Toppling Goliath got a big name after they were rated some of the best hoppy beers in the world by Beer Advocate. They have a focus on IPAs but they also have some small release stouts and delicious kettle sours. The crazy thing about the brewery is that the closest major airport is Minneapolis St Paul so you may end up driving 2 and a half hours to get to the brewery after flying across the country.
The brewery itself is a fairly small space given the big hype associated with it. On the Saturday afternoon when we visited there was a Football game going on that drew a loud boisterous crowd. Seating is fairly limited but in the area you can fairly easily find some bottles that may have sold out at the brewery. I preferred their hazy double IPAs and kettle sour over the other beers though they had some tasty lighter beers. They serve their beers in chilled glasses so I would recommend asking for non-chilled tasters if you go. This seemed silly considering it was 40 degrees outside.
The galaxy dry hopped Sue was creamy and subdued with light fruity notes. I found the beer to be nothing special. It didn’t have a ton of hop character or taste that much better than the average hoppy pale. The DDH sue was a little better with notes of bubblegum and vanilla and a creamy mouthfeel with minimal bitterness. While it was up there with some of the better hoppy pales it wasn’t anything revolutionary or unique. After returning home with some cans of Sue, the closest thing I compare it to is a pale ale from El Segundo Brewing Company. It isn’t that the beer is bad so much as the California brewers have been making similar quality low alcohol pale ales for quite some time.
Pomepeii was resinous and sticky with notes of ripe fruit and had a ton more flavor than the Sue. It was a bit above average and quite a delicious beer. I brought back a bunch of fresh bottles of it and in the bottles I got a ton of orange peel character of the sort that I rarely taste in a beer of this alcohol percentage. Nugget had notes of pine and grape with a light bitterness. For a 6% beer it was very crushable. Overall it was nicely balanced.
Rover Truck, their oatmeal stout, was excellent with a mix of smoke, roast, and light cherry. It was smooth with a medium body and at the time I visited the only dark beer they had on tap. If I didn’t have the limited space in checked luggage I might have brought a few four packs back for my husband. The X Hops Gold had a mix of light pepper and vegetal hop character with mild citrus and an excellent balance. It was a well-balanced beer and quite good.
King Sue, a hazy double IPA was creamy and soft with notes of vanilla, tropical fruit, and peaches. It was above average as far as hazy double IPAs go and up there with some of the best. The Supa Sumo was creamy and soft with tons of citrus and light melon. It had a bit more hop aroma kick than the King Sue and was my favorite IPA of the day. I left with a 32oz growler of this one, though I also found a bottle at a nearby shop to enjoy that night. Dragon Fandango is their kettle sour that at the time I visited had dragon fruit and passion fruit. Before I knew what fruits it used, I tasted tons of strawberry and raspberry. It was juicy and lightly sweet with a light tart finish. This was my favorite beer of the day and I brought a small growler of this home as well.
Though I had hoped that Toppling Goliath may end up being in a class by itself compared to other breweries, I found that they rank among the top for breweries in their category. Their hazy double IPAs were up there with the best I’ve had in the country and their kettle sour was one of the best I have had anywhere. Despite the long distance from the nearest airport I found the visit to be worth it especially when you add in their neighbor, Pulpit Rock down the street. Unlike other breweries known for hazy double IPAs, you are more likely to find their hazy beers in 22oz bottles than cans for $9. This makes the beers more expensive per ounce than the average $22 4-pack of hazy double IPAs out there.
Considering the various breweries out there making fantastic hazy IPAs, visiting Toppling Goliath is likely to be a one time thing for me. A stop at other major Hazy IPA breweries is generally easier and involves less driving, especially for breweries like Tree House or Trillium.
Tenaya Creek has been around since 1999 though only recently moved to their location in downtown Las Vegas. They have a spacious tasting room with excellent air conditioning and a wide variety of guest taps besides their own house beers. I tried seven different beers while I was there and overall quite satisfied.
I started with Hop Ride, their flagship IPA. It was dank and resinous with a bitter bite and notes of pineapple and banana on the finish. While it was tasty, it had a lingering bitterness that I didn’t care for. The Gypsy Fade IPA was much more modern with a minimal bitterness and bright fruity hops that blended nicely with herbal hops on the base. I quite liked this one.
The Magnum Rye was a nice fruity saison with notes of white cake and mild floral and herbal hop character and hints of bubblegum on the finish. The hops are quite subtle here and not anywhere near as powerful as I would have assumed but they work nicely with the base beer. The Howling Oats oatmeal stout blended notes of cherry malt base with tons of roast and finished with a bitter bite. I enjoyed the chewy body and how the cherry flavor didn’t dominate.
The Old Jackalope barley wine had notes of caramel but the hops overpower it with a strong bitter finish that I didn’t care for. I did not finish the taster. The silencer double IPA had a nice caramel malt base that blended nicely with sweet candied mango notes on the finish. Hops were mostly subdued and blended nicely with the flavor of the mango. The Baltic porter was thick and roasty with bitter chocolate and mild notes of smoke. The flavors balanced nicely with hints of cherry giving it a cherry chocolate flavor. This is one of the more complex and delicious Baltic porters I have tried.
If you are in Las Vegas for the weekend and crave some good beers, stop by for a flight and grab some cans to bring back to your hotel room. They had six pack cans of many of their core beers.
Gypsy Fade IPA
I visited the various breweries on the olympic penensula. You can easily visit them all in one day on your way from Tacoma to Port Angeles. Silver City has two locations but I recommend visiting the tap room where you can try some of their pilot batches and experience a more relaxed atmosphere.
