When I first visited Quantum brewing soon after they opened, they had a decent lineup of beers with nothing better than average and a few that missed the mark. For a time they had some growing pains and the word online was that they got worse. Thankfully I never experienced that part of things. Now they have a new brewer and had a grand re-opening to let everyone know things are new. I stopped by and had four tasters and the beers are a little better than they were at the beginning, more in line with the local standards, though still not at the level of Council or Societe down the street.
The blood orange wit had tons of orange flavor with a gorgeous red-orange color. It had the flavors right but there was a flavor in the finish that should not have been there. The session IPA was light and clean with mild citrus and grassy hops without too much bitterness. This was a huge improvement over the extremely bitter session IPAs they had with the previous brewer. For a new brewer coming out with a session IPA like this is quite impressive. It is about what you would expect around San Diego.
The IPA was a bit malt-forward and while it had some apricot notes from the hops it had a heavy bready malt character. Considering it is not West Coast in style at all, it is a nicely balanced English style IPA and is well-crafted. Since most hop heads crave something either juicy or classic West Coast style this is a huge miss. I would even say that labeling this an IPA in San Diego without calling it English or Red is borderline deceptive though I know it wouldn’t sell as well if they did. The Imperial Stout was a good mix of caramel and roast with a sticky sweet finish. While it had a good balance with bitterness, I thought it was a bit too bitter for the style. Still, this was one of the better of the bunch.
Quantum retained all of the quirky names for the beers and added a bunch of fruited beers. Still, I tend to judge a brewery based on their ability to brew a beer without adding any fruit, thus my focus on their hoppy beers. The people in there drinking were enjoying the fruited options. Their session IPA is well-made but in San Diego you need to do something a bit more to stand out and the blood orange beer suggested they still need some work on their fruity beers.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Come for the IPAs. They are nicely balanced and avoid being malt bombs.
Daft Badger Brewing
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
12 String was not on my list when I planned out the area but I arrived there thanks to some people I met at Selkirk Abbey. They had some excellent beers in a wide variety of styles. My very first beer in the taster flight was the passion fruit gose, one of the most balanced fruited gose beers I have had. It is balanced in that the fruit doesn’t overpower the complexity present in the base beer. The beer had a mild tart kick to it and an overall nice balance of flavors.
The Jam Session IPA was a balanced IPA with lots of fruit and citrus notes, fairly standard. The C# #5 IPA had tons of pine and fruit from the hops but a bitterness that dominated it too strongly. The Rye IPA was malty with barely noticeable citrus hops and a good rye bite, fairly average. The Double Drip Imperial Stout was thick and mildly smoky with tons of roast and coffee. My husband really enjoyed this beer and we ended up bringing a 32oz growler home with us and giving one to my uncle the following day. Really excellent beer. The electric slide Double IPA was the best of the IPAs with tons of citrus and super smooth overall.
Passion Fruit Gose
Double Drip Imperial Stout
Electric Slide Double IPA
Iron Goat came highly recommended and I thought that all of their beers were very well done. They have a large tap room that is also a restaurant and it was busy but not overly so when we visited. I had a large flight of varying styles but focusing on the sours, IPAs, and farmhouse offerings.
The Farmhouse ale was quite solid with a nice mix of spice and a good dry finish. The Rhubarb farmhouse was a tasty twist on the base beer with a good bite from the rhubarb. Both were very drinkable. The cherry sour was smooth and fruity and moderately juicy. At first it didn’t seem very sour but it got a bit tart as it warmed up. The blackberry apricot sour was my favorite of the bunch with lots of jam and a good tart finish. All the flavors blended very nicely.
The headbutt IPA was super floral and piney with a strong bitter finish. This is a great beer to order if you love pine hops in your IPAs. The Impaler double IPA was balanced with dank citrus notes from the hops and a smooth caramel malt backbone. This was also a very tasty beer.
I make a point of going to breweries on my trips directly rather than going to bars. Utah has a few restrictive laws that limit the alcohol content of beers they can serve on tap. Any beer on tap must be less than 4% alcohol and anything higher than that must be served in bottles. This severely limits the ability of breweries to do taster flights because most breweries aren’t going to want to pour taster size pours from a bottle. Though certain breweries I have visited in other states choose to do that they may be limited from the option in Utah as well. The two breweries I visited were Epic and Uinta.
