Tag Archives: Craft Beer

Tired Hands Brewing Company – Ardmore Pennsylvania

Tired Hands is located in Ardmore, a 30 minute drive or 1 hour public transit stop from Philadelphia. I opted to stay in the area to make it easier and I’m glad I did because I had to leave during one of my visits to take care of some work for a client for a few hours before going back. Being a short drive away made things easy. They have two locations very close to each other, the brewery and the Fermentaria (their version of a brewpub but with more fancy food). I stopped by the brewery the first night and had a couple of beers though I had the most variety at the Fermentaria as well as eating lunch. Both locations are quite loud both with the noise of people talking and the music played in the background.

 

I started in the evening at the brewery with their cask ESB, done old school with a smooth light body and notes of caramel malts. It was even smoother thanks to being served on cask. I also tried their wacky Birthday Cake Double Milkshake, a hazy double IPA with huge amounts of adjuncts, including chocolate, vanilla, and the addition of an actual cake. They take advantage of the super soft creamy mouthfeel of their double IPAs and it works fairly well in the same way as other breweries serve white stouts with lactose and coffee. It is a super popular style but I didn’t personally care for it and I am a bit surprised I ordered a full 10 ounce pour after tasting it.

I started trying other beers at the Fermentaria the following day. Their Hop Hands, the flagship hazy pale ale, was fairly thin with notes of citrus, grass, and pine, though a bit too bitter for the style. Their other flagship, Saison Hands, was delicious, a classic saison with notes of citrus and spice with a dry finish. It paired quite nicely with the Veggie Banh Mi and the hot peppers. I was so impressed by this that I later ordered a few other farmhouse ales they had. My husband ordered the Coffee Only Voyd, imperial stout with coffee, which was thick and smooth with tons of roasty coffee as you would expect from the style.

The Oat Tao, oat saison aged in barrels, had a funky barnyard nose and a soft and chewy mouthfeel. It was delightfully complex with earthy notes, mild citrus, and some green-apple lambic character. It reminded me of something similar from Hill Farmstead. I enjoyed it so much that I ordered a pint when I finished, though many others who visited around the same time thought it was their least-favorite.

The So It Goes red sour ale was quite funky with notes of caramel, cherry malt character, and a mild tart bite. I quite enjoyed this one I think in part to the hgher alcohol which gave it an increased sweetness that kept it from being one-note. The Tongue Extinguisher hazy DIPA was soft and pillowy with tons of pineapple and grapefruit hop flavor. It had minimal bitterness, hop acidity, or alcohol bite. It was like drinking Monkish fresh from the source, and immediately I understood where all the hype for them comes from.

If you go out to Tired Hands, I recommend planning to stay in Ardmore if you can. I loved he quiet area without the insane traffic of Philadelphia and one could easily spend days trying everything they have to offer. Since they price things to encourage ordering larger pours, I suggest trying a splash of a couple of beers to ensure you enjoy what you order. Not only was the beer a highlight of my trip but I can see myself returning to the area again to enjoy the slow, quiet feel of the surrounding town. I highly recommend the Fermentaria not just for beer but for their high quality food with plenty of vegetarian options to go with it. Just bring your ear plugs if you prefer a quiet brewery experience.

Top 3:
Tongue Extinguisher DIPA
Saison Hands
Oat Tao Saison

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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Novo Brazil Brewing Company – Chula Vista San Diego

I only made it down to Novo Brazil because I came back from a flight into Tijuana airport and was on my way north. To get there you have to take quite the drive as they are not just far south but also far east. Still, they are a great addition to the southern San Diego beer scene. I tried 8 beers when I visited and most of them were quite good.

The Chula Pils was fruity and crisp with a nice clean finish. A tasty hoppy pilsner. The berliner was a pilot batch so I wasn’t expecting much. It needs some work, lacks in complexity and has a mild tart finish. The Otay IPA was good and balanced in the classic West Coast style, resinous and fruity with some mild citrus kick. The beer was neither too malty or too bitter.

The Samba Haze was delightful, soft and fruity while not particularly bitter. Most lighter alcohol hazy beers don’t do much for me but I could have enjoyed many pints of this one. The Ipanema double IPA was solid. It hid the alcohol well though it had a bit of a sweet finish it lacked the strong alcohol bite or bitterness that often comes with this style.

The wine aged brett beer was solid for the style even if it could have dialed down the sweet aftertaste. It largely hit the notes I expect for the style. The Corvo Negro is a fantastic imperial stout with tons of coffee, no noticeable alcohol, and a smooth mouthfeel. The bourbon barrel aged version though, not so much. It seemed overly sweet with tons of molasses and didn’t taste like bourbon at all.

Overall Novo Brazil was an impressive spot with only a couple misses from what I tried. The two best were quite good and stand up to other local versions of the same style.

