Tag Archives: Belgian Beer

Bar Sin Nombre – New Bar Brings Beer Fans to Chula Vista for World Class Beer

San Diego has its share of world class breweries. There are certain names in the beer world where you know whatever beer you order from them will be excellently made. At Bar Sin Nombre the tap list features beers from these breweries on the regular. Belgian beers from a couple of breweries are regular highlights as well as Belgian inspired beers from within the US. You will always find a few select IPAs and stouts along with some excellent lagers. By keeping the number of IPAs on the board fairly small, they can rotate through IPAs to ensure that whatever you find is fresh.

This is just half of the beers that were available on tap on my most recent visit.

They post updated tap list regularly on Facebook so you can see ahead of time what to expect. There is also a great selection of beers in bottles and wines for those who don’t drink beer.

Each beer is served in specific pours ranging from 8oz to 18oz with glassware selected to leave plenty of room for head. Most of the Belgian-style beers and sours are served in 8oz tulip glasses. I am especially glad that the larger pints are served in Impeiral Pint glasses and not the usual shaker pint glasses that I am surprised are still used at major bars around town.

A Belgian beer poured into their lovely short glasses with plenty of room for head.

The bar draws massive crowds occasionally when they share on Facebook that they have a special Cantillon on tap or other excellent beer. I have visited both when it is insanely busy, where I missed the Cantillon but saw a number of my fellow beer enthusiasts and more recently on a lazy Saturday where the crowd was light but still quite respectable.

The outside front has no sign telling you where to go, as part of the nameless theme but you won’t have any difficulty finding the place. The inside decor is simple with standard bar stools and plenty of spaces to stand around the outer walls. If you come on a particularly busy day you may barely be able to walk through the place. Though it only opened in Mid-November 2017, Bar Sin Nombre has already become a regular spot for local beer enthusiasts to visit, knowing that they will always find world class beer and meet people who appreciate the same.

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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Northern Idaho Breweries, Selkirk Abbey, Post Falls Brewing, Daft Badger, Slate Creek, and Mad Bomber

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Selkirk has been brewing Belgian style ales in their location in Post Falls since 2011 though I hadn’t even heard about them when I was in the area a few years back. Now that I have visited, I’m not that surprised that they aren’t insanely hyped up. The beers don’t taste like any of the Belgian brews I have had in the past either from Belgium or American brewers. I did quite enjoy their Belgian IPA though.

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The Deacon Belgian style pale ale was smooth and malty with lots of fruit and mild spice and some bready malts. While it was a solid beer I found it to be far too heavy on the malts for my tastes. The St. Stephen saison was similarly malty and the first amber saison I have had (besides Biere de Garde style beers). It was quite thick with tons of fruit and very sweet. Again, I found this one to be a bit too malty for the style. The black saison was tasty with a dry finish and some nice mix of coffee, plum, and mild smoke notes.

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The Guilt, coffee porter, was very mild in the coffee department and dominated by dark fruit and overripe fruit on the finish. Though I wasn’t a fan of the beer on tap I did buy some bottles of the wine barrel aged version because it seems like it should be more to my tastes. The wine barrel version was absolutely phenomenal and I’m glad I bought two bottles to take home.

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The huckleberry wheat ale was smooth and not too sweet with just the right amount of berry taste in the finish. The Belgian IPA was quite different than any other I have had yet quite delicious. It is also malty but more balanced than the others with some nice citrus and grapefruit hops to balance the bread and fruit malt notes. The beer has a nice dank finish. I also got a bottle of Imperial Quad that I opened some time later at home and I was quite impressed with that one as well.

If you come in expecting dry, effervescent Belgian style beers like most are used to, you will be disappointed. However, if you are interested in exploring a more malt-forward style of Belgian beer and are in the area it might be worth stopping by Selkirk to see if they have some bottles of their barrel aged beers.

Slate Creek Brewing

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I stopped very briefly at Slate Creek because they had run out of the beer my Uncle recommended them most for, the black IPA. The three beers I tried were all well-brewed though fairly standard to style. The Nose Nectar pale ale was fairly standard fruity and dry pale ale. The IPA is a fairly standard old-school North West IPA with a good balance and prominent pine hops. The stout was tasty with notes of chocolate and a smoky finish.

