Tag Archives: Indie Beer

Circle 9 Brewing – Clairemont San Diego

I visited Circle 9 for their grand opening. Despite the satanic reference on their logo the tasting room is bright and open. Unlike other satanic-themed breweries they don’t play heavy metal or have a dark tasting room. I tried all the beers they had available for their grand opening and they impressed with a few of them. Some others may need a bit of tweaking to fall in line with local tastes.

Their lager is made with rice and it is obvious from the sweetness. Though it has a nice clean finish it lacks any noticeable hop character and is nothing memorable. The session IPA was crisp and dry with notes of citrus and marijuana with a soft body and low bitterness. I don’t find it much of a session beer with almost 6% alcohol but it is a very impressive beer. I ended up ordering a full pour of this.

The IPA and double IPA were both fairly malt-forward. The IPA was on the sweeter side and hops were fairly mild with a hint of pine and minimal bitterness. The double IPA, in contrast, was strongly bitter with intense herbal character though it was not overly sweet like the IPA.

The imperial stout on nitro had an intense roast and notes of burnt caramel with a bitter finish. I preferred the flavors of the base imperial stout over the barrel aged version. The barrel-aged imperial stout was strongly bourbon forward though also fairly thin with some mild fudge notes. I don’t know if they blended this down or if they didn’t spent much time in the barrels but it didn’t have the same intensity of flavor people expect from local barrel-aged beers.

Session IPA full pour.

For a new brewery, Circle 9 is off to a great start. I am surprised that a brewery that made a point of being inspired by the lagers in Czech Republic their choice of styles for grand opening is a bit unusual with a rice lager and a bunch of ales. Still, they made a delicious session IPA and imperial stout and have a great space that they can expand into and hopefully brew a classic Czech pilsner in the future.

Top 2:
Session IPA
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.

More Posts

Follow Me:
TwitterPinterestGoogle Plus

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.

More Posts

Follow Me:
TwitterPinterestGoogle Plus

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.

More Posts

Follow Me:
TwitterPinterestGoogle Plus

Quantum Brewing Revisited with New Brewer

When I first visited Quantum brewing soon after they opened, they had a decent lineup of beers with nothing better than average and a few that missed the mark. For a time they had some growing pains and the word online was that they got worse. Thankfully I never experienced that part of things. Now they have a new brewer and had a grand re-opening to let everyone know things are new. I stopped by and had four tasters and the beers are a little better than they were at the beginning, more in line with the local standards, though still not at the level of Council or Societe down the street.

The blood orange wit had tons of orange flavor with a gorgeous red-orange color. It had the flavors right but there was a flavor in the finish that should not have been there. The session IPA was light and clean with mild citrus and grassy hops without too much bitterness. This was a huge improvement over the extremely bitter session IPAs they had with the previous brewer. For a new brewer coming out with a session IPA like this is quite impressive. It is about what you would expect around San Diego.

The IPA was a bit malt-forward and while it had some apricot notes from the hops it had a heavy bready malt character. Considering it is not West Coast in style at all, it is a nicely balanced English style IPA and is well-crafted. Since most hop heads crave something either juicy or classic West Coast style this is a huge miss. I would even say that labeling this an IPA in San Diego without calling it English or Red is borderline deceptive though I know it wouldn’t sell as well if they did. The Imperial Stout was a good mix of caramel and roast with a sticky sweet finish. While it had a good balance with bitterness, I thought it was a bit too bitter for the style. Still, this was one of the better of the bunch.

Quantum retained all of the quirky names for the beers and added a bunch of fruited beers. Still, I tend to judge a brewery based on their ability to brew a beer without adding any fruit, thus my focus on their hoppy beers. The people in there drinking were enjoying the fruited options. Their session IPA is well-made but in San Diego you need to do something a bit more to stand out and the blood orange beer suggested they still need some work on their fruity beers.

Top 2:
Session IPA
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.