Top 2:
Samba Haze hazy pale ale
Corvo Negro Imperial Stout

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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Pariah Brewing Company – North Park San Diego

Pariah opened up in North Park in between San Diego Brewing Company and Eppig brewing in a space designed for easy opening of a brewery. Pariah’s head brewer used to brew for Helms before he left to do his own thing. I stopped by for a few tasters to see what they are brewing. I had 4 tasters and overall they are off to a good start. They have a nice open tasting room that kept cool even on a hot day like when I visited.

The Mayor and Monk is a hoppy saison described on the board as a hoppy version of an abbey-inspired ale. The beer had plenty of ester character without being too sweet and featured some fruity malts and lightly floral hops. This was one of the best beers I tasted there. The Indie or Bust IPA, made in the style of the 11-Barrel IPA some other local breweries made to highlight independent breweries, was good and balanced amount of malts with fruity hops, medium bitterness, and some mild pine and resin.

My previous post had indicated Clearly Juicy was a malt bomb incorrectly. Though that was what my notes indicated from that time I decided to come back to give it a second try. Clearly Juicy is still not a juicy IPA but it is a solid west-coast style double IPA. The beer has a low malt base and notes of grape, resin, and pine with a sticky bitter finish.  It is a little sweet because of the higher alcohol.

The Dank Drank was resinous and classic west-coast style IPA. Resinous and mild notes of onion and red grape. It has a solid medium bitterness. The Dorcha stout had a nice mix of caramel and roast on the nose. On the taste it mixed nicely with burnt caramel, coffee, and toffee. This was nicely done and to-style.

I was a bit disappointed that they didn’t have any sort of discount on the price of tasters for buying 2 or for buying 4 like you usually see. With a name like Pariah it is not surprising that they buck the local IPA trends for a more classic west-coast style approach. All 3 IPAs were either classic west coast to nicely balanced. Pariah has some solid beers and is a worthwhile stop for people living in the area. They don’t offer anything that stands out from the sea of other local breweries unless a stout brewed with umi is your thing.

Top 2:
Mayor and Monk
Dorcha Stout

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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Maui Brewing Company – Maui Hawaii

It is becoming standard to suggest that going to the source to visit the brewery makes a difference. This difference is most obvious when you try Maui Brewing beers in Maui and compare them to how they taste in the mainland. Their Big Swell IPA is a standard West Coast style IPA inspired by the San Diego breweries but on the mainland you wouldn’t know it. I visited two locations, their brewpub out by Kahana and their main brewery location in Kihei. The beers were mostly the same but the atmosphere was drastically different in the two locations.
I did a small flight while I was at the brewpub and then had mostly full pours at the tasting room based on what I already tried. The saison was crisp and fruity with a dry finish, nicely done. The Big Swell IPA was an excellent classic West Coast style IPA with mild bitterness, citrus, tropical fruit, and pine. It was so much better than what I had on the mainland it was hard to believe it was the same beer. The pueo pale ale was a bit more malty than the Big Swell and more bitter. Though to style, I didn’t care for it.
At the brewery I had a couple of full pours of both the Vienna Lager and Pilsner they had on. The Vienna Lager was crisp and clean with a mild malt character. The Pilsner was also quite excellent. The Imperial Coconut Porter was a fantastic coconut bomb while I was at the brewpub where they served it on nitro. At the brewery it was enjoyable but a little more mellow on the coconut, but still a great beer. The Mosaic Double IPA was good but a bit bitter and sticky with not enough fruit notes from the mosaic itself.
Overall, every beer I had at Maui Brewing was well done and tasting great close to the source. If you are taking a trip to Maui and like a good San Diego style IPA, the Maui Big Swell should satisfy you as long as you get it fresh. The tasting room was a bit more quiet with more open space and food trucks than the brewpub though they are far enough apart that it is more likely your decision on which one to visit would come down to what happens to be closer to you.
Top 2:
Big Swell IPA
Imperial Coconut Porter

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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Toolbox Brewing adds more variety of beer

When Toolbox first opened they had a variety of beers available including a milk stout, a pale ale, an IPA, and their various sours, kettle and barrel aged. At the time, the idea of eventually having an all brett brewery (brett stands for a form of wild yeast that is common in sours and wild ales) seemed extreme. I still think so, even though now I have gotten more familiar with the style of beer. Though I and many beer drinkers enjoy a good sour, there are still people who want a stout or IPA and who may visit Toolbox with their friends who enjoy sours. Now, some time later, they have brought back the traditional styles along with a line of North East style hazy IPAs, a sweet stout, and a barrel aged imperial stout.

