Tag Archives: Black IPA

Hop Nuts Brewing Company – Las Vegas

I only visited one brewery while I was in Vegas and it turned out I was quite glad I did. Hop Nuts is located a little bit further north of the far end of the strip so if you are staying in one of the fancy hotels on the strip you will probably have to take a taxi or Uber there and back. Thankfully we had rented a car while we were in Vegas so we were able to stop by Hop Nuts without much difficulty. The sign outside doesn’t stand out very well so even though we parked almost right in front of it we didn’t even realize it. Once you are inside you will find a fairly typical dive bar setup, dark lighting and long bar offering mixed drinks and wine besides the house beers and a few guest beers as well. They offer flights of 5 six ounce tasters, which gave me a good chance to taste a few of their beers.

Hop Nuts 01

I tasted their single hop pale, IPA, Double IPA, Black IPA (called a CDA), and Imperial Stout. The single hop pale was super fresh, had only been tapped a few days ago, and was bursting with juicy hop flavors without much bitterness. This beer was super smooth and went down easy, a great session beer. The IPA was super delicious resin and juicy hop forward beer bursting with hop aromas. It was a lot better than what a lot of smaller San Diego breweries make early on. The double IPA was so different that at first I had a hard time identifying the flavors, but I liked what I tasted. The double was a bit stronger and also thicker and more sticky. It had a great mix of lemon, grapefruit, mango, tangerine, and passionfruit all blending together in the most interesting tropical double IPA I’ve had. I would have wanted to stay longer to get some more of this delicious beer.

Hop Nuts 02

The black IPA was quite tasty with a good mix of smoky malts and citrus hop kick. Fans of both stouts and IPAs would love the mix of flavors presented. I ended with the Imperial Stout, a thick and sweet beer with a good mix of roasted malts and caramel with a creamy finish. Overall I was quite impressed by the five beers I tasted as it was probably one of the best lineups of tasters for such a young brewery I had never heard about. They had a few other options I didn’t try mostly because the flight is almost 2 pints worth and a lot of them were stronger. If you are tired of the fancy bars on the strip and want to venture out, it is worth the trip to Hop Nuts where you will find a great lineup of beers. You could also take a growler from there back with you to your hotel for some real fun.

Hop Nuts 03

Top 2:
IPA
Double IPA

Update – October 2017

In the year and a half since I visited Hop Nuts, they have continued to brew solid IPAs. I stopped by for a few pints while I was in Vegas and really enjoyed their fresh hop IPA with citra hops and their new hazy IPA. The wet hop IPA was sticky with tons of citrus notes and a mild bitter finish. The hazy IPA had notes of tropical fruit, tangerine, and candied fruit over a thick hazy body with mild hop acidity.

Wet hop IPA
Updated beer list October 2017.
Hazy IPA

I also tried a few of their stouts. The espresso imperial stout on nitro was creamy and sweet with intense coffee and mild roast behind it. It was crazy drinkable for 9% alcohol. The bourbon barrel aged imperial stout was thick with notes of fudge and a mild bourbon flavor. In short, their IPAs are still worth coming by to drink and their stouts are quite good as well. They also now have cans available to go so you can bring some cans back to your hotel if staying on the strip.

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 serving clients in San Diego California.

More Posts

Follow Me:
TwitterPinterestGoogle Plus

Artifex Brewing – San Clemente CA

Artifex is not a brewery I expect a lot of people in San Diego will visit with the same regularity as others simply because of the long distance to get out there. A good 30 minute drive north of Bagby Brewing, it is best visited on your way north to LA or on your way south. In this visit I happened to drive up to Orange County unexpectedly and was able to drive past Artifex on my way south for a few tasters. They have a typical tasting room that is a mile or so from the freeway and easy to find. They also fill blank growlers if you happen to have one with you. When I visited I tasted the Brown Ale, Milk Stout, pale ale, AHAB IPA, Coconut Black IPA, No Name IPA, and Double IPA.

Artifex Brewing 01

The brown ale was a nice medium brown in color almost dark amber and had mild flavors of caramel and English hops. The overall beer was quite tasty and easy to drink. The milk stout had a mild smoky flavor and a sticky aftertaste. The lactose was used sparingly so it did not have an intense sweetness that is typical with the style. It is a solid and tasty stout. The pale ale has a nice golden color and mixes tropical fruit and citrus with a medium bitter kick. The pale is a good example of the newer style of pale and will satisfy hop heads.

First set of tasters.
First set of tasters.

