Category Archives: Brewery/Restaurant
The Original 40 opened just East of North Park brewing company, not far from the tasting room where Chuck Alek was before they closed. They have a large indoor space with a full menu though at least initially the food is not available until 5PM. The brewery gives Chris Gillogly a chance to explore new styles after coming from a stint at Mikkeller San Diego and Groundswell before that. From the few beers I tried, it will be a welcome addition to a fairly crowded neighborhood.
I stopped by on a Saturday afternoon and it was quiet enough to be peaceful to enjoy a pint. But as it got later into the evening and the place started filling up, it became uncomfortably loud as many places in the area tend to get. Thankfully they didn’t have any loud music to make things even more intense. I started with their German style pilsner, which was crisp and well made. The beer had notes of orange blossom honey and a crisp dry finish with a light bitterness. This lager is offered along side a Mexican style lager that I didn’t try.
There were lots of hazy IPA options available but I went for one made along with Pure Project Brewing based on input from friends who had visited recently. The beer had a nice thick creamy body for 6% and tons of juicy papaya, mango, and orange peel to round it out. I hope they manage to add a similar beer to their rotation. They also had a big imperial stout when I visited that was made along with Horus Aged ales and so dosed with incredible amounts of cacao nibs and vanilla beans. Though delicious I don’t know if I would have ordered more than one at $7 for a 4oz pour. Other tasters were the now standard price of $3 each.
I was overall impressed by the beers I had and hope that The Original 40 is successful. Along their house beers they had a few guest taps including something from Burning Beard and Societe and a few alcoholic kombucha options. I didn’t eat any food during my visit because the kitchen wasn’t open yet and they didn’t seem to have a lot of vegan options.
Mason Ale Works Tasting Room
Mason Ale Works is a brewery I haven’t covered mostly because when restaurants add in a brewery after the fact, it seems like an after thought. I saw that they had opened a new tasting room not far from New English Brewing company up in a residential area of Carmel Valley that I had never visited before. I made my way out on a warm Summer day to see if the space was worth returning to.
First off, a note on service. Regular readers know I don’t usually say much about service because beer is what matters. But the person serving me during my visit to Mason Ale Works seemed to really hate my questions about the beers. One question I asked was how their flagship beer was different than the Rye IPA and I got a curt reply that “It is an IPA with Rye.” He either really wanted me to buy a flight or didn’t know his beers enough to give serious answers. Either way, this is not typical in the San Diego beer scene. As some of you may know, I stopped ordering flights once $3 tasters became common. Even with the slight discount, 4 tasters here is $10, which is more than I want to spend for that much beer.
Beer wise, I started with a pint of their session IPA which thankfully kicked (I got the last of the keg). At first I thought great, a free half pint. But I couldn’t even drink more than 1/4 of what I was served before going up to pay for a pint of something else. While I generally complain about San Diego session IPAs being overly bitter, this one was just overly tasteless. Or to put it another way, completely lacking in any hop character at all. They might as well have simply called it a session ale but even then it was overly sweet and extremely generic. Thankfully the other beers I tasted were good.
I was with my mom on this visit and since she has been avoiding hoppy beers lately I ordered her a pint of the Mexican Lager. While not the best lager I’ve had, it was still quite good, and had a lot more flavor than the session IPA I started with. The beer had a nice dry finish and a light hop kick. I finished with a pint of their core IPA. While described as a typical West Coast IPA it was thankfully a more modern take on the style, meaning less bitterness than was standard when the style first became popular. It was a nice example of the style and had prominent grapefruit notes with mild resin in the background.
As for the space, they had air conditioning inside and a nice shady outdoor area in the back. The breeze was cool enough that the outdoor seating was perfectly pleasant. If I lived within walking distance I could see myself returning but since it is a bit far from anything else, I likely won’t return very often. For those of you who don’t like beer, they also serve wine and spirits.
Pfriem Family Brewers – Hood River Oregon
Pfriem is in Hood River Oregon, about an hour east of Portland. It is a lovely drive along the Columbia River. I expect we missed some of the true majesty of the drive because it had recently snowed. Pfriem is a restaurant and so you may have to wait for a table if you plan to visit on a weekend. Thankfully we ended up in the upstairs area because it was a little bit quieter up there at least before it filled up.
I already expected excellent beer and was pleasantly surprised by the excellent food as well. For the hardcore beer nut, it may not be worth a visit given you can find so many of their beers in bottles and cans around town. As of this writing the cans are expected any day now but they seem to have focused the initial runs of cans on their local market rather than distributing them to San Diego.
