Tag Archives: Pale Ale

Chicago Area Breweries – Half Acre and Un Annee

Half Acre

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.

Known for:
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

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.

My first 3 tasters of various 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.

This shows the wide variety of beers they had available to go when I visited.

Known For:
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.

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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Rouleur Brewing – Carlsbad San Diego

Rouleur is one of two breweries in the brewery igniter space in Carlsbad fairly close to Arcana Brewing and Culver Brewing. Sadly their neighbor, Wiseguy Brewing, closed abruptly. I initially visited while I was trying beers at Wiseguy but since I didn’t try very many beers that time I returned for a second visit recently. Overall Rouleur is a solid brewery and should make for a fun stop for people in the area.

Hazy/Juicy IPA

I only had three beers at Rouleur in my first visit because I had just finished 8 tasters next door. Rouleur has a nice small tasting room and a wide number of beer options. I focused on their Dopeur hazy IPA though it wasn’t to me particularly juicy or hazy. The beer was strong with herbal character and had very little tropical fruit or citrus that would make a beer juicy. It was also a bit too bitter for the style. My server indicated that it is normally less bitter and that they were having some issues with the yeast. As indicated below, the brew is no longer as intensely bitter as I experienced initially and they have updated the description and now simply call it a juicy IPA.

The saison was fairly standard with notes of white wine, citrus, and white cake, nicely balanced. The Bonkeur Pale had notes of peach and grapefruit with much more juicy nose and flavor than the Dopeur. All 3 beers were light in color and clear. I enjoyed the three beers at Roleur and was especially glad to see that they intentionally do 4oz pours in their 5oz glasses to leave room for head and aroma. They brew hoppy beers closer to the local trends than Wiseguy next door and have the dry-hop techniques down as well.

Tap list as of October 9, 2017

I returned to Rouleur after their neighbor Wiseguy closed to give them a more in depth try. I gave the Dopeur another try to see if it was any different now that they had released it in cans. The bitterness that put me off before was now gone though the beer still tended towards herbal hop flavors with some mild fruit to balance it out. It is a tasty IPA for sure but not my preferred flavor profile. The blackberry blonde was subtle with light berry character that balanced nicely with the fruity base beer. It had a clean dry finish but after the intense fruit I had at wild barrel it didn’t grab me that much.

The red ale was nice and balanced with notes of biscuit and dark fruit and some subtle hop character. This was one of my favorites of the day and a refreshing take on the style that I normally don’t care for. The dark ale on nitro was a bit drier than I prefer with notes of cherry and roast but overall very subtle malt flavors. I would have preferred more punch to it. The double IPA was strongly malty with notes of pine and resin, a medium bitterness, and notes of black tea when it warms up. Though I wouldn’t characterize it as a malt bomb, it was still more malty than I prefer. To their credit they do note on the board that this is a more malty double IPA.

Their cycling theme is furthered by this crazy display.

Top 2:
Amber Ale
Dopeur 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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Viewpoint Brewing – Del Mar San Diego

Viewpoint has the distinction as the first brewery to open in Del Mar. Many in the area resisted the idea of a brewery and tasting room so they made a compromise and exist as a tasting room only until 4PM and then at 5PM they open as a restaurant. Since even the people of Del Mar drink alcohol with dinner they are satisfied and the brewery gets to open. This is a unique thing for a San Diego brewery.

I ordered a flight of all their tasters while looking across the water to the racetrack on the other side. The view allowed me to forgive the wait for someone to take my drink order that you get when you aren’t sitting at the bar. I also recommend you don’t do a flight on a warm day because the beers warm up too quickly and the last quarter of the taster is going to be too hot if you take your time tasting.

My husband enjoying the fresh air.

The beers available focused mostly on the hops with three pale ales, a session IPA, a saison, and a red rye IPA. The choice to focus on lower alcohol beers probably has something to do with their location. Experiment A Pale, made with experimental hops, was smooth and balanced with biscuit malt base. It had some mild ester character and a mild bitter finish. Of all the pale ales this one is was the least hoppy.

The SMASH Chinook pale had a dank marijuana nose and tons of dank resin and pine on the taste with hints of marijuana. It had a mild sticky body fitting with the resin and a fairly low bitter finish. I enjoyed this one a lot but it is recommended for the big hop heads. The mandarina pale had notes of tangerine and bitter grapefruit and a stronger bitterness than the other two pales. It had some herbal character as it warmed up.

