Tag Archives: Lager

Two new Breweries in Carlsbad – Culver and Burgeon

Culver Beer Company

Culver Beer Company has a fairly large tap list and a few solid beers though I felt they missed the mark on the IPAs. Thankfully, some other beers they had were solid. I had six tasters in total during my visit. They have a good sized tasting room with plenty of areas to sit. When I read that they were in Carlsbad I assumed they would be right off the 5 freeway but they are actually a bit more inland. Still, they are not too difficult to get to from the freeway. Another thing to keep in mind for both Culver and Burgeon is that the cell signal is quite weak at both. Burgeon had issues with their wi-fi when I visited but Culver had a solid wi-fi.

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The Pilsner was fruity and floral with a mild bitterness though I found the bitter finish was a little too strong for the style. The amber lager had some nice fruit notes including some cherry and an herbal/pepper finish from the hops. It had a nice clean finish and was a solid start for a beer of this style. The hoppy saison was a nice balance of fruity hops and spices with a medium body and mild bitterness.

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The vanilla stout smelled nice with an intense vanilla on the nose but when I actually tasted it, it tasted a bit off, with a strange bitter finish. I am not sure what was up with this but it didn’t taste like a stout. The Street Walker IPA was floral and intensely bitter with a fruity finish including some banana. It is a decent IPA if you don’t mind intense floral hops. The True Hero IIPA was grassy with hints of pine but was a bit off on the finish. I asked the brewer about it and they said they had a power outage during brewing that prevented it from finishing properly. I hope that is all that happened.

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Culver isn’t making bad beer such that I would say you shouldn’t ever visit them, but they are not making anything that is worth seeking out if you don’t live nearby or crave a well-done lager.

Top 2:
Amber Lager
Hoppy Saison

Burgeon Beer Company

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I went to Burgeon Beer Company directly after Culver Beer Company. They are pretty close by and have an even larger tasting room. The tap list was smaller at Burgeon and so I only ordered four tasters. The milk stout was tasty and presented a nice roast character with a creamy finish. The pale ale is a nice balance of crisp pine and grapefruit with a medium bitterness and an overall good balance.

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The IPA was a nice hazy orange color and had excellent fruit character with notes of tangerine and tropical fruit. The double IPA was lighter in color but similarly hazy with hints of pineapple, vanilla, and grapefruit. Both the single and double IPA had a nice acidic finish. I was quite impressed by everything at Burgeon and if I lived in the area I would be there regularly for their hazy IPAs.

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Top 2:
IPA
Double IPA

Out of the two, I would recommend Burgeon for those who are into hoppy beers especially hazy IPAs though Culver is doing some solid lagers and has an interesting variety of beer styles to choose from. I expect Burgeon will do great things in the coming year.

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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Reno Area Breweries Part 2 – IMBIB, Pigeon Head, and Under the Rose

IMBIB Brewing

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The brewery that came most highly recommended on Beeradvocate was IMBIB so I went there with high expectations. They had a massive tap list of almost 20 beers so with the altitude of Reno I wasn’t about to try everything. I decided to focus on the sours since they had five on tap and one on the cask. Though I didn’t like all of the sours, two stood out as really delicious and I left with crowlers of those.

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The Foeder Squared was funky and acidic with some apricot notes and a mild tart apple flavor common among lambics. The flavors were good but the beer was a bit too subtle for me. Abiogenesis was my favorite of the bunch, a wine aged dark saison, it had a cloudy brown color and flavors of mild caramel and smooth malt mellowed out by the oak and a mildly acidic finish.

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The boysenberry with brett had a dark red color with mild tart and good lightly acidic berry notes. It was a satisfying fruited sour and I left with a crowler of this as well. I wasn’t a fan of the IMBIB and Alibi collaboration beer. It was fruity and bitter and had some other flavors I couldn’t identify. The Pinot de Garde, which I assume from the name was a wine aged biere de garde was also not my thing and seemed like it may have gone bad sitting in a cask for too long.

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I also tried the oatmeal stout and maibock before leaving. The oatmeal stout was standard to style, dry and not super roasty. The maibock was clean and fruity with a prominent malt base. I really enjoyed this one. While I could have come back the following day to try more, I decided to leave it at what I did try. I would recommend stopping by IMBIB if you like sours.

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Top 2:
Abiogenesis – wine barrel aged dark saison
boysenberry brett sour

Pigeon Head Brewing

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I would not have stopped at Pigeon Head if I hadn’t been recommended it by the brewer at IMBIB. They focus mostly on lagers and had a nice variety of beers on tap. I also appreciated that they charged only $6 for a taster flight of six beers. I wish more breweries could price tasters so reasonable.

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The black lager was creamy and clean with a mild caramel flavor and a light body. I enjoyed this more than the black lager (schwartzbier at Brasserie St. James). The oktoberfest beer was smooth and clean with a dry finish. The pilsner was quite good, crisp and clean and very easy drinking. The IPL had tons of pine and herbal hop notes that balanced nicely with the bready malts.

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The ginger peach brett saison was my favorite of the bunch. The ginger was subtle and the beer was clean and fruity with a mild peach taste in the finish. I left with a crowler of this one. The Nevada Brown was smooth with mellow coffee and roast, overall very easy drinking. I came back the next day and had a glass of their red rye lager. It was a delicious beer and hid its alcohol very well. The rye balanced wonderfully with the malts.

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Pigeon Head was my favorite brewery from the trip and has a nice small tasting room with plenty of seating both indoor and out. They fill growlers and crowlers of almost everything. The bartender indicated that they will be doing more sour and wild beers in the future so keep an eye on them.

Top 2:
Red rye lager
ginger peach saison

Under the Rose

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Under the Rose was recommended by my friend who lives in the area but not so much by the local I met in the brewery the first evening. I wouldn’t say much was truly bad but none of the beers were more than average and with so many other choices, I wouldn’t return.

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The berliner weisse was fruity and dry and mildly tart, done well to style. The sour saison was mildly tart with some citrus notes and a mild rye kick. The aged porter has some intense whiskey flavors that blend nicely with dark fruit notes. It is better than a lot of the other lighter alcohol bba beers I have had.

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The wine aged belgian had tons of spice but also an intense floral/herbal kick that was almost soapy. There was a sweet cake taste in the malts but very little oak or wine character I could detect. The pale ale was pretty standard mix of pine and fruity hops while not being too malty or too bitter. The IPA was more of the same just stronger and a little more bitter. Both the pale and IPA were fairly old school.

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Top 2:
Aged porter
Pale Ale

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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Breweries in Bratislava Slovakia

I spent about a week and a half visiting a friend in Bratislava, Slovakia and visiting a few breweries and local bars. I got the feeling that the craft beer scene is just getting started. While there are a few bars with craft taps, there are a handful of actual breweries you can visit directly. I encountered numerous consistency issues where beers that my friend recommended highly turned out tasting bland or worse. Some locals tell me that Poland is far ahead in that area and other friends regularly visit Sweden for the craft beer scene. Still, I had some great beers from a few local spots we visited and one local IPA from a newly opened DUB brewing that was close to the American style because the brewery is run by an American.

Mestiansky Pivovar

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Our first visit was Mestiansky Pivovar, a brewery and restaurant that has a sign on the front saying it has been around since the 1700s though my friend tells me the exact spot has only been open for five years. They serve delicious food and it is the only place my friend regularly eats outside the home. They have two lagers, a cloudy pale lager and a smoky dark lager. Both are delicious though I prefer the pale one. This particular batch was quite fruity and had a nice medium body. The spare ribs there are served in a massive portion and are some of the best ribs I’ve had in my life. Out of the whole trip, the lager here was one of the most outstanding.

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DUB Brewing

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A bit later we visited DUB Brewing. It was in soft opening phase at the time of our visit but has since had its grand opening. The brewery is run by an American from Colorado who previously ran a successful brewery called Bonfire Brewing in Eagle Colorado. His ipa reminds me of home, delicious and balanced with a hearty malt backbone that holds up the pine, resin and grapefruit hops. Now that they have had their grand opening, you can visit and order pints directly. You can also find their IPA on tap around town in certain craft bars.

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Beer Time in Nitra

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On my one weekend there we drove out to Nitra, a common attraction for tourists and visited a bar called Beer Time where beers flow so freely that four kegs were finished during the hours we sat drinking. The beers on tap were mostly from Czech Republic though I did get to experience a satisfying Slovak ipa called 15 years in hell. Beers were mostly under 2 euro 50, the price I would normally spend on a can at home. A sour option was more, almost four euros but still a steal. Our night of revelry complete with appetizers and later sandwiches was only 60 euros and would have been even less if the sour hadn’t been tapped.

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While I started with ipa my friend ordered round after round of a Rauch beer. I’m told that the typical American way of pronouncing Rauch generally means something you smoke like a cigarette whereas if you say it with the proper German accent it means something lightly smoked. Before the grill was fired up my friends enjoyed some meats. One had some head cheese and another some pate while I enjoyed a local delicacy of camambert cheese aged in oil with red pepper and served with fermented long green peppers. Eaten on toast it was fantastic.

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Though I’ve been eating vegetarian at home, few options exist to continue that diet here in Slovakia where meat is consumed in portions only dwarfed by the Germans. Meat and cheese are commonly served along with bread and pickles. I don’t mind a little cheat from my diet because we eat many meals at his home where he generally eats vegetarian as well.

Richtar Jakub

Richtar Jakub is a pub but also brews some of their own house beers. Their lager was described to me by my friend as the best lager in Bratislava. Though the batch on tap when we visited was a little off, I did really enjoy their session lager, the Anna, because it was quite clean and delicious. They are also a great place to visit if you want to taste some of the other local beers on tap.

Stupavar

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My other favorite place to visit during my trip was Supavar, a brewery that has a solid lineup of various styles of beer. Their IPA is a bit more malty than my preference but it was also very clean. This is the one consistent brewery in town. I ended up coming back a few times to have more of their delicious smoked porter. While it originally shocked me with the high amount of smoke, after a few sips I was able to enjoy the chocolate and roast notes that balanced it out. This is the closest thing to an imperial stout that you will be able to find from the local breweries.

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Despite the issues I had with a few of the local breweries keeping things up to the level they had reached before, I enjoyed the chance to experience more quality lagers. Stupavar and¬†Mestiansky Pivovar are both places I would soon return to if I was back in the area. If you really can’t get enough of your local style of beers I suggest bringing some with you in your checked luggage. I shared a number of San Diego beers with my friends while I was out there.

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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Western Massachusetts Breweries

Those familiar with the area around Northampton, Easthampton, and other places around might notice quite accurately that I haven’t visited nearly all of the breweries in the area. I really wanted to visit Tree House to bring back some of their legendary juicy IPAs but their limited hours didn’t work with my trip. Similarly, I had hoped to visit Big Elm brewing but they are only open 12-4PM on Saturday. With what I was left, my local friend recommended I visit Element Brewing, The People’s Pint and the 3 new breweries in his town of Easthampton. The 3 breweries in Easthampton are called New City Brewing, Abandoned Building Brewing, and Fort Hill Brewing. Each has been open only about a year.

Element Brewing

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I have visited a lot of breweries in the past few years and have tasted a lot of different beers and my visit to Element is the first time that I have ever left four of six tasters on a flight more than 3/4 full because I was not enjoying them in the slightest. There are disappointing San Diego breweries that I have found at least to be competent enough that I still finished their flights of mediocre beers. This is even more disappointing because Element is one of the breweries in the area that is somewhat well known and popular and somehow has regular fans.

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The closest thing I can compare Element to is Reckless Brewing in San Diego, mostly because both breweries have a science theme and claim to brew whatever the hell they want with no attempt to brew to style (meaning they don’t really bother to make sure their dark beers taste like stouts or that their IPAs taste like IPAs, etc). I might not have cared so much that the beers were average if the brewery wasn’t in the middle of no where and charged $20 for a flight of six tasters, something which only makes sense if you are brewing sours the traditional way. Two of the six beers actually tasted like beer, and those two I will describe here. The rest aren’t even worth mentioning.

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If you still want to go to Element, please limit your exposure to the Extra Special Oak and Dark Element. The Extra Special Oak most closely resembles a Belgian Dubel style with flavors of dark fruit and caramel. The beer is smooth and not overly sweet despite the high ABV and finishes nicely with a mellow oak flavor. The Dark Element most closely resembles a black IPA though it does not have any roasted malts that typically give a stout its roasty flavors, nor does it have any body to speak of. But it does manage to showcase the strong hop flavors without knocking you out with bitterness.

Top 2: 
Extra Special Oak (oaked dubel)
Dark Element (black IPA)

The People’s Pint

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Not too far from Element is the popular brewery called The People’s Pint, where beers were a massive improvement and some were quite impressive. I tasted the Training Wheels Session IPA, Farmer’s Lunch Belgian Pale, Oatmeal Stout, and Double IPA. The Training Wheels was a solid session IPA, good and smooth with a solid mix of tropical hops and pine. The pine dominated a bit much for my tastes and the finish was a little more bitter than necessary but otherwise it was a tasty session IPA.

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The Farmer’s Lunch, though described as a farmhouse ale, is really more like a light Belgian style IPA, meaning it is not a traditional saison. The beer showcases some delightful tropical and citrus hops with some smooth Belgian spice under it all. The Oatmeal Stout was probably the most complex and delicious stout I have had at that alcohol level. The beer does a fantastic job of mixing chocolate, roast, coffee, and caramel in a very smooth easy-drinking stout. My husband really loved this and I quite enjoyed it as well. The Double IPA was a very delicious beer that mixed dankness, resin, citrus, and pine for a very smooth low-malt double IPA that hides its alcohol well and is not very bitter.

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The People’s Pint is primarily a brewpub and has a full food menu available as well. Their oatmeal stout is widely available around the area and reasonably priced as well. I would easily stop in for a pint if I happened by the area again in the future.

Top 2:
Double IPA
Oatmeal Stout

New City Brewing

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The first of my 3 breweries in Easthampton, New City is almost next door to Abandoned Building Brewing. I tried a flight of their Ginger Beer, Pale Ale, ESB, IPA, Rye IPA, and Dry Stout. The Ginger Beer is a delicious 8% alcohol ginger beer that has a smooth light body and spicy ginger kick that balances nicely with some mild sweetness. I can see why this beer has gotten them to be quite popular. The pale ale was quite smooth and balanced with with a bready malt base and a light but present hop kick. The ESB is quite smooth and malty and has a nice prominent apricot flavor from the hops. It was also the most bitter of the bunch.

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The IPA is also quite balanced with a solid malt base and light citrus hop notes without being overly bitter. The Rye IPA was similarly smooth and balanced with super light bitterness and peppery kick at the finish. The IPAs here are not West Coast style but also not Northwest style with unbalanced bitterness and overwhelming malt flavors. They are some of the most subtle and delicious versions of the styles I have had outside my typical preference. The Dry Stout was a solid dry stout with a good mix of roast and dark fruit malts. While not as flavorful as the People’s Pint Oatmeal Stout it was still quite solid. New City isn’t making any crazy styles but they are doing a fantastic job making balanced IPAs that are not malt bombs.

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New City is in a massive abandoned brick building and has a combination of bar seating and other indoor seating. They sometimes have live music on weekends as well as the occasional food truck.

