Tag Archives: IPA

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.

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Stop Trying to Create National IPA Brands

As craft breweries become larger, there is a temptation to grow their brands and distribute beers into all 50 states. The problem is that at a certain scale quality drops off and beers deteriorate in shipping or on the shelf. Even if the quality is still there, because the batches are so huge, it is rare to taste a beer at peak freshness.

The best example for people in the West Coast is Dogfish Head. They brew some amazing IPAs and 60 minute IPA is delightful when fresh at the source. By the time it reaches San Diego it tastes like a malty mess. The difference is night and day. Not only is it disappointing to those who know what it can taste like but it may give people the wrong impression of what the beer tastes like. I had assumed the talk of it being amazing was all hype until I visited the brewery directly.

Or consider Maui Brewing. Their West Coast style IPA is crisp and delicious at the source but once it is shipped across the ocean it loses its kick. I didn’t expect much during my recent visit but at the source their IPA was excellent.  The same thing can be said for Lagunitas, Green Flash, New Belgium, Stone, and Sierra Nevada. Now that Lagunitas is owned by Heinekin, you find it on tap in bars across the country. But it is hard to keep the quality when you are brewing massive batches of IPA. The difference is also quite noticeable with Alpine beers that are now brewed in large batches at Green Flash. While they are fantastic when fresh and on tap they are brewed in such large quantities that it may sit in kegs or bottles for months after brewing.

Admittedly, some of the larger breweries are attempting to improve the quality and freshness of their beers in areas far from their home town by opening new breweries in other parts of the country. Stone, Sierra Nevada, Green Flash, New Belgium, and Ballast Point have all either opened or are in the process of opening new locations. Green Flash, Stone, and Ballast Point have opened spots in Virginia. Sierra Nevada and New Belgium have opened in North Carolina. Stone also opened a brewery in Berlin, Germany. Green Flash is also opening a brewery in Nebraska. Some could say that this makes them more regional but they are still making beers in massive batches.

For a while Alpine kept things small and quantities were limited. I lamented the difficulty of finding the beers at the time and the lack of six-packs. I wondered why people regularly drove to the source to buy the beers by the case. You can now buy Alpine beer in the grocery store in six-packs but it often lacks that explosive hop kick that made it worth seeking out. A similar thing can be said for Toppling Goliath where in an effort to meet demand they started contract-brewing with a Florida brewery to distribute outside of their local Iowa market. Fans agree that it isn’t close to the stuff brewed out of the brewery in Iowa. I have yet to taste the beers myself but I will be visiting the brewery in November.

Together, these breweries teach us a lesson about the importance of focusing on your region and growing within reason while keeping the quality the same. As the craft-brew explosion continues, there is room for a lot of regional leaders in beer. But do we really need IPAs from Founders and Bells distributed to the West Coast? Does the East Coast need Green Flash, Ballast Point, and other West Coast brands? They may draw interest initially but then that interest wanes and they get lost in the sea of local options. As big breweries focus more on growth and less on quality they lose the quality that brought visitors to seek the beer out at the source.

Independence is important in many ways but ultimately large craft breweries abandon quality in their search for ever-growing profits and lose some of the spark that made craft beer exciting. As more and more breweries are bought out things will only get worse. Up-and-coming breweries should focus on serving a region and not allow the search for expanding profits to leave behind the quality beer that brought them a following in the first place. The trend of limited-release cans direct from the brewery is a good response to this, but larger breweries are so big the limited releases are just peanuts to them.

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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Toronto Ontario Breweries Part 1 – Bellwoods, Niagara, Nickel Brook, and Great Lakes

Bellwoods Brewing

I didn’t have anything on tap my first visit to Bellwoods because it was late in the evening and they were quite crowded at their restaurant. Thankfully I saw the shop outside and was able to grab a few bottles. I got their Jutsu, hazy pale, Jelly King, hazy sour, and farmhouse classic, each in 500ml bottles.

The Jutsu was thick yellow haze that was more green at the bottom half of the bottle with all the yeast and hops. The beer had a grassy hop character and other tropical fruit hops that ended with a strong hop acidity like drinking pineapple juice. If drinking it again I would probably pour the dregs into a separate glass and not drink it. I liked it better with what I poured out first.

