Tag Archives: Saison

Tired Hands Brewing Company – Ardmore Pennsylvania

Tired Hands is located in Ardmore, a 30 minute drive or 1 hour public transit stop from Philadelphia. I opted to stay in the area to make it easier and I’m glad I did because I had to leave during one of my visits to take care of some work for a client for a few hours before going back. Being a short drive away made things easy. They have two locations very close to each other, the brewery and the Fermentaria (their version of a brewpub but with more fancy food). I stopped by the brewery the first night and had a couple of beers though I had the most variety at the Fermentaria as well as eating lunch. Both locations are quite loud both with the noise of people talking and the music played in the background.

 

I started in the evening at the brewery with their cask ESB, done old school with a smooth light body and notes of caramel malts. It was even smoother thanks to being served on cask. I also tried their wacky Birthday Cake Double Milkshake, a hazy double IPA with huge amounts of adjuncts, including chocolate, vanilla, and the addition of an actual cake. They take advantage of the super soft creamy mouthfeel of their double IPAs and it works fairly well in the same way as other breweries serve white stouts with lactose and coffee. It is a super popular style but I didn’t personally care for it and I am a bit surprised I ordered a full 10 ounce pour after tasting it.

I started trying other beers at the Fermentaria the following day. Their Hop Hands, the flagship hazy pale ale, was fairly thin with notes of citrus, grass, and pine, though a bit too bitter for the style. Their other flagship, Saison Hands, was delicious, a classic saison with notes of citrus and spice with a dry finish. It paired quite nicely with the Veggie Banh Mi and the hot peppers. I was so impressed by this that I later ordered a few other farmhouse ales they had. My husband ordered the Coffee Only Voyd, imperial stout with coffee, which was thick and smooth with tons of roasty coffee as you would expect from the style.

The Oat Tao, oat saison aged in barrels, had a funky barnyard nose and a soft and chewy mouthfeel. It was delightfully complex with earthy notes, mild citrus, and some green-apple lambic character. It reminded me of something similar from Hill Farmstead. I enjoyed it so much that I ordered a pint when I finished, though many others who visited around the same time thought it was their least-favorite.

The So It Goes red sour ale was quite funky with notes of caramel, cherry malt character, and a mild tart bite. I quite enjoyed this one I think in part to the hgher alcohol which gave it an increased sweetness that kept it from being one-note. The Tongue Extinguisher hazy DIPA was soft and pillowy with tons of pineapple and grapefruit hop flavor. It had minimal bitterness, hop acidity, or alcohol bite. It was like drinking Monkish fresh from the source, and immediately I understood where all the hype for them comes from.

If you go out to Tired Hands, I recommend planning to stay in Ardmore if you can. I loved he quiet area without the insane traffic of Philadelphia and one could easily spend days trying everything they have to offer. Since they price things to encourage ordering larger pours, I suggest trying a splash of a couple of beers to ensure you enjoy what you order. Not only was the beer a highlight of my trip but I can see myself returning to the area again to enjoy the slow, quiet feel of the surrounding town. I highly recommend the Fermentaria not just for beer but for their high quality food with plenty of vegetarian options to go with it. Just bring your ear plugs if you prefer a quiet brewery experience.

Top 3:
Tongue Extinguisher DIPA
Saison Hands
Oat Tao Saison

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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Mumford Brewing – Downtown Los Angeles

Mumford is located in the heart of downtown LA in between Little Tokyo and Skid Row. I found out about them because of a can that was shared with me from someone up in LA. While they have drawn crowds for beer releases in the past, I expect the can of Un-Presidential IPA was a fluke because none of the other beers were anywhere near that quality. Still, they are able to draw a good crowd with their decent hazy IPA which is enough to satisfy those who aren’t familiar with what it could taste like.

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The Pant Suit saison was super fruity with a bitter finish that overpowered it. It was quite unbalanced and I didn’t finish the taster. The Ghostwriter pale ale had some nice citrus notes with pineapple and tropical fruit but again a bitter finish that overpowered the rest of it, making it average at best. The LA Like, hazy IPA, had notes of orange and grapefruit and a cloudy orange color with mild notes of vanilla. I thought this was the best of the bunch but at the end it seemed a bit soapy. I want to hope this was just a glass that wasn’t properly rinsed. Assuming the soap was not in the beer it is a solid average hazy IPA.

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Skidrokyo Cafe on nitro is their coffee porter with vanilla. It had some intense coffee and mild roast with some sweet caramel and vanilla on the finish. It is probably the best beer on the menu and for the low alcohol range it is slightly above average for the area. It would certainly satisfy the stout fans who tag along while you enjoy the IPAs. The DTLA IPA had strong hop flavors of pine and also mildly herbal taste with a strong bitter finish. Like others it was too bitter for the hops.

