Monthly Archives: November 2013

Alesmith Barrel Aged Nut Brown

I’ll be the first to admit that the Nut Brown at Alesmith is a solid beer but doesn’t really impress me. I have learned though that it is never a good idea to pass up a chance to try a barrel aged version of a beer even if you are not a big fan of the underlying beer. Most of the time this means the beer is aged in a bourbon barrel. This gives most beers a hint of bourbon flavor, and so works really well with brown ales and ambers.

Alesmith Barrel Aged Nut Brown

Alesmith Barrel Aged Nut Brown

I was so impressed by the flavor of this beer that I had two pints. Usually the beers I enjoy are so strong that this is not possible without stumbling out on the street but since this is only 5% I really enjoyed having two pints. The bourbon flavors are relatively mild with this one so that it does not overpower the flavor of the nut brown. If you stop by the brewery and see this available, be sure to order at least a taster so you can see if this is the beer for you.

Me enjoying some barrel aged Nut Brown.

Me enjoying some barrel aged Nut Brown.

My mom and her friend Ana enjoying some Alesmith beers.

My mom and her friend Ana enjoying some Alesmith beers.

 

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Thanksgiving and Black Friday Beers

I hope all my readers in the United States had a wonderful Thanksgiving day yesterday. It isn’t Thanksgiving without beer so I was ready with two growlers from some local breweries to share with my family. I had a 32oz growler of Intergalactic Perseus IPA, which by this point many of my family thought tasted like Sculpin (a huge compliment). It was interesting to taste the way the flavor changed since it was fresh a month ago or so. I also opened a bottle of Rough Draft Eraser IPA after the Perseus, which followed nicely. For dessert, I had a 32oz growler of Rough Draft Stout, just what my friends love. They were glad that I thought of them to bring some of their favorite beer fresh.

Intergalactic Perseus IPA (right).

Intergalactic Perseus IPA (right).

For Black Friday many of my local breweries had special beers available but they weren’t open very early so I decided instead to reward myself for my restraint yesterday and open a bottle of Stone Punishment I had waiting in the wine fridge (now beer fridge). The less chilled temperatures were perfect for this beer to let out the amazing flavors and heat.

Stone Punishment in a Snifter.

Stone Punishment in a Snifter.

I’m interested to hear what you had to celebrate and give thanks this year. Let me know in the comments.

Intergalactic Imperial Rye Pilsner

I stopped by Intergalactic Brewing today to try out one of their new brews tapped just in time for Thanksgiving. I couldn’t resist the thought of an imperial pilsner. I can’t remember ever seeing one before intergalactic announced the Stellar Collision. This 8.8% monster hits hard with sweet apricot flavors and comes through with the rye at the end. Though it isn’t very dark it has a lot in common with more malt heavy double ipas. I delighted in the taster but I’m not so sure I could drink a pint of it.

Triple IPA (left) Imperial Pilsner (right)

Triple IPA (left) Imperial Pilsner (right)

Intergalactic tap list as of 11/27/2013.

Intergalactic tap list as of 11/27/2013.

 

The triple ipa is an enormous 11.5%. That’s no Moon Ipa explodes with grapefruit flavor. It rivals the Green Bullet though is slightly more malty. It is easily one of the best beers I have tasted from intergalactic and possibly the strongest ipa I’ve ever tasted. You never know how long new beers will last at intergalactic so stop by to give these a try before they are gone.

2Kids Brewing Company

Some people might spend their Sundays watching sports. I prefer to seek out new breweries. A quick google search alerted me to one nearby that I hadn’t tried so I couldn’t help but stop by. 2Kids has only been open for a few months but already they have a solid selection of beers.

2Kids Brewing Company

2Kids Brewing Company

Inside the 2Kids tasting room.

Inside the 2Kids tasting room.

As you can see, the tasting room is pretty barebones and there aren’t many places to sit. Tasters are served in plastic cups though if you order a pint, they are served in glass. If you are tired of the stronger beers that everyone brews in San Diego, this is a nice place to stop in for something that you can drink all day.

2Kids tap list as of 11/24/2013.

2Kids tap list as of 11/24/2013.

For a 3.1% session, the Ordinary Bitter is not bad. I found both the Ordinary Bitter and the Cream Ale to be a bit too light for my tastes. The California Common was my second favorite of the day. It is a nice smooth amber lager with nice caramel flavors. The IPA was a bit on the malty side for my tastes but it might satisfy those who find the average San Diego IPA to be too heavy on the hops.

2Kids taster flight.

2Kids taster flight.

The chocolate stout was rich and flavorful. It impressed me the most of all the beers here. Because of how much cocoa goes into the beer, it costs a bit more but it is well worth it. It has just the right amount of alcohol for something you could drink for an afternoon. The chocolate flavors come forward nice and strong. The Saison is a solid representation of the style, though a bit on the darker side. It didn’t really wow me but if you like the plum and apricot flavors in your beer it might be just your thing.

Considering what I’ve had at a few other brewery launches, 2Kids is off to an impressive start. I look forward to seeing what they come up with in the future. If you stop in, make sure you try the stout.

 

Stone Double Bastard 2013

At an intense 11.2%, this is the kind of beer you have to sip, unless you want to wake up on the floor. I was able to get this lovely beer on tap a week ago and thought it was a bit too malty on tap. Thankfully, the version in the bottle has that nice hop kick that makes it so enjoyable. Make no mistake, this is a very malty beer but also quite hoppy. I look forward to the release each year and this year’s batch is quite impressive.
Stone Double Bastard 2013.

Stone Double Bastard 2013.