 

Jelly King I assumed would just be a clear kettle sour with mild hop kick but it was almost as hazy as Jutsu. It was fruity with notes of grapefruit, mild tart kick and mild hop acidity, much less than Jutsu. The farmhouse classic was a good funky saison that clearly should have been bottle conditioned longer as it erupted when I opened the bottle and spilled all over the table. It had hints of vanilla and a dry finish, reminding me of a muffin or light white cake.

I returned to Bellwoods some days later and tried two tasters of some beers that I hadn’t picked up in bottles the first time. I was very glad I did because I got to taste Runes and Witchshark. While Jutsu was great it was also ridiculously acidic, so it may have been just extra fresh. But Runes was soft, thick, and creamy without that acidic bite. It had tons of tropical fruit and citrus notes and mild caramel on the finish. It is a great example of the modern hazy IPA. Witchshark was a nice balanced double IPA though a bit maltier than I like and compared to Runes, I didn’t finish the taster. It was bitter with mild malt, mild pine and some candied fruit notes at the finish.

Top 2:
Runes – Hazy IPA
Jutsu – Hazy Pale

Niagara Brewing

Niagara brewing is a total gimmick of a brewery that gets a lot of traffic by being so close to the falls. They have a restaurant and both indoor and outdoor seating. I tried four beers while I was there and some were quite drinkable. The Blood Orange Berliner Weisse was a great low alcohol kettle sour with orange flavor, light tart kick, and effervescent carbonation. This was my favorite from this brewery.

The lager was fruity and thin with a mild sweet corn finish. It is a standard lager. The Schwartz was quite nice with a medium body and flavors of thick molasses and sticky burnt toffee. It tastes more like a stout than a schwartz but is quite good. The IPA was very sweet and heavy on the caramel from malts. It was too sweet and not particularly hoppy. I would have preferred to have it on cask being this style.

I wouldn’t recommend a trip out for the brewery alone but since Niagara is such a popular destination, it is a good enough stop for a pint after you are done walking. I did not have any food there.

Top 2:
Berliner Weisse with blood orange
Schwartzbier, black lager.

Nickel Brook


Nickel Brook brewing is in Burlington in Ontario Canada, about an hour west of Toronto. They don’t yet have the license to have a tasting room so you can try free tastes and buy bottles to go. I won’t get too critical of any of their beers since I only had a small taste of each of them. They had a good variety of options including tasty low malt hoppy beers that had a great balance to them. My friend swears their double IPA is one of the best hes ever had but they didn’t have it for tastes at the time I visited.

What stood out to me the most was the cherry dark sour I had. It was fantastically balanced and jammy with mild sweetness, low acidity, and mild oak. I enjoyed it so much that I bought bottles of the cherry dark sour, cherry blonde sour, and Flanders red style to bring home with me. I wasn’t originally planning on packing beer back but at $5 Canadian a 375ml bottle I couldn’t resist.

I got to try the Flanders at a bar later that evening and really liked its mellow flavors. Many beers in the style are either too much like vinegar or too acidic but this blended very nicely just like the cherry dark. It had good flavors of dark fruit and mild biscuit malts with a mild oak character. I will enjoy sharing these bottles with friends after I return but I would also recommend everyone try these delicious sours if you are in the area.

Known for:
They have a wide variety of beer but I would recommend coming out for IPAs or barrel aged sours. They also have some solid stouts available and lighter kettle sours.

Great Lakes Brewing

Compared to some other breweries I visited, Great Lakes Brewing isn’t doing anything hyper modern but the majority of their beers were quite good and to style. They have a good sized tasting room with outdoor seating and sell most of their beers in cans.

I enjoyed their pompous ass, a hoppy version of an English mild with a mild malt backbone and some citrus hops and a dry bitter finish. Their session IPA was a classic example of the style, lightly bitter with notes of resin and pine and a crisp finish on a light body. The red lager was nice and fruity with notes of currents and a dry finish.

The blonde lager was crisp and delicious, an excellent example of the style with light fruit and a dry finish. The IPA was lightly sweet and mildly bitter with lots of citrus and pine. This is purely classic west coast style. The pale ale was also low on malts with a bitter finish and notes of citrus and pine.