This is a subtle shift because they still have their numerous core kettle sours and various barrel-aged sours. The change in the menu should help them attract a wider audience and over time convert more people to the delicious sour beer side as well. In my visit I tried a few of their new offerings and overall they were quite impressive. In total I tried their wild lager, hazy IPA, sweet stout, barrel aged stout, and hazy double IPA.

The wild lager had delicious fruity notes that blended nicely with earthy funk in the background. It was a crisp, clean, lager that I would enjoy having more of. The hazy IPA was soft and full of aromas while not too bitter. I enjoyed it though the galaxy hops came through with a lot more herbal notes than I expected, which I don’t particularly care for. The sweet stout was sweet with a thin body that presented just the right amount of chocolate and vanilla while finishing with a mild lactose sweetness.

The bourbon-barrel-aged imperial stout was sticky and thick with a fantastic balance of fudge, caramel, mild salt, and subtle bourbon. I was quite impressed for their first release of the style. The double IPA was hazy and started off with intense fruit and a mild acidic finish though I got some of the same herbal notes as I did from the single IPA that pushed me off. It had a properly thick mouth-feel and is well on the way to joining other local hazy offerings.

Toolbox succeeded in adding to their already impressive lineup of beers with their solid hazy IPAs and stouts to push them further past other Vista breweries in quality. They will go nicely along with Burgeon to bring hazy beers to the 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 focusing on serving the San Diego LGBT community.

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Scofflaw Brewing Company – Atlanta Georgia

My trip to Georgia was mainly to visit some breweries in Athens, but since I was flying out of Atlanta it made sense to hit a brewery there before leaving. To avoid driving with too much beer, I kept to one brewery and so I went with my friend’s recommendation to try Scofflaw. They are in an area of Atlanta a bit North West of downtown, a ways away from anything. That didn’t stop people from coming out and enjoying beer though. The crowd was quite respectable.

During my visit their tap list was almost all IPAs with the exception of an imperial wit and a barrel-aged strong ale. All of the IPAs I had were quite well-done, juicy but not hazy, in the modern West-Coast style. I might have even brought back some cans of the IPA they had available if I could have done so while still buying the strong-ale bottles, but since I had to pick I got the strong ale. Your preference between the varioius IPAs they make will come down to your hop profile of choice. Their double IPA was also quite impressive, fruity, mildly sweet, and not really boozy at all.

The barrel-aged strong ale was good and medium body, mildly sweet, with a good mix of caramel and light whiskey character. It was also barely boozy despite the high alcohol content. I left with a bottle because it was quite well-done and the price was right. If you are in to the juicy (not hazy) style of IPAs, Scofflaw hits the spot nicely and should satisfy any hop-head who ends up in Atlanta.

Known for:
Come visit for modern-style IPAs and barrel-aged stouts

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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Red Horn Coffee House and Brewery Austin Texas

Red Horn is in an area about 30 minutes north of downtown Austin. Though they are open at 7:30AM most days for coffee, they can’t serve alcohol until Noon. I was recommended Red Horn for their stouts so I focused my tasting on their dark beers.

Their coffee stout was velvet smooth with a nice mix of roast and coffee. This is a nicely done 5% coffee stout. The rye whiskey aged rye IPA was delicious with tons of oak and whiskey notes and a mild hop kick. I wasn’t sure the style of the base beer when I ordered it but the balance of flavors was perfect.

The SUN with coconut was a delicious soft stout with notes of vanilla and coconut. Like all the other high alcohol stouts here, I was surprised how well this hides the 12% alcohol. None of the high alcohol stouts were thick and sludgy like they are elsewhere. The imperial stout with coffee was smooth and delicious, almost like drinking cold brew coffee. The Mexican Chocolate version was a perfect mix of cinnamon, vanilla, and some mild warmth at the finish from chili peppers.

Red Horn is worth the drive to try their delicious lineup of stouts. When I visited, they had a note that they will have crowlers of beer to go soon. I would have loved to bring back either the coffee or Mexican chocolate stout.

Known for:
Come for delicious adjunct stouts. They use their own house-roasted coffee in some of the 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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Pinthouse Pizza Austin Texas

Pinthouse Pizza has two locations in Austin and I visited the southern location. They have a spacious interior and a broad menu of house beers and guest beers. I stopped by for a flight of five of the most interesting beers on the menu and was quite impressed by their IPA.

The pilsner was crisp and clean with a mild hop bite. This is an excellent example of the style. The alt beer was a great mix of caramel malt and mild smoke with a clean finish. This is a style that I’m not too familiar with but every version I’ve had in Texas so far has been great. The IPA was soft and juicy haze with citrus and tropical fruit notes. The hazy IPA was up there with a lot of what is coming out of San Diego lately. I was very close to bringing home a few crowlers of this beer.