Uinta has a fairly large number of beers on tap despite the 4% alcohol restriction. I tried five of these and then ordered a bottle of the IPA because I couldn’t taste it on tap. The Gose was crisp and mildly tart with some light citrus notes and a light salty finish. I enjoyed the gose quite a bit. They also had a fruited version called Flamingose with pineapple added, which made the beer more cloudy with a darker yellow color. The beer was nice and fruity and had grapefruit notes and a bitter finish. The Baba black lager was smooth and light body with a mix of mild smoke and roast. I have had better black lagers but this one was not bad considering the alcohol restriction.
The Session IPA was smooth and crisp with mild citrus notes and not overly bitter. I liked it better than the Wyld Extra Pale which while smooth and balanced had a bit more malt forward character and was overall too mellow. Hop Nosh IPA makes its way down to San Diego regularly but I wanted to try it fresh from the source, even if that meant in a bottle. The IPA was super smooth and nicely balanced with a solid malt backbone without being a malt bomb. The beer had good dank hop character and hints of juice and citrus. I didn’t try the double IPA or the other stronger offerings because ordering 12 ounces of each would be quite a bit much.
I didn’t do any sort of tasting at Epic because I was more interested in their higher alcohol stouts. Though we did end up buying two bottles, one of the Oatmeal Stout, and one of the Imperial Stout, to enjoy in our hotel room. We also later shared a bottle of Big Bad Baptist at the Annex restaurant Epic has in Salt Lake City and later that evening opened a bottle of the Son of a Baptist at home since Epic beers make their way to San Diego as well.
The oatmeal stout was super smooth and delicious and scary easy to drink quickly. It had notes of marshmallows and a mild roast with a really velvety background. I found the imperial stout to be a bit too molasses forward. It had some hints of chocolate and roast under it but the molasses was overwhelming and killed it for me. The Son of a Baptist is a smooth and light bodied delicious coffee and chocolate stout that features coffee prominently with some mild bitter chocolate under it. In comparison to this, the Big Bad Baptist, aged in Bourbon Barrels was thick and sweet yet balanced perfectly without bourbon dominating too strong. Coffee and chocolate notes were both much more subdued here giving it a delicious balance.
Of the four i would soonest search out the oatmeal stout and the big bad baptist for future consumption. They are both delicious well-crafted beers.
While the two breweries listed aren’t the only ones you can visit in Salt Lake City, they are the two most prominent. If you do plan to visit either of them it might make the most sense to bring a bottle or two to your hotel room rather than drinking at the brewery because there is a fairly high markup to drink the big bad baptist at the brewery rather than taking the bottle to go. Though the brewery experience was not ideal it was a great companion to the hiking I did in the area that was quite gorgeous.
Any town like Tampa with the reputation of Cigar City and the breweries that have sprouted around its success can be exciting and sometimes awesome. I had a great experience overall and some solid beers from the seven breweries I visited in two days with at least two really tasty beers from each brewery I visited of the ones I tasted. In order to visit so many breweries in 2 days I had to limit myself in the number of tasters to the ones that sounded the most exciting, so I may have missed something awesome on tap and if so that is always sad.
Side Note – I visited Tampa prior to Cigar City’s sale to Oskar Blues. Though I probably would have visited Cigar City anyway even after the sale because thankfully it was not to AB InBev.
Cigar City Brewing Company
Sometimes the biggest breweries are great but are missing the charm of the other places, whether from the crowds or just the massive selection on tap. I couldn’t possibly try everything at Cigar City so I focused on the hoppy beers, a sour, and dark beers. I tried the Invasion Pale, Jai Alai IPA, Tropical IPA, India Style Porter, Juniper Aged Sour, and a big collaboration imperial stout. I found the Invasion Pale to be much better overall than the two IPAs. It is a super tropical light-bodied beer with a low malt bill and medium bitterness sporting flavors of mango and tangerine. I loved this one so much I left with two six packs and would have likely ordered a pint if I had more time to hang.
In comparison, the Jai Alai IPA was fairly disappointing. I’ve enjoyed it before on tap in other parts of Florida but I found it a bit too sweet, sticky, and heavy with more malt balance than I expected. It is a solid IPA for sure and nicely dank balanced with some carmel malts but it wasn’t as delightful as the pale ale. The tropical IPA was well-balanced with a chewy bread finish and a solid bitterness. It was nice and tropical but I again found the malts a little too overpowering and the hops just weren’t bursting out as they could have.
