I visited Dos Desperados after Stumblefoot Brewing Company on the same day. Thankfully my husband was driving so I was able to try everything I wanted to at the time. In total I tried the Fugitive farmhouse, Outlaw oatmeal stout, Jailbreak IPA, Habeerneos IPA, Pancho Villa double IPA, Brett double IPA, and ghost pepper stout.
The Fugitive farmhouse had a nice mild pepper pepper kick (hot pepper) that joins the usual saison taste. The pepper flavors balanced nice with the fruit and funk. Though it was very different from the usual saison, I quite liked it. The Outlaw oatmeal stout was a solid stout with a smooth flavor from the oatmeal. This was the only stout on the menu and it should satisfy those who don’t like hops.
The Jailbreak ipa starts off with some intense bitterness and a good citrus flavor. It is a solid IPA. It is used as the background for the Habanero version. Like the Ballast Point Habanero Sculpin, this one is quite hot and really burns going down leaving a big back of throat burn. I would have a hard time having more than a taster of this.
The Pancho Villa double IPA is a double IPA that focuses on tropical fruit and citrus flavors with some light mango flavor. It is very hop forward and tasty, a fantastic example of a double IPA. The Brett version was also quite tasty and if I hadn’t already had a full two sets of tasters I might have ordered more of it. The brett yeast adds some nice peach flavors and gives it a cloudy look. Finally, the ghost pepper stout was not as hot as the Habanero IPA. The heat hides in the background more and sneaks up on you because it is more balanced with the beer.
Overall I enjoyed what I had at Dos Desperados and liked to see the brett and other experimental beers they had on tap. The addition of spicy peppers seems to be done well like others locally though stay away if you don’t like hot. This is certainly a brewery geared more towards hops than a few of the others I tried in the area.
Pancho Villa Double IPA
Brett Double IPA
In Carlsbad there are two small breweries very close together. In this post I will write about the beers at On the Tracks. In the next post I will write about Arcana Brewing.
The two breweries are so close together that you could park in the middle of the two and walk to both without moving your car. On the Tracks has four regular beers on tap, a ginger beer, an ESB, a double IPA, and a porter made with black pepper. Though they have been open since October of 2011, the tasting room has remained small.
The Ginger Beer is an interesting way to do the lighter style of beer that most breweries have. The flavor is light enough that the ginger doesn’t get offensive. I mostly enjoyed the ginger beer as a palate cleanser in between the other beers. The ESB is quite balanced and has a light sweetness and a light bitterness, just as it should be.
The double IPA was very surprising because it was well-balanced and also very enjoyable. I tend to not like overly malt-heavy IPAs but this was the perfect balance of tropical fruit and citrus flavors from the hops and a light sweetness from the malts. My husband found this one to be drinkable as well.
To end things off we tried the black pepper porter. This is certainly to be a polarizing beer as the owner indicated. There is a serious back-of-throat burn that you get as soon as you take a sip, reminiscent of habanero beers. The owner said that we should get some chocolate and roasted malt flavors once we get past the pepper but my husband and I both had a hard time getting past the pepper.
On the Tracks has some solid beers and would be worth stopping in once if you are in the area. Plus, you can easily hit Arcana in the same trip, where you will also find some different beers. Have you gotten out to On the Rails? Do you like their beers? Let me know in the comments.
With twelve tasters to try at Deschutes, I decided to split this visit into two posts. For round 2 I got to try the Black Butte Porter, Nitro Obsidian Stout, Hot Bocket, Bachelor Bitter, Pine Mountain Pilsner, and Inversion IPA.
The Black Butte Porter was a nice solid porter, good and mellow. I would assume that it was used as the basis for the Black IPA because it shared many of the same flavors. It had some pleasant flavors of chocolate and oatmeal. The Nitro Stout had some nice smooth oatmeal flavors but overall was a bit too similar to the porter. If it wasn’t on nitro, I don’t know if I would have been able to tell the two apart significantly.
Probably my favorite beer at Deschutes was the Hot Bocket, a spicy bock beer infused with spicy peppers. It was a great balance of sweet flavors common among the bock style and the spice of the peppers. This isn’t an overly spicy beer but the flavors work out quite well together. The Bachelor Bitter was a solid English style bitter with plenty of mellow malt flavors and a good balance.
The Pine Mountain Pilsner was a nice change from the typical pilsner thanks to some pine hop flavors mixed in. They help distinguish it from what would otherwise be a pretty basic representation of a pilsner. To end it, I had the Inversion IPA. I had tried this beer a few times in San Diego and still find it to be a bit too heavy on the malts for my tastes. There are some solid pine hop flavors to it but mostly the malts overpower the rest of the beer.
In the end, I wasn’t overly impressed with Deschutes but I can see why they are popular. Rather than focusing on creating beers that jump out, they just focus on making beers that are very drinkable. In that they succeed like most breweries in Portland.
