Orange CA Breweries – Chapman Crafted and Green Cheek

Chapman Crafted

Chapman is in a random area but has a large tap room that got quite crowded on a Friday night when I visited. Despite all the people, they were not uncomfortably loud and they had a good breeze going through that kept the place nice and cool on a warm night. I started with a flight of their lighter beers, pilsner, cream ale, blonde on nitro with vanilla, and hoppy lager.

The pilsner and cream ale were both fantastic. The pilsner was smooth, delicious, and full of flavor. The Cream ale was a bit more fruity than the pilsner and had a nice medium body. Both of these would be great to enjoy a few pints of. The blonde to me was the perfect balance of vanilla and creamy nitro. It was almost like drinking a cake but without being cloying sweet. Others around me found the vanilla a bit too much. The hoppy lager was very impressive with how they balanced all the flavors. It bursted with herbal hop aroma without adding any noticeable bitterness. I will be keeping an eye out for this in cans in San Diego.

After that flight, I ventured into their coffee milkshake IPA, hazy (not really) double IPA, dopplebock, and raspberry berliner. The coffee milkshake IPA was surprisingly awesome. I generally can’t stand the white stouts with lactose and coffee but I don’t think this had any lactose and the coffee complemented the tropical hop notes wonderfully. The hazy double IPA was barely hazy but it had a ton of tropical hop aroma and a good thick mouthfeel so I wouldn’t complain too much. The dopplebock was excellently done and nicely attenuated. The beer had a nice mix of notes of caramel and raisins. The raspberry berliner had a bright pink color and tons of fruit flavor with a mild tart finish. It managed to be a fruit bomb without being overly sweet.

The only negative thing at Chapman was that they only had a dry stout and no other stronger stouts so there was nothing for my husband to drink. Almost every beer was fantastic. You can find their cans in San Diego so I would recommend you try some of their lagers if you can find them, especially the hoppy lager.

Top 3:
Raspberry Berliner
Hoppy Lager
Milkshake IPA with coffee

Green Cheek

Green Cheek is about a 10 minute drive north of Chapman. They have a decent sized tasting room but it also amplifies the sound of all the people making the tasting room uncomfortably loud. on Friday nights I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was surprised when I saw that all of their hazy IPAs have lactose even though not all of them are noted on the menu. So if you are lactose intolerant or vegan, ask them before ordering any of the hazy IPAs or the sour IPA. The menu is hyper modern with a few traditional styles . I am also a huge fan of their flight pricing because it is only $6 for 4 tasters.

I had a flight of the helles, berliner weisse, nitro stout, and brut IPA. The helles was creamy and complex with light floral hops. The berliner was quite flavorful despite the low alcohol. It was super tropical with notes of papaya and pineapple. The nitro stout was a fairly standard stout, roasty and notes of caramel. The brut IPA was super dry and had notes of tropical fruit, melon, and vanilla. I ended with the sour IPA. After tasting a splash I ordered a pint and it was so good I wish I could have brought some home with me. The sour IPA is made with lactose, pineapple, guava, and passion fruit. I got tons of guava and pineapple and the lactose wasn’t too much, mostly adding to the creamy body. It was like drinking a tropical milkshake. It wasn’t particularly sour or tart so I don’t see why they don’t just call it a tropical milkshake IPA.

I really enjoyed the beers at Green Cheek but I would avoid returning on a Friday night with how loud it got. They offer a few beers in crowlers but sadly not the ones I wanted. If you see their brut IPA on tap in San Diego, I suggest giving it a try. I stopped by Green Cheek again on the way South this time on a Sunday. The atmosphere was much more to my liking and I got to enjoy a few other beers, mostly to avoid some insane traffic caused by another accident. My husband was driving most of the way South.

Top 2:
Berliner Weisse
Sour milkshake 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 serving clients in San Diego California.

