Offbeat Brewing Company – Escondido CA

Located just a stone’s throw from Stone Brewing Company’s main location in Escondido I wondered going in how Offbeat Brewing manages to compete with the giant brewery. After tasting things it was clear that they have a very different approach to their beers, especially the hoppy ones, and they fill a completely different niche than the aggressive hoppy beers from Stone. I’ve talked to people who normally don’t like West Coast style IPAs who like the beers here.

These guys are so off beat they have this bizarre yet awesome mural on the wall.
These guys are so off beat they have this bizarre yet awesome mural on the wall.

Though Offbeat has been open for nearly three years they don’t have the same level of experimentation you see at other breweries. Instead they have a core set of five beers that they typically have on tap that all have a similar mellow English hop flavor going. I tried the Session Pale, Brown, ESB, IPA, and Sagecat IPA while I was there.

Offbeat brewing company taster flight.
Taster flight when I visited.

The Session Pale was a light golden color beer with a good fruity flavor from the hops. This is an interesting comparison to the typical bitter citrus-forward San Diego session IPAs. The brown ale was a bit more dark and roasty than the average local brown. Both color wise and flavor wise it is closer to a porter than a brown. The roast flavors are balanced nicely by some mild earthy hops.

Offbeat brewing beer list.
Beer list when I visited.

The ESB was surprisingly flavorful for a 3.4% beer with lots of earthy and fruity flavors from the English hops. The IPA is 7.7% but isn’t very bitter and tends to be more apricot flavor with a smooth malt background. The flavors balance very nicely and there is very little of the signature west coast hop bitterness. Considering the mellow flavor, it was a perfect choice to add the peppercorns for the Sagecat IPA. Peppercorns add a nice mild spice kick and a sweetness in the aftertaste.

Offbeat Brewing 03

With a limited lineup and a very different selection than its neighbors it is easy to stop by Offbeat on your way to your favorite brewery in the area for a taster or two. If you haven’t yet explored the English style of IPA this is a great place to do it.

Offbeat Brewing 01

Top 2:
Brown Ale
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

Dos Desperados Brewing Company – San Marcos CA

I visited Dos Desperados after Stumblefoot Brewing Company on the same day. Thankfully my husband was driving so I was able to try everything I wanted to at the time. In total I tried the Fugitive farmhouse, Outlaw oatmeal stout, Jailbreak IPA, Habeerneos IPA, Pancho Villa double IPA, Brett double IPA, and ghost pepper stout.

The Fugitive farmhouse had a nice mild pepper pepper kick (hot pepper) that joins the usual saison taste. The pepper flavors balanced nice with the fruit and funk. Though it was very different from the usual saison, I quite liked it. The Outlaw oatmeal stout was a solid stout with a smooth flavor from the oatmeal. This was the only stout on the menu and it should satisfy those who don’t like hops.

Dos Desperados 03

The Jailbreak ipa starts off with some intense bitterness and a good citrus flavor. It is a solid IPA. It is used as the background for the Habanero version. Like the Ballast Point Habanero Sculpin, this one is quite hot and really burns going down leaving a big back of throat burn. I would have a hard time having more than a taster of this.

Main beer menu when I visited.
Main beer menu when I visited.

The Pancho Villa double IPA is a double IPA that focuses on tropical fruit and citrus flavors with some light mango flavor. It is very hop forward and tasty, a fantastic example of a double IPA. The Brett version was also quite tasty and if I hadn’t already had a full two sets of tasters I might have ordered more of it. The brett yeast adds some nice peach flavors and gives it a cloudy look. Finally, the ghost pepper stout was not as hot as the Habanero IPA. The heat hides in the background more and sneaks up on you because it is more balanced with the beer.

Specialty beer menu when I visited.
Specialty beer menu when I visited.

Overall I enjoyed what I had at Dos Desperados and liked to see the brett and other experimental beers they had on tap. The addition of spicy peppers seems to be done well like others locally though stay away if you don’t like hot. This is certainly a brewery geared more towards hops than a few of the others I tried in the area.