The AHAB IPA is their most popular offering and it had a nice combination of herbal and fruity hops. The beer is nice and light on the malts in the West Coast style. The Black IPA with coconut was quite delicious with an intense coconut flavor that mixes nicely with citrus hops without giving it too much bitterness. When I dropped by later for a growler of the same beer, the coconut had faded a little, leaving a more balanced mix of flavors, with the hops coming through a little more. This is still a beer primarily for hop heads.

Last two tasters.
Last two tasters.

The No Name IPA had a nice intense citrus hop flavor and light malt bill. This is a seriously tasty IPA with a nice light pine and citrus hop kick while not being too bitter. There was a hint of garlic on the aftertaste but nothing that took away from my enjoyment. Finally, the double IPA was quite thick, resiny, and slightly boozy. It is a good thick beer and one you would not down very fast. The boozy kick at the back was a little much for me but it is a solid double.

Artifex Brewing 02

For a brewery that had their first anniversary in August of 2015, Artifex is brewing some delicious beers. It helps that the brewers used to brew for Pizza Port, a place well known for their delicious IPAs. For now the owners are often seen around the brewery and you will encounter a number of locals who probably come by regularly. They have food trucks most days though I happened to drop by the one day of the week when they didn’t have one. If you need a place to stop on your way through San Clemente, you should absolutely stop by Artifex.

Top 3:
Black IPA with Coconut
AHAB IPA
No Name 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 serving clients in San Diego California.

More Posts

Follow Me:
TwitterPinterestGoogle Plus

Barrel Harbor Brewing – Vista CA

For a brewery that has been open for less than 2 years, Barrel Harbor is not doing much to distinguish themselves in a crowded market. These days brewing a good IPA is simply expected. I stopped by this past weekend and tried the brown ale, porter, Nugget IPA, black IPA, and double IPA. From all of these the single hop Nugget IPA was probably the most impressive. They were out of their regular IPA at the time.

Barrel Harbor 01

 

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

The brown ale was typical of the style, smooth and flavorful yet not really standing out. The porter was available on nitro and was good and creamy with mild roasted flavors. The Nugget IPA, single hop IPA with the nugget hops, was the best of the bunch. It had a nice golden flavor while being very smooth and fruity. The hops were noticeably fresh and it jumped out at me. I would guess that these are the same hops used in Abita’s Wrought Iron IPA that I love so much.

My flight of beers with an extra for the double IPA.
My flight of beers with an extra for the double IPA.

The black IPA was interesting because it was pretty mellow and low in bitterness for a black IPA. The hops tasted pretty similar to the nugget, though I was told it is brewed with simcoe. The hops blended nicely with the roast, making it a solid beer. Finally, the double IPA was strongly bitter and had a bit of a soapy taste that combined with a cloying sweetness. I wasn’t able to get myself to finish the double IPA taster.

Barrel Harbor 03

Barrel Harbor 04

I first tasted an IPA from Barrel Harbor on tap at a bar in Rancho Bernardo. They certainly know how to brew a good IPA but in this market you need to do more than that to stick out, especially up in the “Hop Highway” region, off the 78 freeway. They do have a nice pirate/nautical theme going that makes their tasting room an interesting place to visit. If you do drive up to visit Barrel Harbor make sure you visit one of the other breweries in the area as well. They are very close to Booze Brothers, which will be the subject of my post next week.

Top 2:
Nugget IPA
Black 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 serving clients in San Diego California.

More Posts

Follow Me:
TwitterPinterestGoogle Plus

Culture Brewing Company – Solana Beach

The day after I visited Toolbox for the first time I stopped by Culture Brewing to see what they had available. Though there were a number of lovely specialty offerings available because they had an anniversary party the¬†preceding¬†two days I tried a few of their core beers as well because to me solid core beers are the most important to a brewery’s long term success. Sadly, the Mosaic IPA was out so I tasted a specialty version instead.

Culture Brewing 01

While I was there, I tried the Keyhole IPA, milk stout, brown, black IPA, coffee IPA, oaked saison, and triple IPA. Starting with the keyhole I thought it was a solid grapefruit/citrus IPA but it didn’t really blow me away or make me want to order a pint. Next came the black IPA, which I thought was too bitter for the malts. Mostly I got a ton of pine flavors from the hops but couldn’t taste much roasted malts or other flavors that I expect in the style.

My first flight. Yes, no taster glasses yet, but I'm not complaining.
My first flight. Yes, no taster glasses yet, but I’m not complaining.