More Posts

Follow Me:
TwitterPinterestGoogle Plus

Breweries in Western Michigan – Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and other areas

There are many breweries in Western Michigan. I could never visit all of them in a span of two days, nor can I give sufficient time to all the breweries I did visit. I stuck to those breweries most recommended on Beer Advocate message boards. In this post I will cover Brewery Vivant, Founders, New Holland, Arclight, Transient, and Bell’s. I didn’t try anything on tap at Arclight though so I will be posting based on the bottles of sour beer I picked up recently on my way to Transient. I also didn’t taste anything but stouts at Bell’s because I happened to visit on their All Stout’s Day.

Brewery Vivant

michigan-beer-01
Vivant is known for its Belgian style beers and the few that I tried were quite well done even if some were not to my tastes. Vivant is located inside an old funeral church and they have a gorgeous space with two large stained-glass windows. They have tons of seating and a full menu of food. I stopped in quickly for a flight. Keep in mind the tasters are on the expensive side, with prices ranging from $3 to $4. I’m not sure that I understand why they have such pricing. Thankfully, the bottles are more reasonably priced and they have cans of most of their core beers.

michigan-beer-03

Their farmhouse ale was dry with notes of white wine and some mild peach with minimal spice character. It is a very well-done saison. The maelstrom stout is bitter and smoky with some mild roast and hints of burnt caramel. It has a creamy finish and if you give it some time to warm up and for your palate to adjust to the initial shock it is a fantastic beer. The Verdun Biere de Garde has notes of dark fruit with a mildly sweet finish. It wasn’t as dry as I expected but I enjoyed it enough and the beer was nicely balanced. The Liquid Crystal Belgian IPA was intensely floral with a fruity base malt similar to the Verdun. I wasn’t a fan of the mix of flavors and it was not my hop profile but it is a well-made beer.

michigan-beer-02

Their stone fruit sour was excellent with some intense brett on the nose and a puckering tart at the finish that gives way to sweet peach and nectarine. I left with two bottles of this for myself and another for a friend. It is worth checking ahead to see if the brewery has any sours because they are excellent. The barrel aged stout on raspberries was a shock at first with a mix of flavors I haven’t experienced before. I’m not sure I like the blend of bourbon and raspberry. To me this is almost a sour and not something I would recommend for someone who is mostly into sweeter stouts. The raspberry comes on as mildly tart and overpowers the bourbon. If you like sweeter stouts you should go to Founders or New Holland instead.

michigan-beer-04

michigan-beer-06

Top 2:
Farm House Saison
Stone Fruit Sour

Founders

michigan-beer-07
Compared to the spacious area of Vivant, which is already a good size as breweries go, Founders is massive. While they do have some people taking orders from the tables, you can also line up and order beer or food directly from the counter, which is faster. They also have a water bottle filling station near the restrooms to make it easy to hydrate. Because of the huge space, Founders has live music and we were blessed by some bluegrass during our time there. I’m not sure why the groups seemed to only play one song and then switch but I wasn’t complaining because despite being bluegrass they had a ton of bass in the music. Come with ear plugs if you like a quiet brewery experience, especially on weekends.

michigan-beer-09

I tried a couple of their IPAs and a couple of stouts but we didn’t have a ton of tasters because they didn’t have many stouts on tap and I wasn’t a huge fan of the IPAs. The harvest IPA was a fantastic mix of resin and grapefruit and nicely balanced with a mild sweetness and bitterness. I got some notes of fresh grapes at the back. The Beer City IPA was quite old school with a prominent bitterness and tons of pine. It was well-made but not my favorite hop profile.

michigan-beer-10

The Rubaeus was a tasty raspberry ale, jammy and not too sweet with the right blend of amber malts to support the berries while giving it some additional fruit notes. The watermelon gose was sweet and mildly tart with a great balance of flavors. It wasn’t too salty and is probably the first really good watermelon beer I’ve had. My husband went up to order the nitro breakfast stout and backwoods bastard tasters but the server heard him to order a pint of breakfast stout. Though he hadn’t been in love with breakfast stout before, he really loved it on nitro. I got an intense nutty coffee with a smooth mild chocolate. The nitro made it extra special.

