Tonight I decided to stop by Karl Strauss in Downtown San Diego to see what they had on for Cask Night. I was excited when I saw that the cask beer was a mosaic session IPA. I always enjoy trying beers with single hops because it is a great way to familiarize myself with specific hop flavors. In this case, the mosaic hops were delicious and had a nice crisp grapefruit flavor that really gave some nice flavor to this beer.
After devouring this delicious cask, I went for the pale ale because I have been exploring local pale ales lately. I’ve already become quite familiar with most of the IPAs that Karl Strauss brews so I wanted to see if I could try something I might have overlooked before. I was pleasantly surprised with the flavors from the pale ale though it was still slightly more malty than I might have preferred. The hops give it a delicious amount of citrus bite that you can really feel in the mouth. Some of the hops go a little heavy on the piney flavors for my tastes though and so I wasn’t completely blown away. Still, it is one of the better San Diego pale ales out there.
If you are in the mood for something stronger, the Tower 10 IPA is always a great west coast IPA and they occasionally have some delicious double IPAs on tap as well.
I’ve been visiting Ballast Point for some time now. When I first visited the Scripps Ranch location it was really small and had hardly any space to sit if any. Now it is three times as large inside plus has a nice outdoor sitting area. When Ballast Point announced the new location in Little Italy I was excited but I didn’t go down there until now because I am so close to the Old Grove location. After making it down to meet with a few friends I am glad I made the trip and got to try a few interesting beers they don’t have at the other location.
I went straight for the four varieties of single hopped IPAs. For those not familiar, most IPAs, like Ballast Point’s Sculpin, are made with multiple varieties of hops. The combination of flavors is what makes your favorite beer so good. Single hopped IPAs are made with a single type of hops. This is nice because it lets you become familiar with the different tastes of the hops. They were nice to taste and experience the hops but I was not craving pints of any of them after the tasters.
It is important to note that Ballast Point does have a wine selection as well. So you won’t be alienating your friends if they don’t drink beer. I didn’t get to taste any of the wines though so I don’t know how good they are.
I next went for the Hop Face IPA, the original Sculpin recipe with some Mosaic hops. With that I got a taster of the Chocolate Schwartz and the Dunkelweisen.
The Hop Face was good but it didn’t blow me away or anything. I still prefer the original Sculpin. I was quite impressed by the Chocolate Schwartz. I wasn’t expecting such a delicious sweet chocolate taste. It could turn into a popular mainstay if they make it right. The Dunkelweisen was not bad but tasted pretty much like any other dark Belgian beer. It didn’t grab me and I much preferred the Chocolate Schwartz.
It is nice to note that they did have a selection of food available here. Most of the offerings were around $12-$15. We only had the chips and salsa. It was tasty and the chips were quite nice. We ended up eating a sandwich down the street at Mona Lisa. The little Italian market has amazing huge sandwiches for $7 or so that you can easily split with someone. Since Ballast Point serves food I doubt they would let you bring one in, but it is great for after a few beers. Overall, it is worth stopping by the Little Italy location for a taste of some interesting beers you can’t find at the other location. It is a great start to a new location that will hopefully be very successful.
On Day 4 in San Francisco I wanted to explore Chinatown. Little did I know it was not going to entertain me for very long. It didn’t help that it was quite cold in the Downtown area because there was no sun coming through to warm me up. I finally hit noon just as I made it to Rogue just in time to warm up with some beer and lunch. Though Rogue is an Oregon based brewery originally, I don’t have an Oregon trip planned anytime soon and the other choices were a bit out of the way. I was glad I stopped in because I had previously thought of Rogue as not so good based on the beers that made their way down to San Diego. Now I am going to keep an eye out for some more beers.
Just the night before some of the people I was hanging out with suggested I check out Rogue. Once I realized how close it was to Chinatown compared to the other breweries in the area I decided it was worth a shot. I ended up spending two hours here chatting with people and enjoying the food and beer.
I started off with a few tasters of beers I normally might not expect to like. Yellow Snow was not particularly interesting, nor was the dry hopped red ale. I didn’t get many notes down for either. The Red IPA was quite nice with a caramel flavor from the malts and a decent amount of hop flavors to balance it out. The Chocolate Stout was the exact opposite of the bitter brew I had at Southern Pacific the day before. It had a lovely sweet chocolate flavor that I quite enjoyed. Rather than ordering a pint of that though, I went for the Black Lager.
