Tag Archives: Double IPA

Toppling Goliath Brewing – Decorah Iowa, a Visit to the Legendary Brewery

Toppling Goliath got a big name after they were rated some of the best hoppy beers in the world by Beer Advocate. They have a focus on IPAs but they also have some small release stouts and delicious kettle sours. The crazy thing about the brewery is that the closest major airport is Minneapolis St Paul so you may end up driving 2 and a half hours to get to the brewery after flying across the country.

The brewery itself is a fairly small space given the big hype associated with it. On the Saturday afternoon when we visited there was a Football game going on that drew a loud boisterous crowd. Seating is fairly limited but in the area you can fairly easily find some bottles that may have sold out at the brewery. I preferred their hazy double IPAs and kettle sour over the other beers though they had some tasty lighter beers. They serve their beers in chilled glasses so I would recommend asking for non-chilled tasters if you go. This seemed silly considering it was 40 degrees outside.

The galaxy dry hopped Sue was creamy and subdued with light fruity notes. I found the beer to be nothing special. It didn’t have a ton of hop character or taste that much better than the average hoppy pale. The DDH sue was a little better with notes of bubblegum and vanilla and a creamy mouthfeel with minimal bitterness. While it was up there with some of the better hoppy pales it wasn’t anything revolutionary or unique. After returning home with some cans of Sue, the closest thing I compare it to is a pale ale from El Segundo Brewing Company. It isn’t that the beer is bad so much as the California brewers have been making similar quality low alcohol pale ales for quite some time.

Pomepeii was resinous and sticky with notes of ripe fruit and had a ton more flavor than the Sue. It was a bit above average and quite a delicious beer. I brought back a bunch of fresh bottles of it and in the bottles I got a ton of orange peel character of the sort that I rarely taste in a beer of this alcohol percentage. Nugget had notes of pine and grape with a light bitterness. For a 6% beer it was very crushable. Overall it was nicely balanced.

Rover Truck, their oatmeal stout, was excellent with a mix of smoke, roast, and light cherry. It was smooth with a medium body and at the time I visited the only dark beer they had on tap. If I didn’t have the limited space in checked luggage I might have brought a few four packs back for my husband. The X Hops Gold had a mix of light pepper and vegetal hop character with mild citrus and an excellent balance. It was a well-balanced beer and quite good.

King Sue, a hazy double IPA was creamy and soft with notes of vanilla, tropical fruit, and peaches. It was above average as far as hazy double IPAs go and up there with some of the best. The Supa Sumo was creamy and soft with tons of citrus and light melon. It had a bit more hop aroma kick than the King Sue and was my favorite IPA of the day. I left with a 32oz growler of this one, though I also found a bottle at a nearby shop to enjoy that night. Dragon Fandango is their kettle sour that at the time I visited had dragon fruit and passion fruit. Before I knew what fruits it used, I tasted tons of strawberry and raspberry. It was juicy and lightly sweet with a light tart finish. This was my favorite beer of the day and I brought a small growler of this home as well.

Full pour of Dragon Fandango after finishing my other beers.

Though I had hoped that Toppling Goliath may end up being in a class by itself compared to other breweries, I found that they rank among the top for breweries in their category. Their hazy double IPAs were up there with the best I’ve had in the country and their kettle sour was one of the best I have had anywhere. Despite the long distance from the nearest airport I found the visit to be worth it especially when you add in their neighbor, Pulpit Rock down the street. Unlike other breweries known for hazy double IPAs, you are more likely to find their hazy beers in 22oz bottles than cans for $9. This makes the beers more expensive per ounce than the average $22 4-pack of hazy double IPAs out there.

Considering the various breweries out there making fantastic hazy IPAs, visiting Toppling Goliath is likely to be a one time thing for me. A stop at other major Hazy IPA breweries is generally easier and involves less driving, especially for breweries like Tree House or Trillium.

Top 2:
Dragon Fandango
Supa Sumo

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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Other Half Brewing – Brooklyn New York City

UPDATE: November 2017 Visit

A short few months after my initial visit to Other Half they had their larger tasting room open next door and a massively larger list of beers available. I found that the IPAs were significantly better than the last time such that I would have brought cans home if it worked with my trip. Now I consider their Hazy double IPAs to be up there with Tired Hands and Trillium in flavor. I was also floored by how delicious their imperial stouts were since last time they only had IPAs.

