This is meant to be a guide for the beers worth picking up in the store. To maximize the value I try to buy beers in six packs or greater. The beers here are some of my favorite IPAs that I find myself returning to when I see them fresh.
Modern Times Fortunate Islands
This is one of my favorite sessions on the market. Low alcohol under 5% yet plenty of great citrus hop flavor. This is a wheat beer with a bunch of hops added to bring it similar in taste to a session IPA. The beer is sold only in a four pack of pint cans. I didn’t notice the enjoy by dates at first on here but they are printed on a sticker on the part holding together the cans.
Stone Go to IPA
This is also a great session though a bit more bitter than Fortunate Islands. This also has plenty of citrus flavors though this one tastes much closer to a traditional IPA. Stone provides clear enjoy by dates so make sure you get this one fresh. Leave yourself a month before the date if you buy a bunch of other beers so you drink it in time.
Saint Archer Blonde
I don’t usually buy much outside my level but the Saint Archer Blonde is a delicious brew full of flavor yet nice and light. I prefer this to the pale ale from Ballast Point within the same style. This one is now available in either bottles or cans depending on what you are using it for. I tend to go for cans.
Green Flash West Coast IPA
The latest batch of West Coast is a strong 8% IPA that knocks you out pretty fast. Plenty of hop flavors dominate over the malts and make this a staple in my purchasing for now. This is sold in four packs of 12 ounce bottles and is just at the top of the range for regular enjoyment.
Modern Times Blazing World
This is a deliciously dark IPA style presented as a hoppy amber. Plenty of grapefruit in the hops comes through with the pine to dominate the flavor. This is also available in a four pack of pint cans. I didn’t notice the enjoy by dates at first on here but they are printed on a sticker on the part holding together the cans.
A staple in the industry where IPAs are concerned I recently gave this another try since paying more attention to the enjoy by dates. Great light color beer with plenty of kick. Like the Go To IPA make sure you enjoy this one fresh.
New Belgium Rampant Double IPA
Though a double IPA, this one is sold in six packs for a great price. Some delicious tropical fruit flavors dominate Rampant. If this is too much for you, the Ranger IPA is also quite good from New Belgium.
I purposefully kept this list short to avoid getting too long. What are your favorites? Let me know in the comments!
I had visited Saint Archer once before and was impressed by the IPA but not so much that I was compelled to return to have more. Fast forward a few months and I noticed some San Diego Beer week specialties on tap so I had to return and brought with me a few friends to share. This time I got to taste the IPA, double IPA, and the Stout both on cask and on tap.
I was once again quite impressed by the IPA. It has all the qualities I love in a solid IPA without the heavy malts that sometimes make good IPAs un-drinkable. It is a little lighter than most people in San Diego might be used to from an IPA but it has a full body and is quite good. The double IPA is only a few percentages stronger and has a nice lighter appearance, meaning it is also not a malty beer. The flavors are very similar to Green Bullet from Green Flash though a few percentages lighter.
The American Stout was interesting because it was not the typical heavy chocolate or heavy coffee flavors you might expect from a stout in San Diego. It has a bit of hops added to it that gives it a bitterness that counters a lot of the sweetness you typically taste in stouts and porters. The hop flavors are light enough that they might not offend hop-haters out there but mild enough that they don’t reach the level of the Sublimely Self Righteous from Stone. The cask version of the stout was a little more creamy but because the underlying stout was not as sweet it did not impress me as much as other stouts on cask.
Saint Archer has a nice seating area with bar stools and tables with plenty of room for a lot of people to hang out.
Update October 2014
Saint Archer has been brewing a lot of great beers since I last visited them. Most recently, they won a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival for their white ale. I visited them for a few tasters on October 6, 2014 and had a taste of the pale ale and the white ale along with a black lager.
The white ale is a very nice Belgian ale with citrus and spice aromas and flavors. It has a very light body but is quite tasty. The pale ale batch on tap was barely a week old and I could taste some nice crisp citrus and pine flavors. the pale ale was just what I wanted. The black lager was a bit light on the body and mostly had flavors of roasted malts. Hopefully future batches will be a bit more heavy.
Saint Archer sells six packs of the pale ale, blonde, IPA, and white ale. They also sell 22oz bottles of all four plus the double IPA and coffee brown. They make sure to sell the freshest bottles and cans at the tasting room so stop in for a six pack the next time you are in the mood.