I try to make regular trips to Sante Adarius Brewing in Santa Cruz but in the process I like to explore local breweries in the hops of finding a spot that gives me another reason to go back to the area.
Discretion Brewing is located in Capitola area only a short drive from Sante Adarius Rustic Ales. Discretion often comes up as a place to go if in the area and already had what you want at Sante Adarius. They do quite a few barrel aged beers though they only had one available when I visited and it was bottles only. So I only tried their standard lineup. The beers were all well-made even if some were not completely to style.
The schwartz was well made and had notes of bitter chocolate and light roast though it seemed more like a porter than a black lager. It was still very easy to drink. The ESB was tasty with notes of apricot hop and clean bitterness. It could have had a bit more malt flavor to be more traditional but it was easy drinking and not very bitter.
The Dubel had a mix of holiday spoice and raisins with a moderately dry finish without too much sweetness. The Hop Bebop IPA was an excellent version of the standard grapefruit and pine West Coast IPA with a light bitterness and dry finish. This could pass for Duet from Alpine any day.
The stout was tasty and smooth with notes of burnt toffee and tons of roast. It was a good balance with a nice dry finish. The Barley Wine was more on the sweet side, sticky sweet with notes of dark fruit and not a ton of hop character. It was OK but I didn’t love it either.
Discretion has a fairly large indoor seating area and a nice cozy outdoor seating area. We sat outside and enjoyed the fresh air. As far as the core beers go, they are a worthwhile stop for any local who wants a classic IPA. For those who prefer coffee in their stouts, you can always go to New Bohemia nearby instead.
San Diego has its share of world class breweries. There are certain names in the beer world where you know whatever beer you order from them will be excellently made. At Bar Sin Nombre the tap list features beers from these breweries on the regular. Belgian beers from a couple of breweries are regular highlights as well as Belgian inspired beers from within the US. You will always find a few select IPAs and stouts along with some excellent lagers. By keeping the number of IPAs on the board fairly small, they can rotate through IPAs to ensure that whatever you find is fresh.
They post updated tap list regularly on Facebook so you can see ahead of time what to expect. There is also a great selection of beers in bottles and wines for those who don’t drink beer.
Each beer is served in specific pours ranging from 8oz to 18oz with glassware selected to leave plenty of room for head. Most of the Belgian-style beers and sours are served in 8oz tulip glasses. I am especially glad that the larger pints are served in Impeiral Pint glasses and not the usual shaker pint glasses that I am surprised are still used at major bars around town.
The bar draws massive crowds occasionally when they share on Facebook that they have a special Cantillon on tap or other excellent beer. I have visited both when it is insanely busy, where I missed the Cantillon but saw a number of my fellow beer enthusiasts and more recently on a lazy Saturday where the crowd was light but still quite respectable.
The outside front has no sign telling you where to go, as part of the nameless theme but you won’t have any difficulty finding the place. The inside decor is simple with standard bar stools and plenty of spaces to stand around the outer walls. If you come on a particularly busy day you may barely be able to walk through the place. Though it only opened in Mid-November 2017, Bar Sin Nombre has already become a regular spot for local beer enthusiasts to visit, knowing that they will always find world class beer and meet people who appreciate the same.
I wasn’t planning on visiting Denver during my latest trip but once I ended up in Denver I had to visit both Black Project and Bierstdt Lagerhaus because I had heard great things about both of them. Black Project is known for their sours and Biersdt Lagerhaus is known for their lagers.
I didn’t get to try more than one barrel aged sour at Black Project the time I visited but the beers overall were quite good. They have a small tasting room with some seating and serve their tasters in full size glasses.
I started with the IPA. It was soft and mildly hazy with a mix of grass and citrus notes with hits of herbal hops. It had a good balance and minimal bitterness but I could have done with more intense hop aromas. The grapefruit gose was acidic and tart with mild puckering. It had a light salt finish and lingers in the mouth. It was fairly bitter and not really my thing.
The passion peach gose was intensely fruity with tons of passion fruit and peach with a light tart and an overall juicy flavor. This was one of the more flavorful fruited goses I have had. The wild wheat was strong lacto tart with light berry notes but overall fruit was too mellow for the base. The sour golden was quite tasty with a sweet base with notes of tart apple and flavors reminiscent of a Belgian gueuze. It seems like it would make a good base beer for the addition of fruits.
Since I couldn’t try any of their barrel aged sours other than the sour golden I won’t be particularly critical but overall it was a worthwhile stop. Like many sour breweries, the beers available will change regularly including what they may have available in the bottle.
Gose with passion fruit and peach
I was drawn to Bierstadt Lagerhaus because they focus on lagers exclusively and I have heard they are quite particular about what glasses they will allow their beers to be served in when they send them to various local bars. Two things struck me when I visited. They have a large space with tons of seating. They also sell crowlers for $5 a piece for most of the beers which is surprisingly low compared to what many charge.
I only tried three different beers while I was there because I was there with other people. Otherwise I wouldn’t have tried as many beers because they only serve the beers in full pours. The pilsner was crisp and dry with light biscuit malt base and a tasty mild lager yeast character. They serve it in a way that makes it quite creamy.
