Tag Archives: Brown Ale

The Bell Marker – Downtown San Diego

The Bell Marker took over a spot on the corner of 6th and Broadway. They had a wide lineup of beers so that it would have been difficult to try them all even doing flights. I happened to visit during happy hour so I had pints rather than my usual tasters because they were only $4 a piece during that window. If you are there for happy hour, I highly recommend you order the hummus plate, which is a great deal and a healthy meal when paired with a pint.

I first had a pint of their English Brown. This is a style I don’t order very often in San Diego but when I saw the lower alcohol it was worth trying a splash. As expected, the American Brown they have is a bit more hop forward and higher alcohol than the English style. I loved the dark color like a porter. The beer was roasty and quite flavorful for the low alcohol with notes of chocolate and caramel. Some may say this borders on porter territory with the prominent roast but it is a delicious beer either way and a rarity with the low alcohol.

I returned another day and had the cream ale and Belgian Wit. I was going to try their pale ale or session IPA but the splashes of both were a bit high on the bitterness and I wasn’t feeling them so I went on the lighter side. The cream ale was crisp and delicious with notes of pear and peach with a soft body. The Belgian Wit was super dry with a hint of clove and a mildly earthy finish. It paired wonderfully with their hummus plate and is one of the more authentic versions of the beer I’ve had locally. My husband drank the milk stout both times and it was tasty with a mix of caramel and roast with a medium body and not overly sweet.

If you are in Downtown San Diego it may not be too far to walk to Bell Marker. If you do, you will find a good variety of solid beers and a broad menu of food options. Their happy hour is currently 3-6PM daily with $4 pints and discounted appetizers. They have a good sized restaurant with standard restaurant seating and a good sized bar.

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.

More Posts

Follow Me:
TwitterPinterestGoogle Plus

3 Punk Ales – Chula Vista San Diego

Thr3e Punk Ales opened in Chula Vista recently in an area that has not seen many breweries. They have a good variety of standard beer styles and are open late, sometimes up to Midnight. I thought it was on the noisy side when I stopped by on a Friday night but then Chula Vista Brewing down the street was amped up much louder.

Beer wise, only one beer was clearly to style and a few were standouts. Others defied convention and expectations in ways you might expect from a punk brewery. Rather than the double IPA packing the biggest hop kick, the hoppy pilsner was the most explosively hoppy.

The Flama Blanca Mexican Lager was delicious, fruity and crisp with a lightly sweet dry finish. It tasted exactly like I would expect a lager to taste. The Morning After Pils, a hoppy pilsner, was so hoppy I thought they might have given me the wrong beer. It had an intense mix of resin and floral hop character and a mild to medium bitter finish. Next to this, the two beers labeled as IPAs didn’t taste very hoppy.

The Rye You Trippin, rye IPA, was sweet with light rye and biscuit malt character balanced out nicely with some mild citrus hop character. By San Diego standards the hops were barely there. Similarly the Needle in the Hey, double IPA, was on the sweeter side with a caramel malt base, low bitterness, and earthy hop notes. It finished with a bitter and sweet finish that I didn’t really care for.

Coffee brown ale

The brown ale with coffee was bursting with coffee on the nose and in the taste. Tons of nutty coffee came through overpowering the base beer completely. The beer had a nice medium body and a sweet finish. I brought home a crowler of this one though I hope when I open it I won’t be up all night. The Russian Imperial Stout on nitro was a bit smoky on the nose and noticeably boozy. It had notes of cherry and dark fruit and a dry bitter finish. While a solid stout, it is significantly different than the style we typically get in San Diego.

Stout on nitro

Thr3e punk ales had some tasty beers on tap. If you are looking for something hoppy, stick to the hoppy pilsner. It is the closest to a West Coast style IPA.

Top 2:
Flama Blanca – Mexican Lager
Brick Top with Coffee

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.

More Posts

Follow Me:
TwitterPinterestGoogle Plus

Calgary Breweries in Alberta Canada – Wild Rose and The Dandy

I only visited two breweries in my time up in Calgary because the more interesting part of Calgary is the nearby Banff National Park where there are two small breweries, one in Canmore and one in Banff that I’m sure are great compared to the macro beer you can find in most of the convenience stores but also nothing exceptional. Out of the two breweries I did visit in Calgary, one was fairly disappointing and the other was exceptional and quite impressive. WIld Rose Brewing is a larger brewery and sounded like they had some interesting beers but I finished about half of the total tasters because some were not for me. The smaller brewery, The Dandy Brewing, was excellent almost across the board and set my bar so high that when I went to breweries in Seattle the following day, some of the hyped breweries, while solid, didn’t live up to the same standards.

Wild Rose

Calgary Brewery 01
At Wild Rose I tried 8 tasters. Of those, half were tasty. The Velvet Fog was a really tasty beer of half wheat and half pilsner malt that was crisp and delicious with lots of nice notes of spice and citrus while keeping everything very balanced. This was one of the best beers of the bunch and I expect it is quite popular. The Electric Avenue was a fairly standard lager with some floral hop notes. Cowbell Kettle Sour is a tasty light alcohol sour with lots of fruit, citrus, and lime, with a strong tart finish. The lime comes on strong from the use of lime leaves. The Wraspberry ale was not very tasty at all and while it had some smooth raspberry flavor it also often tasted like cough syrup. It might be better mixed together with the kettle sour.