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The All Caps was a solid mix of pine and citrus with a dry finish and not too bitter. I got some notes of green tea on the finish that were unexpected. After the LA Like, this is the other IPA I could drink. The East Enders double IPA was sticky sweet and fruity with notes of over ripe fruit and onion. It was both too sweet and missed the mark for the hop flavors, so I couldn’t finish the taster.

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I hope in 6 months Mumford will be able to more consistently brew solid IPAs because they had great results with the Un-Presidential IPA. Sadly, most of the IPAs I had when I visited had an off-putting bitter after-taste. I expect it was present in the hazy IPA as well just masked by the haze. For now I think most of their hype is overblown and I wouldn’t go out of my way for another visit anytime soon. For the hardcore beer fan there are better breweries in the LA area. But if you are new to IPAs their hazy IPAs should be more than good for you.
Top 2: 
LA Like
SkidRokyo on Nitro

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 1 – Brasserie St James, Brewer’s Cabinet, Fifty FIfty Brewing

Brasserie St James

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

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

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

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

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

Top 2:
Saison
Brett Saison

 

Brewer’s Cabinet

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

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

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

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

Top 3:
Wit
Tahoe Pale
Coffee imperial stout

Fifty Fifty Brewing

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

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

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

Top 2:
Session IPA
Porter

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

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney focusing on serving the San Diego LGBT community.

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Thunderhawk Alements Miramar Area San Diego

Thunder Hawk has been in the planning stages for many months before finally opening in the crowded Miramar area of San Diego, which already houses over 10 breweries. Some would argue that it is growing too fast for the demand, and we will soon see if all the breweries can survive. Thunderhawk came in with a lineup of beers that are different from the usual style for the area. They aren’t following the trends but are instead making beer in a classic style.

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When I first visited the brewery in the first week of November, 2016 they had only four beers on tap because they have been selling their beer faster than they can brew it. On tap were an ESB, two pale ales, and a saison. The saison is also usually available in a version made with local pine needles. They also brew a popular double IPA and dopplebock. None of those beers were available at that time which is a good sign for them. An earlier version of their menu suggests that they consider the pale ales to be “West Coast Style.” I disagree with that but that doesn’t mean they are bad beers.

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One of the pale ales is made with more typical piney hops. The other is made with mosaic and citra, both known for their fruity and citrus character. Both beers were classic style with a balanced malt backbone and an underlying bitterness. I didn’t think the mosaic and citra beer tasted like I expect from either of those hops but it was dank, balanced, and clean. The Westworld pale, the piney of the two, was a bit herbal but still similarly balanced, dank, and not too bitter. These beers don’t have the same flavors everyone else around town is chasing with the juicy IPA craze but this gives them a longer shelf life and the flavors will stick around longer.

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The ESB initially was not a beer I could be very positive about. I got a lot of notes of overripe fruit from it and not much apricot or caramel like I would expect from the style. A friend of my mom’s who joined us at the brewery that evening was a huge fan of this beer though. She enjoyed it more than any of the other beers and didn’t taste the same flavors as strongly. Thankfully this seems to have been an issue with that batch and newer batches have come out much better as described below.

Great outdoor seating area for the warmer months.
Great outdoor seating area for the warmer months.

The oak aged saison was my favorite of the evening. With both ginger and honey I was worried that either of the two flavors would overpower the rest of the beer. Thankfully, everything was perfectly balanced with the ginger sitting in the back and the honey adding just the right amount of body to the beer. The oak gave it a fantastic smooth finish.

I came back a week later and their Dunkel was on along with their vanilla stout. The Overture dunkelweisen was smooth and balanced with notes of caramel and burnt toffee, an impressive beer and one of the few San Diego versions of the style I can drink. The Rise of Zemunda stout had tons of vanilla with some mild chocolate. It was very flavorful for a low alcohol stout.

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For my third visit before this post, I stopped by November 23 and tried their ESB wet hopped with Brewer’s Gold hops, regular ESB to compare, and the Punt Gun IPA. The Wet Hopped ESB was very tasty and had a nice mix of caramel malts, mild hops, and some mild coffee notes in the finish. This was so much better than my experience with the regular ESB that I asked for a splash to compare and the overripe fruits I had a problem with earlier were all gone. Their ESB is now a very enjoyable beer. The Punt Gun IPA has a ton of followers online but I hadn’t been able to taste it until today. I can see why. It is a really clean balanced IPA with notes of mango, apricot, an,d other tropical fruits with a mildly sweet finish.