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Hogshead Brewery – Denver Colorado

Hogshead is primarily an English style brewery and so you can’t order a 5oz taster of anything. Beers are either in 10oz, 16oz, or 20oz pours for most standard beers with a few higher alcohol beers that are only served in a tulip. I had two proper pints and three 10oz pours while I was there and found the beers to be overall solid. It would have been nice if some of the lower alcohol offerings were a bit less expensive. I could see myself drinking a lot more pints of the standard bitter if they were $5 instead of $7 for a proper pint.

The English Mild had a nice copper color and was smooth drinking with mild roast on cask. Like the standard bitter, this is made for drinking not sipping so I didn’t focus as much on the small details. The Cook Lane pale ale on cask had a base of caramel and cracker malt notes with light earthy hops and a mild bitterness on the finish. It was perfectly balanced and creamy body on cask. The standard bitter had notes of light cherry with mild bitterness. I enjoyed the more subtle flavors of the standard bitter after the pale.

The ESB cask kicked just as I was about to order it so I had it on draft instead. The ESB on draft had a nice roasty base with notes of caramel and mild earthy hops. It was one of the better versions of the style I’ve had. The IPA was to me surprisingly low on the malts because typically I think of an English IPA as being more malt forward. It is similar in style to a West Coast pale ale without the bitter finish that is common. The beer had tons of hop aroma nicely balanced between herbal and citrus flavors. I would drink this on the regular if it was available in cans.

Overall, I was quite impressed by all the beers at Hogshead. The lighter alcohol beers were more flavorful than I usually encounter and served in proper glassware. They join The Civil Life out of St. Louis MO as one of the handful of English ale focused breweries that has blown me away.

Known for:
Come for delicious English style ales served on cask and draft. They also had a few lagers.

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 serving clients in San Diego California.

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The Bell Marker – Downtown San Diego – Now The Owl Drug Company

Update – August 2019.

Some time after the original posting of this blog, The Bell Marker closed and was replaced by The Owl Drug Company. This transition kept many things the same including the quality of the beer though led to a change in food menus. I visited The Owl Drug Company during Comic-Con 2019 to see how things had changed.

I had visited Owl Drug Company back when they were The Bell Marker and walking in you will recognize the space if you were there before the switch. Though they no longer have a board listing the various house beers, they still had a good variety to choose from. They also still have a good vegan friendly menu though there are not as many options as before.
I started with a pint of their American amber which was crisp and lightly sweet with notes of acorns and light hop notes. Despite the name it wasn’t aggressively hopped like some of the style can be. The American brown ale was quite lovely with notes of burnt toffee, roast, and raisins. The beer had a nice medium body and was right in the middle between a brown ale and a porter.
Along with my beers I ordered a pizza with vegan cheese and added a whole impossible burger and some vegetables. The pizza turned out great and was fantastic both eating the first half there and the second half later at home. Despite the change in owners, this is still a fantastic place to visit downtown, though they no longer have the delightful hummus plate that I raved about earlier.

Original Post

The Bell Marker took over a spot on the corner of 6th and Broadway. They had a wide lineup of beers so that it would have been difficult to try them all even doing flights. I happened to visit during happy hour so I had pints rather than my usual tasters because they were only $4 a piece during that window. If you are there for happy hour, I highly recommend you order the hummus plate, which is a great deal and a healthy meal when paired with a pint.

I first had a pint of their English Brown. This is a style I don’t order very often in San Diego but when I saw the lower alcohol it was worth trying a splash. As expected, the American Brown they have is a bit more hop forward and higher alcohol than the English style. I loved the dark color like a porter. The beer was roasty and quite flavorful for the low alcohol with notes of chocolate and caramel. Some may say this borders on porter territory with the prominent roast but it is a delicious beer either way and a rarity with the low alcohol.

