Tag Archives: Fruit Beer

Northern Idaho Breweries, Selkirk Abbey, Post Falls Brewing, Daft Badger, Slate Creek, and Mad Bomber

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Selkirk has been brewing Belgian style ales in their location in Post Falls since 2011 though I hadn’t even heard about them when I was in the area a few years back. Now that I have visited, I’m not that surprised that they aren’t insanely hyped up. The beers don’t taste like any of the Belgian brews I have had in the past either from Belgium or American brewers. I did quite enjoy their Belgian IPA though.

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The Deacon Belgian style pale ale was smooth and malty with lots of fruit and mild spice and some bready malts. While it was a solid beer I found it to be far too heavy on the malts for my tastes. The St. Stephen saison was similarly malty and the first amber saison I have had (besides Biere de Garde style beers). It was quite thick with tons of fruit and very sweet. Again, I found this one to be a bit too malty for the style. The black saison was tasty with a dry finish and some nice mix of coffee, plum, and mild smoke notes.

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The Guilt, coffee porter, was very mild in the coffee department and dominated by dark fruit and overripe fruit on the finish. Though I wasn’t a fan of the beer on tap I did buy some bottles of the wine barrel aged version because it seems like it should be more to my tastes. The wine barrel version was absolutely phenomenal and I’m glad I bought two bottles to take home.

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The huckleberry wheat ale was smooth and not too sweet with just the right amount of berry taste in the finish. The Belgian IPA was quite different than any other I have had yet quite delicious. It is also malty but more balanced than the others with some nice citrus and grapefruit hops to balance the bread and fruit malt notes. The beer has a nice dank finish. I also got a bottle of Imperial Quad that I opened some time later at home and I was quite impressed with that one as well.

If you come in expecting dry, effervescent Belgian style beers like most are used to, you will be disappointed. However, if you are interested in exploring a more malt-forward style of Belgian beer and are in the area it might be worth stopping by Selkirk to see if they have some bottles of their barrel aged beers.

Slate Creek Brewing

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I stopped very briefly at Slate Creek because they had run out of the beer my Uncle recommended them most for, the black IPA. The three beers I tried were all well-brewed though fairly standard to style. The Nose Nectar pale ale was fairly standard fruity and dry pale ale. The IPA is a fairly standard old-school North West IPA with a good balance and prominent pine hops. The stout was tasty with notes of chocolate and a smoky finish.

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Though we went back to Spokane area after Slate Creek, I decided to group the Northern Idaho breweries in one post so next up is Post Falls Brewing.

Post Falls Brewing

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We went to Post Falls Brewing before lunch so I didn’t hit any of their beers too hard. I feel bad for the other breweries that we stopped here first because other breweries couldn’t compete with their fantastic IPAs. The MacGuyver IPA was balanced but bursting with tons of citrus hops. This is the first time I have had mosaic hops showcased on a beer that is so malty but done well enough that I really enjoyed it.

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The Double IPA was fairly malty as well but had a nice balance of mild booze kick and tons of melon flavor from the hops with a nice bitter finish. There were other IPAs on tap as well which are worth trying depending on your hop preference. I skipped a few that were listed with hops I don’t normally care for.

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The milk stout was quite nice with tons of roast and marshmallow notes. The imperial stout was a bit too bitter and smoky for me. It was also dominated by lots of dark fruit malts with a dry finish. I didn’t finish this one. The coffee pale was smooth and had nice mellow coffee. A solid beer. I was quite impressed with the IPAs at Post Falls Brewing and would certainly return if I end up in the area again.

Known For:
Come for the IPAs. They are nicely balanced and avoid being malt bombs.

Daft Badger Brewing

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This is one of those breweries that I hesitate to post about because it is hard to believe that so many of the beers served were as difficult to finish as the ones I was served. It was quite the popular place with tons of people eating their house BBQ but almost everything on my flight was a mess in one way or another.

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The Summer’s Envy, touted as a citra hop beer was completely lacking in aroma and was pure malt and bitterness. The double IPA was a malt bomb with a strong boozy kick and very mild notes of dankness and fruits. The imperial stout was intensely dark fruit and boozy on the finish. Huckleberry beer was fairly average with some berry notes that were a little on the syrup side. The scotch ale was almost to average but again it was far too much dark fruit and not enough roast.