I am not exclusively including beers that were first introduced in 2013 but I limited this to San Diego beers because otherwise I would never be able to come up with 10. I also excluded any specialty versions of existing beers. This means cask or nitro versions of certain beers are not eligible, nor are barrel aged beers that are only available on tap for a day or two and then gone.
1. Green Bullet – Green Flash (Triple IPA)
This is my new gold standard for insane hops in a beer. I was lucky enough to try this when it was first debuted in late 2012 for a very short time at the brewery. For most people though, this is a 2013 beer because it was made much more broadly available in bottles. It is pure New Zealand hops all the way and gives me all the hop flavors that I am addicted to.
2. Stone Punishment (Double Bastard barrel aged and infused with spicy peppers)
This is the only barrel aged beer on the list and it counts because it was bottled and made widely available. Though it would be a favorite simply because of how spicy it is what gets this on the list is the complex flavors that it has besides the heat. Some sweetness is present from the barrel aging as well as all the complex flavors of double bastard itself. Though this was the most expensive beer I had all year it was totally worth it.
3. Stone Enjoy by IPA (Double IPA with a clear enjoy by date)
Though half of what makes Enjoy By so good is that it is going to be fresh when you have some, it is also just a deliciously balanced double IPA. The brilliant thing about this beer is that the batches are kept small enough so that it sells out pretty quickly. The next batch comes out pretty soon so make sure you grab a bottle of the first Enjoy By batch of 2014.
4. Humbly Legit IPA – New English Brewing
I wasn’t expecting this to blow me away as much as it did. When I first had it on tap I just loved the hop-forward flavor of this beer. For a brewery that originally focused on English styles of beer, this one is up there with the best IPAs in San Diego.
5. Perseus IPA – Intergalactic Brewing
One of my favorite IPAs comes from a newer brewery that knows how to satisfy those who prefer a lighter colored IPA. Because the brewery is fairly small, it doesn’t last long enough to become skunky. I had quite a few growler fills of this beer throughout the year and can’t wait for the next batch to show up.
6. Blazing World – Modern Times (Hoppy Amber)
I left the brewery with a four pack of cans as soon as I tried this one and I already bought a few more since then. The nelson hops are prominent and give this a delicious flavor that would satisfy any hop head.
7. Evil Dead Red – Alesmith (Imperial Red with some strong hop flavors)
It was a toss up between this and the Winter Yulesmith. Both gave me plenty of hops in a satisfying darker brew. I ultimately gave the spot to Evil Dead Red because it was so unexpected. If you liked this one, make sure you get out and buy a bottle of My Bloody Valentine, already in stores.
8. Hop Therapy Double IPA – Rough Draft
I really enjoy a lot of the IPAs Rough Draft makes but I ultimately gave the spot to the double IPA because it is nice to see a solid double that is always around. There is a huge difference in taste if you have this one fresh so if it doesn’t have enough hop flavor for you give it another try.
9. Ballast Point Victory at Sea Imperial Porter
Though I love a lot of different Ballast Point beers, this one got the spot because the coffee flavors were just what I needed. Another favorite that almost made this list was the Fathom India Pale Lager, which has now become a mainstay.
10. Green Flash Symposium IPA
I’ve always found the West Coast to be a bit too heavy on the malts so this lighter colored IPA was just what I needed. I hope to see it available in bottles with a fresh batch in 2014.
You really have to compare both beers at once to get the full idea about how interesting they are. Punishment is slightly hotter than I had from those Habanero Sculpin and Ghost Pepper Dorado at Ballast Point. The beer flavors are much better with this though because the underlying beer is so strong. The flavors of the peppers are quite strong and come at you really nicely. Under it you can barely taste the barrel aged flavors and the nice thick flavors of the beer. These beers are both brewed with Habaneros, Nagas, and Moruga chilis. Each of these is so hot that few people would eat it raw.
Compared to Punishment, Crime is only slightly less hot. Even though Crime is not as hot as Punishment, it is still quite hot on its own. If Punishment is a 6/10 heat (when compared to hot sauces and curry), Crime is a 5/10. Crime is made with the same peppers as Punishment and the pepper flavors are there just as strong. At $17 per bottle, I don’t recommend you buy a bottle unless the idea of beer that sets your mouth on fire excites you, though I would not have any problem taking some from a friend who couldn’t stand the heat. To get the most heat, make sure you let it warm up a little bit when you drink it. I noticed a decent increase in heat when I let the Crime warm up while drinking it.
For those who don’t need heat, there is a Southern Charred variety that doesn’t have any peppers. I haven’t tried it but I expect it has many of the same barrel aged flavors and can be enjoyed for the full flavor. While I won’t be buying any more bottles after this, my friend is hooked and will probably end up going through at least five bottles of Punishment.