Top 2:
Ginger Beer
Signature IPA

Abandoned Building Brewing

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I was recommended Abandoned Building mostly for the stout, which was not available on tap when I came by. I went for the IPAs instead, which after New City were disappointing and fairly average. I did bring home a few bottles of the barrel aged stout from Abandoned Building though and I hope to try these soon.

The Pennhurst Pale was fairly balanced with prominent bitterness, some fruity hop notes, and a bitter dry finish. The Hydra Pale was also fairly standard pale though slightly less bitter and more citrus forward. Dirty Girl IPA was surprisingly less bitter than the two pale ales but otherwise very similar malt background with some apricot notes from the hops. The Double IPA was the closest to the West Coast style and presented a good mix of citrus and dank flavors. It didn’t really stand out that much from the rest though. In all the beers seemed pretty similar and focused on bitterness over aromas. Still, it might be worth stopping by if you are in the area so you can try the stout.

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Abandoned Building is also interesting because of their location inside a similar massive brick building to the one where New City is located. To get inside you have to come through an entrance way that looks abandoned and through a door that would not normally suggest a brewery. They have no windows inside so it can be a nice way to escape the sun.

Fort Hill Brewing

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Fort Hill is the largest of the three breweries I visited and according to my friend has the most money behind them. Most of their beers focus on lagers, so I tried their King Mark Vienna Lager, Hera Pils, Lagerhaus session lager, Session IPA, Rauchbier (smoked beer) and Dopplebock. At this point in my day, I didn’t really distinguish much between the Vienna Lager, Pilsner, and Session Lager other than the Pilsner was the most hop-forward of the bunch showcasing some delicious German hops. Hera Pils is probably one of the best pilsners I have tasted and really impressed me. The Session IPA didn’t stand out much either, aside from being the most bitter of the bunch. It wasn’t really bursting with hop aromas.

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My friend insisted that I try the Rauchbier and I thought it was smooth and balanced between a light smoke flavor and a sweet back end. The Dopplebock was also quite smooth, sweet, and tasty with notes of plum and a very light body. If you are a West Coast beer drinker who generally shys away from lagers I would recommend going straight to the Hera Pils because it was the most delicious of the bunch. I probably would have ordered a pint before we left except my phone had indicated a storm might be on its way. I think that was ultimately a false alarm but it got us to leave.

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Fort Hill is inside a massive farm house and has a nice homey feel inside. When we visited they had live music playing as well, which was the main reason I was quick to leave when the storm warning showed up on the phone. You can find their cans of beers around town and I greatly enjoyed drinking a six pack of their Hera Pils the following day in my hotel room.

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Top 2:
Hera Pils
Session IPA

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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Austin Texas Beer – Hops and Grain Brewing and Jester King

In my short trip to Austin I visited only two breweries, in part because I was currently on a break from alcohol (or about to start one) and also because some of the local breweries don’t offer tasters. But the two breweries I did visit were the most highly recommended and they were both delicious in their own way.

Hops and Grain

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Hops and Grain is closer to downtown austin while Jester King is far out from the city. It is certainly much easier to visit Hops and Grain. Rather than a taster flight, they sell you a glass and you can fill that glass four different times for $10. It isn’t a bad deal per ounce but for someone who was wanting to cut back, wasn’t the best either. I was glad that they used a 10 ounce glass instead of a pint glass like I encountered at some other breweries. I stuck to some of the lower alcohol options and found most of them to be quite tasty. I tried the Zoe lager, the Alt altbier, the mosaic pale and the baltic style porter.

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Pilsner
Pilsner

The lager was super smooth and had notes of peach and light floral hops with a bready malt finish. It was one of the better lagers that I have had. The Altbier was super smooth and flavorful with a nice German malt flavor. I don’t have much familiarity with the style so I can’t say if it was a good example of it. The Mosaic Pale was a very well done pale in the modern style with lots of fruity hops and low on the malt bill. It stands up to some of the best San Diego pale ales. The porter was roasty and very tasty with notes of rasin and dark chocolate.