Come to Great Lakes Brewing for standard examples of styles done excellently well or look for their cans in the market.

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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Boston Brewerires – Cambridge Brewing and Lamplighter

Cambridge Brewing Company

I visited Cambridge brewing on a previous trip where I tried their hoppy offerings and found them to be solidly old school, (read not particularly interesting). This time I stuck to some other styles but only tried a couple because they don’t serve tasters. The Grisette was pretty average for the style, with notes of biscuit malts and mild fruit.

Grisette.
Gin barrel sour.

I also tried the Hendrix, a gin-barrel-aged sour with cucumber. It was an interesting beer and nicely balanced but I didn’t particularly care to drink a full pour of it. Rather than gin I tasted more tequila with some mild oak notes. Word online is that some of their limited-release sours are fantastic but once again I can’t verify that. Based on their offerings on tap, I would suggest a visit to Trillium for sours over Cambridge Brewing.

Lamplighter

Lamplighter is about half-mile walk from Cambridge Brewing. They thankfully offered tasters because I only liked two of the four beers I tried. Sadly the taster flights are set and you can’t build your own. I opted for the hoppy flight.

The Watchman, hoppy wheat, was creamy and soft with minimal bitterness and notes of citrus and guava. I could see myself ordering a pint of this one for sure. The Chief Hopper had strong esters on the back and a strong bitter finish. I didn’t care for this one at all. The Lion Eyes Hoppy Brett IPA had a ton of floral hops and brett on the nose with a strong herbal hop character and strong bitter finish. Once again I was reminded I don’t like beers bittered with Azaca hops.

The Double IPA was soft with notes of mango, tropical fruit, and honeydew melon with minimal bitterness. I quite enjoyed this one even if it was a bit sweet. The porter was solidly average with notes of dark fruit and roast with a medium body and dry finish.

Top 2:
Double IPA,
Hoppy Wheat

Both Lamplighter and Cambridge brewing make solid beer though I would recommend Lamplighter simply because you can order a flight to find out what you enjoy and order that. Lamplighter also had a few beers that were available to-go in cans but that you couldn’t taste. I didn’t try any of those.

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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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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Creature Comforts and The Southern Brewing Company Athens GA

Creature Comforts

Athens Georgia is a small college town about an hour and a half drive East of Atlanta. I visited mainly for Creature Comforts and while I was planning the trip I read about The Southern Brewing Company and their barrel aging program. People rave about the Tropicalia IPA from Creature Comforts, though when I tasted it, it didn’t blow me away, perhaps because I assumed from the name it was going to be a hazy IPA. I had two IPAs at Creature Comforts and they were both excellent examples of the West Coast style of IPA, hop-forward, low malt bill, and crisp dry finish while not too bitter.

What really impressed me though was their berliner-weisse. I didn’t drink any of the base while I was there but when I visited they had a number of versions available. Both the Terry Swish, with three kinds of fruit, and the dry-hopped variant were fantastic. I enjoyed both of them so much that I brought back a six pack of the base to explore it further. I enjoyed the cans so much that I wished I had brought back a second six-pack. This is the new standard against which I will rate berliner-weisse beers for some time.

 

 

San Diego breweries sell a lot of fruited berliner weisse and gose but usually they go a bit too light on the fruit for my tastes. This one was bursting with fruit and so good that I got two of it out of the tour. The dry-hopped version was perfectly balanced, with tons of hop aromas and no bitterness. The fruity hops went nicely with the citrus kick of the gose.

A note on the way breweries sell beer in Georgia, or at least while I visited, they can’t sell beer directly. Instead, they sell you a tour that includes a glass and six six-ounce pours. They have tours available but you don’t have to take one. It is their way around the silly laws. Other silly laws limit your ability to take home beers, so that you can’t buy more than 72 ounces of beer to go in one day per person. The tour thing should be changing soon for smaller breweries based on a law that has already been passed, which would allow them to sell directly. It will be interestin to see if they start doing taster flights like other tasting rooms.

Creature Comforts makes some great beers and everything I tasted when I visited was well-made. I also brought home a bottle of one of their sours to try later. They have a large open tasting room with plenty of seating inside and outside and it can get quite busy on weekends. I happened to visit on a particularly busy weekend because it was graduation time for many and they celebrated by going to breweries.