I returned another day and had the cream ale and Belgian Wit. I was going to try their pale ale or session IPA but the splashes of both were a bit high on the bitterness and I wasn’t feeling them so I went on the lighter side. The cream ale was crisp and delicious with notes of pear and peach with a soft body. The Belgian Wit was super dry with a hint of clove and a mildly earthy finish. It paired wonderfully with their hummus plate and is one of the more authentic versions of the beer I’ve had locally. My husband drank the milk stout both times and it was tasty with a mix of caramel and roast with a medium body and not overly sweet.

If you are in Downtown San Diego it may not be too far to walk to Bell Marker. If you do, you will find a good variety of solid beers and a broad menu of food options. Their happy hour is currently 3-6PM daily with $4 pints and discounted appetizers. They have a good sized restaurant with standard restaurant seating and a good sized bar.

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 serving clients in San Diego California.

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Weldwerks Brewing Company – Greeley CO

Weldwerks is quite the long drive, about an hour outside of Denver, and located in the middle of nowhere. You can find some of their beers around Denver in bottle shops and on tap but a lot of the beers don’t leave the brewery. The tap list was so insane that I could only go to that one brewery for the day because I wanted to try so many different beers. Though they are known for their hazy IPAs, and they are good I was most impressed by the milkshake IPA and the Berliner weisse beers with fruit. Their barrel aged imperial stouts were also quite excellent.

I started with DDH juicy bits, their flagship hazy IPA. It was creamy and mildly bitter with notes of tangerine and tropical fruit. It is a solid hazy and hits the right flavor notes for the style. Coalescence hazy IPA was similarly creamy but more explosive with hop aroma this time mostly tropical fruit including tons of papaya. I would have bought cans of this if they had been available. Evil Haze Factory was also super creamy with notes of vanilla, strawberry, guava, and pineapple. While it had some lingering sweetness, it was still my favorite of the hazy IPAs from the visit.

My initial flight of tasters including IPAs and fruited sours. 

Double blackberry milkshake IPA was delicious with tons of berry flavor and related acidity. It was juicy and lightly sweet though I was surprised it was not hazy. Perhaps the hazy had been part of it originally and had settled out. In comparison, I much preferred the fruit explosion of the tropical milkshake IPA. It had a bright pink/purple color with a creamy body and explosive tropical fruit and berry notes. The stone fruit Berliner was juicy and tart with prominent stone fruit and a nice thick body similar to a smoothie almost. It reminded me nicely of the stone fruit gose from Aslin brewing. The strawberry rhubarb beer was like liquid pie. It was sweet with notes of baking spices and just the right amount of fruit.

The brownie batter stout was a big hit for my husband and other friends though a bit too sweet for me. It had nice prominent dark chocolate and dough but I don’t care so much for the heavy lactose flavor. There are plenty of delicious milk stout options for you here if you love a sweet stout. I prefer more of the barrel aged stuff so after this I had three versions of their meidanoche stout, a crazy powerful 15% barrel aged stout aged in rum barrels. Each was served as a 6 ounce pour.

Part 1 of the massive tap-list displayed on their large TV screens. 

Part 2 of the massive tap-list displayed on their large TV screens. 

The cool thing about the medianoche beers is they have a special glass just for the beer and so even if you get a six ounce pour, it is proper glass for the beer. I had three versions, a version made for their invitational beer festival with coffee and chocolate, a malibu version with coconut and vanilla, and a version aged 18 months in a single barrel without any adjuncts. They were all fantastic, not crazy boozy despite the high alcohol, and wonderfully balanced. They were some of the best barrel aged stouts I have had anywhere.

Two varieties of Medianoche in their signature glass. I had to try them side-by-side.

The invitational version was thick and fudgy with light barrel character and fairly hidden alcohol. I got some mild nutty coffee out of it as it warmed up. The malibu was slightly sweeter with notes of strawberry. The 18 month version was the most boozy of the bunch with strong rum character. As it warmed up the beer had some nice notes of toffee and tobacco.

The view of the inside. Plenty of seating. 