Larger new space

I only had three tasters in this visit because I also went to LIC Beer Project after and they don’t offer tasters. The All Infinity Everything was super creamy with notes of tropical fruit, pineapple and overall dripping with hop juice. It had a light hop acid finish and excellent drinkability for 8%. The DDH All Green Everything was 10% but tasted like 7, one of the best triple IPAs I have tasted. It was super smooth and crushable with light haze, minimal alcohol bite, and tons of tropical fruit and light grass on the finish. This one as well was dripping with hop juice.

My 3 tasters.

Other Half didn’t have a stout when I last visited but this time they had a bunch. I went for the biggest non-barrel aged stout on the menu with the Smoke Screens and Oil Slicks. This beer had the most flavor in a 11.5% stout that I’ve had without loading it full with adjuncts. The alcohol was hidden quite well and I got notes of cherry and light smoke with a bitter chocolate finish. The flavors balanced so well. It is a hard choice whether to drink the IPAs or stouts at Other Half now because they were both so amazing.

Massive beer list at the new location.

Original post —

Other Half Brewing is one of the handful of breweries that has rocketed to fame, success, and trade value through their limited release hazy IPAs in cans. At the time when I visited they still had a fairly tiny tasting room near the subway stop for Smith and 9th. They offered either 5 or 10 ounce pours of most of the beers but due to the pricing I went for he 10oz pours of most of them. The beers available were almost all hop-forward and there were no sours or stouts to be seen. I tried 4 out of the total beers available because I was ordering larger pours. I focused on the higher ABV offerings for which they had cans available and then double IPAs because in general I find hazy double IPAs to be more flavorful than the lighter versions.

The Still Shining IPA was a solid Hazy IPA with mild acidity and bitterness but not a ton of hop aroma either. It didn’t stand out from all he other hazy offerings I have had. The Citra Everything was much thicker and had a fantastic mix of citrus and mild pine with a sticky finish. I thought that the hazy double IPAs I tried could have been softer and have more hop kick but they were well done. All my criticisms about these beers come from comparisons to the best of the best and my own preference for a hazy IPA because the style is not clearly defined yet officially.

The galaxy-hopped double IPA, Space Diamonds, was similar to the Citra in style but flavor wise had a lot of sticky overripe papaya and citrus. The overripe fruit flavor wasn’t really my thing in part because it reminded me of a few actual experiences with overripe papaya. Next the Forever Simcoe was a tasty citrus-forward hazy beer without much noticeable pine. I was glad that it wasn’t like sipping a pine tree but I didn’t love it enough to get cans and think about the logistics of getting them home with our other stops still to come.

Overall, I’m glad I made the trip to Other Half to try their beers. I found Tired Hands and Crime and Punishment brewing to be the most impressive though of the East-Coast hazy beers this trip with Trillium coming up behind them and Other Half after that. If a beer is sold for $20 a 4 pack I have to really be blown away by it to bring it home when so many San Diego breweries do the same style really well. When I visited, Other Half had a tiny tasting room but they are opening a larger location soon that should hopefully make for a more relaxing experience.

Though I didn’t find them to be as impressive as a few others in neighboring areas, it is absolutely worth stopping by for a few tastes and some cans if you are in the New York City area. My descriptions can hopefully help you decide if this is the style of hazy IPA you like. Unlike Brooklyn Brewing, they are quite close to the nearest station, making it easy to get there. Just don’t expect to find anything other than hoppy beers and make sure you bring a cooler to keep the cans cold on the subway. Even if it is cold outside, they tend to keep the subways toasty. Also keep an eye out for a new location to open soon as I heard that is in the works too.

Known For:
Come to Other Half for hazy IPAs. They haven’t branched out much from the hoppy beers so this is not a stop for people who aren’t into IPAs.

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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Half Door Brewing Downtown San Diego

I had been to Half Door brewing a few times but never got around to writing a full post about them. Recently they expanded into brewing hazy IPAs and I featured them in my list of San Diego breweries making hazy IPAs. Half Door serves beer in a restaurant in Downtown San Diego where they also offer a modern take on pub grub. I visited them recently on a Sunday morning and tried a flight of tasters.

All of the IPAs I tried were of the hazy style known to some as the North East style of IPA. I started with the Hoban House. It was fruity and soft with a light acidity and low bitterness, exhibiting notes of pineapple. The Hype Machine single-hop Nelson IPA was soft with subtle grapefruit and a mild bitterness that lingers on teh back of the tongue. It is a great example of what a Nelson IPA should taste like. The Buzzwords double IPA is an intensely fruity double IPA, soft and hazy with very mild hop acidity. This stood out from the rest on the list as the best of the IPAs for the day.