Top 2:
Terry Swirl
Dry-hopped Berliner-Weisse

The Southern Brewing Company

Compared to Creature Comforts’ West Coast style IPAs, everything hoppy I had at The Southern Brewing Company was more malty in the classic style. I didn’t even bother with their IPA once I realized it was as malty as their pale ale. There is nothing wrong with the style but I don’t particularly enjoy drinking it. The pale ale was really well made and a good mix of fruity hops and biscuit notes from the malts.

What I really enjoyed was their Berliner weisse and their Cherokee Rose. The Berliner weisse was complex and balanced. The Cherokee Rose tasted like an earthy saison with some mild funk. They also had a barrel-aged saison on tap that was funky as expected and nicely done. I also enjoyed their mexican-chocolate stout that was left over from Cinco De Mayo. It was appropriately balanced and medium body with notes of spice and mild hot pepper heat on top of a nice roasty stout.

I wanted to try some of the sours they were selling bottles of but besides the saison I couldn’t try them. Thankfully I found a bottle of their peach sour at a local shop and brought one of those bottles home along with their bourbon barrel aged stout. Southern also had a nice tasting room with an even larger lawn area for people to hang out in the sun. It is a shame California has such restrictive laws that require enclosed spaces at breweries or we could have something similar. They used the space to put on live music and it was good and relaxing. The crowd was even more insane at Southern.

If the sours from both breweries turn out as good as I hope, it makes for a great visit to enjoy the laid-back town of Athens and have some great beer while you are there.

Since writing this post, I tasted the peach sour and barrel-aged stout I brought back with. The peach sour was well-made though pretty standard for the style. The barrel-aged stout was also quite tasty though a bit thin because I assume they blend it down after aging in the barrel. It is a nice change from some of the thick sludgy stouts I see a lot of. Both were nicely done but not something I would make a separate trip to buy bottles of.

Top 2:
Cherokee Rose
Mexican-Chocolate 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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Protector Brewing – Impressive new Miramar Brewery

Protector opened in the crowded Miramar area. All their beers are made with 100% organic ingredients. This makes the beers more expensive to produce and so the prices are slightly higher than other breweries in the area. People don’t seem to mind though and some batches of IPA have sold out in 5 days. Though Protector hasn’t had a grand opening yet, they have already proven that their brewers have an immense skill. My first visit they only had three beers, two IPAs and a pale ale.

The hoppy pale was grassy with light citrus notes and a solid finish. I couldn’t tell if it was the grassy notes I didn’t like or the choice of malts but it wasn’t much my style. The traditional IPA was a fantastic balanced beer with mild citrus and mild bitterness. Both this and the West Coast style IPA had a solid malt character without being overly malt-forward. The malts balanced perfectly with the hop notes. The West Coast style IPA had a great blend of resin and citrus notes with a light bitter finish that wasn’t present in the traditional IPA. While slightly more malty than the typical West Coast style it was quite a good beer.

Over the coming weeks, I returned a few times to try their new beers. First time back they added a porter and a session heffeweizen. The porter was good and roasty with notes of caramel and cherries and bitter dark chocolate on the finish. The hefeweizen had a good dry finish. Flavor of cloves dominated over banana and the beer finished fairly astringent. While very easy drinking, I found the beer a bit too heavy on the cloves.

I returned a third time and tried their coffee imperial stout. Though expensive at $3.50 a taster, it was quite impressive. It had intense coffee on the nose. The beer had a silky mouthfeel with notes of caramel, roast, and coffee. Traditional ipa batch dialed up the citrus character even more though still with mild resin on the finish. Bitterness is still mild.

In a crowded area, Protector stands out with an excellent lineup of beers. Their IPAs showcase hops while supporting them with a mild malt backbone. This balance is difficult to achieve and a rarity among local breweries. Their tasting room is spacious from the get-go.

Disclaimer – Though I did receive the occasional free taster while visiting protector, my views have not been altered in any way.

Update – Post has been updated to reflect the brewery’s change of pricing for the Imperial Stout. It is now $3.50 a taster instead of $5.

Top 2: 
West Coast 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.

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