Saturday was game day, so I had to find a place to be among fellow fans. Unfortunately, I have yet to find a good place to root for USC in San Diego, so I went with my go-to sports-watching hangout: San Diego Brewing. I basically had a TV all to myself, so it was like watching it at home with more beer and better food.
I couldn’t decide on just one beer, so I got a sampler of three from three good breweries: San Francisco’s Anchor Brewing Co., Oregon mainstay Deschutes Brewery and Bell’s Brewery, Inc all the way from Michigan. First up was a special barrel blend from Anchor. This one poured a rich orange golden color, with creamy-ish head that seemed to stick around a while. Just looking at it, it gave me the impression of a heavy beer. It smelled really boozy and somewhat sour, while maintaining some richness at the same time. There was also some musty oak and sugary malt notes on the end. The whole thing smelled very complex. It tasted very smooth and not as alcoholic as the smell led me to believe. The taste was just as complex as the smell, sort of like a beer version of a “suicide soda,” in which (usually) kids run down a soda fountain, filling their cup with every flavor on offer. There were sour notes up front, with a maltiness that helped tie together all the things going on with this beer. It was difficult to pick out any distinguishing flavors to describe. The aftertaste was a little on the sour side, but over all a good enough beer. I would rate it:
Next was one from one of my favorite breweries. Deschutes Black Butte XXIII Porter. It poured a beautiful dark brown, with light brown, medium head that did not last long. It smelled very chocolatey, with lots of bittersweet flavor up front. Then some sticky sweetness came through, a little like brown sugar, for lack of a better way to describe it. The taste was rich chocolate all the way. It was so warm and smooth, it almost made me want it served hot. There was considerable bourbon flavor toward the end, making the finish all warm and smooth as well. This is a great beer for the winter months to come.
I finished up with Bell’s Cherry Stout. I was a little leery of this one going in, as I don’t normally like flavors that define a beer. It poured black (duh), with sticky, foamy tan head. It smelled incredibly sweet and rich. There was some brown sugar, with the cherry flavor on the tail end. The taste was mild at first, but then some sourness crept in, giving way to a load of tartness that almost made me pucker. It could have used a little heavier carbonation to break up the sweetness, or at least a little more malt to add some character to it. The tangy tartness carried the whole way through this beer and the finish. A bit too tart for my taste, but an ok beer.
Despite the relative mediocrity of the couple threes up there, not a bad way to spend an evening. It definitely helped me get even more excited for the turkey-infused gluttonfest this Thrusday… Eat, drink and be merry. Also: