Port City is a nice neighborhood brewery in Alexandria and overall they had a solid lineup of beers that were quite enjoyable. They have a wide open tasting room with tons of space to sit both inside and outside. Because they don’t have taster flight trays, they give you one or two tasters at a time from your six taster flight. This works out well for the most part.
I started with the porter. It was roasty and lightly smoked with notes of cherry, bitter chocolate, and toffee. The beer was easy drinking with a nice medium body. I can see why this is an award-winning porter. The scottish ale was easy-drinking with notes of cherry. It would be quite easy to drink down by the pint. The session IPA had a mix of bitter grapefruit and floral hops with a strong bitter finish. The beer had a good medium body and a crisp dry finish. Though I would prefer slightly less floral hops, this was well done.
The English IPA was lightly sweet with a soft body and notes of peach. The flavors balanced nicely with a mild bitterness on the finish. The Integral IPA was soft and juicy with bright citrus on the notes and notes of juicy tropical fruit and melon finished off with a light bitterness. I really enjoyed this one and might have had a pint except a band was about to start playing where we were. The Scotch ale was a caramel color and had notes of caramel and raisin with a hint of cinnamon to balance out the sweetness.
All the beers I tried at Port City were well done and they had an excellent porter and IPA. This is a great neighborhood spot and worth visiting if you are in the area.
Aslin recently closed their tap room so when I stopped by I bought cans and left. Thankfully they had a good variety so I was able to try quite a few beers. I picked up cans of Orange Starfish, hazy pale, Progeny Devil’s Son in Law, Hazy IPA, Gose with apricots, Gose with blackberry and raspberry, and Master of Karate DDH Double IPA.
Both Orange Starfish and Progeny were tasty hazy beers. Orange starfish was creamy with notes of citrus. Progeny was a nice mix of ripe tropical fruit and herbal hops on the finish with a good medium body. The apricot gose was delicious with tons of apricot flavor that balanced nicely with the base beer. The berry version was my favorite, bursting with juicy berry flavor and a nice soft mouthfeel.
The Master of Karate was my least favorite of the bunch. It was a bit restrained on the hop aromas and seemed a bit more malty than I would have preferred. It had some notes of tropical fruit and an herbal bite. While it didn’t blow me away it is still a good drinkable hazy DIPA.
Aslin is a worthwhile stop if you are in the area and need your hazy IPA fix. The price per four pack is reasonable and the beers are all quite good. If you compare it to other hazy IPA breweries in the North East US they are about average in the Hazy IPA department but stand out with the deliciously juicy gose beers. The berry gose was more explosively juicy than most beers I have had of the similar style. If you are not in the area but looking to trade, go for their fruited gose beers because that is where they really win out.
California wild ales had its first day open to the public on April 7, 2018 with the release of its salted yuzu sour. Before that, you could only taste the beers occasionally on tap around town or by purchasing bottles with the membership. The tasting room is located in an industrial area of Sorrento Valley. The front entrance is actually in a walkway between two buildings while the back entrance is the side more easily accessed near the parking area.
The tasting room itself is fairly typical in size with some small tables to hang out and drink your tasters but for the most part it serves as a location to pick up your bottles. I tried three of the beers they had on tap and found all three of them to be fairly subtle both in fruit flavor and tartness and acidity. Of the three, I found the stone fruit sour to be the most complex with more hints of earthy funk and overall more fruit flavor than the other two.
The other two beers that I tried were a guava sour and the salted yuzu sour that I was there to pick up. If I were to decide primarily based upon tasting the beer, I probably would not have picked up a bottle of the salted yuzu although the beer was a bit more complex in the bottle because the carbonation was be from a reaction to the yeast as opposed to forced carbonation. Both the guava and yuzu sour were fairly subtle in fruit lightly tart and lightly acidic. The yuzu tended to be a little bit more citrus in flavor but between the two the distinctions were fairly small.
Since visiting, I got to try the salted yuzu out of the bottle. The first bottle erupted with carbonation quite quickly. The beer has much better carbonation from the bottle. The beer has light buttery oak character and minimal citrus from the yuzu and much more funk than it did on tap at the release. It is a nice refreshing sour but not something that I would want to pay full price for at their bottle prices. Hopefully over time they will lower the price because with the small amount of fruit I taste here I don’t see the beer being worth $20 a bottle.
If you want to come and taste for yourself, for now the brewery will only be open during specific days when bottles they release are available to pick up. Eventually they will be adding public hours on weekends so keep up with them on social media to figure out the best time to stop by.
California wild ales only produces barrel aged sour beers. You will not find any other styles on tap.
Disclaimer: I am good friends with one of the people who works for the brewery though I don’t sugar coat my review of places just because of that. I want to help friends achieve greatness just as much as anyone else.
Narrow gauge is inside an Italian restaurant and bar slightly north of the St. Louis airport. When you drive up, it is easy to expect that the brewery should have its own space and entrance, although it is inside the Italian restaurant. When I stopped by they only had four hazy beers on tap that they brewed although thankfully they also had quite an extensive guest tap list.
In essence, they really only had two beers on tap because two of them were variances of others. For example, I had both the standard cloud city and the DDH cloud city. All of the beers were generally excellent hazy with creamy bodies and soft mouth feel. The standard cloud city was a nice mix of citrus and tropical fruit with mild hop acidity. The DDH version was stronger with flavors of tropical fruit and overripe fruit typical from the use of galaxy hops. I preferred the standard version but both were excellent.
Similarly, the next two beers were both variances on a beer they call flag. The Queen flag is different because of the addition of honey. It had a slightly boozy bite with bright citrus hops and mild honey sweetness at the finish. Comparatively, the DDH flag was equally acidic and grassy with notes of grape. After having four tasters of their Hoppy hazy beers, I decided to order more traditional styles to finish off the visit. If you are already staying in down town St. Louis, I recommend stopping by narrow gauge before you go to the airport rather than making a separate trip because of how far North they are from everything.
While the hazy IPAs I had were all a bit green at the time I visited, I expect they will mellow out nicely like most proper examples of the style. They were so good that I am a bit sad that I was unable to get some cans to bring home.
Come for hazy IPAs and an extensive guest tap list.
I will admit that I typically do not seek out breweries that are known for excellent versions of traditional styles, including traditional English ales. Primarily this has to do with my generally disappointing experiences with these styles in the United States. So I was pleasantly surprised when I visited the civil life brewery and walking inside felt like visiting an English pub. The beers were equally impressive as well.
Sticking with the English pub theme, you are not able to order tasters but instead can choose between 10 and 20 ounce pours of beer. Thankfully, this was my first stop of the day so I was able to order four different beers in 10 ounce pours. Those beers were also fairly low alcohol, all under 5%.
I started with their English mild on cask. It was creamy and smooth with low bitterness and mild biscuit character and light hops. The STL best, was more full in body and better at the finish with light floral hop character and mild caramel malt. After the first two, I decided to try two versions of English brown ales that they had on tap.
The Great Hencini, a southern English brown style was nice and easy drinking with character of toffee and caramel. I preferred the hearty bite of this beer over the northern English brown. The northern English brown was lighter in color and overall thiinner with less dark malt roast.
I enjoyed the beers I had at the brewery so much that I tried to more beers later that day while I was at narrow gauge brewery after my hazy flight. They had both the American Brown ale and the amber ale on tap. Both were excellent examples of the styles. The American Brown was so good that I had wished at that point I had purchased some cans before I left the brewery. The amber was good and roasty with low hops and light notes of cherries. The American Brown was roasty with light character of coffee and medium body.
If you are at all interested in experiencing traditional English beers without having to go across the pond, I suggest stopping by the civil life to see how they are supposed to taste. I also read elsewhere that they make excellent versions of German beers, although they did not have very many choices in that variety when I stopped by. And if you live in the surrounding areas and can’t make it to the brewery directly, I suggest picking up some cans to enjoy.
I recommend visiting the brewery directly both for the fantastic atmosphere and for the great food options. We stopped by on a Sunday when they highlighted various examples of soups and we both enjoyed their butternut squash soup quite a bit.
Great Hencini Southern English Brown