The session IPA was dank and resinous with strong pine on the finish and a medium bitterness. It was slightly darker than the pale ales but not overly malty. The saison was solid with lots of ester character, notes of vanilla, spice, and white wine. I didn’t get much hop character here even though smash in the name suggests it had some hops added. The red rye IPA was nicely balanced and not too bitter. The beer focuses on classic bittering hops as opposed to aroma and compared to the rest of the beers it seemed out of place.

The gorgeous view.

Viewpoint has an open patio mostly covered. If you sit at a table prepare for a slight wait to order beers and get them served. I was slightly disappointed that with so many beers they didn’t have them in an order that suggested tasting order though none of them was so bitter it would wreck your palate. If you aren’t into hoppy beers, they have plenty of guest beers on tap as well from various small local breweries. If you know what you like, I recommend trying a splash and ordering a full pour because they don’t warm up as fast as the tasters.

Top 2:
Chinook SMASH pale
Mandarina 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.

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Breweries in Madison and Milwaukee Wisconsin, Karben 4, Vintage, Raised Grain, Good City, Black Husky,

I normally get my information about which breweries to hit in a city from Beeradvocate and Ratebeer forums. This sometimes works out wonderfully, when locals give a list of tons of places that I have to pick the cream of the crop from. Other times this is not so great when there aren’t a lot of well-recommended breweries in an area. In that case I may miss a few places or skip over local favorites entirely based on the opinions of people on a message board. Sadly in Madison, Wisconsin this meant I didn’t make the trek out to New Glarus (45 minutes outside of town) and didn’t visit Vintage brewing because I didn’t ask my friend for recommendations. Thankfully I got some crowlers from Vintage because my friend shared the wealth.

Karben 4 came highly recommended in Madison and I agree with the praise. Out of the Milwaukee breweries, Raised Grain was a clear winner though the locals indicated that they are still in somewhat early stages.

Karben 4

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Karben 4 was the most recommended brewery out of all the Madison breweries and so it was my first stop, and turned out to be my only stop. I had a number of tasters and almost everything was excellent. They have a medium-sized tasting room with a kitchen and tons of variety.

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I started with the Champagne Tortoise English mild style ale and was immediately impressed by the clean beer bursting with flavor. The beer was smooth and fruity and lightly sweet, without any noticeable bitterness. The Tokyo Sauna pale ale was bitter and mildly soapy/herbal with a smooth malt finish. I didn’t care for the hops in this one. The Nightcall smoked porter was smooth and balanced with tons of chocolate and caramel and a mild smoke on the finish.

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The Fantasy Factory IPA was fruity with tons of citrus and a smooth malt backbone that was balanced by resinous hops. It was a solid IPA. Lady Luck imperial red was fantastic. I was glad to find an imperial red that wasn’t hopped to intense bitterness. The beer had tons of caramel and dark fruit with a mild roast at the finish. I could easily order more of this quite regularly if I was a local. Dragon Flute pale ale had tons of bright fruit showcasing tangerine and pineapple over a low malt bill and mild bitterness. I finished with the Idiot Farm double IPA, a delicious sticky sweet double IPA with tons of citrus and a balanced malt-backbone.

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Since I didn’t get the scoop on other local breweries while I was there I might have just gone back to Karben 4 for more because of their impressive lineup. Though I didn’t like all the hoppy beers, they had two that were quite excellent. And one of the ones I didn’t like may have just been an old keg.

Top 4:
Champagne Tortoise English Mild
Lady Luck Imperial Red
Dragon Flute Pale
Idiot Farm Double IPA

Vintage Brewing

Though I didn’t visit Vintage Brewing I did get to try four different beers thanks to a friend. It helps that they have a crowler machine so the beers stayed fresh over a few days.

The oaked pale was a fantastic smooth blend of a malt-forward IPA and a smooth oak bite at the finish. The oak removed any intense bitterness and the beer was quite popular among a group of people at a party who generally don’t like IPAs. The Toy Boat Toy Boat double IPA was deliciously fruity with a smooth balanced malt backbone of English malts. Hops came on strong with tons of sweet melon notes. I would love to visit the brewery the next time I am in town.

Raised Grain Brewing

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Raised Grain is a ways to the west of Downtown Milwaukee but well worth the drive. I tried a number of different beers from them and almost everything was excellent. They have a nice medium-sized tap room with plenty of bar seating and a number of tables. They had sports on their TVs and you could tell the locals have become regulars.

