Tag Archives: Stout

Boxing Bear and Bosque Brewing Albuquerque New Mexico

Boxing Bear

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Boxing Bear recently won some awards for their overall quality and it shows in the beers I tried. They have a nice roomy tasting room with plenty of seating. While they are a bit further out from central Albuquerque, they are worth the trip. Their pilsner was chewy and floral with a good crisp finish, one of the better pilsners of my trip. While it isn’t up to my favorites in San Diego, it is above average and very impressive. Their IPA was balanced and dank with a mild bitter finish. While it didn’t have a ton of aroma, the balance of flavors made it very drinkable.

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I only tried the cider because of a friend’s request and it was quite fantastic, sporting mild apple sweetness and a crisp dry finish. Hopefully one day the brewery will be able to put this in six packs and grab the local college crowd that is now drinking Angry Orchard (owned by AB InBev). The chocolate milk stout was roasty and mildly sweet with notes of coffee. A solid milk stout, true to style. The Vanta Black was creamy and thick, mildly sweet with hints of licorrice and a dry finish. I didn’t much care for the liccorice notes but my husband enjoyed this one a lot. The slap happy double IPA was herbal and strongly bitter with mild fruit notes. I didn’t care for the herbal hops but it was a fairly average double IPA. I would recommend sticking with heir single IPA.

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Top 2:
IPA
Cider

Bosque brewing

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Bosque has a kitchen connected to their tasting room, located in a strip mall. They keep the indoor quite dark with the use of a number of shades, which is great, until someone opens a door and the bright outside light comes in. Their lager was super light body with some mild fruity hops. It was good but could have been better with just a bit more body and more malt character. The scotch ale was strongly boozy with notes of dark fruit. I would have liked it more if it was more restrained or more roasty. As is, it was fairly average.

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The IPA was soft and fruity and not too bitter with some notes of perfumy hops. This was their best of the bunch, a good balanced IPA. The milk stout had notes of caramel and mild lactose sweetness with a creamy body on nitro. A solid milk stout, true to style. The Imperial Stout was intensely bitter, hoppy, and dry. I didn’t enjoy it either as a black IPA or an imperial stout. It didn’t have the aromas necessary to make a good black IPA or the roast character for a good stout. I especially would recommend staying away from this brewery if you don’t like hoppy beers. Their Elephants on Parade fruit beer was a nice mix of cranberry, raspberry, and grapefruit with tasty fruit character and not really tart.

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Bosque had a few solid beers and is worth a stop if you are in the area. I liked the food selection they offered but we went in between meals so I didn’t try anything.

Top 2:
IPA
Milk stout

Paul McGuire

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

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Eppig Brewing North Park San Diego

Eppig Brewing is a new brewery that takes advantage of a space that was designed to allow three breweries to open next door to one another. They have a small space just off El Cajon Blvd that can easily get packed. They have a large number of beers on tap so it was impossible to try everything in one visit.

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I started with the lagers because I heard that they were quite good. My first flight consisted of their Schwartz (dark lager), Zwickel (unfiltered pilsner), Festbier (imperial wheat), and Berliner Weisse (tart wheat beer). My second flight consisted of Factory of Dreams IPA, 10:15 to Denver IPA, Double IPA, and their stout with coffee. Of the two I much preferred the first flight.

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The Schwartz was smooth and roasty with mild smoke, a good version of the style and better than most San Diego attempts I have had. The Zwickel had a nice medium body and a mix of fruity and floral hops. Though well made the floral hops were a bit too much for me and not my favorite hop profile. I didn’t really care for the fest beer, which has a dry citrus finish but is also too harsh at the end. It was a popular beer with others while I was there but not for me. The berliner weisse was a good mix of grapefruit and lemon notes with a bitter dry finish while not too tart. They had two fruit options of this as well but I stuck to the regular.

