Archive for December, 2015

Mystery Year End

Alpine HFS IPANothing like a glass full of mystery to finish the year off right! Alpine Brewing recently opened a tasting room not too far from their old location, thanks to their acquisition by Green Flash. This allowed the addition of a rather nice tasting room with a back-woodsy lodge feel to it. Lots of open space on the patio, with a pretty standard tasting room and restaurant inside. I got no pictures, but I’ll be back.

Instead of touring the place, I ordered a beer that had just come out and was not described anywhere on the menu as a result. Mysteriously called Alpine HFS IPA (6.5% abv), I knew only that it would likely be hoppy. With Mosaic, Citra and Simcoe hops, hoppy it was, according to our server. “Mosaic” was all I needed to hear and I was in.

It poured a rich golden color with small bubbles and light thin white head. It smelled fruity and fresh, with a touch of bitter hoppiness. It tasted piney and reminded me of being in nature at the first sip. Some of the hop bitterness followed, with pine flavors returning toward the middle and a slight maltiness. Light body and medium carbonation kept it fresh into a somewhat malty finish, with the same piney flavor lingering.

Just a bit too much nature in a glass for me:

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                 MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

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There’s Copper and Gold in Them Glasses!

Ballast Point Nitro Copper ESBAs the Christmas holiday draws near, I think about what will warm my belly in the most seasonal way possible, while still providing some taste exploration. Ballast Point isn’t afraid to experiment with their beers, which is good for us consumers. Case in point: the Copper ESB on nitro (5.5% abv): It poured a rich copper color (duh) with a creamy cap of off white head. So thick was the head that not much made it through the foam in the way of aromas. The taste started off very mild, with a little caramelly sweetness. There was just a touch of bitterness into the middle. Almost no carbonation and a surprisingly light body did nothing to change the mildness. Not much else to distinguish it. A seriously benign drink.

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To wake up my taste buds from such a sleepy start, I next tried the Schooner Wet Hop Ballast Point Schooner Wet Hop(5.5% abv): This one poured a deep golden color, with thin white head. It smelled grassy, floral and pretty refreshing. The taste was mild, with a moderate hoppiness and some of the flowers and grass I got from the smell. Mild through the middle, with medium carbonation and light body, it finished hoppy and somewhat sour, with flowers and grass lingering. I appreciated the change from hoppy to sour back to hoppy, but overall another mild one.

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Going With the Flow

Rip Current CollageThe North Park neighborhood in San Diego is home to a ton of cool shops, eateries and breweries. One brewery that had a tasting room in North Park was Rip Current Brewing. Based a little less than an hour north in San Marcos, their tasting room was a small corner shop with roll up doors on either side of a very small entry door. A long tasting bar ran the length of the place with both low- and high-top tasting tables scattered at both ends. There was a kitchen with an order window at the back behind the tables. Unfinished wood behind and underneath the bar helped carry the beachy/driftwood theme of the place. The walls were covered with a beach mural, with a display case on one wall containing vintage beer cans. The counters facing out of the roll up doors to the street had cool neon blue accent lights underneath.

Rip Current Flight

It being the Christmas season and I never being one to spoil an opportunity to get into it, I decided to try a flight of dark, roasty beers I thought would warm me up on a cool night. I ordered four and they came in a plastic surfboard-shaped holder. First up was the Palomar Chocolate Porter on Nitro (6% abv): This poured a deep, dark crimson-brown color with thick off white head. It smelled chocolaty and rich. The taste was mild at first, with some chocolate coming through. There was a tiny bit of smokiness that surprised me. It was light into the middle. Light-bodied and lightly carbonated, it finished smooth and light with a hint of bittersweet chocolate. Good, but a little underwhelming.

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Next I tried the Barrier Reef Nut Brown (5% abv): It poured rich amber in color with barely any head, but what there was stuck to the glass. It smelled malty sweet, with a touch of barley and lots of roasted malt aromas. The taste was mild and malty. There was a little bit of bitterness, but the malts completely buried it. The middle was light-medium, with light carbonation. It finished light-medium with the same heavy dose of roasted malts.

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Then came the Deep Crimson Imperial Rye Red (8.3% abv): This one poured bright amber-red in color with persistent white head. It smelled somewhat sour and bitter with only a little maltiness. The taste was malty and slightly sour at first. Light carbonation kicked in toward the middle, which was malty and bitter. Medium body lead to a light finish with the sourness returning.

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Last, I tried the Delaminator Smoked Doppelbock (7.8% abv): It poured dark brown with tan head that left moderate lacing on the glass. It definitely smelled smoky, though not overpoweringly so. There were also malty, chocolate and molasses aromas. It tasted boozy, malty and a little sweet. Some of the malt flavor turned to roasted malt flavor toward the middle. Light in both carbonation and body, it finished sweet, warm and malty. Even though I don’t normally care for sweeter beers, this s just what I needed to end my night.

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