ballast Point Little Italy Tap list part 2.

I went straight for the four varieties of single hopped IPAs. For those not familiar, most IPAs, like Ballast Point’s Sculpin, are made with multiple varieties of hops. The combination of flavors is what makes your favorite beer so good. Single hopped IPAs are made with a single type of hops. This is nice because it lets you become familiar with the different tastes of the hops. They were nice to taste and experience the hops but I was not craving pints of any of them after the tasters.

 

Single hop IPAs, three varieties, and one single malt IPA.
Single hop IPAs, three varieties, and one single malt IPA.

Ballast Point Little Italy 03

It is important to note that Ballast Point does have a wine selection as well. So you won’t be alienating your friends if they don’t drink beer. I didn’t get to taste any of the wines though so I don’t know how good they are.

I next went for the Hop Face IPA, the original Sculpin recipe with some Mosaic hops. With that I got a taster of the Chocolate Schwartz and the Dunkelweisen.

Left, Hop Face, Center, Chocolate Schwartz, Right, Dunkelweisen.
Left, Hop Face, Center, Chocolate Schwartz, Right, Dunkelweisen.

The Hop Face was good but it didn’t blow me away or anything. I still prefer the original Sculpin. I was quite impressed by the Chocolate Schwartz. I wasn’t expecting such a delicious sweet chocolate taste. It could turn into a popular mainstay if they make it right. The Dunkelweisen was not bad but tasted pretty much like any other dark Belgian beer. It didn’t grab me and I much preferred the Chocolate Schwartz.

Ballast Point Little Italy 06

It is nice to note that they did have a selection of food available here. Most of the offerings were around $12-$15. We only had the chips and salsa. It was tasty and the chips were quite nice. We ended up eating a sandwich down the street at Mona Lisa. The little Italian market has amazing huge sandwiches for $7 or so that you can easily split with someone. Since Ballast Point serves food I doubt they would let you bring one in, but it is great for after a few beers. Overall, it is worth stopping by the Little Italy location for a taste of some interesting beers you can’t find at the other location. It is a great start to a new location that will hopefully be very successful.

 

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.

More Posts

Follow Me:
TwitterPinterestGoogle Plus

Iron Fist Brewing Company

I’ve had Iron Fist beers on tap at other places a few times but never made it up to the brewery itself.

Iron Fist Brewing.
Iron Fist Brewing.

Iron Fist had a large selection of beers on tap and a number of specialty brews. Since my husband doesn’t like most of the styles, I had to stick to the hop-heavy beers so I could taste what I like. Sometime I may come back to see what the Belgian styles taste like. To finish off my flight my husband got a taster of the stout on nitro.

Iron Fist tasting flight.
Iron Fist tasting flight.

The pale ale was a bit disappointing after Stone’s Lavender Pale Ale earlier in the day. It was too light for my tastes. There was no regular IPA available to try so I went straight into the Double IPA. I had three versions of the Gauntlet Double IPA, the regular, one dry-hopped with citra hops, and one with coffee. The regular Gauntlet was a bit too heavy on the darker fruits and pine for my tastes. It seemed like the malts overpowered the hops a little too much.

Iron Fist 02

 

Next I tried the double IPA with citra hops. This was closer to what I tend to like in San Diego double IPAs. The citra hop flavor comes out nice and strong in front of everything else and has a nice flavor. The coffee double IPA was pretty much like drinking an iced coffee. Despite the strong flavor of the double IPA the coffee was all I really tasted. It was quite nice.

To finish things off, I tried a special version of the stout with ghost peppers and vanilla beans. I was really impressed by this one because it had a delicious sweet vanilla flavor at the front and some spicy kick at the back. It was spicy but not particularly so, and not as hot as the Habanero Sculpin some might be familiar with. If you don’t like sweet though, you should stay away from this one because it almost tastes like chocolate chip cookie dough iced cream at the front end.

I would have liked to have an option for a middle of the road IPA here. I probably won’t be buying the Gauntlet anytime soon on tap other places because of the heavy malt flavor but I would really like more of the Gauntlet with citra hops.

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.

More Posts

Follow Me:
TwitterPinterestGoogle Plus

Exploring San Diego's Craft Breweries