Archive for June, 2014
Belgian-styles are often described as complex, malty and perhaps a little sour (depending on the type). Tetravis from Sam Adams’ Barrel Room Collection is a quadrupel, or “quad”, which told me to expect a strong, rich beer. Added to the intrigue with this beer, was the fact that it was purported to have notes of raisin and currant. This did give me pause for a second, then it passed and I dove in.
The pour is a deep, dark red, with a cloudy complexion and thick tan head. Lots of bubbles streamed up from the very bottom of the glass, which told me this was going to be a very yeasty beer. Indeed, it smelled a little sour, malty, rich and sweet. The taste was a little hard to get at first, due to the thick cap of foam on top. Once it came through, I tasted sticky-sweet flavors of raisin and brown sugar, mixed with sourness that reminded me of some tart fruit, and finally lots of malt, which was in turn broken up by all the fizzy carbonation I saw on the pour. As it moved through my mouth, so too did a slight burn in the back of the throat, muted somewhat by the smooth warmth of the alcohol.
This was a very good beer that had a lot of characteristics I expected and even some I didn’t. I am glad there was no heavy currant taste, as that probably would have made me think I was drinking some kind of brewed grape juice.
Overall, I would rate this beer:
As I continue my journey through the San Diego beer scene, I couldn’t help but come back to my favorite beer of them all: Mermaid’s Red from Coronado Brewing Co. This here is a good beer.
It poured a brilliant, clear red with a cap of frothy off white head. Not much lacing clings to the glass, as it turns slushy quickly and slides back down to rest on top, before quickly dissipating. The aromas coming off the top right after pouring reminded me of something slightly sulfurous, though not unpleasant. After the sulfur, it the moderate floral hoppiness comes through, with only a slight malty smell in the background (if smells can have backgrounds).
The taste starts off right away with the floral taste from all the hops. What follows is a bitterness that helps flatten out some of the hoppiness, finishing with a moderate bitterness, with slight hints of rich malts rounding it out.
I love this beer for its complexity, despite its “mid-range” description.
Overall, I would rate this beer:
A year or so after discovering Coronado Brewing Co., I finally went to its birthplace. In the interest of full disclosure, there are two locations: a restaurant on Coronado Island proper and the tasting room on the mainland. After consulting some of the local opinion around here, I decided on the tasting room. I was given the impression that the restaurant is a little like a Marie Callender’s that happens to serve Coronado beer. “Fair enough,” I says and off I went.
This place is in a pretty industrial area right off of the 5 freeway. One building looks like the next and I had never driven down in that area, so I drove past it a couple of times before I saw the bigger-than-life sign you see at the top of this post… It also has a very large flag on the top of it, but unless I was looking up (I wasn’t), I wouldn’t have seen it.
Walking in, it is much larger than I thought it would be. Other than that, it is much like any other brewery: lots of concrete and stainless steel. Then there is the tasting bar just to the left of the door. They built a sort of patio area out of rough-hewn wood beams that sets it off against all the beautiful sterility surrounding it in the production area.
Coronado Brewing is very into branding. Every single one of their tanks is emblazoned with their mermaid logo. Of course, they have all of their merchandise for sale in the gift shop/tasting area, as well.
Behind the tasting area by the bathrooms, they have refrigerators that house almost every beer from their Core Series, as well as some from their specialty beers. Much of their selection is dominated by IPAs, but a few of my very favorite beers are hiding in there.
I decided to just have tasters today, so I tried four: Ricky’s Malt Liquor, a session IPA, Blue Bridge Coffee Stout and Piccadilly Porter.
I didn’t get pictures this time, but I’ll do my best to paint some with words. The “Malt Liquor” was a light golden color without much head or carbonation. It did not have much of a smell, except for some sweetness from the malt. It was surprisingly mild and easy to drink, especially given the 9.1% abv. I am not sure I got a ‘malt liquor’ feeling from drinking it, but I enjoyed it.