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The brewery is a great place to hang out when it is quiet but it can also get quite noisy during the middle of a busy Saturday. They do have some outdoor seating out front but because it is in the sun I didn’t go out there. Not only am I quite sensitive to the sun’s rays, so are beers. I was quite impressed by the beers that I tasted and wish I could have tasted more in a more traditional taster size. They are also walking distance from Mueller’s Meats, a great local BBQ joint that has lines but nothing ridiculous.

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Top 2:
Mosaic Pale
Pilsner

Jester King

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I also visited Jester King despite the long drive. It is probably a good 30 minutes outside Downtown Austin, which means driving along some windy roads to get there, many of them only two lanes. It is one of the biggest outdoor brewery locations I have visited. They do offer individual tasters of each of the beers but I was disappointed that they gave you full size glasses with each one, which meant it was a bit difficult for you to carry around a large number of tasters. Still, because they serve tasters I tried seven beers at Jester King.

The fantastic designs on the tap handles at Jester King.
The fantastic designs on the tap handles at Jester King.

I wasn’t too excited by the two smaller beers I tasted, the Petit Prince or the Audio Palette. They are both mainstays but seemed to be a little lacking in flavor for my tastes. Still it is worth trying them if you go so you can decide if you like them and want to buy bottles to take home rather than blindly buying bottles. Noble King was a solid farmhouse ale with light citrus and lemon notes and hints of spices. The Multifarious smoked stout was very smoky, and ultimately the only one we didn’t finish drinking. The smoke was a bit too much for us.

My first set of tasters.
My first set of tasters.
My second set of tasters.
My second set of tasters.

The Ol Oi sour brown was really smooth and not too sour with a really smooth oaky finish. I left with a few bottles of this because it was one of the more impressive dark sours I have tasted. The 2015 Autumnal Dichotomous was really smooth and slightly sweet, a very delicious farmhouse ale that hits my saison spot. I left with a few bottles of this one as well and look forward to seeing how they age. The last beer I tried was the Bufords Roadside Wares, a colaboration with Arizona Wilderness brewing. It was mildly tart with some dark fruit flavor and some acidic finish. It was a solid beer but I didn’t like it enough to buy any bottles especially because it cost a few dollars more than the others.

A view of some of the open space around Jester King.
A view of some of the open space around Jester King.

For a highly hyped brewery a long distance from the town I was glad I went out and visited Jester King. If I went out again I would skip some of the lighter alcohol beers in favor of the more complex sours and farmhouse ales. The ones I liked though were absolutely delicious, which is where I think the hype comes from. If you do happen to like their lighter beers you can find them in the local Whole Foods stores as well, though I didn’t compare the pricing.

Top 2:
Ol Oi Dark sour
2015 Autumnal Dichotomous farmhouse ale

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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Three Weavers Brewing – Los Angeles California

Three Weavers Brewing is right off the 405 freeway and relatively close to LAX and El Segundo Brewing. I didn’t try as many beers as I might have when I visited because you have to choose one of the set flights of 5 beers, either $10 for the core or $15 for the specialty. This turns out to be either $2 or $3 a taster depending on the flight. Thankfully they do serve half pours of the other beers available so I did end up trying one of the specialty beers after the core flight. Perhaps they had too many people ignoring the ESB and Kolsch lager that they wanted to give people a reason to try them.

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Tap list when I visited.
Tap list when I visited.

My flight included the kolsch, session IPA, expatriate IPA, ESB, imperial stout, and then I added a half pour of the coffee stout at the end. The kolsch is unfiltered and has a medium bitterness that joins with some citrus. The hops were nicely present, a lot more than in other local versions. It is quite a nice easy drinking yet hoppy kolsch. The session IPA was even more bitter than the kolsch with a nice citrus hop kick. Also a solid beer. The Expatriate IPA was thick and resinous with a good combination of tropical and mango flavor from the hops. It manages to be true to the West Coast style of IPA without having that overpowering simcoe flavor.

