Archive for May, 2015
“Houston, we have a problem.” That problem is that more breweries don’t take drastic measures in brewing their beer like the crazies/nerds at Ninkasi just took. Recently, they combined two of my favorite things into one grand event: beer and space. These guys decided, “Sure, our beer is good…but we want to send something to space.” So, they loaded some yeast onto a rocket that was bound for space. According to Space.com, on October 23, 2014 a successful launch from Spaceport America in New Mexico saw 4 vials of brewer’s yeast experience about 4 minutes of weightlessness. Ninkasi incorporated some of the ale yeast from that trip to space into its newest offering: Ninkasi Ground Control Imperial Stout.
This beer pours like motor oil: thick, black and sludgy. It had a cap of tan sudsy head that streaked down the glass a bit. Chocolate and faint coffee and bourbon aromas were about all that made it out of the glass on the smell. Strong chocolaty bitterness came through on the taste. Super thick mouthfeel with little carbonation, though more than most other stouts I have had, to break it up made it a bit syrupy. Flavors of star anise came through in the middle, with a little nuttiness fading back to the bittersweet chocolate on the finish.
Although I really wanted this beer to be 5-worthy, due to its long journey to a place near and dear to my heart, alas it was just a little lacking:
Mike Hess Brewing is a great little brewery in North Park. Walking in, the first thing I noticed were the kettles and mash tuns right at eye level; I was walking above the brewing equipment! At the end of that catwalk was the tasting area straight ahead, with seating to the left and right. The area behind the bar/tasting counter appeared to be a gate or loading dock. The low lighting gave the place the feel of a super hip art gallery. In fact, there were what appeared to be large canvases on the wall, complete with accent lighting.
The beer I decided on was one I don’t really drink much. I went with the Grazias Vienna Cream Ale. According to their website, they named this beer to pay homage to the homeland of Vienna style in which it was brewed. They also wanted to add a touch of gratitude by making the name sound like the Spanish word gracias, or “thank you.”
It poured deep copper with tiny bubbles and creamy white head. Malty sweet aromas met with some coffee on the smell. Nice light carbonation on the taste, with coffee up front. Sweet malts followed and lasted through the middle of the beer. Smooth with medium-light mouthfeel, it finished malty with a little coffee trailing. I enjoyed this beer:
In the same parking lot as Pacific Brewing, there is another small brewery called 2 Kids Brewing Co. This is a funky little place, with yellow and lime green on the walls, eclectic art on those walls, including a clock, which is unusual for a brewery to want you to know how long you have been drinking. Three patio tables are all that fits right in front of the tasting counter, which is manned by a very quirky, but nice bartender who was more than happy to talk about their beer with me. There are three brew tanks to the left and a walk-in freezer right behind the bar. That’s about it in this very utilitarian space. They have a delivery deal with the neighboring sushi place, same as Pacific Brewing.
Searching their board for my tasting selection for this visit, I settled on one made with my very favorite hop variety: Hulk Smash Single Hop IPA w/Chinook. They don’t mess around at this brewery: they pour imperial pints! For $5! Why am I yelling?! Unfiltered, this one poured cloudy and golden with sudsy head that slid down the glass. Mild and malty aromas combined with very light fruity hops to make me excited to taste it. The taste was just as mild as the aroma. Malty flavors came through first and some very light hoppiness followed. The middle was a little sour and bitter, but was nothing to take away from the great piney Chinook hop flavor. The finish was a little dry and only very slightly hoppy with some malts trailing. This was a great, dynamic beer.
Well, party IN the Pacific…Brewing Co. that is. Another Mira Mesa industrial office park brewery, Pacific Brewing is a small place in a mostly off-the-main-drag area of Mira Mesa. It has a very nonchalant surfer vibe, minus the cheesy surf music that many usually associate with such a vibe. I was thankful for that. They sort of do what they can with the space they have, with brewing tanks along the left wall- one of them still on the pallet because they haven’t the equipment to take it off said pallet- two small cocktail/patio tables with stools between the tanks and the fairly impressive tasting bar to the right. They even have menus from which to order sushi from a place that delivers right to the table inside the brewery! It’s a great system.
With seven beers on tap, it was hard to choose. Per my usual M.O., I settled on the most questionably named, the Sticky Icky Strong Ale. It poured a deep amber color with a thin layer of fizzy white head. Malty aromas defined the smell, with some dark fruit and a little tartness to keep things interesting. On the taste, there was not much carbonation, so I noticed the thick mouthfeel right away. Heavy malts dominated up front without much else coming through. Some bitterness through the middle broke that up a bit and helped it finish dry with a little less maltiness lingering.
Since I usually do things out of order, I next went for a lighter beer with the Golden Coast Blonde Ale. This one poured a rich gold color with big, loose bubbles that made for sudsy head that streaked down the glass. It smelled ‘beery’, with slight skunkiness, though not enough to be unpleasant. There were also some fresh fruit aromas to help keep things appetizing. The taste was anything but skunky- light and bright, with some fruitiness and a little malt underneath. Light carbonation and mild through the middle, it finished equally as mild, with the beeriness and malts returning. I liked this one.
This is a great little startup brewery and I wish these guys a lot of success!