The India Style Porter was massively smoky and bitter with mild notes of caramel. While well-crafted, it was just too much smoke for my tastes and I didn’t drink much. In comparison the collaboration imperial stout on tap was much more complex and balanced with everything including chocolate, smoke, molasses, licorice, cherry, plum, and other flavors all blending together in a super thick and chewy stout. Though I don’t know that I would want to grab a bottle of it I very much respected the complex flavors and my husband was very impressed. Finally, the Juniper Sour was really not my thing. My husband described it as under-ripe fruit with an off-putting finish. Others described it as a gin bomb because Juniper is often used in gin. I just couldn’t point out any of the flavors or finish it and wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.
There were a ton of other beers I didn’t get to try including the pilsner that is apparently so popular they have to limit how much people can buy, but with a huge crowd and after the generally underwhelming IPAs I didn’t feel drawn to order a second flight. I was most impressed by the pale ale and will be enjoying that at home for a while because I left with two six-packs.
Cigar City Top 2:
Collaboration Imperial Stout
Angry Chair Brewing
I immediately found the atmosphere at Angry Chair more inviting than Cigar City with a smaller size, slightly smaller crowd, and some great locals to chat with about the area and beers. I skipped the hoppy beers here because everyone was raving about the two heavy stouts and I had one more to go for the night. Plus after a massive Cuban sandwich earlier I didn’t want to go overboard. But everything I tried at Angry Chair was really impressive. I tried the gose, raspberry berliner weisse, German Chocolate Cake, and Tiramissu Stout.
The gose was crisp and refreshing with very mild tartness and a little salt with a solid balance of yeast flavors. The raspberry berliner weisse was really fruity and not too tart with a dry finish and a delightful pink color. I considered getting a growler of the raspberry but they weren’t doing fills. The Cerman Chocolate Cake was a massive delicious mix of chocolate and intense coconut. The coconut lingers a little bit on the finish, just enough to balance out the chocolate. The tiramissu stout was really thick and a little too sweet for my tastes. While it had a nice intense coffee start the end was like sheet cake frosting a little too heavy and it coated the mouth, unbalancing the whole thing.
Angry Chair has a nice small tasting room with a great local presence and a nice set of taps. If you like stouts or sours this is a must-visit in the area. I was also glad that this and many local breweries didn’t treat the gose and berliner weisse beers as super special and still only charged $2 a taster.
Angry Chair Top 2:
German Chocolate Cake
Raspberry Beliner Weisse
Coppertail was the last brewery in Tampa proper I visited but there are plenty more to come in Day 2 that I visited in the surrounding areas. Coppertail is in a large building and slightly bigger overall than Cigar City. I tried a number of beers there but I almost left a bit early because of the massively loud music playing. I tried the gose, berliner weisse, sour session IPA, Free Dive IPA, and Unholy Belgian Tripel. The gose was crisp and refreshing with a nice citrusy finish and a pilsner malt finish. I really liked the flavor of this one. The Berliner weisse was a little lighter in body with less flavor than the gose so I would suggest people go with the gose. It didn’t have much that stood out about it.
The sour session IPA was a really interesting different flavor with powerful grapefruit kick at the front and a mild tart finish. All 3 of the “sours” were highly carbonated and tasty. The Free Dive IPA was a solid balanced IPA with tons of citrus and grapefruit and a medium bitterness. I preferred it to the Jai Alai as it felt the malts were more subdued. The Unholy Belgian Tripel is a super hoppy version of the classic style. It could easily be described as a Belgian style Double IPA. Everything balanced nicely with the American hops taking center stage and balancing nicely with the sweeter finish and Belgian yeast. I really savored that taster.
Coppertail Brewing Top 2:
Unholy Belgian Tripel
Out of the three breweries I visited on my first day the one I found most welcoming was Angry Chair. Not only did they have some very tasty beers they were the quietest of the bunch. They have a very neighborhood feel and don’t try to turn the tasting room into a bar.
Come back next week for my post on Day 2 of my Tampa experience, where I visited other breweries in the Tampa Bay area.