Mad Bomber

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Despite hearing average things from my uncle before visiting, I had to go to Mad Bomber because of their logo and slogan “Make Beers not Bombs.” I was surprised by a lineup of some of the most restrained hoppy beers i have tasted, all of which were quite well made.

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The blonde was clean and crisp and mildly fruity. The pale ale was nice and balanced with tons of grass and pine and a very mild bitterness. The stout was bitter with molasses and roast, and a nice overall balance. The Fatman IPA was fruity with tons of peach notes from the hops and nicely balanced and smooth.

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Classified black IPA was tasty with tons of roast, some smoke, and mild bitterness. The XM20X was a bit more fruity and the most bitter of the bunch with nice fruity hops. I remarked to the bartender that this is the least aggressive hop character I have encountered from a brewery in quite some time. It is refreshing to taste such delicate hop flavors without being knocked over the head with bitterness. The only disappointing thing was that they didn’t have any shirts saying “Make beer not bombs.”

Come for:
Excellently balanced IPAs that are restrained on bitterness and overall clean beers.

Out of the four breweries in the area, I would recommend you visit Post Falls Brewing and Mad Bomber. They are both excellent breweries and plenty to satisfy you if you happen to be in the area visiting friends and family.

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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Toolbox Brewing Revisited – Vista California – The Addition of Barrel Aged Sours Brings Them to the Next Level

Occasionally I have need to update a post on a brewery that has changed significantly since the last time I posted. Back when I visited Toolbox it didn’t seem very likely that the entire core of their beer would change so drastically. But brewers are people too and disagreements occur that lead them to move on to other breweries, as was the case when one of the head brewers from Toolbox left. I don’t intend to get into the specifics of what happened as that is none of my business but I do want to explore for you the big differences in the types of beer available at Toolbox. For those interested you can read┬ámy original Toolbox post. I have updated it with a note to indicate that the information is outdated.

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You may recall previously that Tart X was the basis for many of the fruited sours that were available at Toolbox. This seriously tart base beer made for some quite tart fruited sours. Now the brewery appears to focus on a few different types of beers, Berliner Weisse, Gose, and barrel aged sours. I didn’t try everything on the menu in my recent visit because at $3 to $5 per taster depending on what you were ordering that could get quite expensive. But I could easily tell that trying the gose, berliner weisse, and barrel-aged sour they had on was an important part of understanding their new direction.

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I tried five different beers on my latest visit, Free Range Lettuce, Funky Wit, Cumcumberliner, Life Gose On, and Bramble on Rose. The Grass Fed Lettuce is described as a dry-hopped sour pale ale with amarillo, galaxy, and hallertau blanc hops. However, I found it lacked both the flavors of the three hops and the sour kick I expected. It was a quite funky pale ale with really mellow hops and a bitter finish. Perhaps I missed it when it was first put on but hop heads won’t find anything exciting here. The Funky Wit is a twist on the traditional Belgian Wit with the addition of the Brett yeast. In this case the wild yeast gives the beer a very slight funk and a bit of bright fruit notes. Otherwise the beer has a nice high carbonation with light spice and a mild sweetness at the end. Quite a delicious beer and quite different in flavor from typical local versions.

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The Cucumberliner is a Berliner Weisse with cucumber, 18 pounds per barrel to be exact. I found the beer to be a delicious mix of tart and intense cucumber flavor. It had a bit of a mouth puckering effect and a nice hint of citrus at the finish from the underlying beer. This was one of my favorites of the day and I left with a bottle that is thankfully reasonably priced at $8 for 16 ounces compared to other sours. The Life Gose On is described as a tart wheat ale with coriander and sea salt. I found it mildly salty yet balanced with a mild tartness and light citrus notes. I think the saltiness was what kept me from getting the citrus gose they had in bottles at the tasting room but I look forward to trying other varieties. As you can see on the beer board two of their other beers were fruit varieties of the berliner weisse. I did not try these in my visit.

The large number of barrels in the brewery indicates how deeply they have gone into barrel aging.
The large number of barrels in the brewery indicates how deeply they have gone into barrel aging.