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On the IPA front, I encountered some of the harshest most overpowering bitter IPAs in all of San Diego. Both the Factory of Dreams IPA and the double IPA were extremely bitter with very little aroma to speak of. According to the brewer, the double IPA is made with tons of simcoe, a hop I don’t care for generally, but rather than being too much pine aroma, they both shared a strong bitterness that lingered at the back of the throat.

While the 10:15 to Denver was more drinkable and had hints of grapefruit it was still too bitter. I didn’t finish either of these beers. I had a chat with the brewer about the harsh bitterness and as usual was told “they are IPAs, they are supposed to be bitter.” I ended with the stout with coffee that I found to be average with tons of roast and a bitterness that lingered on the tongue.

Eppig is a new brewery and I’m glad to see them come out of the gate with solid lagers and fruited berliner weisse style beers. Not every brewery needs to brew IPAs but if you are coming to North Park go elsewhere for your IPAs. The fruited berliner weisse beers were quite popular as well, but I stuck with the base. Hopefully I will be updating this article in a few months to indicate that they have improved the IPAs to something more in line with their neighbors at North Park Brewing.

Top 2:
Zwickel (unfiltered pilsner)
Schwartz (dark lager)

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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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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Sacramento Area Breweries, Knee Deep, Moonraker, Mraz, Track 7, and Others

I’ve taken a lot of trips and visited a lot of breweries over the last three years. In most cities two or three breweries jump out as fantastic while others are usually pretty solid. Either I visited at a time when the breweries were in a slump or a number of the breweries I visited in my Sacramento trip were not up to snuff. Though Knee Deep, Moonraker, Mraz, and Black Vinyl Ale Project are a ways outside of the city itself, based on beeradvocate forums research they are considered Sacramento breweries by locals and they were recommended over others in the city itself. This suggests to me that the breweries I didn’t visit in the city must be even worse. After a while I just couldn’t stand the idea of hitting another brewery in the area. Because I was staying in the city I didn’t want to make the drive back to Auburn again to return to Knee Deep.

Knee Deep Brewing

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Knee Deep is the only brewery of the entire trip that I had ever heard of prior to my research. Many readers may be familiar with their beers as their hoppy beers are pretty broadly distributed in California. I was glad to find out that they brew stouts as well and even a number of other styles that don’t usually make their way down. Because they had over seven double IPAs on tap I asked for a few recommendations of the freshest to taste and added a stout for my husband.

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Big Sipper was super smooth with tons of citrus and tropical fruit. Hoptologist was really flavorful with tons of tropical fruit and citrus. Simtra was a bit resinous and bitter and yet super smooth for 11%. The beers seem to all have similar malt bills and so they all started to taste a little similar after a while. I should have stopped with those three hoppy beers because the Citra Extra Pale tasted a bit old and had lost the hop luster of a fresh brew. The imperial Fanilla was a tasty imperial porter that had tons of roast and strong vanilla in a thin body. The IPAs were all tasty but didn’t blow me away at the source like some other breweries. Mostly I found the IPAs to be a cut above the average but I’ve had better at a few San Diego breweries.

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Knee Deep has a large tasting room with plenty of indoor seating, two separate bars, some outdoor seating, and room for food trucks. I was surprised to see a few people sitting outside even though it was quite hot when I visited. They had tons of bottles available for purchase and offered growler and crowler fills of most of the beers.

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Known for:
Come to Knee Deep for big strong hoppy beers. Almost everything they make is over 7%

Moonraker

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Moonraker is only about a mile away from Knee Deep. They have a smaller tasting room that is able to stay nice and cool with a strong air conditioning. Around the time of my visit, their cloudy, juicy, IPAs were getting so popular that they had to restrict growler fills. Sadly, they didn’t live up to the beers that pioneered the style or even to some newer IPAs of a similar style that Modern Times has made.

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The Yojo Deux was dank and citrusy with a cloudy yellow color and notes of mango and peach but it was unbalanced by a strong acidic finish. The Yojo 33 1/2 was slightly less cloudy and had hints of melon, pear, and green pepper. I thought the beer had an off-putting herbal finish that I didn’t really care for. The Dojo was also herbal and quite bitter and my least favorite of the bunch with a similar acidic finish to the first.