Calgary Brewery 02

The Barracks Brown was also not really my thing. Brown ales in general tend to be lacking in flavor and this one was also strongly smoky. The IPA was fairly standard old-school bitter-forward IPA with a strong malt backbone. As it warmed up it exhibited some solid darnk and resinous qualities. Alberta Crude was a solid porter with a good amount of roast and some bitter chocolate. The Maibock was way too sticky sweet, exhibited notes of over ripe fruit and rasins and was quite boozy in the finish. I did not drink much of this. The other two seasonal beers, the Session Pale and Belgian Pale were both tasty versions of the style. The Session Pale has some solid galaxy hop flavors and the Belgian Pale exhibits lots of spice notes from the Belgian Yeast.

Calgary Brewery 03

While about half of the beers were disappointing, the highlights were nicely done and would be worth a stop to try the highlights listed below if you are in the area and need some tasty beers. The Velvet Fog would be perfect to fill in a growler for you to take with you out into the mountains.

Top 3:
Velvet Fog
Cowbell Kettle Sour
Alberta Crude

The Dandy Brewing

Calgary Brewery 04
More recently I have been a much bigger fan of small breweries and The Dandy was a good example of why. Though they seem to have already out grown their fairly small tasting room, the wait wasn’t terrible and the beers were delicious. I tried a taster of everything they had available and had a pint of my favorite after I finished because it was so tasty. I also enjoyed meeting with a number of locals at the bar and hearing about their experiences.

Calgary Brewery 05

The English Pale was the most juicy English style ale I have ever had and was super fruity with tons of apricot from the hops and some smooth caramel malts at the back. My husband even liked this one and he rarely likes anything besides stouts. The Oyster Stout was smooth with a nice mix of caramel and roast, a solid stout, though not as complex as the Alberta Crude at Wild Rose. The Hawkeye Pierce single hop pale was super juicy and not bitter with notes of grapefruit and melon. This and the English Pale were favorites for me and many of the other people around as well.

Calgary Brewery 06

Calgary Brewery 07

The saison was nice and earthy with fruity notes and tons of flavor for the low alcohol. The Fusion Extra Pale was nice with floral hops that balanced nicely with peach and melon. The English Summer Ale is an interesting companion to the English Pale, really smooth with notes of floral hops and hints of peach. The TZE IPA was the most bitter of the bunch but had some light citrus kick to it. It is a solid IPA as well.

Calgary Brewery 08

Everything at The Dandy was tasty with the highlights below that were extra impressive. They clearly have learned the modern way of making delicious juicy hoppy beers and just to make clean flavorful beers. I’m excited to see what they come up with in the future and I can see they will make some great things.

Top 3:
English Pale
Hawkeye Pierce Single Hop Pale
English Summer Ale

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.

More Posts

Follow Me:
TwitterPinterestGoogle Plus

Fieldwork Brewing – Berkeley California – A Fantastic Young Brewery Making Delicious IPAs and Stouts

Only a few miles from The Rare Barrel is Fieldwork, another fairly new brewery in the area. Fieldwork is similar to Cellarmaker though they have a few different styles on tap that I didn’t see at Cellarmaker. Their hoppy beers are similar to Cellarmaker in that they are mostly low on the malts and focus on the hop aroma. They also serve a number of solid dark beers, and have a great atmosphere at the tasting room.

Fieldwork 01

Nice open space of the tasting room.
Nice open space of the tasting room.

I tasted a total of 10 beers while I was there. The first flight contained the Farmhouse Wheat, Citra Weisse, Hanging Valley grapefruit saison, Daypack Pale, Morning Time (on nitro), and Chocolate Milk. The second flight included the Burning Daylight IPA, Delta Hoppy Red, Misfit Stream IPA, and Storm Surge double IPA. There were a couple of beers I didn’t taste when I was there because the price of the taster was higher than I wanted to spend (the bourbon barrel aged imperial stout was $5 for a taster).

Full tap list when I visited.
Full tap list when I visited.

The Farmhouse Wheat was a crisp saison with belgian spices and a super light color and body. I found it had a strangely silky mouthfeel and was more thin than the average saison. It didn’t taste like any saison I’ve had before, though it was still a solid saison. By contrast the Citra Weisse berliner weisse had a seriously off-putting vinegar taste in the back end accompanied by a lemon kick from the hops and light amount of salt. Though this may be to style I had a hard time finishing the taster, though I did ultimately finish it. The grapefruit saison was thicker than the Farmhouse Wheat and had a nice grapefruit finish. Though I thought it was better than the first two, it had a bit of a soapy after taste/mouthfeel.

First flight of tasters.
First flight of tasters.