Top 3:
Pancho Villa Double IPA
Brett Double IPA
Jailbreak 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

Stumblefoot Brewing Company – San Marcos

Stumblefoot looks very similar to most local small breweries at a glance. It is located in an industrial park and has a fairly bare bones interior. Thankfully, they have a solid lineup of beers including a few sours and a solid coffee stout. Though IPAs aren’t as impressive as others around they have a few IPA offerings as well.

Stumblefoot Brewing 04

When I visited I tried their black lager (traditionally known as a schwartzbier) Red Dress porter, Back to Black IPA (a black and tan, blending the porter and the pale), San Elijo sour, Questhaven sour, Apollo double IPA, and Moho Stout.

First taster flight.
First taster flight.

The black lager was very nice with a light body and good roasty flavors. This was the closest I have had in San Diego to the traditional ones in Prague. As it warms up it starts to taste like root beer a little. The Red Dress porter is a bit on the fruity side with a hint of cherry in the background. I didn’t taste much chocolate like they described and it was closer to a doctor pepper or cherry coke.

The Back to Black IPA was solid considering it was a black and tan. You may like it more or less depending on who blends it for you. The version the server made for me at first was quite overpowering in the floral hop department. When one of the owners blended me one later it was a bit more balanced and tasty. It should satisfy anyone who is looking for a black IPA.

Tasting board when I visited.
Tasting board when I visited.

Both of the sours were quite nice. The San Elijo sour would make a great introduction to sours and the brewer described it as such. It is mostly malt forward with a fruit background. Though nice I preferred the Questhaven sour, a barrel aged variety that has some strong apricot flavor that blends nicely with the oak flavors. I almost picked up a bottle before leaving.

The Apollo double IPA was a solid double with a good combination of floral, citrus, and tropical fruits. It didn’t wow me but it should satisfy hop heads who visit this place. I ended with the Moho stout, which was a bit more traditional than the Red Dress porter. The flavors presented a nice mix of coffee and chocolate with plenty of roast on the back end.

I was most impressed by the sours here, though they seem to be doing an all-around solid job with the beers. This place is also dog friendly and we had no problem coming by with a friend’s dog we were taking care of at the time. I liked having an alternative style of sour here compared to Toolbox that didn’t do as much with the fruit flavors.

Top 3:
Quest Haven Sour
Moho Stout
Apollo Double 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

NOLA Brewing Offers a Wide Selection in New Orleans

When I was in New Orleans, I almost didn’t stop by NOLA brewing because I figured it was going to be a lot of the same ambers and English style IPAs that I saw in many of the bars from them. When I had a little extra time to kill I decided to go anyway and lo and behold there were two sours and two brett beers on the menu along with a delicious saison and a variety of stouts. I didn’t have a chance to try their IPAs while I was there but with so many beers on tap I would have barely been able to walk out if I had.

NOLA Brewing 01

In total I tried the Piety cherry sour, Desire raspberry sour, Hullmelon brett pale, Sauvage brett pale, Girl Stout Cookie, Rumple Stout Skin American stout, Irish Channel stout, and Hurricane saison. My husband drank most of the stout tasters but I had enough of each so that I could taste them.

The Piety cherry sour was very smooth with a medium amount of sour and a light cherry flavor that balances nicely with the rest. It poured a nice light amber color almost orange. Considering many cherry sours get to be a little much for me, I liked this one. The Desire raspberry sour was a satisfying sour with plenty of raspberry flavor, medium amount of funk and medium amount of sour. This was my favorite of the two sours.

Brett and sour beer taster flight.
Brett and sour beer taster flight.

The Hullmenlon brett pale poured a cloudy yellow and presented a nice melon and citrus flavor. This beer was very smooth and tasty. The Sauvage brett pale seems to be a beer that they make with various hops depending on the batch. The one on tap tasted like it used nelson hops and another one available in bottles was brewed with galaxy hops. The beer had a nice intense grapefruit flavor and a solid bitterness that balanced very nicely with the brett funk in the background.

Stout flight with saison.
Stout flight with saison.

The Hurricane saison was bright and fruity with some intense tangerine and peach. The fruits went nicely with the saison yeast flavor. This was a very impressive saison. The Girl Stout Cookie seemed to be a thin mint style stout. It had a nice minty flavor and some mild chocolate, making for a solid stout. I don’t normally like mint in my stouts but it was subtle enough that it worked well.