Core Beers Flight.
Core Beers Flight.

The ESB was quite tasty with a good balance of bready malts and earthy hops. I was also a bit surprised how much I could taste the complex flavors of the beer after the IPA despite many of the flavors being fairly subdued. I could easily have drunk a pint of the ESB. The imperial stout was a nice mix of caramel with mild smoke and dark fruit. Everything blended together nicely so that neither flavor dominated or became unwelcome. The coffee stout was really smooth and nutty with a high caffeine kick. We enjoyed the smooth coffee flavors and left with a bottle.

Pour of the stronger coffee beer.
Pour of the stronger coffee beer.

Three Weavers is fairly easy to get to and worth a visit for those of you who like a solid hoppy beer or a stout. They didn’t have a lot of other varieties available but they do such a great job with what they do that it doesn’t matter. I was especially glad how delicious the ESB is because it is a hard style to give a good amount of flavor while remaining light and drinkable. The tasting room has plenty of seating both inside and out with the occasional food truck on site.

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Top 2:
Expatriate IPA
ESB

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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Division 23 Brewing – Miramar Road

Division 23 is one of the newest breweries in the Miramar area. They opened officially on May 16, 2015 and have been pouring beer on Saturday and Sunday for a few weeks now. Like Intergalactic brewing they are hiding in the back of an industrial complex but they do a good job of giving you signs to send you to the right place. Like most breweries you enter through the back entrance where deliveries would normally drop off. (Hint: If you see typical glass doors like an office building you need to go around the back.) It is quite close to the new Ballast Point restaurant and the newly opened Reckless Brewing.

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This is what the front entrance looks like.

 

When I came by on June 6, 2015 they had 8 beers on tap with an interesting variety of styles that are likely to satisfy everyone. They had a lager, hefeweizen, saison, English style pale, berliner weiss, coffee stout, and two IPAs when I visited. Along with the berliner weiss they offer the traditional fruit syrups to add to your own beers to cut down on the sour flavors and give it a more interesting flavor. Eventually they plan to make some of their own syrups as well.

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I started with a taster of the berliner weiss (with raspberry syrup), the lager, and the hefeweizen. The base berliner weiss was not too tart, good and middle ground for that. When adding the syrup it really helps balance it out. Some people ended up trying four different flavors of this beer. The lager was nice and smooth with a nice sweet creamy flavor. The hefweizen was more fruity than usual and lacked the typical spices that are often added. I wasn’t a huge fan of this but it was popular with people around me.

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First set of tasters
Some bold people near me decided to try four different flavors of the Berliner Weiss.
Some bold people near me decided to try four different flavors of the Berliner Weiss.

Next I got tasters of the English Pale Ale, Saison, and Coffee Stout. The English Pale was very interesting with a lot of fruity apricot flavors going on and some nice caramel malts in the background. It was very balanced and smooth. The saison was good with mostly fruity flavors coming through. It lacked the typical pepper flavors that you sometimes see in a saison. The coffee stout was my favorite of all of them. Made with Kona coffee, it was very smooth and had a nice forward coffee flavor that really hit the spot.

Division 23 tasters 02
Second set of tasters.

I ended with the two IPAs. The Bitter Foreman IPA had an interesting combination of lemon and pine flavors with a solid bready malt background. The Freight Damage IPA was a bit stronger in alcohol and had more of a light malt bill with more fruit and tropical flavors going on. Neither one was what I would consider west coast style but they were both solid. I preferred the freight damage just slightly, though it was just tapped when I visited so it was super fresh.

Division 23 IPA tasters
Tasters of the IPAs

Overall I think Division 23 is off to a good start. They have a solid lineup and will be keeping the two IPAs, the stout, and the berliner weiss on tap as core beers. They may end up doing some versions of the berliner weiss witih fruit additions at some point as well, which would be very nice. They have a great setup inside with plenty of bar stools at the bar and other seating inside plus games to play and popcorn popping.

Open area to relax inside.
Open area to relax inside.