The Daypack Pale ale was a really nice low malt bill pale ale with a citrus/herbal hop character. It was so light that I might have confused it for one of the saisons if I wasn’t smelling the hops. This is a very solid pale ale and gave me a good taste for the delicious IPAs to come later. The Morning Time coffee stout on Nitro had a nice nutty coffee flavor, though slightly acidic. It was nice and light body and very smooth on nitro. This was a very nice beer though it got overshadowed by the Chocolate Milk. Chocolate Milk was a smooth brown ale with a delicious milk chocolate flavor and a light body. I loved how it wasn’t too sweet. I might have left with a liter growler of this one if I had an extra blank growler with me but I didn’t want to buy another screw top growler and that was all they offered.

Fieldwork 04

Close up on the first flight.
Close up on the first flight.

The Burning Daylight IPA was a light color IPA with a smooth citrus and herbal hop profile with a nice bready malt background. A nice solid IPA. The Delta hoppy red was an interesting mix between floral hops and coffee, with a medium bitterness and smooth caramel malts on the back end. Everything mixed together nicely and made for a solid red ale.

Second flight of tasters.
Second flight of tasters.

The Misfit Stream IPA was deliciously fruity with bright pineapple and juicy melon. This IPA was quite smooth and lightly sweet, one of my favorite of the bunch. I might have gotten a growler of this one as well, though I already filled my blank growler at Cellarmaker. I did end up getting a half pour of it though after I was done. The Storm Surge double IPA was quite resiny though initially I found that it was a bit too boozy/syrupy. It had a solid thick mouthfeel and the flavors got more complex as it warmed up, developing a nice citrus hop flavor. Though not as impressive as Dank Williams from Cellarmaker it was still quite good for the style.

Fieldwork 07

With the move towards lighter malt bills on hoppy beers, Fieldwork manages to give a unique spin on their IPAs when compared to Cellarmaker. They have some nice outdoor seating areas and plenty of seating inside, while the tasting room doesn’t echo so much that it is impossible to speak. I was surprised that they used larger glasses for their tasters, perhaps for giving people full amount of aroma. Even if you don’t like hoppy beers, it is worth heading out to Fieldwork to taste the Chocolate Milk, one of the most delicious brown ales I have tasted.

To draw a specific type of crowd they even have hangers on the wall for bikes.
To draw a specific type of crowd they even have hangers on the wall for bikes.

Top 3:
Misfit Stream IPA
Chocolate Milk
Burning Daylight IPA

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.

More Posts

Follow Me:
TwitterPinterestGoogle Plus

Artifex Brewing – San Clemente CA

Artifex is not a brewery I expect a lot of people in San Diego will visit with the same regularity as others simply because of the long distance to get out there. A good 30 minute drive north of Bagby Brewing, it is best visited on your way north to LA or on your way south. In this visit I happened to drive up to Orange County unexpectedly and was able to drive past Artifex on my way south for a few tasters. They have a typical tasting room that is a mile or so from the freeway and easy to find. They also fill blank growlers if you happen to have one with you. When I visited I tasted the Brown Ale, Milk Stout, pale ale, AHAB IPA, Coconut Black IPA, No Name IPA, and Double IPA.

Artifex Brewing 01

The brown ale was a nice medium brown in color almost dark amber and had mild flavors of caramel and English hops. The overall beer was quite tasty and easy to drink. The milk stout had a mild smoky flavor and a sticky aftertaste. The lactose was used sparingly so it did not have an intense sweetness that is typical with the style. It is a solid and tasty stout. The pale ale has a nice golden color and mixes tropical fruit and citrus with a medium bitter kick. The pale is a good example of the newer style of pale and will satisfy hop heads.

First set of tasters.
First set of tasters.

The AHAB IPA is their most popular offering and it had a nice combination of herbal and fruity hops. The beer is nice and light on the malts in the West Coast style. The Black IPA with coconut was quite delicious with an intense coconut flavor that mixes nicely with citrus hops without giving it too much bitterness. When I dropped by later for a growler of the same beer, the coconut had faded a little, leaving a more balanced mix of flavors, with the hops coming through a little more. This is still a beer primarily for hop heads.

Last two tasters.
Last two tasters.

The No Name IPA had a nice intense citrus hop flavor and light malt bill. This is a seriously tasty IPA with a nice light pine and citrus hop kick while not being too bitter. There was a hint of garlic on the aftertaste but nothing that took away from my enjoyment. Finally, the double IPA was quite thick, resiny, and slightly boozy. It is a good thick beer and one you would not down very fast. The boozy kick at the back was a little much for me but it is a solid double.

Artifex Brewing 02

For a brewery that had their first anniversary in August of 2015, Artifex is brewing some delicious beers. It helps that the brewers used to brew for Pizza Port, a place well known for their delicious IPAs. For now the owners are often seen around the brewery and you will encounter a number of locals who probably come by regularly. They have food trucks most days though I happened to drop by the one day of the week when they didn’t have one. If you need a place to stop on your way through San Clemente, you should absolutely stop by Artifex.

Top 3:
Black IPA with Coconut
AHAB IPA
No Name IPA

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.

More Posts

Follow Me:
TwitterPinterestGoogle Plus