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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San Francisco Adventures Part 2 – Oakland and SF Main

My second day in the area I spent exploring San Francisco with my fiance. We first went out on the bridge to bridge tour of the bay, where we got to see the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges up close and drive near Alcatraz. Later in the evening I went out exploring and wanted to stop by Thirsty Bear Brewing but sadly they were not open. This led me to the bar across the street from our hotel where I was happy to find they had $3 pints for happy hour. This was my chance to try the Prohibition Ale from Speakeasy Ales & Lagers.

Prohibition Ale
Prohibition Ale

The hop flavors really make this one of my favorite ales. They add just the right amount of hops to balance out the typical malt flavors you get in an ale. I only had one here because we were off to Oakland to eat dinner with relatives and more beer to enjoy with that.

We stopped by a restaurant where we had pizza and appetizers with beer. I was glad to see a solid selection of beers on tap to choose from. My fiance went straight for the Stone Russian Imperial Stout which they served in a pint. Needless to say he only had one. I went straight for the Drake’s Brewing 1500 Pale. It had a nice light taste with some nice hop flavor. At 5.5% it was what some breweries might call an extra pale.

After that I was ready for something substantial and tried Heretic Brewing’s Evil Cousin Imperial IPA. The beer had plenty of citrus and pine flavors, nicely balanced by the right amount of malts. I was satisfied for the day with my hop fix. In Part 3 I will explore Rosamunde Sausage Grill and the beer I had on tap there. Part 4 will explore Southern Pacific Brewing. Part 5 will round it out with a visit to Rogue.

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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Green Flash – Destroying you with Hops

I stopped by Green Flash to taste the new Columbus Double IPA along with the Palate Wrecker. I was fortunate enough to try the Palate Wrecker last year when it was first introduced and I have to say I never got so into it then that I felt it was worth buying to take home. Green Flash has been stellar ever since they started pushing the hop envelope. The Green Bullet is one of my all-time favorite beers and the Symposium IPA really does everything I want in a good IPA.

Green Flash Palate Wrecker

I started with the Double Columbus because it is 8.5% compared to the 9.5% of the Palate Wrecker. I really liked the smooth balance of the Columbus. It had a nice pine flavor and some sweet hop flavors that really felt balanced and satisfying. This is a very light colored IPA and it comes through in the taste for sure. It has so much flavor that I am glad it is a bit lighter on the alcohol because I can have a few and not go crazy.

Palate Wrecker (left), Palate Wrecker Cask (center), Double Columbus (right)
Palate Wrecker (left), Palate Wrecker Cask (center), Double Columbus (right)

I had a taster of the cask Palate Wrecker and the draft. The Cask was quite smooth and really had a nice cedar and pine flavor. The bitterness was really mellowed out by the cask and it was quite nice. Compared to the other beers, the Palate Wrecker regular was hard to taste all the flavors. In a way I prefer Green Bullet and Double Columbus simply because the flavors of the hops are more easy to taste. I did enjoy the Palate Wrecker enough to come home with a 4 pack. In the bottle, the beer is a bit more mellow and quite pleasant.

If you got to try these beers, what did you think? Is the Palate Wrecker too much?

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 1 – Outside the City

I recently went to San Francisco for a few days with my fiance. While I was there I spent some time with relatives in Fremont and Oakland. Most importantly, I got to try a number of beers from around the area. As you will see, not all of the beers I tried were from San Francisco itself, but I couldn’t resist a chance to try some beers I might not see in San Diego for a while. This will be a multiple part post starting with the beers I enjoyed in other bars in outlying areas. Then I will split into two or three posts the beers I enjoyed within the city of San Francisco itself.

One brewery I saw quite a few times represented was Drake’s Brewing from San Leandro. I didn’t get to actually visit the brewery but various beers from there were on tap at the different places I visited. The more I saw from them, the more I was glad I got to try their beers. The first day I was in town we went down for High Tea at a teahouse and after that my fiance decided to do some shopping nearby so I escaped to a small bar nearby for a pint. I was disappointed that they served beer in chilled glasses but I didn’t want to waste good beer so I didn’t send it back.

I got to try a nice local Irish Red that was typical for the style while my friend ordered a Denogginizer from Drake’s Brewing. It was too early in the day for a double IPA so I was glad I didn’t order one myself but I ended up having a good enough taste from the beer to get a good idea of the flavors. Though it looked a bit darker it was not overly malty. The beer had a nice grapefruit flavor up front and tasted almost like a double version of Ballast Point’s Sculpin IPA.

Tied House 01

After leaving this small bar, we hung out a while before heading over to Tied House in Mountain View for beer and dinner. I was excited when I saw various single hop IPAs available to let me get a good flavor profile for the hop used. I tried a small taste of the two different IPAs before settling on the Chinook Single Hop IPA.