michigan-beer-08

I had tried the regular dirty bastard before and really liked the flavors of the base beer. The backwoods bastard has a ton of caramel and bourbon and is super smooth. I passed this up in the stores before based on the price of a four pack but now I might consider buying some because it is so good. It is quite easy to spend a full day at Founders if you are staying in town longer. How long you want to stay depends on what sorts of beers they have and your preference. I would recommend Founders more for their stouts though the Harvest IPA was excellent too.

Top 3:
Breakfast stout on nitro
Watermelon gose
Harvest IPA

New Holland

michigan-beer-11
I almost skipped visiting New Holland because we already got their new coconut rum dragon’s milk in San Diego. It was worth a stop to try a few other variants of their beer. The Down Dogger, a hoppy wild Belgian golden was fruity with lots of spice from the Belgian yeast and super dry but it wasn’t sour, funky, or hoppy. It was a fairly standard beer. The Harvest 2, a fresh hop pale, was bitter and malt forward with some notes of grape. It didn’t stick out at all or suggest from the flavors that the hops were fresh. The Vanilla Chai Dragon’s Milk had tons of cinnamon and clove with mild vanilla. To me the spice overpowered the rest of the beer too much. I didn’t really care for it. The Brewer’s Select Dragon’s Milk, a slightly stronger version of the regular, was smooth with notes of vanilla but the alcohol came out a little too hot on the finish.

michigan-beer-14

Comparatively, the coconut rum version, released this year, is much better. It has tons of coconut flavor and a mild rum note at the back. I’ve been enjoying these bottles for a couple of weeks at home prior to visiting. I’ve also had the regular Dragon’s Milk in the past and thought the standard was more balanced than the Brewer’s Select version. The few beers I tasted at New Holland tell me that it is worth sticking to variations of Dragon’s Milk and having other beer styles at other breweries in the area. Since you can find Dragon’s Milk in four packs as far out as the West Coast (we started receiving them in San Diego) I would recommend grabbing some bottles to enjoy at home instead.

michigan-beer-12

New Holland’s various locations are restaurants and they tend to get crowded quickly. The location in Grand Rapids had such an insane wait that we decided to stop in Holland on our way south to visit the original brewery. Since we already ate at Founders, we only had a little dessert at New Holland to go with the stouts.

michigan-beer-13

Known for:
Known mostly for their popular barrel aged imperial stout called Dragon’s Milk and the different variations.

Transient Artisan Ales

michigan-beer-15
Transient is a very young brewery but has developed a ravenous following from the nearby areas for its release of juicy North East style IPAs in cans as well as the different variations of sours. It is quite a drive to get to Transient either from Grand Rapids or Chicago, and will likely take you over an hour either way. Coming from Grand Rapids or Kalamazoo you can stop by another brewery along the way called Arclight. I stopped there briefly for a few sours they were releasing but they had plenty of other beers available on tap. Considering all the fantastic stouts at Founder’s and Bell’s I might still recommend coming out to Transient for their Buckley light chocolate stout.

michigan-beer-17

I started with the Cromulent pale ale. It was juicy with notes of orange peel and peach with tons of hops and not a lot of bitterness. It is a very respectable juicy pale. I had a small growler of this beer at home the next day and it was still quite good. The pineapple salarium is tasty pineapple, not too acidic, mildly tart, and a dry finish. It reminded me of the Beatitude series of beers from San Diego’s Council Brewing. Bottles were already sold out when I got there. The Indoorsman brett pale ale had a strong woody bite with an herbal finish and some mild bready malts and peaches at the finish. I couldn’t get over the lingering bitterness at the finish and did not finish the taster.

