Acoustic Aleworks, Light but Hoppy

In an environment where most of the breweries serve tons of stronger beers, it is nice to have an option for more fresh hopped extra pale ales and session IPAs. Acoustic Aleworks does have an IPA called Willow Wolves but when I dropped by it was only available on cask and nitro. Because of how both cask and nitro mellow out IPAs I rarely like IPAs that way. I did quite enjoy the white IPA though. I will keep an eye out for their beers in bottles in 2014.

Acoustic Ales has a nice relaxed atmosphere resembling a jazz club. Instead of the usual plastic bar-stools, they have leather stools and low leather chairs to sit in. This is a pretty small tasting room so it might not be able to fit more than 20 or 30 people comfortably.

Acoustic Aleworks tap list as of 12/28/2013.
Acoustic Aleworks tap list as of 12/28/2013.
Acoustic Aleworks.
Acoustic Aleworks.

I only had a few tasters here because I had already enjoyed so much good beer at Modern Times just a bit earlier. I started with a taster of the white IPA and session IPAs. The Session IPA had a nice light earthy hop flavor. At 5%, it is almost a full on IPA or extra pale. The white IPA was the highlight of the night for me. While many white IPAs have been too sour for me, this one was not sour at all. It had a nice light sweetness to it as well. If this had been my only stop of the night I would have ordered a pint.

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Pint of cask Willow Wolves IPA and taster of double IPA.
Pint of cask Willow Wolves IPA and taster of double IPA.

My sister ordered a pint of the Willow Wolves IPA on cask. It was about what I expected from a cask IPA, too smooth for what I like. I had a hard time really distinguishing the hop flavors compared to the white IPA. The double IPA was good but again a bit too resiny/piney for my tastes. Thankfully there was enough citrus flavor to round it out.

Acoustic Aleworks seemed to me like they were trying too many things without making sure to master some solid mainstay brews. I’ll have to make it back some time to see what Willow Wolves is like on tap. I also did not have time to try anywhere near all of the beers because of the insane number of options. I expect this many beers at Green Flash but it seems a little overkill for such a new brewery.

Update: July 2015

I visited Acoustic Ales again in July 2015 to see how things had progressed since my last visit. This time they had the Willow Wolves on tap but the Run for the Hills IIPA was only available on cask. I can’t tell if the tap versions are super popular or if they are more focused on cask beers. Either way, I was glad to get to taste the willow wolves on tap.

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Though they still have a surprisingly large tap list for such a young brewery, it now makes more sense because they are actually bottling a large number of beers and their list of core beers is a whole 12 beers long. Besides the one above I also tried a cask of the Run for the Hills and a cask of the Groupie Belgian with grapefruit zest. The cask IIPA was very smooth with a nice lemon flavor. This beer was dangerously drinkable considering the high ABV. The cask of the Groupie was very nice sporting a good blend of Belgian yeast and subtle grapefruit.

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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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Modern Times Brewing, Hoppy Beers for Hop Heads

I’m going to try to eventually hit all the breweries out of my area but as you can understand with so many good breweries so close together it is hard to find motivation to make it down to other breweries. Today I went to Modern Times and Acoustic Aleworks because they are so close together. At first I wasn’t sure that I was in the right place even though I knew I had followed the directions exactly. Like many breweries, Modern Times doesn’t have much fancy signage outside. You might walk right past it if it isn’t very busy. Thankfully it is right behind a few nude bars that you see every time you drive down Rosecrans. The parking could be better but considering the area it isn’t surprising.

View of the brewery from outside.
View of the brewery from outside.

Thankfully, the brewery looks much better inside. As soon as you step foot in the door you can feel the unique vibe of the place that comes from the stacks of books under the bar, the comic books on the wall to the left, the 8-bit-inspired art on the wall to the right, and other unique decorations all around. It is unlike any other brewery I have ever visited. If it wasn’t for the few tables near the larger window in the wall it would be as dark as a speak-easy.

Wall of comic-books.
Wall of comic-books.
8-bit-inspired artwork on the wall.
8-bit-inspired artwork on the wall.

The brewery has a fairly small selection compared to some of the places I frequent, but it isn’t hurt by it. The four mainstays offer enough variety that most people should find something to enjoy and they had two seasonal offerings that rounded out the selection nicely. Though they did give me a discount because of my blog I did not learn of this until after I had already written about the beers. It was also small enough that it wouldn’t influence my writings.

I started things off with a flight of four tasters. Though the offerings at first seem typical, I can assure you they are not. They have a saison, a hoppy amber, a hoppy wheat bear, and a coffee stout. The saison is the only one that is what you might expect. I’m not typically a fan of saison beers so I can’t say if it was a good or bad one but it was more drinkable than some I have had elsewhere.

Taster flight. Saison (top left), Hoppy Amber (top right), Hoppy Wheat (bottom left), Coffee Stout (bottom right)
Taster flight. Saison (top left), Hoppy Amber (top right), Hoppy Wheat (bottom left), Coffee Stout (bottom right)
Modern Times tap list as of December 28, 2013
Modern Times tap list as of December 28, 2013

I quite enjoyed both the hoppy wheat and hoppy amber. The hoppy wheat reminded me most of a session IPA or an extra pale ale. It had a nice hop flavor up front and a mellow flavor with the lighter alcohol. This might be a good way to introduce your friends to hops. The hoppy amber most closely resembled a San Diego IPA with the up-front Nelson hop flavors. Nelson hops deliver the familiar grapefruit taste and it was quite prominent here. I left with a four-pack of 16oz cans of the hoppy amber because it was my favorite of the night. To round off the flight, we had some coffee stout, which was a nice lighter alcohol stout. Flavor wise, it was on the bitter side and was close to having a cup of iced coffee. This is not for people who prefer sweeter stouts.

Books stacked up under the bar.
Books stacked up under the bar.

I also tried the IPA, made with bread yeast, and the double IPA before I left. I wasn’t very big on the flavors of the IPA. I tasted a light bitter flavor at the front with a little pineapple behind it. The double IPA was quite drinkable but a bit too heavy on the pine/resin flavors for my tastes. It certainly is well balanced but I prefer double IPAs with more citrus flavors.

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Modern Times is one of the first San Diego breweries to offer to fill blank growlers and sell their own growler-cozies that you can slip onto a growler from any other brewery. Eventually we should see both of these become standard but for now they are the first that I am aware of. If you like San Diego IPAs, it is worth stopping by Modern Times for some of the Blazing World hoppy amber. Look for the Blazing World in stores as well and be sure to grab some.

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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Victory at Sea Day 2013

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.

Devil's Share Victory at Sea (Left), Bourbon Barrel Aged Black Marlin Porter (right)
Devil’s Share Victory at Sea (Left), Bourbon Barrel Aged Black Marlin Porter (right)

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?

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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Craft Beer Lover’s Wedding

Tomorrow (December 20, 2013) I will be getting married to a man. My husband was a bit slow to come around to enjoying craft beer but now enjoys a good stout and porter. If it had been up to me, the reception would be just beer, but he and others convinced me to have some snacking food. Though my selections aren’t perfect I had to keep in mind the varying tastes of my guests because not all of them love the bitter sting of an IPA. So I thought I’d share with everyone the beers I chose for the wedding.

Wedding Beer
Wedding Beer

San Diego beer drinkers will recognize that most of the beer here is from San Diego breweries. First off, two ballast point brewer’s selections. These multi-packs first became available this year and help satisfy guests who like a good pale ale and amber while including one of San Diego’s top IPAs, the Sculpin. Big Eye IPA is also solid and rounds out the pack. From Stone, another San Diego Brewery, I have six 22oz bottles of the 2013 Vanilla Bean Smoked Porter. This is for my husband and anyone else who prefers a good porter. Those same people might also appreciate the Full Suit Belgian Brown from Karl Strauss, one of the bigger San Diego breweries. Also from Karl Strauss is their Tower 10 IPA, a favorite of mine that looks like it was freshly released. To top it all off, I have two (though only one pictured here) of the delightful New Belgium Folly Pack 2013 (as I reviewed in my earlier post). This set is nice because it has some lighter seasonal brews and some IPA and even a Double IPA (the strongest beer of the night).

This gives us a total of 108 12oz bottles of beer and 6 22oz bottles of beer. Assuming 30 out of our 40 guests drink beer, that is about 3 or 4 drinks per person.

[NOTE: I purposefully did not get a bunch of Green Bullet or other beers over 9% because I want to be able to enjoy myself without going overboard. I also purposefully did not buy a bunch of growlers or a keg. It is better to have a variety than to assume that everyone will love my favorite IPA.

If you happen to notice that the boxes are empty, you are correct. The beers are all chilling in the fridge so I don’t have to put them on ice.]

What beers would you have at your wedding? 

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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Peak Brewing Organic IPA

I like to buy things at Trader Joe’s fairly often. I can’t resist a 6-pack of IPA for less than $10, so I had to try the Peak Brewing Company Organic IPA, brewed all the way out in Maine. I must have gone through three six packs in the last month of this stuff because it is so good. At $7.99 for a 6-pack, you can’t beat it. Most local breweries tend to charge more than $10 for a 6-pack of their IPA.

Peak Organic IPA

The beer pours a nice amber color and yet has the hop flavors at the front. Initially it tasted very similar to a Stone IPA but a little heavier on the hops, though I haven’t had much Stone IPA lately. For the price, you can’t go wrong with this one and it is worth picking up if you see it at your local Trader Joe’s. It has quite a pleasant flavor and should be something you can share with your friends.

 

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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Exploring San Diego's Craft Breweries