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Gotta love their tasting board and how they tell you how hoppy things are.

Chain Shot 7 was smooth but lacked significant aroma character. It is possible that I tried an off-batch of a few of these IPAs but I didn’t finish what I tried. It is a shame because I really liked the feel of their tasting room, which had plenty of seating, strong air conditioning, and good wi-fi.

Known for:
Moonraker has recently gotten popular for cloudy juicy IPAs though I was not impressed by what I had.

Black Vinyl Ale House

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Black Vinyl Ale House has been doing a number of sours and had quite an expansive tap list available but I didn’t enjoy the first flight enough to try anything else. I started with their citrus saison, which was the only good beer of the bunch. It was nice and earthy with fruity yeast character and a dry finish. The sour stout had a mild coffee base with a tart finish but overall quite average and didn’t taste like much.

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The sour red tasted like balsamic vinegar so strongly that I couldn’t taste anything else. Though I’ve gotten acetic acid notes before I’ve never had anything this strong. The sour saison had a strong flavor of lime and a strong supporting ginger note and was quite acidic. It didn’t really taste like beer though if you like strong ginger and lime flavor you might enjoy this. The imperial stout presented mostly strong dark fruit with some mild roast, fairly average.

Black Vinyl has a long way to go before their sours are anywhere near the level that I would recommend them.

Mraz

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Mraz is the only brewery of the bunch that I want to give the benefit of the doubt because they had a fairly strong traditional sour program going at the time and the only sour on tap when I visited was a kettle sour and they had just started that program. I probably should have ordered a bottle of their sours to enjoy on site though outside of certain Belgian breweries, I review breweries based on what they have on tap. Mraz is also quite a long way away because they are on the other side of a large lake so that whether you are coming from the west or the east you are going to have to take a number of surface streets to get there.

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Mraz was probably the only brewery besides Knee Deep that really impressed with hoppy beers. I really liked the House Party IPA they had which was super fruity and a good example of how to do a mosaic IPA. The plum (kettle) sour on the other hand was seriously lacking in flavor. Before leaving I tried splashes of the two other beers on tap that sounded interesting but they weren’t good enough for me to order more so I just left.

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Known for:
Mraz is known for sours and Belgian style beers though their kettle sours need a bit of work.

Track 7

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Track 7 was the most recommended of the breweries in Sacramento proper and they were quite crowded when I arrived on a Sunday around Noon. I got a feeling the special event going on drew larger crowds than usual. Because of the crowds they weren’t offering flights so I started with two half pints of two different IPAs. The beer tender I ordered from didn’t even know how to describe the differences between the different flavors of the IPAs available, which should have been a sign to leave and go do something else rather than visiting more breweries.

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I tried the Sukahop first, their attempt at a cloudy juicy IPA. I found it had some juicy citrus notes with a strong herbal finish. While it shared some of the herbal notes I got at Moonraker, the beer was a big improvement over Moonraker. The Boomer’s Cut dominated with tropical fruit hops but had a strong alcohol taste on the finish that was quite off-putting. Since at the time they were only really serving IPAs and lighter pilsner style beers I stopped there in part to get away from the noisy crowd and long lines. I generally tend to dislike herbal hop notes in IPAs so if that is your thing you might like the Sukahop.

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Known for:
Visit Track 7 for IPAs

Device Brewing

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Though they had a large tap list I didn’t feel like drinking much more after the first four tasters. I started with the helles, which was above average. It was balanced with some nice fruity hop notes and a crisp finish. The three IPAs I had were all overly bitter and lacking in aroma such that I didn’t finish any of them. The single IPA on tap was malt forward and resinous but the bitterness dominated. The double IPA was more fruity with notes of caramel malts but again bitterness dominated and it was a malt bomb. The black IPA was all bitterness with no roast and only some mild smoky notes.