The brown ale was an easy drinking beer with a nice light roast flavor and good caramel flavor. The light body makes this one you would want a few pints of. Then the milk stout was interesting because it had a light mint flavor that I wasn’t expecting. The mint combined nicely with the roast flavors that reminded me of coffee and the sweetness was not overpowering either.

Second flight.
Second flight.

Then I moved on to the coffee IPA on nitro made with coffee beans. It really had a strong coffee taste to it that reminded me of a fairly bitter cup of black coffee. This is one for the coffee drinkers for sure, and not those who feel the need to add sugar. The Oaked Saison was my favorite of the bunch, offering a delicious spice and mild pepper that was mellowed out by the oak. Later I learned that this batch was mixed with some of the regular saison to reduce the barrel aged flavors that were quite strong at first. I ended up having a bigger pour of this later and quite enjoyed sipping it.

Culture Brewing 02

Finally, I ended with the triple IPA, a sweet beer that had plenty of delicious tropical fruit, mango, and citrus flavors and wasn’t overly boozy despite a strong 11% alcohol. If I didn’t have to drive back I might have gotten a larger pour of this one instead.

My half pour of the oaked saison for more delicious beer.
My half pour of the oaked saison for more delicious beer.

Culture also had fairly loud music playing through a pair of studio monitors on the ceiling. It made it difficult to order a beer because the bartender couldn’t hear orders the first time. Also, being close to the beach be prepared for some cool sea breeze that might come in through various open doors and windows. They also have food trucks occasionally parked in the back where there is an enclosed outdoor area.

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 serving clients in San Diego California.

More Posts

Follow Me:
TwitterPinterestGoogle Plus

Beer Roundup Round 2 – Beer Bloggers’ Conference 2014

I’ve written elsewhere about the general experience of visiting the Beer Bloggers’ Conference (BBC) and may go into more detail later about certain aspects of the conference. But I know one thing that many of my readers want to know is, did I try any interesting beers while I was there? The answer is a resounding yes, thanks to many breweries bringing a solid lineup of beers. Though this is not anywhere near all the beers I got to try at the conference, after a certain point your palate becomes shot to the point that you are not going to be able to pick out individual flavors.

Belching Beaver – Rabid Beaver Rye IPA
Rabid Beaver is so light in color that you might wonder where the rye is. The beer has a strong citrus hop flavor at the front with some spicy rye in the background. This one reminded me of the Helm’s Brewing Company Wicked as Sin Rye IPA. Though Wicked as Sin is a bit darker, they both have a nice blend of hop and rye.

Goose Island Licorice Stout
I really enjoyed this beer for the same reason that many licorice fans will probably hate it. You can’t really taste the licorice. As a stout, the beer was very smooth and I found the licorice mostly in the background behind more prominent plum malt flavors.

BBC14 03

New English Brewing – Humbly Legit IPA
I’ve written about this one before but it helps to revisit a beer occasionally. Compared to the Rabid Beaver, this one was certainly much more dry and bitter. A very enjoyable IPA.

Hess Solis Occasus IPA
I don’t remember being a fan of this the last time but it always helps to give a beer another try. Served in a can, the Hess IPA poured a nice light color and had plenty of pine hop flavor and a strong bitterness. The interesting thing about the Solis Occasus IPA is that the brewery is very open about changing the recipe for each batch as a way of experimenting with different varieties of hops. This is all the more reason that you should keep trying the Solis Occasus even if you don’t like it the first time.

Firestone Walker Wookey Jack Black Rye IPA
A black IPA is another way of saying you added hops to a stout. In this case, the Wookey Jack is solidly smoky and has some caramel malt flavors that balance well with some spicy rye. Everything is balanced out nicely by the addition of the hops, which I couldn’t really taste, but gave it a solid level of bitterness.

BBC14 02

Firestone Walker Double DBA
More recently, Firestone Walker has been releasing a number of special barrel-aged beers. I reviewed an earlier beer in this lineup called Stickee Monkee. The Double DBA starts with a double version of the double barrel ale and includes aging in oak barrels and later a year in a bourbon barrel. I really loved the caramel malt flavors and the boozy bourbon I tasted. The sweet flavors combined and reminded me of roasted coconut. This one was even more impressive than Stickee Monkee.

Have you tried any of these beers listed here? If so, what do you think? 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 serving clients in San Diego California.

More Posts

Follow Me:
TwitterPinterestGoogle Plus