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The Naked Threesome was a delicious fruity pale ale with tons of grapefruit and a sticky caramel malt backbone. The Anniversary Stout was nutty with tons of vanilla and a smooth finish. Quite the tasty beer. The porter was an interesting mix of spice, cherry, mild smoke, and some burnt caramel notes. I found the cherry to be a bit much for my tastes though. The coffee stout on tap was delicious with tons of nutty coffee on the nose and the taste and a mild caramel finish. This was quite an excellent coffee stout.

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Before I left, the bartender offered a smaller pour of their staple imperial red IPA. It was deliciously balanced with tons of citrus and pine from the hops and some mild caramel and bread notes from the malts. With so many red IPAs being total malt bombs this was quite refreshing. The scotch ale was smooth and fruity wish some mild oak at the finish.

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Top 2:
Coffee Stout
Paradox Imperial Red IPA

Good City Brewing

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Despite the name, I found only half of the four tasters I ordered here to be drinkable. They started out strong with a mosaic pale that had tons of tropical fruit and hints of mango without significant malts or bitterness. The session IPA was bursting with papaya and creamy malt backbone with a crisp dry finish. If the rest of the beers were as good I would be praising them along side Raised Grain. Sadly, the next two were not very good.

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The Pale Lager had some notes of peaches and cherry with some quite prominent alcohol taste and a strong bitter finish. Though there was some mango in the finish as well, the bitterness and strong alcohol flavor killed it for me. Similarly, the double IPA had strong flavors of onion and a sticky sweet malt backbone. Though it had some fruity hop notes on the nose I got none of it in the taste. I was even more surprised to see that the brewery charged me just under $4 for the taster of this double IPA and almost $3 for each of the two IPAs. If I had noticed the $4 taster price on the board I would have passed it up out of principle. Charging twice as much for a pint as they do for a taster is ridiculous and hurts visitors who aren’t interested in ordering a full pint.

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Though I didn’t care for the second half of my flight, the first two beers were quite impressive and show that the brewer knows how to work with hops and can get the right flavors from them at least some of the time. I will give the brewery the benefit of the doubt and assume that they messed up with the double IPA though I question selling a beer so clearly off the mark. Still, paying $12 for essentially one pint of beer just because they are in tasters is a poor way to treat customers who aren’t going to buy a pint until they have had a few tasters.

Top 2:
Mosaic Pale
Session IPA

Black Husky Brewing

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Black Husky doesn’t offer typical 4oz tasters but instead 7oz tasters, which makes their pricing slightly more reasonable even if they still annoyingly price things essentially against the people who order anything but a full pour. Visitors aren’t going to order full pints of things if they are visiting multiple breweries in a single day. It just doesn’t make sense. So because of their large tasters I went with essentially half pours of their two IPAs.

The IPA with Citra was smooth and presented tons of tropical fruit notes from the hops. The IPA with mosaic had tons of bitter grapefruit with hints of lime in the finish. Both IPAs were made well though they were noticeably quite similar in the malt behind them. I would have tried more beers there but the styles available didn’t pique my interest.

Black Husky has a very nice theme going and some relaxing seating in the tasting room. Sadly, the tasting room also got quite loud even when it wasn’t completely full. This didn’t make me want to stay very long. They are worth dropping by if you are craving a good IPA because the two IPAs I tried were nicely done.

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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Lagunitas Born Yesterday Fresh Hop Pale is my Beer of the Week

I post a lot about beers on tap at local breweries. But I also drink a lot of beer out of bottles at home. Every once in a while there is a beer that stands out form the rest and these are the ones I want to recommend to readers. This week the beer that stood out to me was Lagunitas Brewing Fresh Hop Born Yesterday Pale. Though sadly not bottle-dated, if you buy it anytime in November 2016, preferably in the first two weeks of November, you can rest assured it is fresh.

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Born Yesterday has a strong grapefruit nose and pours a clear golden color. The beer has tons of grapefruit and a good amount of dank pine and the hop character is bursting like you only get on a beer that is extra fresh. When I had my first bottle earlier this week I immediately compared it to Zombie Dust from Three Floyds in Northern Indiana because the beer reminded me of what it was like to drink that delicious beer on tap at the brewery.