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If you are into the new school aroma-dominant IPA, you won’t like much of anything at Device except the helles. Their IPAs were the worst of the whole trip. Some years ago I might have loved their IPA lineup but as I have progressed away from hunting out extreme bitterness, I find overpowering bitterness to be a sign of poor skills by the brewer. They had a nice dark feel inside with wi-fi but since it was impossible to go back to the helles after those bitter malt bombs I paid up and left each of the IPAs half drunk.

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If you are considering a visit to Sacramento for beer, skip it and go to San Francisco instead where you will find much better breweries. If you are visiting Sacramento for business or other reasons, skip the breweries and go straight to the local beer bars where you will find much better San Diego and San Francisco options on tap and probably some Knee Deep without having to make the drive to the brewery.

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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Longship Brewing, Mira Mesa, San Diego

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This is the shorter tap list they had when I first visited.

Though there are quite a few Miramar breweries now they have been growing in clusters. I found it refreshing when I saw where Longship opened because they are close enough to the others though far enough away to attract a different crowd and much easier to find than Wet and Reckless was in a similar area (before they re-opened in a different location as Reckless Brewing). Longship has a viking theme to their brewery and I find their logo to be very nice as well as the various shields on the walls around the tasting room. They just opened so they have a very small tap list at the moment and only four beers. I tried the IPA, golden ale, Belgian style wit, and San Diego style dark ale.

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The IPA is closer to a session IPA with low alcohol and also fairly low bitterness. It showcases fruity hop notes and is a pretty standard session IPA. The golden ale is a very interesting take on the style. A hefty 7% alcohol it is sticky sweet and showcases tons of spice from the yeast and various tropical fruit notes from the hops including guava sometimes. The Belgian style wit was super cloudy pale yellow. It drinks ridiculously smooth with lots of banana, vanilla, mild citrus, and even notes of tapioca pudding in the sweet finish. With so many breweries making wits to style I very much enjoyed this variation that stood out as delightfully unique. The dark ale was quite bitter and very hoppy. It reminded me of a style common in Portland where they call it a Cascadian Dark Ale. It has a caramel malt backbone and a mildly sweet finish that balances with the strong hop notes.

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My first visit to Longship was on June 30, 2016 just before their grand opening. To give a more accurate picture of their quality, I visited them a second time on October 6, 2016. In October they had added a chocolate stout, brown ale, and dopplebock. Based on recommendations from the beertender I got a fresh taster of the Hoppy Belgian to compare to the previous time.

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The Hoppy Belgian golden presented tons of spice with some mild fruity hops and a bitter finish. Gone are the tropical notes that made it so interesting originally but this is what happens when they change the hops. I also didn’t notice as much sticky sweetness to this new batch. I ordered the chocolate stout on nitro. It presented tons of bitter chocolate and roast with a dry finish and super thin body. There is very little sweetness in the beer at all. Though it wasn’t my style the beer was well made.  The brown ale presented tons of dark fruits that linger on the finish with some mild caramel in the back. I wasn’t a big fan of this beer. The dopplebock was thick and sticky with molasses and chocolate notes and mild dark fruit. This was one of the most impressive of the bunch because so few breweries locally have managed to make interesting dopplebocks. This is the first one I could actually consider drinking.

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Longship gets far with their unique theme and overall solid lineup of beers. They clearly have a following from locals who work around the area and want a place to stop in after work. It is worth stopping by especially if you are interested in trying a few styles that aren’t as common locally.

Top 2:
Dopplebock
Belgian style Wit

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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Montreal Breweries, Dieu du Ciel and Station HoSt

While in Montreal I visited two breweries, Dieu du Ciel, and Station HoSt where they serve beers from Hopfenstark brewery. I really enjoyed the overall atmosphere at Dieu du Ciel and how they served flights and full pours of their beers plus light food. It was a little strange that you couldn’t buy their bottles at the brewery but had to visit nearby bottle shops but we managed to find a place to buy some bottles of Peche Mortel. I tried quite a number of beers and ultimately went for more Peche when I was finished with the tasters, though this didn’t make the experience any less awesome. I left with one of their fantastic glasses that will be fun to use regularly.