I visited having previously enjoyed the delicious pilsner and a few sours so I mostly wanted to enjoy the beers at the source. The pilsner was as excellent as I remember. It is a gold winning beer for a reason. The beer was easy drinking with light notes of honey and hay with a crisp dry finish. This is certainly a beer for drinking as opposed to sipping. The traditional saison was lightly sweet and chewy with notes of cloves and tons of Belgian yeast character. The yeast dominated the beer here and any hops were barely detectable.
Given how high quality Pfriem’s other beers were, I ordered the hazy IPA without trying it. It was about as much of a miss as has become common in San Diego. While the beer was hazy in appearance it was not soft or pillowy as one might expect from the style. It had some notes of melon and tropical fruit but the boozy alcohol character dominated, making it mildly unpleasant. I don’t recommend you seek out this hazy when their traditional IPAs are so much better.
Come for excellent interpretations of classic styles including some lambic inspired barrel aged sours. You can find their beers in bottles and cans around Oregon and even down into San Diego.
Bosque Brewing Revisited – New Restaurant Location
When I first visited Bosque in 2017, they had only one location, which was a dark restaurant with solid beer. In the time since that visit they opened a much larger restaurant in Bernalillo, outside of Albuquerque, that I was told I had to stop by and visit while I was in the area.
I heard about the views at Bosque’s new location making it worth a visit. On the drive over, I started to wonder as I got closer whether I was lied to. Then I realized that the mountains visible before exiting the freeway are visible from their back patio. Despite the chilly time of year, with heaters and a few layers, it was comfortable to sit on the patio and enjoy a few beers. The view made it extra special with the snow on the mountains in the distance.
I started with their house lager, which came highly recommended. It was crisp and clean just as I would expect, making it a perfect beer to enjoy in a full 20oz pour. I then ordered their hazy IPA, which was properly hazy with notes of juicy citrus and light pine. Despite being labeled as 70 IBU, it was nicely balanced and not overly bitter. Though I didn’t try all the beers, they were much improved from my visit two years prior.
While at the brewery, a friend and I shared their vegetarian poutine. Though more accurately I had a few bites while he devoured it. They use a green chili sauce instead of traditional poutine gravy, giving it a great kick. I especially enjoyed the last few bites that were smothered in the sauce.
If you have the time while you are in Albuquerque, make sure to venture out to Bosque’s new restaurant in Bernalillo, a short ride outside of town. It is a lovely spot and worth a visit. They had a great lineup of beers including some delicious hazy IPAs.
Rowley Farmhouse Ales – Santa Fe, New Mexico
Rowley is located in Santa Fe and if you are in Albuquerque it would be about an hour drive in between. I really enjoyed the atmosphere inside. It was rustic with wood on the walls and small enough that it didn’t get too loud. They also have a full kitchen. They did an excellent job both with my vegetable risotto and my husband’s impossible burger.
I started with the berliner weisse which turned out to be my favorite of the day. It was funky and complex with notes of bitter gourd and tropical fruit. I didn’t realize at the time but the bitter flavors that were subtly present in this beer were much more prominent in the various saisons. I got a flight for the rest of my beers, mostly because saisons are so hit and miss with me, but also because they price them so that they are almost the same price per ounce as ordering a larger pour, a rarity these days.
The two saisons both featured prominent herbal hop character. It took some adjusting before I could fully taste the beers. I generally don’t care for saisons that use herbal hops so take any criticisms of these beers with a grain of salt. Sarlac was dry and funky with prominent herbal hop notes and a bitter finish. The rye saison was the sweeter of the two also featuring prominent herbal hop character. Both beers were well made but not something I would order again.
Chantal was an interesting beer. They made an imperial saison and added raspberry. The beer was brewed as a fundraiser. It was surprisingly drinkable and dry for the higher alcohol but the raspberry was barely hinted at in flavor. I got some herbal hop notes with this beer as well though slightly covered up by the raspberry. I finished with the 2nd Anniversary, a dark sour aged in wine barrels with raspberry. The fruit again took a back seat to other more prominent flavors. The beer was thick with prominent red wine and oak notes finishing with hints of molasses and a prominent acidity. While a huge step up from the others in the flight, I did not feel like ordering more than a taster.
Overall, I found the beers at Rowley fairly underwhelming and average at best. If you like sours and wild ales, Bow and Arrow was much more impressive to me, and where I recommend you drink. Though if you are in the area and like a good Berliner Weisse I do recommend you try that one.
Come for farmhouse ales and the occasional sour. They also have guest taps if you like other styles.