Chinook Single Hop IPA
Chinook Single Hop IPA

Despite the dark color, this beer had a nice forward hop flavor. The Chinook hop gave it a good pine flavor that came through nicely. It was a solid balanced beer. After enjoying the single hop beers, I tried a few of the double IPAs available and the barleywine. I was not impressed by either of them enough for me to try more than a taster of either. I simply recall the doubles as being too malty for my tastes.

Tied House Tap List
Tied House Tap List

The beer selection was solid at Tied House and I was overall quite satisfied by the food. My friend indicated that this was the first place in a long time where they actually gave him extra crispy fries. I found the fish tacos quite delicious with a pineapple habanero sauce (though it was not as hot as I might have hoped). My first day in the area was a success and I wish now I had gotten more Drake’s beer than I did.

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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Hess Brewing Company

Hess has been around for a while. They started out as a nanobrewery and for a long time were one of the smallest breweries around the Mira Mesa area. Slowly but surely they expanded their reach and this year they opened a brewery in North Park. Sadly, the Mira Mesa tasting room still uses plastic cups for the tasters and they charge a premium for the chance to get your tasters in a glass. Considering that some of the smaller breweries out there use glass for their tasters it seems a bit quaint that they would stick with this route. Part of why I didn’t go back since my last visit was the plastic cups used for everything.

Hess tap list as of 11/30/2013.
Hess tap list as of 11/30/2013.
Hess Brewing Company.
Hess Brewing Company.

Beer wise, Hess has an interesting selection. They are not the place to go if you like heavy hop flavors in your beers. Today I got to try a few tasters because the selection was so large that I couldn’t possibly try everything, though I am not sure I will go back to finish out the rest. The Pumpkin Stout was interesting and I had it both on tap and on nitro. Though it has a nice creamy flavor it was not particularly impressive. There wasn’t a lot of pumpkin flavor in the beer to make it stand out from the rest of the pumpkin beers, and also not much spice flavor either. Still, as a stout it was really good even if it did not have the flavor to match its high 8% abv.

Pumpkin stout x2 (left), IPA, Belgian American pale,
Pumpkin stout x2 (left), IPA, Belgian American pale,

The IPA was interesting in that it wasn’t insanely malty like some and wasn’t insanely hopy either. So it was a nice balanced brew and had some solid hop flavors. Still, it did not do enough to compete with some of the better IPAs I have had recently, especially the Perseus IPA from Intergalactic. The Belgian American Pale was the standout from what I had this day. It has the sweet flavors of a Belgian beer with the added bitterness of a pale. I wasn’t about to order a pint in plastic cups though. I finished off with a taster of the Rye Imperial Stout. It had a solid stout flavor with the chocolate flavors but did not really impress me compared to other similar beers I have had recently.

Compared to some of the upstart breweries around here, I would suggest you give Hess a try if you like the Belgian flavors. Hop heads should look elsewhere for now. I probably won’t be back until they start using glasses.

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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Alesmith Barrel Aged Nut Brown

I’ll be the first to admit that the Nut Brown at Alesmith is a solid beer but doesn’t really impress me. I have learned though that it is never a good idea to pass up a chance to try a barrel aged version of a beer even if you are not a big fan of the underlying beer. Most of the time this means the beer is aged in a bourbon barrel. This gives most beers a hint of bourbon flavor, and so works really well with brown ales and ambers.

Alesmith Barrel Aged Nut Brown
Alesmith Barrel Aged Nut Brown

I was so impressed by the flavor of this beer that I had two pints. Usually the beers I enjoy are so strong that this is not possible without stumbling out on the street but since this is only 5% I really enjoyed having two pints. The bourbon flavors are relatively mild with this one so that it does not overpower the flavor of the nut brown. If you stop by the brewery and see this available, be sure to order at least a taster so you can see if this is the beer for you.

Me enjoying some barrel aged Nut Brown.
Me enjoying some barrel aged Nut Brown.
My mom and her friend Ana enjoying some Alesmith beers.
My mom and her friend Ana enjoying some Alesmith beers.

 

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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Thanksgiving and Black Friday Beers

I hope all my readers in the United States had a wonderful Thanksgiving day yesterday. It isn’t Thanksgiving without beer so I was ready with two growlers from some local breweries to share with my family. I had a 32oz growler of Intergalactic Perseus IPA, which by this point many of my family thought tasted like Sculpin (a huge compliment). It was interesting to taste the way the flavor changed since it was fresh a month ago or so. I also opened a bottle of Rough Draft Eraser IPA after the Perseus, which followed nicely. For dessert, I had a 32oz growler of Rough Draft Stout, just what my friends love. They were glad that I thought of them to bring some of their favorite beer fresh.