I visited the Silver City tap room and tried four beers. My typical practice is to stop after four tasters if I don’t taste anything that really stands out. So here I left after the four tasters. From what I had heard I hoped to leave with cans of their IPAs but decided not to after my flight.
I tried three of their IPAs and one of their porters. The St. Florian IPA was resinous and dank with medium bitterness and a biscuit malt base. This is a fairly standard IPA though a bit old school. The porter was solid with a nice light roast and notes of caramel.
The two hazy IPAs were not particularly impressive. The pilot batch session hazy was intensely grassy and piney and lightly acidic. The tropic haze is one that has gotten them a lot of popularity but it didn’t have much hop aroma to speak of. Instead I got notes of cashews and minerals with hints of banana bread. The strong mineral character is common with haze but this one didn’t work for me. After the four I didn’t try anything further and went on to the next stop.
Sound was recommended to me based on their Belgian style beers. I would recommend similarly that you stick to the Belgian styles. I started with their porter and Baltic porter. The porter had some light smoke, caramel, and molasses with a dry bitter finish. The Baltic porter had some strong cherry malt character with bitter chocolate and caramel on the finish. Both were drinkable though I preferred the Baltic porter out of the two.
The NEIPA was not hazy in the slightest and had some notes of grass, herbs, and pine with medium bitterness. I didn’t find the beer to be particularly fruity or juicy at all. It was an OK IPA but not remotely NE style. The double IPA was a dark brown color with sweet caramel malt notes, mild bitterness, and some apricot hop character. The beer was far too sweet and malt-forward and tasted more like a barley wine than a double IPA.
Things were more interesting when I got to the Belgian styles. The dubel was tasty with notes of dark fruit and caramel on a nice dry finish. My husband enjoyed this one as well even though he generally only likes stouts and porters. The Monk’s Indiscretion is a nice heavily hopped Belgian strong ale. It had intense herbal and grassy hops that balanced nicely with the esters and Belgian yeast character. For 10% the beer hid its alcohol well and had a nice dry finish. The Belgian tripel had notes of banana and clove over a biscuit malt base and a good dry finish.
Belgian style beers tend to be brewed overly sweet in the US but not so much at Sound. If you like Belgian styles I recommend trying some of their bottles if you can’t make it out for a visit to the brewery directly.
Rainy Daze was recommended to me by a fellow beer blogger. The Pourhouse IPA had notes of herbs and citrus rind on a nice soft body with a mild bitterness. The Goat Boater IPA had some notes of citrus and floral hops though the mineral taste on the finish. The Peace hazy IPA had a hazy appearance but hardly any detectable hop aroma to speak of.
The stout had some notes of root beer and caramel with light lemon hop character. The coffee porter was nutty with good strong coffee character on top of mild roast. Rainy Daze had a few decent IPAs but nothing that was exploding with hop aroma or particularly memorable. They were fairly standard.
Goat Boat IPA
Propolis focuses on wild ales and sours often adding various herbs to them. They charge $3 to $4 for each taster. I had some interesting beers but nothing that was particularly memorable or that made me want to leave with a bottle that they charger more than $20 for.
Mellow had some notes of citrus and herbs on a light sweet funk base. The spruce had notes of honey and light sweetness with berry notes from the spruce. Wild Woods had some berry character from the wine with a dry finish with bitter tannin kick. The Gordin had a light fruit character with some honey flavor.
The Apricot Ostara blended apricot with chamomile nicely with a light acidic finish. The oud Bruin was thin and smoky with an acidic tart cherry finish on a mild caramel base. As far as wild ales go, I didn’t find the beers at Propolis to be particularly complex or flavorful. I finished each taster but nothing made me crave for more either on tap or in a bottle to take home.
If some of their sours sound interesting to you, you can find them as far south as San Diego in the bottles. I recommend trying a few bottles before taking the trip to the brewery directly.
Wild Barrel Brewing surprised me as I hadn’t heard a ton about the brewery until a short time before opening. With a brewer who used to work at stone and a keen eye for what the market wants, they launched out the gate with some IPAs, massively fruity kettle sours, and a coffee stout with barrel aged stuff to come in time. You can tell when you walk in that they spent a lot of time on the layout of the space including their choice for the acoustics because it doesn’t get as loud as many breweries do when crowded.
Wild Barrel serves tasters in larger glass to give room for aromas to come through. In the crowded San Diego brewery scene this is fairly uncommon but always welcomed. I was not really that excited when I saw three fruited Berliner Weiss style beers on the board (called here San Diego Vice) but was soon glad i tried them. San Diego breweries regularly make fruited versions of this style but often with minimal amounts of fruit. Not so here. All 3 of them, cherry, blackcurrent, and guava were massively fruity with a light tart bite on the back.
These may be the most fruit flavor I’ve had in any beer of this style, surpassing my previous favorite at Georgia based Creature Comforts. If their crowlers were available I might have left with a couple of crowlers. It is hard to pick a favorite of the three because they were all so delicious.
The two IPAs available were both in the modern style though staying away from the thick hazy style so far. The single IPA was nice and citrus forward with a light bitterness and a dry finish. The double IPA was a bit more dank and resinous with a slightly thicker body and still not a ton of bitterness. The IPAs remind me of the style brewed at Protector in many ways.
The coffee stout had notes of popcorn and coffee on the nose with a fairly thin body and a nice mix of light roast, smoke, and coffee notes. I found the coffee to be a bit more subdued than I tend to enjoy but it is a nice balanced beer.
I am looking forward to see how Wild Barrel develops over the coming months and expect I will be back again regularly to see what flavors of San Diego Vice come up next. They have excited me about a style that has generally been enjoyable but not particularly exciting for me before now.
Blackcurrent San Diego Vice
Cherry San Diego Vice