I sadly didn’t get to try all the special beers Ballast Point had available this year for Victory at Sea Day. I did get to try the beers last year and liked some and disliked others. Because the crowd was so insane last year I decided to stop by the brewery a little later than I might have otherwise. This meant that by the time I got there they were out of all of the special flavors except for one. In the end it wasn’t a complete waste of a trip though because I got to try two awesome barrel aged beers.
What is this about different flights I missed? Ballast Point had ten different flavors of Victory at Sea available for tasting today and you had to buy one of two flights of five beers (or both). Since I hate huge crowds more than I love good beer, I chickened out and came by later, after they had already sold out. [I would have noticed that they were out of flights if I had checked Facebook but I didn’t have time to drive down to the other locations anyway.]
So the two beers I did have were both quite delicious and worth stopping by. As you might expect from a lighter beer, the Bourbon Barrel Aged Black Marlin Porter had some heavy bourbon flavor coming through that almost overpowered the underlying beer completely. It had a great heavy aroma of bourbon on the nose and went down smooth. The Devil’s Share Victory at Sea in Oak barrels was the highlight of the day for me. I could tell which was which because the Victory at Sea had some nice coffee aromas on the nose. The beer is so strong that the oak and Devil’s Share Whiskey flavors are much more subtle. It has the same delightful thick coffee flavors you might expect and some delicious whiskey flavors as well. I went back for a second taster because it was so good.
Did you get to try some of the flights at Victory at Sea day? What was your favorite?
I had the pleasure of exploring Green Flash’s Holiday Marketplace in 2012. It was pretty small and not a lot of people showed up but I found some interesting things. This year I even got one of my friends who doesn’t drink to come along so she could do some Christmas shopping. Everyone loved it and Green Flash even had some special new beers to go along with it.
I was surprised when I got there because typically you enter the brewery through an ordinary sized door. However, the marketplace itself was in an area few regulars ever venture into, unless you like to take tours. When I was walking up to the front we actually entered through one of the big warehouse doors that was wide open, leading right into the first few vendors. Right as I walked in I saw one vendor selling hot sauce, and I was glad I stopped. There were many great tasting sauces on display but I was especially glad to see a Trinidad Moruga sauce that I could sample. I went home with a bottle and really loved it.
To start with, I had an 8oz pour of the barrel aged white IPA. On paper this sounded lovely until the bartender told me that this beer is actually aged in white wine barrels. OK, i thought, barrel aged is always good so let’s give it a try. At first I was pleasantly surprised by the flavor but by the time I was done with the 8oz pour I was not impressed. I expect people who enjoy a good white wine will like this one a lot more than I did. [When I drink wine I tend to go for red wine]. The white wine flavor really overpowered any hop flavors that might have been present before aging.
After some shopping and finishing this one I went back for an 8oz of the Belgian IPA. I always enjoyed the Le Freak, a heavier Belgian style IPA so I figured this one would be great as well. I found myself largely unimpressed. The flavor was a bit too bitter for what I expected and the hop flavors were not very prominent at all. I ended up giving most of my 8oz to my mom, who loved it.
I went back to the bar once again and went straight for a favorite of mine. I ordered a pint of the Symposium IPA. The Symposium IPA was released earlier this year as part of Green Flash’s Hop Odyssey series. Though it started out very light when it was first released, I found the color a little darker and the flavor a little more malty. I quite enjoyed the pine flavors at the front and a nice peach/grape flavor on the back end to round it out.
Before leaving, I had a 13oz of the Double Columbus IPA, one I wrote about in a previous blog. I was glad to see that the various merchants were set up inside this year because things got a bit cold last year when everyone was set up out in the parking lot. They also decided to end things a little bit earlier this year, perhaps to avoid any complaints of cold. I quite enjoyed the little booth Green Flash had set up to sell off merchandise from earlier in the year, including old T-shirts and glasses at a discount. You can see this in the first picture above. I picked up a few smaller Green Bullet glasses at a discount that I will use in the future when I crack open some stronger brews.
To end this, I wanted to give a shout out to one of the merchants I met there who was selling little stickers to put on your glasses. Pictured above is a glass with two stickers they gave me, hunk for myself and stud muffin for my soon to be husband. I think this is a great idea if you have a party and a ton of friends who might get glasses confused.
I found the Holiday Marketplace to be overall a lot of fun this year. We had vendors selling a ton of different things, including candy, jewelry, hot sauce, knit items, and even things you could buy for people in third world countries. Sure there were quite a few booths selling beer-related items as well but that should be expected at a brewery. We also got our pictures taken with Santa, though those won’t be available right away.
After leaving Rosamunde Sausage Grill I went straight to Southern Pacific Brewing. I wasn’t sure I was in the right place at first because I walked right past the brewery, not noticing the sign until I turned around confused. I ordered a flight of all seven of the mainstay beers and ended up with a small taste of two others before I was through. Needless to say, I didn’t have much more that evening.
Thankfully there were some heaters around the place because I had been a bit cold most of the day until then. The beer wasn’t helping me warm up either. When I ordered the flight, I was quite impressed by some of the lighter options. If I wasn’t tasting some of the stronger stuff I might have ordered a pint of the lager.
The lager had a lot of what you might expect in the flavor with a little bit of a buttery flavor. It is rare for me to see lager beers brewed by locals but this one was so fresh it was quite delicious. The hefeweizen was also quite good, even though it wasn’t as impressive as the lager. It had some nice citrus flavors to finish it off. The blonde was closer to an extra pale than anything else. From the scent I was almost convinced it might have been some pale ale instead. It had a nice green tea finish.
The porter happened to be tapped fresh in the middle and just in time to taste before I tried the IPA. It was a nice bitter porter that might not impress porter fans who prefer something a bit more sweet. The IPA was nice and balanced with some pine flavors up front. The extra IPA was a bit higher on the malts, with a bit of a caramel after taste. The amber was a bit stronger than the usual for its style and had a nice flavor at a little over 6%. The American Strong had a nice mellow caramel apple flavor to it, though a bit on the sweet side. I got to try a small taste of the Winter Warmer that was a bourbon barrel aged version of the strong. The bourbon barrel really helped the flavor and gave it a nice finish.
Overall I was quite impressed by the beers and wish I could have gone there on a day by itself. The IPAs didn’t taste like I expect in San Diego but they were quite nice.
I stopped by Green Flash to taste the new Columbus Double IPA along with the Palate Wrecker. I was fortunate enough to try the Palate Wrecker last year when it was first introduced and I have to say I never got so into it then that I felt it was worth buying to take home. Green Flash has been stellar ever since they started pushing the hop envelope. The Green Bullet is one of my all-time favorite beers and the Symposium IPA really does everything I want in a good IPA.
I started with the Double Columbus because it is 8.5% compared to the 9.5% of the Palate Wrecker. I really liked the smooth balance of the Columbus. It had a nice pine flavor and some sweet hop flavors that really felt balanced and satisfying. This is a very light colored IPA and it comes through in the taste for sure. It has so much flavor that I am glad it is a bit lighter on the alcohol because I can have a few and not go crazy.
I had a taster of the cask Palate Wrecker and the draft. The Cask was quite smooth and really had a nice cedar and pine flavor. The bitterness was really mellowed out by the cask and it was quite nice. Compared to the other beers, the Palate Wrecker regular was hard to taste all the flavors. In a way I prefer Green Bullet and Double Columbus simply because the flavors of the hops are more easy to taste. I did enjoy the Palate Wrecker enough to come home with a 4 pack. In the bottle, the beer is a bit more mellow and quite pleasant.
If you got to try these beers, what did you think? Is the Palate Wrecker too much?
Hess has been around for a while. They started out as a nanobrewery and for a long time were one of the smallest breweries around the Mira Mesa area. Slowly but surely they expanded their reach and this year they opened a brewery in North Park. Sadly, the Mira Mesa tasting room still uses plastic cups for the tasters and they charge a premium for the chance to get your tasters in a glass. Considering that some of the smaller breweries out there use glass for their tasters it seems a bit quaint that they would stick with this route. Part of why I didn’t go back since my last visit was the plastic cups used for everything.
Beer wise, Hess has an interesting selection. They are not the place to go if you like heavy hop flavors in your beers. Today I got to try a few tasters because the selection was so large that I couldn’t possibly try everything, though I am not sure I will go back to finish out the rest. The Pumpkin Stout was interesting and I had it both on tap and on nitro. Though it has a nice creamy flavor it was not particularly impressive. There wasn’t a lot of pumpkin flavor in the beer to make it stand out from the rest of the pumpkin beers, and also not much spice flavor either. Still, as a stout it was really good even if it did not have the flavor to match its high 8% abv.
The IPA was interesting in that it wasn’t insanely malty like some and wasn’t insanely hopy either. So it was a nice balanced brew and had some solid hop flavors. Still, it did not do enough to compete with some of the better IPAs I have had recently, especially the Perseus IPA from Intergalactic. The Belgian American Pale was the standout from what I had this day. It has the sweet flavors of a Belgian beer with the added bitterness of a pale. I wasn’t about to order a pint in plastic cups though. I finished off with a taster of the Rye Imperial Stout. It had a solid stout flavor with the chocolate flavors but did not really impress me compared to other similar beers I have had recently.
Compared to some of the upstart breweries around here, I would suggest you give Hess a try if you like the Belgian flavors. Hop heads should look elsewhere for now. I probably won’t be back until they start using glasses.