The stout was a bit unusual with prominent tart cherry flavors and some mild smoke in the back. It was almost a sour stout. Though I enjoy a good sour stout, this was simply labeled as a stout. The porter was good and roasty with a fairly dry finish, done nicely to style. Though dry it wasn’t nearly as dry as the classic dry Irish stout.

Besides the beers I tried, Pinthouse had a number of lighter alcohol options, but I did not have the capacity to try everything. If you are looking for excellent hoppy beers in Austin, Pinthouse Pizza is the place to go.

Top 2:
IPA
Pilsner

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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Prairie Brewpub – Tulsa Oklahoma

Prairie opened their brewpub in Tulsa fairly recently. Currently it is the only place in Oklahoma that has regular hours where you can get all the Prairie beers. They are working on a taproom soon in Oklahoma city as well. Due to regulations that require them to buy beers through a distributor the on-tap prices are high here as well. You will pay $17 for a flight of five tasters. Beers to go are more reasonably priced and they have crowlers of their lower alcohol pub beers available as well. Beers brewed in house are limited to 4% but they serve other prairie beers brewed elsewhere. I visited at 3PM because I heard the place gets crazy crowded at dinner time. I was out before it got too busy.

Because I make a note to indicate independent breweries, it is important to point out that Prairie was sold to Krebs Brewing in the middle of 2016, which funded the opening of the brewpub and allowed the head brewer to go off and start American Solera. This is not in the same league as a sale to larger breweries like Heineken or ABInBev but worth pointing out. I’m not familiar enough with Krebs to say but it sounds similar to Alpine Brewery’s sale to Green Flash out in San Diego.

I started my flight with their house pilsner, a flavorful bready pilsner and very easy drinking with a mild hop bite. The saison on tap was light and effervescent with notes of lemon and white wine. Their 4th anniversary sour was well-made but I didn’t realize it was made with lemongrass and ginger until I ordered it. I probably would have gotten something else since I don’t care for ginger in my beer. Still, it was a balanced beer that blended the two flavors well. The Phantasmagoria juicy double IPA started off with tons of mango and melon but I got a salty caramel finish that I didn’t care for so much. It has great reviews from friends so it may have been an older keg or the end of a keg.

The Pekan stout was thick and delicious with tons of caramel and maple notes though not too sweet. Paradise was delicious with notes of vanilla and coconut and a chocolate finish. Both of these had little detectable alcohol taste. If you are going to visit Prairie for beer don’t go during the dinner rush as they tend to get very crowded. It was a nice chill quiet visit at 3PM though even on a Friday. Depending on when you visit they sometimes have barrel aged variants of the stouts as well. For locals the brewpub is also a great way to try other interesting beers because they had a solid guest tap list as well.

Top 2:
Pekan Stout
Paradise

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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American Solera Brewing Tulsa Oklahoma

American Solera was named best new brewery in 2016 by Ratebeer. So naturally I had to visit to try for myself. The hype is well placed. Thanks to recent changes in Oklahoma laws they can now have a tap room and serve beer. The beers are on the expensive side on tap but so good I didn’t care. This probably has something to do with local taxes. Thankfully to-go prices are very reasonable. American Solera is in an area of town by itself but people have no problems finding it. I visited twice in a row because the main other Tulsa attraction is Prairie Brewpub. Thursday was of course much less crowded than Friday, with lines out the door at times on Friday.

Beer wise, I tried most of the things on tap and a few bottles for on-site consumption. The Foeder Apricot was tart and not too acidic, pretty standard for the style. The blackberry sour was jammy and not too acidic. The beer had tons of berry flavor. I left with two bottles for myself. The Brett ESB was earthy with citrus and fruit notes and a mild tart kick. I didn’t love this one but it wasn’t bad. The barrel aged pale was tasty with tons of funk and citrus notes

The Terp Surp IPA was one of the best IPAs I’ve had in a while. Tons of hop flavor coming through with tropical fruits and melon without much bitterness. The beer is soft and juicy. I rarely bring home IPAs to San Diego but this one was worth it. The IPA is up there with Cellarmaker and Fieldwork quality. The Mocha Dilema was thick and packed with chocolate, fudge, and coffee notes. Despite the high alcohol it had very little alcohol taste. When I came back later I ordered two bottles to drink on site. The foeder golden was an excellent example of the style. Their spontaneous fermented lambic-inspired ale was true to the Belgian style and excellent with tons of funk.

Thankfully American Solera beers have been coming to San Diego on occasion but it is worth visiting them at the source to hang out with a crowd of beer enthusiasts. The tap room is laid back at times and then gets really busy on Friday nights as most places do. With excellent beers across the board there is something for everyone. The quality is high enough to warrant a visit to taste these beers on site and bring home a suitcase full of bottles and crowlers.

Top 3:
Terp Surp IPA
Mocha Dilema
Blackberry 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.

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