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Thunderhawk has a gorgeous interior with lots of wood accents and a beautiful outdoor space that help set it apart from the rest of the breweries in the area and will go a long way towards bringing more people inside. Based on my repeated visits, i expect any issues I had with early batches will be remedied shortly. The excellent beers I have tried show me that the brewer will soon dial in any beers that aren’t quite there yet.

Top 2:
Punt Gun IPA
Dunkelweisen

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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Resident Brewing, Downtown San Diego

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

 

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

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

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

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

Top 2:
Pio Pico Pale
Chasing Galaxy

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney focusing on serving the San Diego LGBT community.

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Breweries in Quebec City Canada La Barberie and Noctem

I visited two breweries in Quebec City while I was in town. La Barberie was the older of the two and has been around for over 10 years. Noctem is very young and yet still managed to impress me heavily.

La Barberie

Quebec City Beer 01

La Barberie is a small space that gets packed quickly with people either ordering flights or full pours of beers. It has a very traditdional feel to it and doesn’t get too loud. They had a large flight available of 8 beers which gave me a good mix of styles. The only disappointing thing for me was that their hoppy beers are very traditional and lack the modern flair that has become common in California and elsewhere.

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I started with a ginger and lime beer which was very tasty with a good mix of lime on the front and ginger on the back end very subtle. The coffee stout was delicious and smooth with tons of coffee flavor and very nutty. The Bier de Miel farmhouse ale was really tasty with a ton of lemon and spice and a mild sweet finish, a very tasty saison. The pilsner was quite earthy and chewy with a peppery finish, very nice.

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The English style red ale was quite bitter and fruity, pretty traditional and not my thing. The IPL was quite strongly bitter with lots of pine and floral hops and some earthy malt flavors. The gose was a little fruity and a little salty, silky smooth and not too tart. I wasn’t expecting something very sour but after they recommended I save this for last it made me expect something a bit more sour. The final beer is meant to be a sangria style beer and it was unlike anything I had tasted before. It had tons of raisin and grape notes from the malts and a sweet finish with hints of red wine. I would pass on that one in the future for other better beers.

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Top 3:
Bier de Miel (saison)
Pilsner
Gose

Noctem

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Unlike La Barberie, Noctem is a noisy bar atmosphere that I wasn’t interested in staying at very long. The beers I tried were very tasty but it was so loud that I didn’t stay after my four tasters. I tried the sour saison, which was fruity and mildly bitter with notes of grapefruit and lemon. The stout they had on was made with grapefruit and pepper, an unexpected combination that actually worked really well. The acidity from the grapefruit balanced nicely with the pepper and it was quite nice. Their house IPA was a delicious mix of pine and grapefruit with a strong bitter finish, very impressive. The apricot sour was delicious and smooth with tons of fruit character. I would have ordered more of it except for the music playing was so loud.

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Though I had read some mixed reviews for Noctem prior to visiting I was quite impressed by their beers overall, though the atmosphere leaves a lot to be desired.

Top 2:
IPA
Apricot Sour

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney focusing on serving the San Diego LGBT community.

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Mikkeller Brewing – New San Diego Location

I visited Mikkeller’s San Diego location twice to cover the majority of the beers. They are such a big name that I wanted to try as much as possible. In total I tried 11 different beers. Mikkeller took over the old Alesmith location and is brewing beer with one of the Alesmith Brewers. They gave the Alesmith tasting room a change in look including tons of wacky artwork of the sort that Mikkeller has on their bottles.
Mikkeller Brewing 01
Mikkeller Brewing 02
To start with, I tried the two lightest beers. The Berliner Weisse was really nice beer that is lightly tart with notes of fruit and citrus. The Saison SD is also quite fruity with some mild funk, notes of banana and peach, and a solid earthy back end. Both of these were quite good. The Sparks pale ale is solidly balanced pale with notes of peach and other fruits with a medium bitter finish. The Waves IPA is super sticky and dank with overripe tropical fruit notes dominating but it is not overly bitter.
Berliner Weisse and Saison.
Berliner Weisse and Saison.
Sparks and Waves.
Sparks and Waves.
The Brett IPA is super fruity and is a nice balance of funk and citrus hops. This and Waves were my two favorite hoppy beers. Brett IPAs are hard to get right kinda like Belgian IPAs because of the strong flavor the yeast imparts so I always try to recognize one that is done right. The Spells double IPA to me tasted like a double version of Sparks. It was similarly balanced with a nice bitter finish and some citrus hop flavor at the finish. Sparks and Spells aren’t bad per say but a bit less hop aroma forward compared to the Waves.
Double IPA and Brett IPA.
Double IPA and Brett IPA.
Hop Geek Breakfast is one of the most popular beers from Mikkeller and I thought it was solid but not fantastic. It is smooth and roasty with a bitter coffee finish and a mild sticky sweetness under. The coffee could have come on stronger though. Hop Geek Breakfast is a highly hopped version of the previous one. While the balance was there and the citrus and pine go well with the roast I would still prefer the Waves IPA over this. Flat White Beer Geek adds lactose and is the sweetest of the bunch. It balanced nicely between sweetness and coffee.
Dark beers.
Dark beers.
The NY Verden Old Ale is thick and fruity with notes of cherry and mild smoke and a sweet finish. The Imperial Stout was thick and a mix of bitter chocolate and light smoke. I noticed a lot of the stouts had a similar mild smoke flavor to them that to me was a little off-putting. While I found the flat white too sweet, everyone else who I know really liked it the most of the stouts. Mikkeller opened up out of the gate with a large tap list thanks to having a ton of recipes that have already been perfected. There is a little something for everyone on tap.  Though I wasn’t huge on beer geek breakfast initially I am confident that they will get the recipe dialed in shortly and I will come to love it.
Top 2:
Waves IPA
Brett 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

