Serpentine Cider is a new craft cider brewery right next to Thunderhawk Alements. They have a kitchen inside serving delicious food and will be adding a mead company in November. Though they had only been open for a week when I stopped by, they impressed me both with the overall feel of the place and the quality of the meads. The head brewer has been home-brewing cider for seven years and the quality shows. They had a good variety of meads available and I tasted five that seemed to be the most interesting.
Two that stood out from my flight were the Passion Fruit and Hopped ciders. Passion Fruit had a good balance between sweet apple and the a passion fruit kick. The hopped beer had tons of hop aroma with an emphasis on citrus flavors with a nice dry finish.
The raspberry blackberry had a mix of jammy black berry and acidic raspberry. The lemongrass and ginger had a mild citrus character and some light ginger on the finish. The guava had a fairly mild guava taste. They indicated this had to do with some fruits they got a bit too early in the season.
All of the ciders are made with beer yeast and this gives them a character closer to beer than the incredibly dry ciders you may find at other spots like Newtopia Cider. I thought the hops worked better with the cider here than they did at Newtopia. Though the cost of pours is higher than beer, the quality was there and I hope to return soon to see how the mead company that is joining them turns out.
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.
32 North had a solid opening almost a year ago, with a great-looking tasting room and a good lineup of beers. Six months later, or soon after, their brewer quit, leaving them to scramble and basically start over. I visited them on October 15th, to see how things have developed, giving them a few months to get new brews ready with their new brewer and I am happy to report that they are back to the solid lineup they had going for them when they first opened. You can find my original post on them here. Some areas still need a little work but I am confident they will find a way to succeed going forward. I am writing this as if they were a completely new brewery because I expected that many of the beers I covered at the start would change drastically, and they did.
When I visited I tried the First Flight pale, Saison du Nord, Nautical Mile IPA, Pack Your Bags brown ale with cocoa nibs, Fly By Night milk stout on nitro, and Best Coast IPA. They also had a blonde, kolsch, and gose on tap and another pale ale. I went for the beers that I remembered as being the best previously as well as those that sounded the most interesting. My tasters were split into two flights and will be discussed in that order.
I started with the First Flight pale ale. It was mostly citrus with a mild spicy kick. Though it didn’t have any added peppers but it reminds me of beers with peppers. The beer has a nice golden color but I can’t help but feel the spicy kick kinda overpowers the rest, not a flavor that I expect from the hops. It was not too bitter and ends nicely with a floral hop kick. The beer was solid and drinkable but hopefully future versions will present the hops better. The Saison du Nord was a lightly fruity saison but nice and dry. It doesn’t have too much spice or pepper but enough to balance it out. A very impressive saison. It reminds me of the Collette from Great Divide.
The Nautical Mile IPA was a little bit stronger than the First Flight pale and still has that pepper kick but it is much milder and the flavor has more grapefruit up front. The beer has a beautiful orange color, and is quite smooth. No longer the tropical fruit flavor of the original. It is a solid IPA but the hop flavors are a bit different than I usually get from them. It has a medium bitterness on the back end. Like the First Flight this is solid but it feels like it could be better in future versions.
The Pack Your Bags brown ale with cocoa nibs was a very smooth brown ale with a mild bitter chocolate finish and a light body. Though I say bitter chocolate, this is not a bitter beer, but it isn’t a sweet beer either. This is closer to the Benchmark brewing style of brown than nut browns you see around town. The Fly By Night milk stout on nitro is no longer made with coffee. This is a super roasty stout with a mild sweetness from the lactose. Despite a 6.5% alcohol it is quite light body and nice caramel finish. It also has a bit of a roasted popcorn flavor on the end.
The Best Coast IPA seems to be the least hoppy of the bunch despite claiming to be the highest IBU of them all. Hops are very subdued and a bready malt seems to take over. Hops are very earthy and balance with the malts. The beer has a dark orange color. It is very different from the typical local but probably my favorite among the bunch of hoppy beers. The balance is its best positive.
The other thing they had at the opening that was quite popular was the peanut butter porter, which they will be bringing back for their one year anniversary coming up in a week (On October 22). Though it took them a while to get back to the promising start they had originally, I am now quite excited to see how they do in the coming year. I purposefully avoided the black cherry landfall because I have had enough of the gose in my previous visit but I will certainly keep an eye on the various options they have going forward.
Top 3 :
Best Coast IPA
Fly By Night Milk Stout on Nitro