I had been to Half Door brewing a few times but never got around to writing a full post about them. Recently they expanded into brewing hazy IPAs and I featured them in my list of San Diego breweries making hazy IPAs. Half Door serves beer in a restaurant in Downtown San Diego where they also offer a modern take on pub grub. I visited them recently on a Sunday morning and tried a flight of tasters.
All of the IPAs I tried were of the hazy style known to some as the North East style of IPA. I started with the Hoban House. It was fruity and soft with a light acidity and low bitterness, exhibiting notes of pineapple. The Hype Machine single-hop Nelson IPA was soft with subtle grapefruit and a mild bitterness that lingers on teh back of the tongue. It is a great example of what a Nelson IPA should taste like. The Buzzwords double IPA is an intensely fruity double IPA, soft and hazy with very mild hop acidity. This stood out from the rest on the list as the best of the IPAs for the day.
I tried the IIIPA, which was an insane hop bomb with little alcohol flavor or sweetness, and mild bitterness. The only reason I didn’t like it as much as the Buzzwords IIPA is that I got some herbal notes in the IIIPA that I didn’t care for. Otherwise, it is an exceptional example of what a IIIPA should taste like. I also tried two stouts. The Coleman’s Stout is their dry Irish stout on nitro. It is dry and roasty with a smooth body and a mild floral hop kick. This is one of the beers I tried the first time I visited and it is still just as good as it was then.
The Coleman’s on Craic imperial stout with coffee was smooth and roasty with notes of chocolate and coffee excellently balanced. I slightly preferred the dry version though they are both delicious. Before leaving I got a taster of the tripel just to see how well they handle Belgian styles. It was one of the more impressive San Diego tripels, lacking in the ester notes that tend to overpower American-brewed Belgian-style beers. It had a bready malt character with some earthy malt notes and a well-attenuated finish (not too sweet). If the hazy IPAs weren’t so good I might go back for this one.
Half Door brewing is one of the few San Diego breweries, maybe the only one, that doesn’t sell bottles or growlers to go. This is due to their license and hopefully will change soon. Though I didn’t eat anything when we visited, my friends who joined me were very impressed by the food they had. Parking can be crazy around Half Door during the weekdays but it is worth visiting if you are already downtown or can park nearby and Uber in.
Coleman’s Dry Irish Stout
For some people Beer Week is a constant string of drinking rare beers. With so many options, I don’t blame them, especially those who live close to the bars where most of the big events were held. Living a little further from the action, I limited myself a bit more but I still managed to have some fantastic beers.
This year during beer week there were quite a few events where breweries brought out special sour beers. There were so many sour events that some people could have had nothing but sours for most of the week. Prime among these was Green Flash’s 12th Anniversary beer release, a lemon drop sour pale ale, which was debuted along with a number of versions of Little Freak and Super Freak, sour versions of the popular beers. Thankfully along with all these sours Green Flash had a delicious barrel aged barley wine so that those who aren’t as into sours could enjoy something special.
Another big thing that comes out each year along with the sours is the barrel aged beers and the multiple flavors of big name stouts and porters. Alesmith has released multiple flavors of Speedway Stout for a number of years and this year they split it into 3 different days with 12 varieties to taste in three separate flights of 4 2oz tasters. Alesmith also brought out a few bottles of barrel aged Speedway Stout to sell and tapped a bourbon barrel aged Vietnamese Coffee Speedway Stout at the tasting room. Ballast Point released a similar set of flavored versions of their Victory at Sea Imperial Porter at a few different bars around town. O’Brien’s pub hosted a barrel aged beer day as well, bringing out a number of delicious beers to taste.
Many of the big bars around town hosted tap take-overs, where breweries from around town were featured on tap including beers you don’t regularly see from Alpine Brewing. Some of these take-overs focused on beers from breweries in other parts of California such as the much sought-after beers from Russian River. Another way to try some rare beers is a bottle share and there was a big bottle share event called The World’s Biggest Bottle Share held in North Park on Sunday November 9th. Plenty of rare beers were shared along the route with shuttles taking people between the different bars.
Other breweries released some new bottles of beer for the first time. Council Brewing released their second bottle, an oak-aged Belgian Tripel, with the opportunity to taste the beer on tap at the brewery on the first day it was out. I am a fan of their Tripel generally and liked what I tasted on tap. I am looking forward to trying my bottle in a few weeks.
There were so many events going on that I wasn’t able to try them all. If you had a favorite beer week experience that I left out, let me know in the comments.