If you like a good IPA, go out and grab some Born Yesterday yesterday, or as soon as possible. Try to drink it within the first two months of November for optimum freshness and enjoyment. Make sure you store this beer in the fridge as well once you buy it.

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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Little Miss Brewing, Miramar area San Diego

Little Miss opened recently in an area not far from other nearby breweries but a bit confusing to find. Like many other breweries in the area they are located inside a warehouse space. They have plenty of seating from the start, which is always good to see. They were originally going to wait some time after opening before turning it into a tasting room but then beer enthusiasts showed up anyway and wanted to have some beer. So they quickly turned the space into a tasting room. If you have some difficulty finding them, Google will bring you to the end of a building with a driveway on each side. To get to the brewery you take the right driveway and head all the way to the back.

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When I visited, I had a flight of four beers and two more before I left. In total I tried the berliner weisse, SDPA, SMASH Galaxy, porter with coffee, IPA, and the base porter. The berliner weisse is tart and tasty giving some fruit, mild citrus notes. They offer fruit puree to mix in with the beer but I found it didn’t really add much flavor and it wasn’t as consistent as other places with syrups. The SDPA (San Diego pale ale) was a good mix of fruit and pine with a mild bitterness. The SMASH galaxy was pretty disappointing and lacked in significant aroma. The beer was crisp and mildly bitter but didn’t really pop.

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The porter with coffee was a good mix of coffee and roast and a good medium body. The base porter was delicious and complex with tons of roast, chocolate, and caramel. You can’t go wrong with either version though I personally preferred the base porter. The IPA was a fantastic mix of pine, grapefruit, and lemon hop notes. Though I don’t really care for pine on its own, when blended like this it works well. This is an excellent example of the West Coast style of IPA.

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Little Miss isn’t pushing any boundaries but they came out of the gate with a great lineup of beers. They are located right around Hess, Alesmith, and Mikkeller. Their combination of military imagery and pin-up art helps them stand out. I also really liked the seating provided, which used old kegs and placed pillows on top for a surprisingly comfortable seat.

Tap handles in the shape of bombs.
Tap handles in the shape of bombs.

Top 3:
IPA
porter
Berliner Weisse

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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32 North Brewing Revisited Again, Second Change of Brewers

Covering breweries can require a lot of attention paid because brewers don’t always stay with the brewery for various reasons. I can’t speak to many of the reasons behind many of the notorious local shifts of brewers and I wouldn’t want to share the details even if I could. For 32 North, this meant they started with a brewer who came out of the gate with some excellent beer and then after a few months went on to open a different brewery, which is the quite-popular Bitter Brothers. Then another brewer was brought in to replace him and didn’t last as long as many expected. Some say he went back to the East Coast because he wasn’t a fit for the local scene. I could see this as a plausible explanation considering his version of the Best Coast IPA was too malty for local tastes.

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Now with their 2nd anniversary coming up, I visited 32 North again, giving their new brewer, Nick Ceniceros, formerly the head brewer for Fall Brewing, a chance to dial in the recipes on the different system. The changes from a year ago to now are drastic and show a clearer understanding of the local brew scene as one would expect from someone who has been a major part of the scene for a while. Of the beers I tried, all were well-made but four stood out as quite excellent. I can safely say that if Ceniceros stays on for a while, he will help cement 32 North as a powerful player in the crowded Miramar brewery scene.
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Look and feel wise, the brewery hasn’t changed all that much since it opened. They have always had the beautiful wood-dominated look that helps you quickly forget that you are in the middle of an industrial park. The design of their tasting board has changed quite a bit over time and the design they have now is pleasing and easy to read from a distance.

I had two separate flights on my recent visit, trying seven beers and a cask variant of their house IPA to finish things off. I started with a flight of Pennant pale ale, Blancdonkadonk hoppy wheat, Mighty Mouse session rye IPA, and Landfall berliner weisse (without syrup). The second flight I had the Best Coast IPA, Far East IPA, Hello Darkness oatmeal stout on nitro, and Best Coast IPA cask with mosaic hops.

First flight with pale ales and Berliner Weisse.
First flight with pale ales and Berliner Weisse.