The helles was more fruity than the pilsner and had some light floral hops with a good crisp finish and light white cake malt base. The dunkel had notes of caramel and toast with mild fruit and a dry finish. It was a tasty dunkel. I would recommend you stop by Bierstadt Lagerhaus if you are tired of all the IPAs and sours and want to try some solid lagers in Denver.
Half Acre is more established than the other two breweries I visited for IPAs. Their beers have a bit more of a classic feel than the others. Daisy cutter is one of their core offerings and it is a classic pale ale with prominent citrus and a crisp finish with a light malt base. Space was slightly hazy with a caramel malt base with light notes of coffee and mild bitterness. Though a bit hazy this is fairly traditional English style.
Pony pilsner was excellent with light fruity character, biscuit malt base, and a crisp clean finish. I brought home some cans of this one. Daisy Toronado is a more modern take on daisy cutter with tons of juicy hop character at the front and light onion hop character at the base. Vallejo IPA had an interesting mix of note of grape and plum that I don’t usually get in an IPA. I didn’t really care for the hop profile of this one.
Half Acre is a bit more classic in approach than many other breweries in the area for the hoppy beers. They also have a young sour program that is getting some acclaim. I got a small taste of one of their sours and it was quite complex and delicious. I am excited to open the bottle I brought home with me.
Half Acre is known for their pale ales and IPAs though they also have a young sour program that is worth checking out.
Un Annee is known for its barrel aged and fruited sours as well as their hazy IPAs and imperial stouts that they put under a different brand. They are located in a strip mall so that before you enter you may wonder if this is really a brewery. Once you step inside you get the feel of a standard tasting room. They are also a long drive out of town and best to visit only if you have a strong preference for sours. I started with their sours and then tried a few of their other beers. With so many on tap I asked the server to pick three of his favorites to start, which got me a few of their bigger barrel aged sours.
Le Grand Monde 7 had a nice mild oak base and a great balance of cucumber, mint, and other flavors that I rarely experience in a sour without too much acidity. I paired this with some grilled fish from a Filipino restaurant we got to bring to the brewery and it was delightful. Le Grande Monde 4 had such an intense hibiscus character that it was jammy and a highly acidic base. An enjoyable beer. Le Grande Monde 2, a flanders red style sour had good caramel notes with hints of molasses and tons of acidity.
The elderberry Le Seul VI was jammy and mildly sweet with light acidity. Overall the sours I tasted were quite impressive and I left with a few bottles to take home. Their hazy IPA, Hubbard’s Cave, was soft and creamy with light pine and herbal character with mild bitterness. It had notes of candied mango and peach as it warmed up. Though it could have been softer, it was an impressive hazy IPA and should satisfy any hop heads dragged there by sour fans.
Un Annee focuses on sours but also has stouts and hazy IPAs available. The bottles range from $13-25 for a 750ml bottle, which is within the norm.
5 Paddles is a small brewery that had only a few beers on tap and I decided to go with the ones that were most interesting to me since I was planning to hit a lot of breweries. I tried the West Coast IPA, Imperial Stout, and Cream Ale.
The IPA was one of the more drinkable beers made with Sorachi ace hops. Though I generally don’t like the flavor of the hops, it was a good mix of citrus and mild herbal character of bitter gourd. The beer had a light malt backbone and mild bitterness. The Imperial Stout was quite tasty with notes of marshmallow and roast with a sweet finish and minimal detectable alcohol. The cream ale was hazy and tasted more like a wheat ale with bright notes of citrus. While tasty, it wasn’t to style or what I expected.
5 Paddles is a small brewery that had solid beers. The 3 I tried were all done well and show that they have great brewers.
Even smaller than 5 Paddles, Man Antler is in an old abandoned building and run by a very young brewmaster. I only got to taste two beers there and they were both IPAs. The NE IPA was to me more of a west coast style pale ale because it wasn’t hazy. It had tons of fruity character from the hops and was quite tasty. The session IPA was also great though a bit thinner body and with more bitterness and pine with a crisp dry finish. Both beers were excellent.
When I visited they only had IPAs though other styles are in the works.
Williams Street Brewery
Williams Street is located in a small strip mall type area and has a good sized tasting room with bar seating and plenty of other seating. I did a flight of four beers when I visited.
The mango pale was a crisp pale ale with notes of candied mango and not overly sweet. I expected more fresh mango flavor but it was very good. The blonde was fruity and crisp with a mild hop kick and easy to drink. I brought a six-pack of cans of this with me to hang out on the lake and it was great for sharing while floating on the lake.
The Belgian table beer originally tasted and smelled like dijon mustard to me. Though as it warmed up it tasted more like stone fruit, I wasn’t a fan of the beer overall. The mustard notes never completely left it. The pale ale had a mild biscuit malt character with a base bitterness and mild fruit hops, a solid pale ale.
Everything I tasted was fairly low alcohol at Williams Street. They had a delicious blonde ale and the pale ale was quite nice as well.