Saint Archer Brewing Company

I had visited Saint Archer once before and was impressed by the IPA but not so much that I was compelled to return to have more. Fast forward a few months and I noticed some San Diego Beer week specialties on tap so I had to return and brought with me a few friends to share. This time I got to taste the IPA, double IPA, and the Stout both on cask and on tap.

Left to right, IPA, Double IPA, Stout, Cask Stout.
Left to right, IPA, Double IPA, Stout, Cask Stout.
Saint Archer from the outside.
Saint Archer from the outside.

I was once again quite impressed by the IPA. It has all the qualities I love in a solid IPA without the heavy malts that sometimes make good IPAs un-drinkable. It is a little lighter than most people in San Diego might be used to from an IPA but it has a full body and is quite good. The double IPA is only a few percentages stronger and has a nice lighter appearance, meaning it is also not a malty beer. The flavors are very similar to Green Bullet from Green Flash though a few percentages lighter.

Core beers on tap.
Core beers on tap.
Seasonal Beers on Tap.
Seasonal Beers on Tap.

The American Stout was interesting because it was not the typical heavy chocolate or heavy coffee flavors you might expect from a stout in San Diego. It has a bit of hops added to it that gives it a bitterness that counters a lot of the sweetness you typically taste in stouts and porters. The hop flavors are light enough that they might not offend hop-haters out there but mild enough that they don’t reach the level of the Sublimely Self Righteous from Stone. The cask version of the stout was a little more creamy but because the underlying stout was not as sweet it did not impress me as much as other stouts on cask.

Saint Archer 05

Saint Archer has a nice seating area with bar stools and tables with plenty of room for a lot of people to hang out.

Update October 2014

Saint Archer has been brewing a lot of great beers since I last visited them. Most recently, they won a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival for their white ale. I visited them for a few tasters on October 6, 2014 and had a taste of the pale ale and the white ale along with a black lager.

Black lager, pale ale, white ale, (left to right)
Black lager, pale ale, white ale, (left to right)

The white ale is a very nice Belgian ale with citrus and spice aromas and flavors. It has a very light body but is quite tasty. The pale ale batch on tap was barely a week old and I could taste some nice crisp citrus and pine flavors. the pale ale was just what I wanted. The black lager was a bit light on the body and mostly had flavors of roasted malts. Hopefully future batches will be a bit more heavy.

Saint Archer sells six packs of the pale ale, blonde, IPA, and white ale. They also sell 22oz bottles of all four plus the double IPA and coffee brown. They make sure to sell the freshest bottles and cans at the tasting room so stop in for a six pack the next time you are in the mood.

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 Sublimely Self Righteous Ale 2013

If you love both hoppy beers and dark beers you might find that most dark beers are too sweet, or not bitter enough. Sublimely Self Righteous is the cure to that, giving bitter chocolate flavors you might recognize from a porter and mixing in the hop flavors that hop addicts love. To see if those who hate IPAs and exclusively drink porters and stouts think, I gave my fiance a taste. He pursed his lips and said “too hoppy” so don’t expect to share this with the less enlightened among you.

Sublimely Self Righteous Ale.
Sublimely Self Righteous Ale.

In some ways, it is the darker version of the Alesmith Winter Yulesmith. Where the Winter Yulesmith has malts, this has chocolate, but both are perfectly balanced with the hop flavors. At 8.7% you might be able to finish a bottle on your own, though I don’t know if I can say the same thing about the Double Bastard. Make sure you get a bottle of this while this year’s batch is fresh, before the end of November and into the first half of December it should be the best. 

[As a fun side note, my brother thought this tasted more like beef jerky. He didn’t like it much either]

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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Fresh Hop Ales

Hopefully you have tasted at least one variety of fresh hop ale in the past few years. The trend has grown over time. Don’t feel bad if you didn’t though because I didn’t hear about this idea until I was in Denver in September. I happened to stop by Great Divide Brewing and saw that they had a fresh hop pale ale at around 6%. As usual I ordered a few tasters, one of the fresh hop pale, and one of the IPA. I was so impressed by the hop flavors I tasted that I didn’t order any IPAs that night but instead a few pints of the fresh hop pale. Thankfully Great Divide Brewing has some solid distribution so I found a bottle of the Fresh Hop Pale in San Diego recently. Today I decided to open it with Sierra Nevada’s Fresh Hop Harvest Ale to see how the two compared.