Penant pale ale is a smooth dry pale ale with a great balance of citrus, pine, and resinous hops. It has some malts backing it up but nothing that overpowers the hops as the traditional style tends to do. This was the first standout for me. The blancdonkadonk is a strange beer and a bit hard to describe. At first I got a lot of apricot from what I assumed were English hops over some fruity wheat malts. Then later on I got more passionfruit and other tropical fruit notes. I found the hops were a bit too much but mostly because the flavors weren’t for me. The Mighty Mouse session IPA was clean and dry with a great mix of dank resinous hops, some fruity hops, and as it warms up some floral/herbal hops all supported by a solid rye kick. I liked it more at the beginning but once I got to the herbal hops I lost interest. This is another beer where it mostly isn’t my preferred hops but is done well.

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The Landfall Berliner Weisse, without syrup, was excellent. It had a great medium body and some subtle fruit and citrus notes. They offer three flavors of syrup for this if you want to experiment though I prefer it on its own. Though they will be soon canning their blond ale, I hope this one day gets canned because it is quite excellent. The Best Coast IPA is a great mix of dank pine and resin hops and some tropical fruit towards the end. Though pine on its own is not a flavor I love, it is delicious when properly balanced as here. The beer also has a nice supporting malt backbone that is just enough to give it a good medium body without calling too much attention to itself.

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The cask version of Best Coast was super smooth with tons of mango, guava, and melon bursting from the beer. Surprisingly most of the dank flavors of the tap version were gone. The Far East IPA had tons of over ripe tropical fruit and a sticky sweet fruity finish. I couldn’t identify specific fruits but I really did not care for this one. I finished with the Hello Darkness oatmeal stout on nitro. The beer had a complex mix of roast, coffee, and chocolate notes all supported by a smooth caramel base. This would probably be the first beer for me to order in a pint when I return. It is an excellent oatmeal stout and I’m sure the coffee version is quite nice as well.

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It is a great sign that two of the stand-out beers for me were part of their core lineup and soon to be canned. Even if you have been disappointed in the past with what you had at 32 North, you should absolutely return to try these delicious new batches. Their upcoming 2nd anniversary on October 21st.

Top 4:
Hello Darkness oatmeal stout
Landfall berliner weisse
Pennant Pale
Best Coast 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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Seattle Breweries – Reuben’s Brews, Stoup, Lucky Envelope, and Holy Mountain

The breweries in the neighborhood of Ballard in Seattle have exploded recently such that they are close enough together that you can walk to a number of them after parking. For me this meant visiting Reuben’s Brews, Stoup, and Lucky Envelope in one monday afternoon. I wanted to visit Populux as well but they were closed that day. Each brewery had a few tasty beers but nothing to the level that would justify the hype behind them.

Reuben’s Brews

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Reuben’s Brews is the first one I wanted to visit due to reading about it online from another blogger. They had a massive tap list but the seven beers I ordered didn’t impress me enough to get me to order another flight. I tried three sours, three IPAs and one stout. The three sours were all very interesting though my favorite was the Kentucky Common. It was really smooth with notes of caramel and some mild tartness. It had a delightful smooth finish that I don’t get much. My sister really liked the dry-hopped sour because it exhibits tons of lemon with a mild tart kick. I also enjoyed the fruited sour I had because I thought it had some good balance, just the right amount of fruit, and a good tart finish.

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I picked my IPAs to try by the two varieties they had available in cans. Both seemed to exhibit bitterness over aroma and both also seemed to have a wheat malt base that I didn’t really care for. Though one of them had some nice tropical fruit and pine after it warmed up, it was just fairly average. The experimental IPA was really off-putting and the flavors reminded me of Sorachi Ace hops. Neither one of us liked that one at all. I later told the bartender they should put a note that it tastes similar to Sorachi ace because that hop is very polarizing. The Porter was really tasty with lots of caramel, roast, and mild smoke.

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For such a new brewery, I was surprised that they had almost 20 beers on tap. It seemed to me like they need to spend more time coming up with some killer core beers but I hear their IPAs are quite popular around the area. If you like kettle sours, it should be an interesting place to stop by but I wouldn’t recommend trying everything on the board. They have a nice open atmosphere and tons of outdoor seating and street parking.

Top 3:
Kentucky Common Sour
Fruited SOur
Porter

Stoup Brewing

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Just a short walk from Rueuben’s is Stoup, where they have a shorter tap list and the IPAs are more flavorful. I did not care for the ESB I tried. It was really pretty tasteless and thin. Their seasonal witbeer was pretty good with lots of spice, some mild fruit, and hints of lime. The Mosaic Pale was quite popular there and my sister really liked it. I thought it was well done and had a good amount of citrus and fruits. It also had some notes of green peppers, which was a bit strange. I preferred the Citra IPA instead, which had a lot of tropical fruit notes. The North West IPA was an interesting take on the style, lots of sticky, dank pine character that dominated over the malts. The porter was solid but lacked the sweetness that I enjoyed in the one at Reuben’s.