I ended with the Bramble on Rose, a barrel aged wild ale with local blackberries. I found it to be absolutely delicious and I was glad I went straight for a full pour the first time. It was bursting with blackberry flavor and had a nice light sour that balanced with a nice light sweetness. The barrel really gave the beer a nice smooth finish. Probably the closest comparison I could make with this beer is the Cascade Blackberry Sour I had recently, quite high praise as Cascade has been brewing this style of beer for many years. I left with a bottle of this beer despite the $22 price tag because they indicated the bottles were going fast and I felt myself wanting more after I finished the first glass. You probably won’t find this beer available when you visit but if you do see a barrel-aged variety you should absolutely try it. Hopefully over time the amount brewed in each batch will increase.

The delicious red color of the Bramble on Rose.
The delicious red color of the Bramble on Rose.

One other thing to note here is the absence of the IPA and Stout that Toolbox brewed before. If you happen to visit with a friend who doesn’t like sours, I hope you are visiting multiple breweries in your trip as there are plenty of great breweries in the area that brew fantastic IPAs and Stouts. Now that I have become familiar with the world of sour beers I think it is fantastic that they have gone all in with sours and decided to no longer brew an IPA. After all they are surrounded by many great breweries that do the IPA properly.

Top 2:
Bramble on Rose
Cucumberliner

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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Division 23 Brewing – Miramar Road

Division 23 is one of the newest breweries in the Miramar area. They opened officially on May 16, 2015 and have been pouring beer on Saturday and Sunday for a few weeks now. Like Intergalactic brewing they are hiding in the back of an industrial complex but they do a good job of giving you signs to send you to the right place. Like most breweries you enter through the back entrance where deliveries would normally drop off. (Hint: If you see typical glass doors like an office building you need to go around the back.) It is quite close to the new Ballast Point restaurant and the newly opened Reckless Brewing.

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This is what the front entrance looks like.

 

When I came by on June 6, 2015 they had 8 beers on tap with an interesting variety of styles that are likely to satisfy everyone. They had a lager, hefeweizen, saison, English style pale, berliner weiss, coffee stout, and two IPAs when I visited. Along with the berliner weiss they offer the traditional fruit syrups to add to your own beers to cut down on the sour flavors and give it a more interesting flavor. Eventually they plan to make some of their own syrups as well.

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I started with a taster of the berliner weiss (with raspberry syrup), the lager, and the hefeweizen. The base berliner weiss was not too tart, good and middle ground for that. When adding the syrup it really helps balance it out. Some people ended up trying four different flavors of this beer. The lager was nice and smooth with a nice sweet creamy flavor. The hefweizen was more fruity than usual and lacked the typical spices that are often added. I wasn’t a huge fan of this but it was popular with people around me.

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First set of tasters
Some bold people near me decided to try four different flavors of the Berliner Weiss.
Some bold people near me decided to try four different flavors of the Berliner Weiss.

Next I got tasters of the English Pale Ale, Saison, and Coffee Stout. The English Pale was very interesting with a lot of fruity apricot flavors going on and some nice caramel malts in the background. It was very balanced and smooth. The saison was good with mostly fruity flavors coming through. It lacked the typical pepper flavors that you sometimes see in a saison. The coffee stout was my favorite of all of them. Made with Kona coffee, it was very smooth and had a nice forward coffee flavor that really hit the spot.

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Second set of tasters.

I ended with the two IPAs. The Bitter Foreman IPA had an interesting combination of lemon and pine flavors with a solid bready malt background. The Freight Damage IPA was a bit stronger in alcohol and had more of a light malt bill with more fruit and tropical flavors going on. Neither one was what I would consider west coast style but they were both solid. I preferred the freight damage just slightly, though it was just tapped when I visited so it was super fresh.

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Tasters of the IPAs

Overall I think Division 23 is off to a good start. They have a solid lineup and will be keeping the two IPAs, the stout, and the berliner weiss on tap as core beers. They may end up doing some versions of the berliner weiss witih fruit additions at some point as well, which would be very nice. They have a great setup inside with plenty of bar stools at the bar and other seating inside plus games to play and popcorn popping.

Open area to relax inside.
Open area to relax inside.

Top 3:
Coffee stout
English Pale Ale
Berliner Weiss

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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