Beer list part 1.
Beer list part 1.

The Rumple Stout Skin American stout was a bit on the fruity side with some cherry flavors that balanced with some strong bitterness from some hops. Comparatively, the Irish Channel stout was a bit more chocolate forward and less bitter. I preferred the Irish Channel because it was a little more smooth and typical of the style. This one is also available around New Orleans in cans.

Beer list part 2.
Beer list part 2.

Before I left I also got to taste some of the Sauvage with galaxy hops thanks to someone next to me at the bar. He enjoyed the flavors of the one on tap and was curious to see how the galaxy would taste. He poured me a small taster and it was tasty but the galaxy had faded, leaving a more traditional brett pale taste. Depending on your hop preference, it may be better to enjoy the Sauvage on tap.

Sauvage bottle with taster.
Sauvage bottle with taster.

If you like sours or brett beers and are in New Orleans you absolutely need to stop by NOLA brewing for some tasters. They also have plenty of more traditional options on the menu as well. Thankfully they are situated in a part of town where it is easy to park because most of downtown New Orleans is a nightmare with parking.

Top 3:
Sauvage brett pale
Hurricane saison
Desire raspberry 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.

More Posts

Follow Me:
TwitterPinterestGoogle Plus

Abita Brewing Company – Abita Springs Louisiana

While out in New Orleans for the fourth of July weekend I went out to Abita for some beers. The main tasting room only does tours and serves people beer as part of the tour. They also have a brewpub if you want to order some food along with your beers. I was a little disappointed that they only use plastic cups for beers on the tour but it seems to be common in certain local bars to give people plastic cups.

Abita Brewing 01
They were working on some renovations when I visited so the outdoor view was a little messy.

When you go on a tour, you are given a cup and allowed to pour your own beer from whatever they have available. They even pulled out a few bottles of the Bourbon Street bourbon barrel aged imperial stout and baltic porter for people to try. Though I didn’t get to try the bourbon barrel aged imperial stout while I was there I did bring a bottle home from another local bottle shop and my thoughts are included.

Some bourbon barrel aged Baltic porter.
Some bourbon barrel aged Baltic porter.

While I was there I tried a smaller sample than usual because you only had one cup to fill and pouring small taster sized pours of everything would not be very practical. I got to try the Jockamo IPA, Wrought Iron IPA (which I’ve previously written about when it showed up in San Diego soon after the brewery released it), Turbo Dog brown ale, bourbon barrel aged baltic porter, and bourbon barrel aged imperial stout.

Me pouring some beers.
Me pouring some beers.

I started with the Jockamo IPA. It was a solid IPA with good balanced caramel malt base and medium bitterness. Hop flavors mostly tended towards the classic English earthy variety. In comparison, the Wrought Iron IPA is closer to a West Coast style IPA. Hops give it a good golden flavor that sometimes tends towards citrus and mango. Malts are not as strong as the previous beer. This is the one to go for here if you like the West Coast style.

Turbodog brown ale.
Turbodog brown ale.

I then went for the Turbo Dog brown ale. It had a higher alcohol content than most browns I see in California with some solid roasty and nutty flavors. This was a solid beer. I skipped most of the other lighter options available and went straight for the bourbon barrel aged stuff.

Abita Brewing 02

The bourbon barrel aged Baltic porter has a smooth caramel flavor from the Bourbon barrels. It is a little on the sweet side but overall solid. The bourbon barrel aged imperial stout is fairly light bodied and the bourbon comes in strong. I opened this bottle recently after returning from my trip. It is a solid first beer to introduce someone to bourbon barrel aging but compared to many of the more well-known examples of the style it doesn’t hold up.

Overall, I was impressed by the tour offered of the brewing facility, especially that it was offered for free and included free beer. Though, with the way they don’t really limit your pouring, make sure you have someone coming along to drive you back. If you are mostly a hop head, you might be better off looking for the wrought iron on tap in the city of New Orleans because the Jockamo IPA will likely disappoint most who are not big fans of the English style

 

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