Austin Beer 01
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.

Austin Beer 02 Austin Beer 03

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.

Austin Beer 05 Austin Beer 06

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.

Austin Beer 07

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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Commons Brewing Portland Oregon

On our way back from our Bend trip we met a friend in Portland for breweries and I had heard some great things about Commons Brewing, which is really close to Basecamp and Cascade. I really like Basecamp but you have to either buy a flight or a pint and can’t do single tasters, which is annoying. We also visited a small brewery in the area called Baerlic before we left but Commons was the only one I tried a ton of different beers. Commons focuses on farmhouse ales and wild ales and none of their beers we tried were very sour but they were all quite delicious.

Commons Brewing 01

I tried the Three Point Six, a hoppy session ale with Brett, Boysen, a strong dark farmhouse ale with boysenberries, the Pumpernickel Rye Saison with cardamon and caraway, the Barrel Saison, an open fermented saison, Myrtle, a tart farmhouse ale with merridian hops, a Biere de Garde, Khthonias, a barrel aged flanders dark with hazelnuts, and Cerise Noir, a dark farmhouse ale with sweet and tart cherries.

Commons Brewing 02
The three point six was delicious and super smooth with tons of fruity hops, very flavorful for the low alcohol. I would have ordered a larger one of this after we finished the flight but my husband arrived with food and they don’t allow outside food. The Boysen was very nicely balanced with the fruit coming in nicely and a mild tartness. It finished with hints of wine and bready malts. I’m not sure I paid attention when I ordered the Pumpernickel Rye Saison because I don’t usually like that flavor but it was tasty. It seemed like a lighter bodied version of a Belgian Winter Ale with the spices mostly subdued and not overpowering the rest of the beer.

The Barrel Saison was funky and smooth with some earthy notes and mild spices. This one was also really nice and one of my favorites. The Myrtle was tart and fruity with delicious balance and a mild tart kick at the end. I didn’t get much hops from this one though. The Biere De Garde was very tasty with smooth bready malts and a nutty finish. The Khthonias came on strong with wine and lots of dark fruit though the hazelnut wasn’t very noticeable. I really enjoyed the smoothness and the solid wine. The Cerise Noir tasted more like a brown ale with cherries. It had a super light body and the cherries were fairly subtle but as it warmed up it got more tasty.

For a smaller brewery I was very impressed by the farmhouse ales at Commons. It is a great brewery to have so close to Cascade. I would have stayed longer if they would have let us bring in outside food but then we didn’t check with them before deciding to bring it by because we ordered the food while we were at Basecamp.

Top 3:
Three point six
Barrel Saison
Biere de Garde

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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Bend Oregon Breweries Part 2 – Riverbend, Sunriver, and Deschutes