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Though we went back to Spokane area after Slate Creek, I decided to group the Northern Idaho breweries in one post so next up is Post Falls Brewing.

Post Falls Brewing

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We went to Post Falls Brewing before lunch so I didn’t hit any of their beers too hard. I feel bad for the other breweries that we stopped here first because other breweries couldn’t compete with their fantastic IPAs. The MacGuyver IPA was balanced but bursting with tons of citrus hops. This is the first time I have had mosaic hops showcased on a beer that is so malty but done well enough that I really enjoyed it.

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The Double IPA was fairly malty as well but had a nice balance of mild booze kick and tons of melon flavor from the hops with a nice bitter finish. There were other IPAs on tap as well which are worth trying depending on your hop preference. I skipped a few that were listed with hops I don’t normally care for.

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The milk stout was quite nice with tons of roast and marshmallow notes. The imperial stout was a bit too bitter and smoky for me. It was also dominated by lots of dark fruit malts with a dry finish. I didn’t finish this one. The coffee pale was smooth and had nice mellow coffee. A solid beer. I was quite impressed with the IPAs at Post Falls Brewing and would certainly return if I end up in the area again.

Known For:
Come for the IPAs. They are nicely balanced and avoid being malt bombs.

Daft Badger Brewing

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This is one of those breweries that I hesitate to post about because it is hard to believe that so many of the beers served were as difficult to finish as the ones I was served. It was quite the popular place with tons of people eating their house BBQ but almost everything on my flight was a mess in one way or another.

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The Summer’s Envy, touted as a citra hop beer was completely lacking in aroma and was pure malt and bitterness. The double IPA was a malt bomb with a strong boozy kick and very mild notes of dankness and fruits. The imperial stout was intensely dark fruit and boozy on the finish. Huckleberry beer was fairly average with some berry notes that were a little on the syrup side. The scotch ale was almost to average but again it was far too much dark fruit and not enough roast.

Mad Bomber

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Despite hearing average things from my uncle before visiting, I had to go to Mad Bomber because of their logo and slogan “Make Beers not Bombs.” I was surprised by a lineup of some of the most restrained hoppy beers i have tasted, all of which were quite well made.

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The blonde was clean and crisp and mildly fruity. The pale ale was nice and balanced with tons of grass and pine and a very mild bitterness. The stout was bitter with molasses and roast, and a nice overall balance. The Fatman IPA was fruity with tons of peach notes from the hops and nicely balanced and smooth.

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Classified black IPA was tasty with tons of roast, some smoke, and mild bitterness. The XM20X was a bit more fruity and the most bitter of the bunch with nice fruity hops. I remarked to the bartender that this is the least aggressive hop character I have encountered from a brewery in quite some time. It is refreshing to taste such delicate hop flavors without being knocked over the head with bitterness. The only disappointing thing was that they didn’t have any shirts saying “Make beer not bombs.”

Come for:
Excellently balanced IPAs that are restrained on bitterness and overall clean beers.

Out of the four breweries in the area, I would recommend you visit Post Falls Brewing and Mad Bomber. They are both excellent breweries and plenty to satisfy you if you happen to be in the area visiting friends and family.

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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The Bruery Revisited

Back when I first visited The Bruery I indicated that they made some solid sours but didn’t try any of them. At that time I wasn’t interested in sours and wouldn’t have tried them if you paid me. Now that I have grown to appreciate sour and brett beers I stopped by The Bruery recently when I was in town and got to try some of their new offerings. For a look at some of the core beers and my general overview you can check out my original post.

For this visit I made sure to try as many of the specialty beers as I could. For my taster flight I tried the Golden Orchard Belgian with Brett, Sour in the Rye, Tripel Tonnellerie, So Happens It’s Tuesday bourbon barrel aged imperial stout, and Floyd D’Rue, a rum barrel aged imperial porter.

Flight of tasters.
Flight of tasters.

The Golden Orchard immediately grabbed me with the delicious sweet and fruity flavors mixing tropical fruit with the Belgian spice. I picked up a bottle of this when I left because I was so impressed. The brett yeast added almost zero funk and instead enhanced the delicious fruity flavors. Next came the Sour in the Rye, an oak aged sour rye ale. I really enjoyed the combination of mild tart with dark fruit and caramel. Everything was mellowed out nicely by the oak barrel. This one is also available in bottles, though they were a bit more expensive than I wanted to spend. The price is pretty typical for sours though.