michigan-beer-19

michigan-beer-20

The Henry porter was smooth and smoky with a ton of burnt caramel. Though this one was a bit shocking at first once I adjusted and it warmed up the beer had more caramel and I enjoyed it better. The Double Barrel Obelus was super smooth with notes of honey, peaches, and a mild buttery finish from the American oak. It is a fantastic complex beer that I enjoyed so much I left with two bottles. The Buckley light is pure liquid dark chocolate and creamy smooth. This is an excellent chocolate stout and worth seeking out.

michigan-beer-16

michigan-beer-18

Top 2:
Double Barrel Obelus oak aged saison
Buckley Light chocolate imperial stout

Bell’s Brewing

michigan-beer-22

michigan-beer-21
Despite Google showing multiple locations for this brewery, they have only one location that is split into a general store and a cafe. The brewery itself is not open to visit or drink in a tasting room. I visited on the day when they had All Stout’s Day, which meant all but two of the taps at the brewery were replaced by stouts. Thus, I won’t be including any commentary on how good their IPAs or other styles are.

michigan-beer-23

I started with the java stout. It has mild smoke and tons of coffee roast, a very easy-drinking beer. I had two varieties of their expedition stout, one of their flagship brews. The 2014 and 2015 were not all that different but both were fantastic. The beer has tons of caramel and roast and a nice thick body.

michigan-beer-24

michigan-beer-26

The whiskey aged expedition stout was super smooth with a creamy mouthfeel and a strong but not overpowering or hot whiskey. The black note on tap had some nice notes of chocolate and fudge when compared to the whiskey expedition. The whiskey aged 30th anniversary had tons of fudge and cinnamon with some mild vanilla on the finish. The barrel aged dagger stout had tons of vanilla and espresso with a super smooth finish. All of the barrel aged stouts on tap were fantastic but the barrel aged 30th anniversary and barrel aged dagger stout were my two standouts. With such strong beers it gets difficult to give more detailed descriptions after a while.

michigan-beer-27

Known for:
Intense stouts and barrel aged variants, also some old school IPAs that are quite popular.

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.

More Posts

Follow Me:
TwitterPinterestGoogle Plus

Reno Area Breweries Part 1 – Brasserie St James, Brewer’s Cabinet, Fifty FIfty Brewing

Brasserie St James

reno-01
Brasserie St James is the only brewery in Reno I had heard about prior to visiting. Even that was by accident. I happened to see one of their beers on tap at a Chinese Dim Sum restaurant in San Diego and assumed it was from Belgium until I googled it. St. James is a brewery and a restaurant and finding seats in the restaurant area can be quite difficult. Thankfully they have a bar area that is open seating and some outdoor seating upstairs that is also open. I started with a flight of almost all their core beers and finished with two more beers before leaving.

reno-04

The schwarzbier was smooth and creamy and a good mix of caramel and dark fruit. Like the classic beers of this style you could easily down one after another. The red farmhouse was spice forward with a dry bitter finish. It was a solid beer but I preferred some of the others. The Tripel was mildly sweet with a flavor reminiscent of a white cake and a good dry finish. This is one of the better American tripels I have tasted, coming closer to the dry beers of the style as they are brewed in Belgium.

reno-03

The saison was effervescent and super dry with notes of lemon and some earthy malt notes. I quite enjoyed this one and left with two bottles to bring home. The brett saison, known as 1904, was very similar to the saison with a little more fruit notes. It seemed based on the bottle prices that it is a better deal to enjoy this beer on tap. The double IPA was smooth with tons of grapefruit and pine at the start but a strong floral hop finish that I didn’t care for. This one I didn’t finish.

reno-05

The Peach 1904, was tasty with the peach adding some mild acidity in the finish. The peach flavor was relatively subtle. The quad was dark and thick with some of the same cake flavor I noticed in the tripel. Also like the tripel, I was glad that the quad wasn’t overly sweet.

reno-06

While a good place to stop in if you like saisons, I wasn’t a big fan of the atmosphere inside. It got noisy quickly and often crowded. Thankfully it was a cold night so the outdoor seating wasn’t full and it was quiet out there. I found the bottles of sours to be quite expensive at $30 for a brewery that doesn’t have a lot of hype behind it. Thankfully the saisons were a more reasonable $12 for a bottle. I have enjoyed one at home already and liked how it was in the bottle.