Intergalactic Perseus IPA (right).
Intergalactic Perseus IPA (right).

For Black Friday many of my local breweries had special beers available but they weren’t open very early so I decided instead to reward myself for my restraint yesterday and open a bottle of Stone Punishment I had waiting in the wine fridge (now beer fridge). The less chilled temperatures were perfect for this beer to let out the amazing flavors and heat.

Stone Punishment in a Snifter.
Stone Punishment in a Snifter.

I’m interested to hear what you had to celebrate and give thanks this year. 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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Intergalactic Imperial Rye Pilsner

I stopped by Intergalactic Brewing today to try out one of their new brews tapped just in time for Thanksgiving. I couldn’t resist the thought of an imperial pilsner. I can’t remember ever seeing one before intergalactic announced the Stellar Collision. This 8.8% monster hits hard with sweet apricot flavors and comes through with the rye at the end. Though it isn’t very dark it has a lot in common with more malt heavy double ipas. I delighted in the taster but I’m not so sure I could drink a pint of it.

Triple IPA (left) Imperial Pilsner (right)
Triple IPA (left) Imperial Pilsner (right)
Intergalactic tap list as of 11/27/2013.
Intergalactic tap list as of 11/27/2013.

 

The triple ipa is an enormous 11.5%. That’s no Moon Ipa explodes with grapefruit flavor. It rivals the Green Bullet though is slightly more malty. It is easily one of the best beers I have tasted from intergalactic and possibly the strongest ipa I’ve ever tasted. You never know how long new beers will last at intergalactic so stop by to give these a try before they are gone.

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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2Kids Brewing Company

Some people might spend their Sundays watching sports. I prefer to seek out new breweries. A quick google search alerted me to one nearby that I hadn’t tried so I couldn’t help but stop by. 2Kids has only been open for a few months but already they have a solid selection of beers.

2Kids Brewing Company
2Kids Brewing Company
Inside the 2Kids tasting room.
Inside the 2Kids tasting room.

As you can see, the tasting room is pretty barebones and there aren’t many places to sit. Tasters are served in plastic cups though if you order a pint, they are served in glass. If you are tired of the stronger beers that everyone brews in San Diego, this is a nice place to stop in for something that you can drink all day.

UPDATE: Tasters are now served in glasses.

2Kids tap list as of 11/24/2013.
2Kids tap list as of 11/24/2013.

For a 3.1% session, the Ordinary Bitter is not bad. I found both the Ordinary Bitter and the Cream Ale to be a bit too light for my tastes. The California Common was my second favorite of the day. It is a nice smooth amber lager with nice caramel flavors. The IPA was a bit on the malty side for my tastes but it might satisfy those who find the average San Diego IPA to be too heavy on the hops.

UPDATE: The latest batch of the Obligatory IPA has stepped up the IBU and changed the recipe a bit. It is still primarily a malty IPA, because that is the “American IPA” style but it has a bit more hop flavor than it used to.

2Kids taster flight.
2Kids taster flight.

The chocolate stout was rich and flavorful. It impressed me the most of all the beers here. Because of how much cocoa goes into the beer, it costs a bit more but it is well worth it. It has just the right amount of alcohol for something you could drink for an afternoon. The chocolate flavors come forward nice and strong. The Saison is a solid representation of the style, though a bit on the darker side. It didn’t really wow me but if you like the plum and apricot flavors in your beer it might be just your thing.

Considering what I’ve had at a few other brewery launches, 2Kids is off to an impressive start. I look forward to seeing what they come up with in the future. If you stop in, make sure you try the stout.

UPDATE: The new Belgian IPA is pretty solid, with plenty of sweetness from the Belgian yeast and some nice citrus flavors from the 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.

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Stone Double Bastard 2013

At an intense 11.2%, this is the kind of beer you have to sip, unless you want to wake up on the floor. I was able to get this lovely beer on tap a week ago and thought it was a bit too malty on tap. Thankfully, the version in the bottle has that nice hop kick that makes it so enjoyable. Make no mistake, this is a very malty beer but also quite hoppy. I look forward to the release each year and this year’s batch is quite impressive.
Stone Double Bastard 2013.
Stone Double Bastard 2013.

Keep this away from your friends who don’t appreciate bitter brews unless you can stand their wrath when they can’t believe you would serve them something this bitter. Though something that devious would be necessary to make you a proper double bastard yourself. My fiance learned pretty quick to sniff a beer before tasting it so he wouldn’t touch this, though I might not risk his wrath by putting it in front of him either. The caramel flavors are given a nice intensity by the hops. This is highly recommended to hop heads and strong beer addicts.

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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Exploring San Diego's Craft Breweries