I tried the IIIPA, which was an insane hop bomb with little alcohol flavor or sweetness, and mild bitterness. The only reason I didn’t like it as much as the Buzzwords IIPA is that I got some herbal notes in the IIIPA that I didn’t care for. Otherwise, it is an exceptional example of what a IIIPA should taste like. I also tried two stouts. The Coleman’s Stout is their dry Irish stout on nitro. It is dry and roasty with a smooth body and a mild floral hop kick. This is one of the beers I tried the first time I visited and it is still just as good as it was then.

The Coleman’s on Craic imperial stout with coffee was smooth and roasty with notes of chocolate and coffee excellently balanced. I slightly preferred the dry version though they are both delicious. Before leaving I got a taster of the tripel just to see how well they handle Belgian styles. It was one of the more impressive San Diego tripels, lacking in the ester notes that tend to overpower American-brewed Belgian-style beers. It had a bready malt character with some earthy malt notes and a well-attenuated finish (not too sweet). If the hazy IPAs weren’t so good I might go back for this one.

Half Door brewing is one of the few San Diego breweries, maybe the only one, that doesn’t sell bottles or growlers to go. This is due to their license and hopefully will change soon. Though I didn’t eat anything when we visited, my friends who joined me were very impressed by the food they had. Parking can be crazy around Half Door during the weekdays but it is worth visiting if you are already downtown or can park nearby and Uber in.

Top 3:
Buzzwords IIPA
IIIPA
Coleman’s Dry Irish 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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Eppig Brewing North Park San Diego

Update – New beer garden on the waterfront

In the short year since Eppig opened, they have been planning to open a waterfront beer garden and it finally opened recently in February of 2017. This new space has a much more spacious indoor space and quite a lot of outdoor space. I get the impression that they want to eventually move the brewing operations to the same facility but even as a soft open spot they have quite the lovely spot.

The beer selection is mostly the same but it is great to be able to drink their various lagers while looking out over the water. This is still not a spot that I go to for IPAs but I was very impressed by how consistently great the schwartz has been from my first visit a few years ago until now it is even slightly better.

Schwartz overlooking the water.
Pilsner, overlooking the water.

Original Post March 2017

Eppig Brewing is a new brewery that takes advantage of a space that was designed to allow three breweries to open next door to one another. They have a small space just off El Cajon Blvd that can easily get packed. They have a large number of beers on tap so it was impossible to try everything in one visit.

Eppig Brewing 05

I started with the lagers because I heard that they were quite good. My first flight consisted of their Schwartz (dark lager), Zwickel (unfiltered pilsner), Festbier (imperial wheat), and Berliner Weisse (tart wheat beer). My second flight consisted of Factory of Dreams IPA, 10:15 to Denver IPA, Double IPA, and their stout with coffee. Of the two I much preferred the first flight.

Eppig Brewing 04

Eppig Brewing 03

Eppig Brewing 02

The Schwartz was smooth and roasty with mild smoke, a good version of the style and better than most San Diego attempts I have had. The Zwickel had a nice medium body and a mix of fruity and floral hops. Though well made the floral hops were a bit too much for me and not my favorite hop profile. I didn’t really care for the fest beer, which has a dry citrus finish but is also too harsh at the end. It was a popular beer with others while I was there but not for me. The berliner weisse was a good mix of grapefruit and lemon notes with a bitter dry finish while not too tart. They had two fruit options of this as well but I stuck to the regular.

Eppig Brewing 06

On the IPA front, I encountered some of the harshest most overpowering bitter IPAs in all of San Diego. Both the Factory of Dreams IPA and the double IPA were extremely bitter with very little aroma to speak of. According to the brewer, the double IPA is made with tons of simcoe, a hop I don’t care for generally, but rather than being too much pine aroma, they both shared a strong bitterness that lingered at the back of the throat.

While the 10:15 to Denver was more drinkable and had hints of grapefruit it was still too bitter. I didn’t finish either of these beers. I had a chat with the brewer about the harsh bitterness and as usual was told “they are IPAs, they are supposed to be bitter.” I ended with the stout with coffee that I found to be average with tons of roast and a bitterness that lingered on the tongue.

Eppig is a new brewery and I’m glad to see them come out of the gate with solid lagers and fruited berliner weisse style beers. Not every brewery needs to brew IPAs but if you are coming to North Park go elsewhere for your IPAs. The fruited berliner weisse beers were quite popular as well, but I stuck with the base. Hopefully I will be updating this article in a few months to indicate that they have improved the IPAs to something more in line with their neighbors at North Park Brewing.

Top 2:
Zwickel (unfiltered pilsner)
Schwartz (dark lager)

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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