Top 2:
Saison
Brett Saison

 

Brewer’s Cabinet

reno-07
While I was at Brasserie St. James, one of the locals recommended I visit The Brewer’s Cabinet. And since the other breweries I had on my list in town were no longer open as it was getting late I decided to head there next. This post will also include some specifics about beers I had at the same location two days later.

reno-09

My first visit was at night and it was crowded still. I immediately ordered the double IPA based on the description of the hops included. My husband ordered the imperial stout with coffee. The double IPA was bitter and balanced with some resinous hops and a bit of juicy melon. It was a tasty double IPA for sure. To go with the coffee stout my husband ordered the bread pudding. It was a fantastic dessert but so big that you would want to share with a friend. The coffee stout was smooth and creamy with a mild yet prominent coffee flavor. Though I would have preferred it to be stronger alcohol, it was plenty to satisfy my husband.

reno-10

Two days later, I came back to try some of their other offerings. I wasn’t big on the hop flavors of the first few I tasted and I ended up ordering the heff, which was a hazy bright yellow with notes of vanilla, citrus, and mild banana. It was an excellent beer. The pale ale was also fantastic, balanced amber color and a good mix of mild pine and fruity hops.

reno-08

Brewer’s Cabinet stood out as one of the better breweries from my visit and I would quickly return if I was in town again. They also have a full kitchen so they are open late.

Top 3:
Wit
Tahoe Pale
Coffee imperial stout

Fifty Fifty Brewing

fiftyfifty-01
Though not in Reno and instead 30 minutes drive to the west in Truckee, I stopped by Fifty Fifty brewing hoping to try some of their popular barrel aged stout on tap. Sadly, the Eclipse beers were not on tap and at $30 a bottle I wasn’t going to buy some blind. I did enjoy the core beers I tried on tap though.

fiftyfifty-03

The saison was tasty with tons of herbs, spice, and mild fruit notes. The session IPA was a nice mix of grapefruit and a rye spice kick, excellent balance and not overly bitter. This is one of the more impressive session IPAs I have had lately. The brown ale had a nice medium body and a good mix of roast and espresso. This is one of the few brown ales I like.

fiftyfifty-02

The porter had a nice medium body and tons of roast and espresso notes. I preferred this over the imperial stout. The imperial stout has tons of burnt caramel and a strong bitter finish, almost smoky. This is the base beer for their Eclipse barrel aged series but I didn’t care for it on its own. While they had one oaked beer on tap, it wasn’t one of the series I wanted to try so I left after the initial flight to move on to more Reno breweries.

Top 2:
Session IPA
Porter

Because I visited so many breweries in this trip, I split the write-up into two posts. Part 2 will conclude with the rest of the Reno breweries I visited.

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.

More Posts

Follow Me:
TwitterPinterestGoogle Plus

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

Selkirk Abbeynorthern-idaho-01

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.

northern-idaho-03

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.

northern-idaho-04

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.

northern-idaho-05

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

northern-idaho-06

northern-idaho-09

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.

northern-idaho-08

northern-idaho-07

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

northern-idaho-10
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.

northern-idaho-12

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.

northern-idaho-11

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

northern-idaho-13
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.

northern-idaho-16

northern-idaho-15

northern-idaho-15

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

northern-idaho-17
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.

northern-idaho-18

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.

northern-idaho-19

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.