I then moved to the session IPA. This was a pale golden, very clean-looking beer, with tiny bubbles and a mat of somewhat frothy head on top. The hoppiness coming off the top of it wasn’t enough to knock me back from the glass, but it was definitely present. Otherwise, it smelled only slightly fruity, with just a hint of grains. The first taste out of the glass was the hoppiness. Again, it wasn’t enough to fry the senses, but rather a pleasant flowery, slightly sweet flavor moving through my mouth. It felt thicker in my mouth than it looked in the glass, which was also a pleasant surprise.
Third was the Blue Bridge Coffee Stout. I have had this before in the bottle, but when I have a chance to get any beer from the tap, I am going to jump on it. This was no disappointment, either. It poured a deep, dark brown, though without much head, surprisingly. It definitely smelled like coffee and lots of toasty malts. The taste was lighter than I might have expected, given its stout-ness, with all the coffee flavor dominating the whole way through. It finished clean, with just a hint of the coffee that was so prevalent throughout.
Last, but not least, was the Piccadilly Porter. This one was not that different from the stout, with the pour, smell, taste and finish all remarkably similar. Especially surprising was the coffee flavor that seemed to overtake the toffee and chocolate flavors porters usually have.
Overall a pleasant experience. Tours are available, so I might just have to make a return trip to take advantage.
There is a local brewery right down the street from my work called Rough Draft Brewing Company. They don’t seem to distribute very widely, but I only started going to their brewery/tasting room a couple of months ago, so their brews very could well be in your neck of the woods.
As you can see, it’s just a pretty nondescript industrial office space. That is mostly the norm, though, for small brewery startups. Inside, however, is where the magic happens.
They display all of their wares in the lobby for visitors’ perusal. Directly behind where the picture to the right was taken is a hallway leading to a couple private party/meeting rooms and the warehouse where they store all the goodies that go into their beers.
Their tasting room is really well laid out: all the beer making going on right in front of the tasting counter area, with stools and comfortable couches. It’s a cool thing to be able to sit among the making of what you’re drinking. It makes me appreciate the work that went into it just that much more. After all, that’s what craft beer is all about: making and sharing this stuff we all love so much.
The beer selection is pretty good, considering the apparent size of the operation. They usually have about 10 beers on draft, ranging from a blond to a stout and the ever-present IPA. The draft board always includes at least one nitro selection, as well. For this event, they included two others: their second anniversary special called 2nd Draft Manhattan and a casked IPA called Group Project.
First up, I tried the 2nd Draft Manhattan. This one was a strong ale, clocking in at 9.3% abv. It poured a rich caramel brown color, with fine, slightly off white head. It smelled slightly sweet, though that could have been from the cherry they included with it. It also gave sour and grainy scents. The first sip brought all the alcohol this beer had to bear. It mellowed a bit after to the bourbon flavor you would expect in a Manhattan mixed drink. That was followed by a bitterness I did not expect, thought that could have been the masking effect of the alcohol content. It finished bitter with the lingering bourbon booziness leaving a warmth at the back of my throat.
I would rate this beer:
I am a sucker for anything served in a cask, so next I went for their other special brew: Cask Group Project IPA. This one is made with three kinds of hops: Amarillo, Cascade and Citra. Now, I have to admit ignorance when it comes to hops, considering my previous aversion to beers made with a bunch of them, but I couldn’t help myself. This one poured a deep cloudy golden. It actually reminded me of a wheat beer. It had fine off white head that coated the glass evenly.Putting my sniffer to the glass about knocked me over due to the copious hop content of this beer. After that subsided, it actually smelled pretty mild and only slightly floral. Tasting it, I was surprised at the slight sourness. Then all the hops slowly drifted back along my palate to the back, finishing with a hoppy kick. The aftertaste was a bit bitter with some interesting floral flavors.
All in all, not a bad beer. I was impressed by how they were able to pack so many hops into this beer without absolutely knocking out my taste buds.
I would rate this beer: