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.
Rough Draft had a bit of a rough start. I almost didn’t want to go back after that first batch of beers. Thankfully, I heard that they had stepped it up and returned six months later to find a nice impressive selection of beers. I went back today to see how things were going and get some photos for this post.
To start with I had a taster of the Weekday session IPA. It drinks like a pale ale but is dry hopped like an IPA. The smooth taste will seem light if you are used to IPAs but it is perfect for those all-day drinking sessions where you might not want to start off with some IPA. It is also very popular at parties because it doesn’t have the bitter taste people associate with IPAs. It is one of the better session IPAs out there, along with Green Flash, and is a great one to drink if you want to have a few pints.
To move things along, I tried the Southern Triangle and Eraser IPAs. I stuck with tasters for these two and they were a bit lighter than I remembered. They had a nice crisp taste although weren’t too bitter like a Sculpin or the IPA over at New English. At a later visit I was able to distinguish the differences a little more. Though they are very close, the Southern Triangle has a bit more of the nelson hop flavor with heavy grapefruit while the Eraser is a bit more of a traditional west-coast style IPA. Both are beers that I return to quite regularly.
I moved on to the barrel aged strong ale. At 10% I stuck with just one 8oz pour. It had the smooth bourbon flavor you would expect. I think the strength of the beer kept it from getting an overpowering bourbon flavor like lighter beers tend to take on. The base beer has a bit of a syrupy caramel flavor and it works nicely with the bourbon.
Rough Draft is a nice place to hang out as well. It is one of the only breweries where they have couches and soft bar stools. The tasting room has a nice modern look to it and is usually at least half full. They also have a really nice lighter stout that my friends all love and a big hearty double IPA that I enjoy. They bottle most of the beers as well so you might find them in stores or pick up a bottle when you are at the brewery.
You may not have heard about this smaller brewery out in Poway. I didn’t visit them for a long time because they had some strange hours initially. Now that I have been there I realize why the hours are not like your ordinary tasting room. They don’t serve pints. You can only order tasters and then pick up bottles of beer to take home. I have no problem with this though because the beers I was able to taste this time were quite good. It isn’t very obvious from these pictures but there is really no bar to speak of and no areas to sit down. You might even wonder if you are in the right place at first because there are offices you pass on the way inside.
I biked over so I didn’t try very many tasters. I was quite impressed with the barrel aged red ale. It reminded me of a bourbon barrel aged scotch ale that Ballast Point made years ago and I have been craving more of ever since. The double IPA was nice and balanced without too much malt flavor that can sometimes destroy a good double. The electrostatic was a solid Belgian Trippel. If you don’t like Belgian beers stay far away. For me it was not too sweet and had a nice smooth taste that really masked the higher alcohol content. The porter was not on tap but they gave me a taste from the bottles. It had a wonderful thick flavor and fit nicely in between your ordinary porter and an imperial. The chocolate flavors were really nice.
As you can see they bottle most of their beers. You might be able to find them at your local liquor store or it might be worth the trip to the brewery to buy some direct. Hop heads should check out the Imperial IPA. If you know someone who loves chocolate in porter, this one is the perfect present to share.
Somehow I didn’t notice Double Bastard until the 2012 batch was released. Of the specialty beers released by Stone Brewing, I found Double Bastard to be one of my favorites. This year Stone is going for the gold with multiple different versions of Double Bastard. Beerpulse reports that we should see two spicy versions and a barrel aged version along with a new batch of Double Bastard. It is unclear what peppers will be used in these beers but the article claims one is ultra-hot and another is even hotter. Will we finally have a widely available beer that will satisfy fans of strong beer and fans of spicy?
EDIT Nov 4, 2013: Through the official press release from Stone, we finally have an idea of what sorts of peppers were used in the making of this beer. The list of scorching edibles includes red and green jalapeño, Fatali, Caribbean Red Hot, habanero, Ghost, Black Naga, Super, Moruga Scorpion, 7 Pot, Aji Amarillo, Scorpion, Giant White Habanero, 7 Pot Douglah and Douglah peppers. To put this into perspective, consider that to the average person some of the hottest Jalapenos can be considered spicy. To the burgeoning pepper addicts, habaneros are pretty hot. Ghost peppers used to be considered the hottest peppers in the world until people discovered the Moruga and the Naga. These are some seriously insane peppers and will mean that the average person will not want to try this beer if they are not interested in a mouth of fire. More for me!
Stone recently posted this image on their facebook to get everyone excited about the upcoming release of Double Bastard. It looks like they should be in stores next week (November 4). Did you try any previous versions of Double Bastard? Are you a fan of this crazy beer?