This is part 2 of my Bend Oregon breweries coverage. Part 1 included Boneyard Brewing and Crux Fermentaion Project. In Part 2 here I explore the rest of the breweries I visited in Bend.
Riverbend Brewing
Bend Breweries 2016 10
I only visited Riverbend brewing because of a recommendation by the server who helped us at Crux. I asked for her suggestion for best IPAs besides Crux and Boneyard and she said we should visit Riverbend. It wasn’t on the must-visit list but I am glad we stopped by. I did seven tasters there, Hydrostatic IPA, Organized Love IPA, Katatonic double IPA, Chains Required IPA, Barrel Aged Katatonic, Boots and Flannels black lager and Equinox IPA.
My massive flight at Riverbend.
My massive flight at Riverbend.
The Hydrostatic IPA was super smooth and delicious with prominent orange flavors and a fairly solid malt backbone. The Organized Love was fantastic, super balanced with citrus and mello pine and amazingly smooth. This could easily stand up to the single IPAs from Boneyard or Crux. Katatonic double IPA was more balanced and strong with a super dank, sticky, sweet finish. It was a bit malty for my tastes but I really liked the barrel aged version which had a nice sour finish and light vanilla from the oak.
Close up on part of the flight.
Close up on part of the flight.
The Chains Required IPA was also super smooth and light body with a juicy finish with subtle lemon. Equinox IPA was smooth and fruity with a good balance of rye and smooth malts. Boots and Flannels was a smoky black lager with a tart finish that was also quite tasty. I took these tasters quite slow as it was the last stop but I was wishing later that I had found their Organized Love IPA at a growler station around town or that I had filled some while I was there. It was really that good. This is a great brewery to add to the list if you have more time.
Bend Breweries 2016 13
Top 2 Riverbend Brewing
Organized Love IPA
Katatonic Double IPA
Silvermoon Brewing
Bend Breweries 2016 14
On our second day we started the day at Silvermoon where I wish I hadn’t tried so many of the IPAs because the IPA 97 was the main one I enjoyed. The others weren’t bad but they weren’t that fantastic. I tried the Hob Nob IPA, IPA 97, Turning Point IPA, Southern Exposure IPA, Tart of Gold, Porter, Stout, and the Bone Crusher Double Red Ale. The Hob Nob was smooth and balanced with a bitter finish. It is an easy beer to drink. IPA 97 had a massive lemon and pineapple flavor and was probably the freshest that day. This is their flagship and I can see why. I brought back a six pack for some friends at home.
First flight with the IPAs and the sour.
First flight with the IPAs and the sour.
The Turning Point IPA was smooth with lemon flavors and a crisp dry finish while not too bitter. Southern Exposure was also smooth and light with a crisp bitter finish and a bit more citrus from the southern hops. Both of these were drinkable but a little low on the hop flavors for my tastes. The Tart of Gold was a smooth sour, not too tart, with guava and bitter grapefruit flavors. It was a solid first effort. I have had worse from small breweries but it was fairly average and probably wouldn’t satisfy those who really like sours.
Stouts and imperial red.
Stouts and imperial red.
The porter was super tasty with lots of roast and a smooth finish. The stout was even better with thicker mouthfeel and some bitter chocolate on the finish along with some additional bitter hops to finish it out. I could have drank a bit more of either of these if I wasn’t planning on hitting more breweries. The bartender told me I had to try the Bone Crusher if I like hops and I was very impressed. I would say it is more of a double IPA that happens to have a solid malt backbone. The fruity hops take center stage here and balance nicely with the caramel malt backbone. This and IPA 97 are worth tasting though if you are going to a lot of breweries I would just stick to those two.
Bend Breweries 2016 19
Top 2 at Silvermoon Brewing 
Hop 97 IPA
Bone Crusher Double Red IPA
Deschutes
Bend Breweries 2016 20
I have written about Deschutes in the past and I always found their IPAs to be a bit too malt forward, which was the case here again though I had to try the fresh squeezed again to see if I was missing something. It is also worth coming by the original pub for some unique offerings that are not available elsewhere, which is what I focused on. My husband really enjoyed the stout float he ordered as well. I had four tasters here, the fresh squeezed IPA, Smoked Gose, Horseridge IPA, and Rue de Bond Saison.
My partial taster flight.
My partial taster flight.
Fresh Squeezed is balanced and showcases citrus hops but the malts are a little too forward for my tastes and it still tastes too traditional for me. I really liked the Horseridge IPA though. The malt balance works so much better with the English hops making for a smooth IPA that showcases the hops strongly. If you are going to Deschutes for hops this is the one to try. The smoked gose was really delicious and balanced. The underlying gose has a nice citrus bite and the smoke is subtle enough that it doesn’t overpower the rest. The Rue de Bond Saison is quite tasty and showcases banana with herbal notes for a super tasty saison. I brought a growler home but sadly it wasn’t sealed right and was oxidized when I got home.
My husband's stout float.
My husband’s stout float.
Deschutes is best to visit for their delicious porter and stouts and you can buy a lot of the barrel aged versions of their Abyss at the brewery. If you are used to the more traditional Northwest style of IPA then you will enjoy their IPAs, otherwise you might want to skip it in favor of other local places that have taken a more modern style to their IPAs.
Out of the three in this post I found Riverbend to be the most impressive. Their IPAs were mostly fantastic.

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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