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Stoup seems to have a good start on finding the right flavors for their IPAs but the hops weren’t bursting as much as they could have been. They also have a nice open ambience and a good amount of outdoor seating.

Top 2:
Citra IPA
Mosaic Pale

Lucky Envelope

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I started with a helles at Lucky Envelope and really liked the fruity apricot hop character and crisp helles taste. The Session IPA was smooth and fruity, and done well. The IPA was nice and fruity without a ton of bitterness and exhibited lots of tropical fruit. The grapefruit version was quite tasty, with a bitterness to the beer that suggested lots of zest was added to the beer. Their Peanut Butter Stout was also quite delicious with tons of nutty flavor and a smooth finish without being too sweet.

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Top 2:
Helles
Peanut Butter Porter

Each of the three Ballard area breweries I visited had something tasty available. They make for a fun walk between the three. Then my husband drove us to Holy Mountain for our last stop of the evening (almost!)

Holy Mountain

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Known for lagers and wild ales (lagers?) Holy Mountain has developed quite a reputation very quickly. Many of their bottle releases sell out incredibly fast. Thankfully they have plenty of other good beers available for those who happen to stop by without planning like myself. I won’t bother describing the specific style of most of the beers since they are almost all wild. Though they didn’t offer tasters, we were able to do half pours of everything and create a flight still. I also left with a few bottles to go.

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I started with Kiln & Cone their pale ale, which was really smooth and quite fruity. After everything else we tried their Three Fates lager, which we should have started with as well. It was quite tasty lager with an earthy back and some floral hops. Ceremony has the unique flavor of cake frosting and coconut while finishing with some mild funk. My sister liked it more than I did but it was interesting for sure.

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Demon Teller was a nice mix of brett and funk with some mild tart and a nice dry finish. Fellowcraft was a bit more fruity than the demon teller and had some nice grapefruit notes. Witchfinder was hoppy and mineral forward, solidly fruity, and good and funky. I got a bottle of this one. Most of the brett beers were tasty though none of them stuck out either as really bad or clearly the best. They are a bit isolated as far as breweries go and my sister tells me not very easy to get to by public transit. If you want anything special, follow their social media for the extremely limited releases.

Overall, I would highly recommend Holy Mountain but the three other breweries didn’t knock off Fremont Brewing or Bellvue Brewing from my previous favorites from an earlier trip.

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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Calgary Breweries in Alberta Canada – Wild Rose and The Dandy

I only visited two breweries in my time up in Calgary because the more interesting part of Calgary is the nearby Banff National Park where there are two small breweries, one in Canmore and one in Banff that I’m sure are great compared to the macro beer you can find in most of the convenience stores but also nothing exceptional. Out of the two breweries I did visit in Calgary, one was fairly disappointing and the other was exceptional and quite impressive. WIld Rose Brewing is a larger brewery and sounded like they had some interesting beers but I finished about half of the total tasters because some were not for me. The smaller brewery, The Dandy Brewing, was excellent almost across the board and set my bar so high that when I went to breweries in Seattle the following day, some of the hyped breweries, while solid, didn’t live up to the same standards.

Wild Rose

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At Wild Rose I tried 8 tasters. Of those, half were tasty. The Velvet Fog was a really tasty beer of half wheat and half pilsner malt that was crisp and delicious with lots of nice notes of spice and citrus while keeping everything very balanced. This was one of the best beers of the bunch and I expect it is quite popular. The Electric Avenue was a fairly standard lager with some floral hop notes. Cowbell Kettle Sour is a tasty light alcohol sour with lots of fruit, citrus, and lime, with a strong tart finish. The lime comes on strong from the use of lime leaves. The Wraspberry ale was not very tasty at all and while it had some smooth raspberry flavor it also often tasted like cough syrup. It might be better mixed together with the kettle sour.