Top 3:
Coffee stout
English Pale Ale
Berliner Weiss

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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New York City Beer Adventures Part 1 – Random Beers I Tried

I recently made a short trip to New York City with my husband for sightseeing. Of course one of the most important sights is beer. This series of posts will focus on the different beers I was able to try while I was in the area. Part 1 will discuss a few of the single beers I ended up drinking at certain places. Part 2 will discuss a bar called The Stag’s Head where I spent a good amount of time. Part 3 will discuss Brooklyn Brewery, a huge draw because it has been around so long.

To start with I enjoyed some local beer while at the Embassy Suites near Newark Airport our first night. The hotel has a fantastic happy hour that we just barely missed with $2 pints. They have a few local beers on draft and others in bottles available. I got to try Cricket Hill Lager while I was there. It had a nice smooth hop flavor and was overall a solid lager. I didn’t find out until later that I could have gotten an IPA from the same brewery.

Tap list at Embassy Suites.
Tap list at Embassy Suites.

Later at Heartland Brewery in the Theater District of New York City, I ordered their IPA. It had a high amount of bitterness, possibly up to 70 IBU. A tropical fruit flavor came out pretty nice on the front. I was quite satisfied with this one though it did seem that the bitterness left it without much to taste. At the same brewery my husband ordered the oatmeal stout. He enjoyed the coffee and chocolate flavors and thought it was one of the better stouts he has had.

Heartland Brewing IPA
Heartland Brewing IPA

For a video review of these beers, check out this video I took while we were in Heartland Brewing.

After biking around Central Park New York City, we stopped by 3 Monkeys for a pint. They had a fairly large tap list with a number of different IPAs. I eventually settled on Single Cut Billy 18 IPA from Watt NY. It had a good pine hop flavor and tropical fruit with a mellow bitterness around 40 IBU. I enjoyed this one but it wasn’t anything particularly special.

 

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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San Francisco Adventures Part 4 – Southern Pacific Brewing

After leaving Rosamunde Sausage Grill I went straight to Southern Pacific Brewing. I wasn’t sure I was in the right place at first because I walked right past the brewery, not noticing the sign until I turned around confused. I ordered a flight of all seven of the mainstay beers and ended up with a small taste of two others before I was through. Needless to say, I didn’t have much more that evening.

View of the brewery from outside.
View of the brewery from outside.
Indoor seating area.
Indoor seating area.

Thankfully there were some heaters around the place because I had been a bit cold most of the day until then. The beer wasn’t helping me warm up either. When I ordered the flight, I was quite impressed by some of the lighter options. If I wasn’t tasting some of the stronger stuff I might have ordered a pint of the lager.

Initial Taster Flight.
Initial Taster Flight.
Tap List.
Tap List.

The lager had a lot of what you might expect in the flavor with a little bit of a buttery flavor. It is rare for me to see lager beers brewed by locals but this one was so fresh it was quite delicious. The hefeweizen was also quite good, even though it wasn’t as impressive as the lager. It had some nice citrus flavors to finish it off. The blonde was closer to an extra pale than anything else. From the scent I was almost convinced it might have been some pale ale instead. It had a nice green tea finish.

The porter happened to be tapped fresh in the middle and just in time to taste before I tried the IPA. It was a nice bitter porter that might not impress porter fans who prefer something a bit more sweet. The IPA was nice and balanced with some pine flavors up front. The extra IPA was a bit higher on the malts, with a bit of a caramel after taste. The amber was a bit stronger than the usual for its style and had a nice flavor at a little over 6%. The American Strong had a nice mellow caramel apple flavor to it, though a bit on the sweet side. I got to try a small taste of the Winter Warmer that was a bourbon barrel aged version of the strong. The bourbon barrel really helped the flavor and gave it a nice finish.

Overall I was quite impressed by the beers and wish I could have gone there on a day by itself. The IPAs didn’t taste like I expect in San Diego but they were quite nice.

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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