Fresh Hop Pale Ales
Fresh Hop Pale Ales

To put this into some perspective, consider that the average IPA is around 6.5-7.5%. The average pale ale is between 4.5 and 5.5%. So when you have a fresh hop pale ale at 6.1 (like the Great Divide) and 6.7 (like the Sierra Nevada) it is almost like having an IPA. Sadly, only the Great Divide had an enjoy by date on the bottle so I can’t know how fresh the Sierra Nevada was when I tried it. I think they were overly generous though with the Great Divide since I found it in late October and it says enjoy by mid December of 2013.

Taste wise, both beers have a nice fresh hop on the forefront although I would say the Sierra Nevada was a bit more heavy on the malts. Both would satisfy IPA fans and hop heads and are worth checking out.

Did you try any other fresh hop beers recently? I’m interested in your suggestions 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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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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Alesmith Yulesmith 2013

After last year’s Yulesmith release I couldn’t wait to see how this year’s was. In contrast to the summer version which is a double IPA, this version is an imperial red.

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The hops aroma is stronger than it tastes. The hop flavors balance out the malts nicely giving it a citrus taste. Hop heads who enjoyed the evil dead red will like this one.

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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Rough Draft Brewing

Rough Draft had a bit of a rough start. I almost didn’t want to go back after that first batch of beers. Thankfully, I heard that they had stepped it up and returned six months later to find a nice impressive selection of beers. I went back today to see how things were going and get some photos for this post.

Rough Draft from the outside.
Rough Draft from the outside.
Rough Draft tap list.
Rough Draft tap list.

To start with I had a taster of the Weekday session IPA. It drinks like a pale ale but is dry hopped like an IPA. The smooth taste will seem light if you are used to IPAs but it is perfect for those all-day drinking sessions where you might not want to start off with some IPA. It is also very popular at parties because it doesn’t have the bitter taste people associate with IPAs. It is one of the better session IPAs out there, along with Green Flash, and is a great one to drink if you want to have a few pints.

To move things along, I tried the Southern Triangle and Eraser IPAs. I stuck with tasters for these two and they were a bit lighter than I remembered. They had a nice crisp taste although weren’t too bitter like a Sculpin or the IPA over at New English. At a later visit I was able to distinguish the differences a little more. Though they are very close, the Southern Triangle has a bit more of the nelson hop flavor with heavy grapefruit while the Eraser is a bit more of a traditional west-coast style IPA. Both are beers that I return to quite regularly.

Southern Triangle (darker) and Eraser (lighter).
Southern Triangle (darker) and Eraser (lighter).

I moved on to the barrel aged strong ale. At 10% I stuck with just one 8oz pour. It had the smooth bourbon flavor you would expect. I think the strength of the beer kept it from getting an overpowering bourbon flavor like lighter beers tend to take on. The base beer has a bit of a syrupy caramel flavor and it works nicely with the bourbon.

Bourbon barrel aged strong ale.
Bourbon barrel aged strong ale.

Rough Draft is a nice place to hang out as well. It is one of the only breweries where they have couches and soft bar stools. The tasting room has a nice modern look to it and is usually at least half full. They also have a really nice lighter stout that my friends all love and a big hearty double IPA that I enjoy. They bottle most of the beers as well so you might find them in stores or pick up a bottle when you are at the brewery.

Couches are usually full but they were empty when I left.
Couches are usually full but they were empty when I left.

 

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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New English Brewing

It’s been a while since I was last at this brewery. A while ago they had four or five solid beers and an ESB that I really liked but I wasn’t excited enough to head back for a long time. Thanks to a friend suggesting I try them, I stopped in for a pint after an evening bike ride and got to try two amazing beers that were up there with the best San Diego has to offer.

New English Brewing
New English Brewing
New English Tap List 11/7/13
New English Tap List 11/7/13

I got to try a 12oz of the Zumbar chocolate coffee imperial stout on cask to start. It impressed me from the nose alone and then once I got to taste it, the coffee was mostly overtaken by the bitter chocolate flavors. It had a nice bitter chocolate flavor that came through even on cask but was very mellow. I’m looking forward to coming back to taste it on tap some other time.