More Posts

Follow Me:
TwitterPinterestGoogle Plus

Visiting Cantillon in Brussels, a Pilgrimage Worth Making

As a sour fan, Cantillon is considered one of those places that you need to visit at least once. After spending half a day there with great company I totally agree. Getting to Cantillon is pretty easy. The metro drops you off a short distance away from the brewery so you don’t have to walk too far. The tour is short but worth paying the 7 euro fee (cash only) for because of the tasters you get after the tour is finished. The real fun comes when you start sharing bottles of archive beers with the various people around. Ideally you should gather a group of five or six people to share bottles with so that you can each buy one bottle and you can all share beers. You will have to buy bottles for on site consumption with cash only. I ended up getting together a group of six people and we each bought one bottle to share with the group.

We started with the Fou Foune, a delicious peach beer.
We started with the Fou Foune, a delicious apricot beer.

brussels-08

If you are lucky, Cantillon will have something unique and interesting on the to-go bottle list besides the standard Gueuze (a blend of different aged lambics), Kriek (brewed with cherries), and Rose de Gambrinus (brewed with raspberries). When I was there they happened to have the Cuvee St Gilloise, a dry-hopped lambic as well.

brussels-09

brussels-11

The prices for beer to go are very reasonable. The 375ml bottles are 4 euros on site and the 750ml bottles are 7 euros. The beers are packaged in cardboard holders that don’t have the strongest handles so if you choose to leave with more than 6 bottles, you should take a cab back to your hotel to avoid breaking. Even then, some of the handles started to break by the time I got up to my room. If you can, bring two large cloth shopping bags with you so that you didn’t have to worry about the handles breaking on the way to the room. It is worth the trip so that you can bring back plenty of bottles to enjoy at home. The beers are much less expensive on site than they are if you find them in other places outside of Belgium.

The group I joined when I was at the brewery.
The group I joined when I was at the brewery.

brussels-12

If you don’t stay to taste at least one bottle on site, it might seem like a waste of time to come all the way out to visit. Many reviews from people who came just for the tour expressed this view. Keep in mind as well that they are only open from 10AM to 5PM and they sell the last bottles for on site consumption at 4:15 so you should plan to get there shortly after Noon, after a hearty lunch, if you want to make the most of your experience. In general the people who arrive earlier in the day are at Cantillon to try as much as they can while they are there so you can easily get a share going. Of the bottles we shared, the Fou Foune (brewed with apricots) was the agreed upon favorite. I also really enjoyed the grand cru.

brussels-16

All the bottles we finished.
All the bottles we finished.

Visiting Cantillon was everything I expected and it was a great time hanging out with the group of people I shared bottles with while we were there. The crowd appeared as Cantillon was about to close so those people could only do the tour and weren’t able to try any bottles. You should also make sure you enjoy sours before making the trip so you know what you are getting into.

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.

More Posts

Follow Me:
TwitterPinterestGoogle Plus

Resident Brewing, Downtown San Diego

Resident Brewing hasn’t gotten a ton of buzz that I have seen around town in part because of their location in the heart of downtown. They are located inside The Local, a bar that recently had a face lift to modernize its previously dark dive bar style interior. They have a solid lineup of beers and are a great addition to the downtown brewery scene. Keep in mind though that later in the evenings the connected bar tends to have very loud music so if that is not your thing, you should try to visit it closer to when they open.

 

resident-brewing-01

The gose was crisp, dry, refreshing, and not too salty. Though I have had more complex gose, this one is very enjoyable. The saison was fruity and dry with hints of white wine, a solid beer. The oatmeal stout was smooth with notes of chocolate, mild roast and smoke on a medium body. This is a very solid oatmeal stout. The loud mouth hoppy amber was intensely piney and floral with a strong bitter finish. I was given beer from the end of the keg so it may have been better when first tapped. It is quite a malty beer so I would not recommend this compared to the IPAs on tap.