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The Barracks Brown was also not really my thing. Brown ales in general tend to be lacking in flavor and this one was also strongly smoky. The IPA was fairly standard old-school bitter-forward IPA with a strong malt backbone. As it warmed up it exhibited some solid darnk and resinous qualities. Alberta Crude was a solid porter with a good amount of roast and some bitter chocolate. The Maibock was way too sticky sweet, exhibited notes of over ripe fruit and rasins and was quite boozy in the finish. I did not drink much of this. The other two seasonal beers, the Session Pale and Belgian Pale were both tasty versions of the style. The Session Pale has some solid galaxy hop flavors and the Belgian Pale exhibits lots of spice notes from the Belgian Yeast.

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While about half of the beers were disappointing, the highlights were nicely done and would be worth a stop to try the highlights listed below if you are in the area and need some tasty beers. The Velvet Fog would be perfect to fill in a growler for you to take with you out into the mountains.

Top 3:
Velvet Fog
Cowbell Kettle Sour
Alberta Crude

The Dandy Brewing

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More recently I have been a much bigger fan of small breweries and The Dandy was a good example of why. Though they seem to have already out grown their fairly small tasting room, the wait wasn’t terrible and the beers were delicious. I tried a taster of everything they had available and had a pint of my favorite after I finished because it was so tasty. I also enjoyed meeting with a number of locals at the bar and hearing about their experiences.

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The English Pale was the most juicy English style ale I have ever had and was super fruity with tons of apricot from the hops and some smooth caramel malts at the back. My husband even liked this one and he rarely likes anything besides stouts. The Oyster Stout was smooth with a nice mix of caramel and roast, a solid stout, though not as complex as the Alberta Crude at Wild Rose. The Hawkeye Pierce single hop pale was super juicy and not bitter with notes of grapefruit and melon. This and the English Pale were favorites for me and many of the other people around as well.

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The saison was nice and earthy with fruity notes and tons of flavor for the low alcohol. The Fusion Extra Pale was nice with floral hops that balanced nicely with peach and melon. The English Summer Ale is an interesting companion to the English Pale, really smooth with notes of floral hops and hints of peach. The TZE IPA was the most bitter of the bunch but had some light citrus kick to it. It is a solid IPA as well.

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Everything at The Dandy was tasty with the highlights below that were extra impressive. They clearly have learned the modern way of making delicious juicy hoppy beers and just to make clean flavorful beers. I’m excited to see what they come up with in the future and I can see they will make some great things.

Top 3:
English Pale
Hawkeye Pierce Single Hop Pale
English Summer 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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North Park Beer Company – North Park San Diego

North Park has been exploding with small breweries and satellite tasting rooms lately. Depending on where you live you can easily walk to a number of different spots. North Park Beer Company hasn’t been open very long but it has been in the works for quite some time and it shows with their gorgeous interior design. Most small breweries focus more on beer and perhaps a certain theme over looks, especially the small ones in industrial areas of town. North Park Beer Company has a classic interior that is a mix of a British pub and an iconic train station. You would assume as soon as you enter that they serve food and that is in the works, partnering with Mastiff Sausage Company, a local favorite that can be found at various breweries in food truck form. Even with a large space and quite a big crowd when we visited, it didn’t get unbearably loud. They still have a fairly small lineup of beers but what they had tells me that they know how to make a good beer.

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I tasted their light scotch ale, hoppy red, IPA, stout, and San Diego style pale ale. The scotch ale was a bit too light for me, coming in at only 3%. I didn’t get much flavor from it. The hoppy red was really smooth and balanced with mellow malts and fruit notes from the hops. It makes for a very delicious red IPA that should become a local favorite. The IPA was sticky and dank with a good thick mouthfeel and tons of pine character. It was well made but I found it a little too bitter compared to the more mellow hoppy red and SD pale. If you love simcoe forward IPAs this one might be your favorite. The stout is a very dry stout with a caramel base and a bit of a hoppy finish. It is an average stout but I usually don’t care for the dry variety and neither does my husband. The San Diego style pale ale was super smooth and light on the malts with some nice fruity hop character. Bitterness was almost nonexistent and overall a very impressive beer.

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Over time the lineup of beers will grow but if North Park Beer Company keeps the three hoppy beers I had as core beers, they will become popular very quickly. I was also very glad to see the pint glasses they used which had plenty of room for giving customers a good size head on the beer without skimping on the beer. The line for 16 ounces is a few inches below the rim of the glass. One day when this is standard practice at every brewery I won’t need to point it out. Based on my recent visit, word travels fast about new breweries in the area and people are already flocking to this young brewery.

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Top 2:
Hoppy Red
SD style 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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