Zumbar coffee chocolate imperial stout on cask.
Zumbar coffee chocolate imperial stout on cask.

If you have never tried a stout or porter on cask, you are in for a treat. Both styles of beer tend to have a nice mellow flavor but the cask really smooths everything, leaving you with a creamy flavor that you can’t re-create anywhere else.

After the imperial stout on cask I went straight for the west coast style IPA called Humbly Legit. And damn, this was a legit west coast IPA. Immediately the grapefruit from the Nelson hops just hit me and I liked it. The color was in the middle between the more malty IPAs and the really hop-forward like you see from Societe’s Apprentice and Intergalactic’s Perseus. You can barely taste the malts though, and it really comes at you with that heavy hops flavor.

Humbly Legit west coast style IPA.
Humbly Legit west coast style IPA.

If you expected to be disappointed by the English style ales here, you will not find anything to hate from the Humbly Legit and the Zumbar. I also remember really enjoying the ESB the last time I was here, although I didn’t give it a fresh taste this time around. The Troopes Tipple is an English style IPA so it has a lot lighter taste than you might expect in San Diego and almost tastes like drinking a lager. Still, it has a good flavor to it that impressed the friend I came here with. Hop heads should absolutely check out the Humbly Legit.

Do you have a favorite beer at New English Brewing? Share with me 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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Lightning Brewing

You may not have heard about this smaller brewery out in Poway. I didn’t visit them for a long time because they had some strange hours initially. Now that I have been there I realize why the hours are not like your ordinary tasting room. They don’t serve pints. You can only order tasters and then pick up bottles of beer to take home. I have no problem with this though because the beers I was able to taste this time were quite good. It isn’t very obvious from these pictures but there is really no bar to speak of and no areas to sit down. You might even wonder if you are in the right place at first because there are offices you pass on the way inside.

Lightning Brewery Taps.
Lightning Brewery Taps.

I biked over so I didn’t try very many tasters. I was quite impressed with the barrel aged red ale. It reminded me of a bourbon barrel aged scotch ale that Ballast Point made years ago and I have been craving more of ever since. The double IPA was nice and balanced without too much malt flavor that can sometimes destroy a good double. The electrostatic was a solid Belgian Trippel. If you don’t like Belgian beers stay far away. For me it was not too sweet and had a nice smooth taste that really masked the higher alcohol content. The porter was not on tap but they gave me a taste from the bottles. It had a wonderful thick flavor and fit nicely in between your ordinary porter and an imperial. The chocolate flavors were really nice.

Bottles on display.
Bottles on display.

As you can see they bottle most of their beers. You might be able to find them at your local liquor store or it might be worth the trip to the brewery to buy some direct. Hop heads should check out the Imperial IPA. If you know someone who loves chocolate in porter, this one is the perfect present to share.

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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Ballast Point Brewing

I’ve been visiting Ballast Point for quite a while now. IPA fans in San Diego don’t last long until they try Sculpin, what I consider one of the go-to IPAs. The Fathom India Pale Lager is also quite delicious. Today I had to visit the tasting room to try the fresh 2013 version of the Coffee Victory at Sea Imperial Porter. San Diego Beer Week was in full swing and the place was pretty crowded. I got to have a taster of the Victory at Sea 2013 as well as the Peppermint Victory at Sea on cask, the Habanero Sculpin, and the double Belgian IPA.

Ballast Point 01
Ballast Point Scripps Ranch

The coffee flavors really come through from the 2013 Victory at Sea. It is almost like drinking a shot of espresso. The peppermint version is thankfully not too overpowering on the mint and mellowed out by the cask. I bought a 22oz Victory at Sea 2013 before I left because the flavors really satisfied me. If you like the Sculpin but haven’t had the habanero version, it is an interesting beer experience. The beer is probably the hottest beer you’ll ever have but it has all the different flavors of habanero that you might expect. I don’t recommend having more than a taster though because it will really do a number on your stomach even if you are used to spicy. I had the double Belgian IPA with the habanero sculpin so I won’t try to review it at this time. I didn’t really get a good taste of it.

Ballast Point tasters.
Ballast Point tasters.

Sometime soon I hope to try the new Ballast Point restaurant down in Little Italy but until then I will enjoy bottles of Sculpin, Dorado, and Fathom at home.

 

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