Amplified Ale Works has been brewing out of a Kebab Shop in Pacific Beach for a few years but I haven’t been out that way for over two years so I was glad when I found out they were opening a tasting room on Miramar right next door to Pure Project. From what I read they have some solid IPAs so I wanted to check it out for myself. I started with four tasters and didn’t feel like ordering any more after that because I was heading to a party later that evening. I tried the pale ale, dry stout, IPA, and Biere De Garde. I really liked their easy to read tap list on the large TV as well as their guitar-shaped tasting board.
The pale ale was balanced and strongly bitter with hints of citrus and tropical fruit. This beer is more traditional style and the bitterness is the main draw with some overripe fruit flavors on the finish. The dry stout was solid with light smoke notes and a bitter finish though I would have preferred it on nitro. After the pale ale I would have preferred a stout that was a little on the sweeter side. The IPA is pure San Diego style with low malt bill and lots of pine and grapefruit, while not being too bitter or too sweet and finishing with a nice thick resinous mouthfeel. The Biere De Garde was bitter and malty with notes of stone fruit. It reminded me of a hoppy dubel and while I wasn’t expecting it to be so bitter I thought it was very balanced and smooth.
They had a lot of other beers available on tap but I wasn’t in the mood for a blonde, a wit, or a really strong Belgian style beer at the time. The tasting room is quite small and has a decent amount of seating but it tends to get quite loud even with a few small groups inside. That was the other reason I didn’t stay very long. They also had a projector in the tasting room showing a soccer game with the sound muted. Though I don’t much care for the classic style of their pale ale or the dry stout their beers are well-made and to style. Hop heads will probably like the IPA.
Less than a mile from Barrel Harbor Brewing is Booze Brothers, another brewery that has been open for less than two years. It is hard to believe that the breweries are of different ages because Booze Brothers has a much more polished look inside and did a great job pulling off their theme of old west imagery. I had heard some great things about Booze Brothers before visiting and I was quite glad to see them showcasing some less common styles including a biere de garde and a brett farmhouse.
I tried quite a few more tasters at Booze Brothers and thankfully my husband was with me to help me with the stouts and drive back. Otherwise I would have had to limit myself to a small number. I started with four tasters, the Old Crow IPA, High Horse brett saison, Green Eyed Amber, and Easy Rider Brown. I later tried the Ol’ Grandaddy’s IIPA, Sundown Stout, Lights out Lupus biere de garde, and Pick up Porter.
The Old Crow IPA was an OK IPA with a medium amount of citrus and lightly bitter. It didn’t have much that made it stick out though. The High Horse brett saison was a very nice refreshing saison with just the right amount of funk and a good amount of fruit from the brett. The Green Eyed Amber was an interesting fruit forward amber beer with a light amount of honey. It was also quite smooth. The Easy Rider Brown was good and sweet and nutty with a light chocolate flavor. The higher alcohol here made it a little more my style.
The Ol’ Grandaddy’s IIPA was good and dank with a medium amount of bitterness and not too sweet. Still, like the other IPA it didn’t really do much to stick out. The Sundown Stout was a nice blend of chocolate, roasted malts, and a bit of dark fruits. The fruits blended nicely with the rest of it so as not to overpower the rest. Lights out Lupus was my favorite of the evening. This delicious Biere De Garde was bursting with dark apricot and some smooth yeasty saison flavors. This one should absolutely be made a regular at some point. Finally the Pick up Porter was a nice intense coffee flavored stout that got the flavors just right.
I was impressed by the variety of beers offered at Booze Brothers and especially by the two saisons they had on tap. The IPAs could use some improvement though, as the Nugget IPA at Barrel Harbor was much better than anything hoppy at booze brothers. It certainly seems like the brewery is growing nicely and should be one to watch in the coming years.
Lights out Lupus, Biere de Garde
High Horse, brett saison
Pick Up Porter
The various breweries in Los Angeles County are so spread out that it can sometimes seem like they are in different cities. On my recent trip to LA I drove out to Simi Valley to visit a friend and we decided to meet at Ladyface for an early snack and a few beers. Being early in the day and planning on visiting a few other places later I decided to stick to the four archival ales available. I tried the Barrel Aged Porter with Sour Cherry, Dérailleur Bière de Garde, Verrückt Weizen sour Weizenbock, and 5th Anniversary Ale Belgian dark strong ale aged in red wine barrels.
I started with the Bière de Garde. I found it quite nice with some mild funk, mild sour, and dark fruit flavors all smoothed out nicely by the oak barrels. Though I am not familiar enough with the style to say how well this represents the style I thought it was quite good. Next came the cherry porter, which I was not expecting to like much at all but thanks to the mild amount of cherry I found it pretty drinkable. The mild cherry blended nicely with the roasted malt flavors from the underlying porter, giving it a nice balanced flavor.
Next came the 5th Anniversary ale aged in wine barrels. It had a mild tart flavor from the wine barrels with some smooth dark flavors and mild sour cherry. This was surprisingly mellow considering the wine barrels it was aged in. Finally, I tried the Verrückt Weizen, a sour Weizenbock. This beer has won a few awards for the style. Though only mildly tart it puckered the mouth a bit. The tart flavors mixed nicely with dark fruit and malts. This was the most tart of the bunch though still not as tart as some I have tasted.
Some time I would like to come back and try some of the core beers they have available but I was glad I tried all of the archival ales this time around. Lady Face is a ways north of Downtown LA so it is an extra drive to get out there. If you are in the area, it is one you should hit for sure.
Council Brewing started out strong when they opened last year, delivering a wide variety of beers to appeal to all sorts of craft beer drinkers. Since then they have done a few limited releases of beers in bottles starting with a sour saison then a barrel aged tripel then a bourbon barrel aged imperial stout then their tart saisons and finally yesterday they released Vienne, their first barrel aged french saison.
While I haven’t yet opened my barrel aged pirates breakfast imperial stout the barrel aged tripel they released last year was quite delicious. In the San Diego area the french farmhouse ale known as Biere de Garde is not widely produced. Lost Abbey bottles one that is available around town fairly regularly if you know where to look. Other versions are so limited that I did not know they existed. Stone brewed one sometime last year though I never heard about it.
Council’s release of their own Biere de Garde is part of the brewer’s participation in the trend of local breweries exploring styles that are only known to a smaller group of enthusiasts. I had not been aware of the Biere de Garde style until I read “The Brewmaster’s Table” earlier this year that describes the style under the section for French beers.
I stopped by the brewery yesterday to pick up my two bottles of Vienne. While I was there, I had a taster of this new brew and also tasted their Irish Stout that was put on a few weeks ago for St. Patrick’s Day. Sadly, the bottles of Vienne sold out so quickly that your only chance of tasting this beer will be to visit the brewery over the next day or two and hope that they still have it on tap, or to find someone willing to part with their bottle. The quick sale of this beer shows just how much demand there is in the local market for beers in this style.
Taste wise, I really enjoyed Vienne. The beer was lightly tart, showcasing some nice peach and stone fruit flavors. At other times it displayed a sweet caramel flavor that balanced the tartness nicely. The flavors were smoothed out by the oak quite well. I am looking forward to tasting this beer again when I open my bottles in a few months. The Irish Stout was also impressive, giving a good amount of roasty flavor for the low alcohol content. This is a nice alternative to the stronger Pirate’s Breakfast double oatmeal stout.
If you are a fan of Council’s tart saisons, now called Beatitude, keep an eye out for future small releases of the beers in bottles at the tasting room. Also keep an eye out on the brewery’s facebook page for announcements of future small batch bottle releases because the next one may end up selling out just as quickly as Vienne.