resident-brewing-03

Pio Pico Pale was fruity and exploding with grapefruit over a light malt bill with a nice dry finish. It is one of the more flavorful pale ales I have had in San Diego. The Chasing Galaxy was a delicious hazy IPA with tons of juice and a dry finish. I haven’t yet had a lot of the local hazy beers but this one comes close to many of the excellent ones I have had from elsewhere. The Citra IPA was nice and crisp though seemed to be lacking in the aroma department. It may have simply been on tap for a bit too long and lost its strong aromas.

resident-brewing-04

For a brewery that I hadn’t heard any buzz about prior to visiting, I was quite impressed by the beers at Resident. They had many other beers on tap as well that I didn’t try because I wanted to stick to the styles that sounded interesting to me. You can see some barrels in the brew house so expect to see some barrel aged beers in the future. I wasn’t told what is aging in them.

My additional pour of the delicious Chasing Galaxy IPA.
My additional pour of the delicious Chasing Galaxy IPA.

Top 2:
Pio Pico Pale
Chasing Galaxy

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.

More Posts

Follow Me:
TwitterPinterestGoogle Plus

Fall Brewing Company – Young San Diego Brewery that is Quite Impressive

There are a ton of breweries opening all the time and it can be hard for new ones to stick out among the crowd. That is unless they start out making beers as impressive as those from Fall. Fall is probably one of the most hyped up young breweries lately and I figured I would walk away disappointed but found myself really impressed by a lot of what I tasted. I tried two flights while I was there. My first full flight included the Interpretive Dance Session IPA, Jazz Hands Berliner Weisse, English Pale, Spirit of 77 IPA, and Green Hat IPA. I ended with three dark beers including the ever popular 2AM Bike Ride, Apocalypse Pony, and Fall & Oats.

Fall Brewing Company 01

The Interpretive Dance session IPA was surprisingly potent with tons of hop flavor and high bitterness despite a seriously low 3.5% alcohol. It was a solid mix of tropical fruit and citrus with a seriously bitter finish. The Jazz Hands berliner weisse was crisp and delicious with a mild fruity/tart flavor. It also was surprisingly flavorful for a low 3.5% alcohol. This was one of the more flavorful local versions of the style I have had. The English Pale primarily has a lot of apricot flavor with some mild earthy hops and a crisp sweet finish. It didn’t overwhelm with the malts and was overall a very nicely balanced drinkable beer.

Fall Brewing Company 02

First full flight.
First full flight.

Both the Spirit of 77 and Green Hat IPAs were fantastically balanced and delicious. They were both quite similar in many ways, both having a sticky icky sweetness and both not too overwhelmed by the malts. The 77 IPA was fruity with a piney finish and a little more malt balance. The Green Hat tended more towards the juicy guava and pineapple flavors and was overall deliciously fruity. Neither tasted much like any IPA I have had before while they both were excellent examples of the style. After all the hype for 2AM Bike Ride, I wasn’t too excited by it. It was a very smooth light-body stout with intense bitter coffee and a subtle vanilla in the back. It seemed to lack a complexity or roasted malt flavor that I love so much in the style.

Last set of beers, all stouts.
Last set of beers, all stouts.

The Apocalypse Pony has a strong vanilla flavor with a mellow coffee finish. Again I found the body lacking here and the vanilla was a little too overpowering for me. The Fall & Oats was quite fruity and the fruit was so sweet I almost thought it was vanilla at first. Like the other two I tried, it was lacking the thicker mouthfeel I love in my stouts and didn’t have the chewy oat character I normally love. Despite the stouts being mostly underwhelming for me, I recognize that they are quite popular among other groups. 2AM Bike Ride is a big hit with many of the local beer fans. Still, the two IPAs were so delicious and showed a real skill with blending hop flavors that I don’t see often with young breweries. If you haven’t gotten around to visiting Fall, you should do so soon.

The brewery has a nice wide open space.
The brewery has a nice wide open space.

Top 3:
Green Hat IPA
Spirit of 77 IPA
English Pale

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.

More Posts

Follow Me:
TwitterPinterestGoogle Plus