Dieu Du Ciel

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In total I tasted 5 beers at Dieu du Ciel and my husband tried 3, which I sampled as well. All of the beers were quite impressive but a few stood out among he bunch. They didn’t have any IPAs in the traditional sense but the various hoppy beers were delicious and were more than enough to satisfy my hop addiction. I started with a rye pale which became even more impressive once I translated the beer name and realized it was rye I was tasting. The beer did a great job of highlighting the spice from the rye while keeping the overall beer silky smooth and mildly bitter. This is a beer where the malts shine. The mosaic pale was delightful as well with the malts staying mostly in the background and letting the juicy fruity flavors of the mosaic hops shine as good as I have tasted them anywhere else. The saison I tasted was a fantastic mix of citrus and spice on the nose. The beer has a chewy mouthfeel and has earthy malt notes along with some peach notes and a dry finish. It is quite the impressive saison.

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The porter was really smooth with hints of roast and caramel, subtle yet very well done. The oatmeal stout, which appeared to be on nitro, was silky smooth with mellow smoke and bitter chocolate. The Peche Mortel is one of the most popular beers Dieu du Ciel brews and when I tasted it I could immediately tell why. I have tasted quite a lot of coffee imperial stouts in the past and this one is up there with the best of them and I would even say I prefer it over Sump from Perennial. It is luscious and creamy thanks to being poured on nitro and has tons of coffee and caramel with a perfect balance. This was the beer I stayed and sipped on after all the other tasters and the one I decided to bring back with us to the US though hopefully my husband doesn’t drink it all without me.

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Before leaving I tasted two sours and they are some of the least acidic sours I have ever tasted. The mango sour was almost like drinking mango juice, with very low acidity and some mild sweetness. The framboise was also super smooth and jammy with some hints of hibiscus and mild sweetness. These two have also been the only sours so far my husband enjoyed. They are so unique that I would consider another trip to Montreal to buy them if they happen to be available in bottles in the future. Dieu du Ciel has not only some of the best beers of any brewery I have visited but also one of the best experiences and most relaxig tasting rooms of any brewery I have visited. They serve food as well though I didn’t partake.

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Top 3:
Peche Mortel Coffee Imperial Stout
Mango Sour
Mosaic Pale

Station HoSt – Hopfenstark beers

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Station HoSt is a bar that serves exclusively beers from a brewery called Hopfenstark. I admittedly raised the bar ridiculously high by visiting this brewery after Dieu du Ciel but I was not impressed by the beers I tried and would recommend you skip this bar if you are in the area. I only tried a few tasters to start mostly so that I could leave quickly if I didn’t like what I had without drinking a ton. Part of this had to do with he noisy bar atmosphere they have, which wasnt exactly inviting me to tay very long. I started with the framboise which I found quite sweet and reminiscent of cough syrup but also quite acidic. I could understand if it ended up simply being too acidic for me but it happened to be too medicinal as well.

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The rye saison was pretty solid and quite malty but also a bit boozy and reminiscent of pumpkin pie spice. Also quite unbalanced. The gose wasn’t bad but also seemed a bit lacking in flavor in general. It was mildly tart with hints of fresh apple. I was about to leave but the bartender who may have been the owner offered me a taste of the imperial stout, which wasn’t available in tasters and only in a full 8 ounce pour. This was the best beer of the bunch and was a good mix of caramel and coffee while being sticky and thick, quite a tasty imperial stout.

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I would recommend only stopping by the brewery if you like a good imperial stout because their other beers need a little work. Even then their imperial stout didn’t come close to Peche Mortel from Dieu du Ciel.

I had also considered visiting a few other breweries in the area as well but when we went to the bottle shop to buy some Peche Mortel to bring back with us, I found some other beers that I ended up drinking on my last night instead of going out to another brewery. If you do happen to visit, consider visiting Benelux, another brewery, or if you prefer bars, Vices et Versa or Le Cheval Blanc. All came highly recommended.

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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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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