Rogue had an interesting selection of beers from their farm series, beers that were all brewed from materials they grew on their own farm. The black lager was one of these beers. It was quite tasty and would have been hard to distinguish from a lightly smoked porter. I took my time drinking this beer while I enjoyed the cheese bread and then a bowl of chili. I’m excited to see more of what Rogue makes another time and possibly in a store down in San Diego.
I hope you enjoyed my four part series on San Francisco breweries. I hope to continue the series as I take other trips.
My second day in the area I spent exploring San Francisco with my fiance. We first went out on the bridge to bridge tour of the bay, where we got to see the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges up close and drive near Alcatraz. Later in the evening I went out exploring and wanted to stop by Thirsty Bear Brewing but sadly they were not open. This led me to the bar across the street from our hotel where I was happy to find they had $3 pints for happy hour. This was my chance to try the Prohibition Ale from Speakeasy Ales & Lagers.
The hop flavors really make this one of my favorite ales. They add just the right amount of hops to balance out the typical malt flavors you get in an ale. I only had one here because we were off to Oakland to eat dinner with relatives and more beer to enjoy with that.
We stopped by a restaurant where we had pizza and appetizers with beer. I was glad to see a solid selection of beers on tap to choose from. My fiance went straight for the Stone Russian Imperial Stout which they served in a pint. Needless to say he only had one. I went straight for the Drake’s Brewing 1500 Pale. It had a nice light taste with some nice hop flavor. At 5.5% it was what some breweries might call an extra pale.
After that I was ready for something substantial and tried Heretic Brewing’s Evil Cousin Imperial IPA. The beer had plenty of citrus and pine flavors, nicely balanced by the right amount of malts. I was satisfied for the day with my hop fix. In Part 3 I will explore Rosamunde Sausage Grill and the beer I had on tap there. Part 4 will explore Southern Pacific Brewing. Part 5 will round it out with a visit to Rogue.
I recently went to San Francisco for a few days with my fiance. While I was there I spent some time with relatives in Fremont and Oakland. Most importantly, I got to try a number of beers from around the area. As you will see, not all of the beers I tried were from San Francisco itself, but I couldn’t resist a chance to try some beers I might not see in San Diego for a while. This will be a multiple part post starting with the beers I enjoyed in other bars in outlying areas. Then I will split into two or three posts the beers I enjoyed within the city of San Francisco itself.
One brewery I saw quite a few times represented was Drake’s Brewing from San Leandro. I didn’t get to actually visit the brewery but various beers from there were on tap at the different places I visited. The more I saw from them, the more I was glad I got to try their beers. The first day I was in town we went down for High Tea at a teahouse and after that my fiance decided to do some shopping nearby so I escaped to a small bar nearby for a pint. I was disappointed that they served beer in chilled glasses but I didn’t want to waste good beer so I didn’t send it back.
I got to try a nice local Irish Red that was typical for the style while my friend ordered a Denogginizer from Drake’s Brewing. It was too early in the day for a double IPA so I was glad I didn’t order one myself but I ended up having a good enough taste from the beer to get a good idea of the flavors. Though it looked a bit darker it was not overly malty. The beer had a nice grapefruit flavor up front and tasted almost like a double version of Ballast Point’s Sculpin IPA.
After leaving this small bar, we hung out a while before heading over to Tied House in Mountain View for beer and dinner. I was excited when I saw various single hop IPAs available to let me get a good flavor profile for the hop used. I tried a small taste of the two different IPAs before settling on the Chinook Single Hop IPA.
Despite the dark color, this beer had a nice forward hop flavor. The Chinook hop gave it a good pine flavor that came through nicely. It was a solid balanced beer. After enjoying the single hop beers, I tried a few of the double IPAs available and the barleywine. I was not impressed by either of them enough for me to try more than a taster of either. I simply recall the doubles as being too malty for my tastes.
The beer selection was solid at Tied House and I was overall quite satisfied by the food. My friend indicated that this was the first place in a long time where they actually gave him extra crispy fries. I found the fish tacos quite delicious with a pineapple habanero sauce (though it was not as hot as I might have hoped). My first day in the area was a success and I wish now I had gotten more Drake’s beer than I did.