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Next came the Tripel Tonnellerie, an oak fermented Belgian Tripel. This was a tasty tripel with nice mild caramel flavors coming from the oak. If they hadn’t had the next beer on tap I might have ordered more of this. I was glad to see So Happens It’s Tuesday on tap, a popular bourbon barrel aged imperial stout. Bottles of this beer are limited to reserve club members so other than trading or going to a bottle share this is the only way to taste it. The beer was thick and sweet with caramel flavors and sweet bourbon. It was so delicious that I barely got a taste before my husband finished the 2oz taster. We ended up ordering a 10 ounce pour of it to share before leaving and savored every drop. Thankfully my husband didn’t have much to drink and could drive me after that powerful beer.

Enjoying some So Happens It's Tuesday.
Enjoying some So Happens It’s Tuesday.

This visit ended with the Floyd D’Rue, a rum barrel aged porter coming in at an impressive 14.7%. With a beer this strong I wasn’t surprised that it was pretty boozy. The flavors of various spices from the spiced rum barrel dominated, especially cinnamon and cloves. Compared to the previous beer I wasn’t very interested in ordering more but I did enjoy experiencing something aged in rum barrels.

The tasting room was packed as expected!
The tasting room was packed as expected!

There were a few other tarts available on tap that I tried a few days later but I didn’t end up taking notes. I do remember really enjoying the flavors of the Oude Tart (2013) flanders red ale and the Rueuze (2014) Gueuze. Both of these were available as a special for Earth Day with some of the proceeds from each sale going to various charities. Visiting The Bruery ready to enjoy the beers they are known for leads to a much more enjoyable experience, though it still tends to be so crowded in the evenings on the weekend that you have a hard time finding a place to set your taster flight.

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 Cellar 3 Offers a Wide Range of Barrel Aged Beers

Disclaimer: My brother recently got hired as a beer-tender at the new Green Flash Cellar 3 location so I got to taste the beers listed below during the friends and family preview day at which they did not charge us for the beers.

Cellar 3 is a new tasting room Green Flash opened in Poway (just a few blocks away from Lightning Brewing) where the majority of the beers on tap are barrel aged in some way or enhanced with the addition of fruit and/or brett yeast. They just had their grand opening on May 16, 2015. The indoor location has a very nice modern feel with various artwork on display and plenty of open space and barrels to rest your beers on. You can see many barrels in the background where beers are aging away. There is also an outdoor seating area where you can sip your beers outside or order food from the house food truck. Food available from the house truck here is slightly different from the food available at the main tasting room.

View of the bar from a distance.
View of the bar from a distance.

If you aren’t interested in the sours on tap (which make up a majority of the barrel aged beers) there are still some taps with core beers. Because I tasted a total of sixteen new beers (though one or two were available when they released Silva Stout at the tasting room earlier this year) I won’t go into the specific tasting notes of every single beer. Instead, I will focus on describing some of the more interesting beers they had available and some of the beers that I found most delicious.

One set of beers available that I found interesting was the Natura Morta flavors of mildly tart fruity beers. For the opening they had available a plum, strawberry, blueberry, and cranberry version of Natura Morta. I found the cranberry and blueberry versions a bit off with a wet blanket flavor that overpowered the fruit. Of all of these I enjoyed the strawberry the most because it had a nice sweetness that mixed well with the mild tart flavors. This was distinctly different in flavor from the strawberry beers that I had previously at Toolbox and Intergalactic, which both shared a more cloying sweet flavor. The flavor of the plum was not distinct enough to excite me.

First three flavors of Natura Morta that I tried. Plum, blueberry, and strawberry.
First three flavors of Natura Morta that I tried. Plum, blueberry, and strawberry.

I was also glad to see the Flanders Drive flanders red return along with a cherry version. The version available during the opening was more on the sweet side but had a nice mix between the malts and the bourbon flavor from the barrel aging. I was not as much of a fan of the cherry because I thought that it clashed a bit too much with the bourbon barrel flavors. The Flanders Drive was one of my favorites of the new beers.