Despite the crazy drive to get out to Greeley, I was glad I visited the brewery and would consider doing it again depending on the tap list that they have, which thankfully they update regularly on Untappd. If you go to their Untappd page you will see a list of beers available to drink on site and beers available to-go.

Pint of Juicy Bits that I ordered before leaving. 

Top Beers:
Stone Fruit Berliner
Tropical Milkshake IPA
Invitational Single Barrel Medianoche

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 serving clients in San Diego California.

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The Session – Beer and the Life – What Craft Beer Means to Me

This post is in response to a prompt provided to me by a fellow San Diego Beer Blogger, Bill Vanderburgh, who writes for

I have been traveling for fun and for visiting breweries for over four years. This raises the question of what value there is to doing so, besides making it easier for others to decide where to go when visiting the same city. I find tremendous value in it, which is why I still continue to travel despite not making any money from my blog.

The value of exploring breweries can be seen in a few ways. The most obvious is that by visiting the brewery directly you get to try beers you wouldn’t find elsewhere. This has little meaning if you can’t differentiate between beers or if you are happy with just any beer. So this leads to an explanation of the hardcore beer enthusiasts, whom I have befriended over the years.

All beer drinkers start their journey with a flavor they enjoyed in a beer that they want to re-live. But for some, their enjoyment is not dependent on quality, or the variations of quality are not so apparent. By becoming hyper-focused on flavors of beer, many enthusiasts take a leap further. Through this leap comes a differentiation between good, great, fantastic, and world class. Others are happy to find beer that is at least good or sometimes great and stop there. Looking back I sometimes wish I had done so to. Constantly searching for fantastic can lead to disappointment if a beer is not perfectly fresh or as flavorful as the previous batch.

However, having reached the level where I differentiate between fantastic and world class gives me an experience that I can share with enthusiasts around the world. And through this comes a passion that leads me and others to travel longer distances to visit breweries famed for being world class. As some might point out, I am not certified either as a beer judge or a cicerone. I have no formal training on what makes a beer a fantastic example of its beer style. But I speak not from education but from personal experience, an experience many drinkers can relate to.

At nearly every excellent brewery I visit, I meet people who share my passion for searching out the fantastic and the world class. These meetings often turn into in-depth conversations and occasionally friendships. Friendships often develop over a shared passion, whether for types of music, quality beer, or appreciation of nature. These shared passions help us to quickly judge the person we just met. From there, a friendship may develop further into something more personal over the course of many years.

There is a certain welcoming character to beer enthusiasts that I find quite similar to metal heads. Once that shared quality is discovered, conversation takes on a deeper meaning. But I live in San Diego where there are already many world class breweries to visit, surely I could meet beer enthusiasts in my hometown. I absolutely have. There is something different about meeting someone at De Garde, Sante Adarius, American Solera, Cantillon, Jester King, Hill Farmstead, and others that immediately triggers another level of connection. I met 5 wonderful people on my visit to Cantillon a few years ago. Of them, I have kept in touch with the three American women. All 3 of them fell in love with Cantillon’s famed apricot lambic.

The group I joined when I was at the brewery.

You might notice a similarity in the list of breweries. They all focus on barrel-aged beers either farmhouse or inspired by the Belgian lambic tradition. This style has an inherent draw for beer enthusiasts. The beers can be aged, developing complexities over time. And in certain instances I have found specific beers of the style that my husband and mother enjoy, even though most sour beers are beyond their appreciation. I have had numerous people I had never met offer to share a bottle with me that they purchased to drink at the brewery. I have also shared many similar bottles with others, whether at the brewery or when friends come over to share some beers.

There is a tendency among the hardcore beer enthusiasts to welcome the person you just met as if you were friends with them for years. This connection to others is at the heart of what it means to be human. Some might even describe it as sharing an experience of unconditional love. I look forward to the development of these friendships over the coming years. My journey has just begun.

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 serving clients in San Diego California.

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