Keep this away from your friends who don’t appreciate bitter brews unless you can stand their wrath when they can’t believe you would serve them something this bitter. Though something that devious would be necessary to make you a proper double bastard yourself. My fiance learned pretty quick to sniff a beer before tasting it so he wouldn’t touch this, though I might not risk his wrath by putting it in front of him either. The caramel flavors are given a nice intensity by the hops. This is highly recommended to hop heads and strong beer addicts.

Green Flash, Some Mainstays

I live so close to Green Flash that I only stop in when there is a food truck I am interested in. I can pick up most of my favorite beers at the store so that is good enough for me. Tonight I stopped by Green Flash to taste the food from God Save the Cuisine and I was glad I did. While I was there, I figured I would re-visit some of the regular beers in taster format. The photos are a bit darker than usual because it was night and I hate flash.

Four tasters, Imperial IPA, Green Bullet, Le Freak, and Grand Cru.

Four tasters, Imperial IPA, Green Bullet, Le Freak, and Grand Cru.

I had tasted each of these beers before but it always helps to give them a fresh look after all the beers I’ve had since then. All four impressed me and later I added a taster of the Serrano Double Stout to round out the evening. I found the Imperial IPA to be nice and refreshing. It is best to compare it to the Le Freak. While both beers have characteristics of both Belgian style beers and IPAs, the Imperial IPA is more on the IPA side and Le Freak more on the Belgian side. Both have great flavor though the Le Freak is a little bit sweeter. Grand Cru has a lot of that Belgian flavor as well though it is more on the darker side. Grand Cru and Le Freak were both favorites of mine at different times. Last fall when they first put out the Grand Cru I was hooked on it for months.

I then went for the Green Bullet, which I have been a huge fan of from the start. This Tripple IPA is really hoppy and just blows you away with the pine flavors. It is in my top five beers of all time and is a true achievement for Green Flash. The Serrano Double Stout was decent but not very spicy. Though I do enjoy the double stout on occasion, the Serrano flavors were not particularly strong here, nor was the beer very spicy.

Lamb and Salmon flatbread sandwiches.

Lamb and Salmon flatbread sandwiches.

To go with these beers, I ordered the smoked salmon flatbread sandwich and my mom ordered the lamb. Both were quite tasty although the lamb was a bit more spicy than we expected. The salmon had some bitter greens in there, perhaps even arugula. The capers and cream cheese rounded out the salmon nicely, giving it a fantastic flavor. I will certainly be trying this food truck again soon.

 

Stone Crime and Punishment

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.
Stone Crime and Punishment.

Stone Crime and Punishment.

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.

Saint Archer Brewing Company

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.

Left to right, IPA, Double IPA, Stout, Cask Stout.

Left to right, IPA, Double IPA, Stout, Cask Stout.

Saint Archer from the outside.

Saint Archer from the outside.

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.

Core beers on tap.

Core beers on tap.

Seasonal Beers on Tap.

Seasonal Beers on Tap.

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 05

Saint Archer has a nice seating area with bar stools and tables with plenty of room for a lot of people to hang out.

Stone Sublimely Self Righteous Ale 2013

If you love both hoppy beers and dark beers you might find that most dark beers are too sweet, or not bitter enough. Sublimely Self Righteous is the cure to that, giving bitter chocolate flavors you might recognize from a porter and mixing in the hop flavors that hop addicts love. To see if those who hate IPAs and exclusively drink porters and stouts think, I gave my fiance a taste. He pursed his lips and said “too hoppy” so don’t expect to share this with the less enlightened among you.

Sublimely Self Righteous Ale.

Sublimely Self Righteous Ale.

In some ways, it is the darker version of the Alesmith Winter Yulesmith. Where the Winter Yulesmith has malts, this has chocolate, but both are perfectly balanced with the hop flavors. At 8.7% you might be able to finish a bottle on your own, though I don’t know if I can say the same thing about the Double Bastard. Make sure you get a bottle of this while this year’s batch is fresh, before the end of November and into the first half of December it should be the best. 

[As a fun side note, my brother thought this tasted more like beef jerky. He didn’t like it much either]

Fresh Hop Ales

Hopefully you have tasted at least one variety of fresh hop ale in the past few years. The trend has grown over time. Don’t feel bad if you didn’t though because I didn’t hear about this idea until I was in Denver in September. I happened to stop by Great Divide Brewing and saw that they had a fresh hop pale ale at around 6%. As usual I ordered a few tasters, one of the fresh hop pale, and one of the IPA. I was so impressed by the hop flavors I tasted that I didn’t order any IPAs that night but instead a few pints of the fresh hop pale. Thankfully Great Divide Brewing has some solid distribution so I found a bottle of the Fresh Hop Pale in San Diego recently. Today I decided to open it with Sierra Nevada’s Fresh Hop Harvest Ale to see how the two compared.

Fresh Hop Pale Ales

Fresh Hop Pale Ales

To put this into some perspective, consider that the average IPA is around 6.5-7.5%. The average pale ale is between 4.5 and 5.5%. So when you have a fresh hop pale ale at 6.1 (like the Great Divide) and 6.7 (like the Sierra Nevada) it is almost like having an IPA. Sadly, only the Great Divide had an enjoy by date on the bottle so I can’t know how fresh the Sierra Nevada was when I tried it. I think they were overly generous though with the Great Divide since I found it in late October and it says enjoy by mid December of 2013.

Taste wise, both beers have a nice fresh hop on the forefront although I would say the Sierra Nevada was a bit more heavy on the malts. Both would satisfy IPA fans and hop heads and are worth checking out.

Did you try any other fresh hop beers recently? I’m interested in your suggestions in the comments.