Flanders Drive and Flanders Drive with Cherry.
Flanders Drive and Flanders Drive with Cherry.

If you had Super Freak before they are now calling it Le Freak Barrique. This wine barrel aged beer with brett yeast added is a nice addition to the lineup though previous versions were much more tart. Those looking for something tart will enjoy the black currant version, which was quite tart, surpassed in tartness only by the Blanc Tarte, a unique sour blonde ale with a delicious balance of sweet and tart, and probably my favorite of the whole lineup.

 

Also available was a white IPA aged in Chardonnay barrels that was very much like drinking a glass of wine. I was surprised that this one was not tart at all compared to an intensely tart similar beer that was available at the main tasting room a few years back briefly.  They also had available red wine barrel aged dark ale that was both quite smoky and mildly tart, an interesting flavor combination.

Chardonnay aged IPA (right) and Red Wine aged Black Ale (left)
Chardonnay aged IPA (right) and Red Wine aged Black Ale (left)

There was also an interesting new Belgian Trippel with Brett yeast that was delicious and sweet on its own and served in a red wine barrel aged and bourbon barrel aged version. The red wine aged version was mildly tart and still quite rich. The bourbon barrel version was quite sweet, almost caramel-forward and very nice as well.

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For those not interested in sours or Belgians they also had the Silva Stout on tap and available with plenty of bottles. This blended barrel aged imperial stout is quite delicious on its own and they had a fresh batch of the extra strong coffee added version that packs a whopping 13%.

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Cellar 3 will also eventually see the return of the Rayon Vert with brett yeast and from the bottles on the wall we should see a bottle release of the Le Freak Barrique and Flanders Drive in the future. Though it is quite a bit out of the way and not particularly easy to reach during weekday rush hour traffic I expect it will become a regular for those in San Diego who crave sours or have come to love the wild yeast 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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Monkish Brewing Company – Orange County CA

Monkish was my second stop in the Torrance area. After visiting Smog City I felt a craving for something different. I quite enjoyed the Belgian style beers at Monkish that offered plenty of heavy carbonation as comes with the styles. Rather than giving you all four beers in the flight at the same time, Monkish gives you a glass and some tokens so that you give them a new token each time you are ready for the next beer. This way people can enjoy the beers in a proper glass and focus on them one at a time. In the flight I tasted the Sepia Belgian brown, Brown Habit brown farmhouse, Anomaly dark Belgian and Funky Habit brown saison with brett. I returned the next day and had a taste of the Hem & Haw wild ale also with brett.

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From the first sip of the Sepia I was hooked. It had plenty of delicious Belgian spice mixed nicely with the roasted malts flavors and a little bit of bitter chocolate. After the Sepia I went for the Brown Habit which was poured from a bottle. It had a very smooth finish and a nice dark fruit flavor that mixed nicely with a little bit of caramel flavor. Adding in the mild sweetness I thought this was perfectly balanced. I ended up taking home a growler of the Sepia and two bottles of the Brown Habit when I stopped by the next day on my way home.

Tap list when I visited.
Tap list when I visited.

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The Anomaly dark Belgian had a nice dark fruit flavor with a light coffee flavor. The heavy spice and carbonation were good but it did not live up to the other beers in the list. I ended with the Funky Habit, a brett version of a brown saison. It had a nice flavor of stone fruit and a light amount of tartness. This was also quite good.

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I would have liked to have tried more beers while at Monkish but with one more brewery to go for the day I didn’t want to overdo it. I did have a taste of the Hem & Haw dark saison with brett yeast when I returned for some bottles on my way home. It had an interesting light smoke that combined with some roasted malts and dark fruits. However, the beer was quite light in body and didn’t have the full flavor that I got from the other beers I tried the previous day.

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In all I was very impressed by the beers I was able to taste at Monkish especially the Sepia and Brown Habit. I hope to return the next time I am in the area to have a taste of some of their other many offerings. Monkish has a very nice tasting room with plenty of places to sit. This was the first time I encountered sacks of grain used as chairs. Monkish is close enough to Smog City that you can easily walk between the two. Check back next week for my coverage of the grand opening of Phantom Carriage featuring some delicious dark sours.

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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