Bitter in Bay Ho

Bitter Brothers SignIn the Bay Ho neighborhood of San Diego, I discovered a small brewery by the name of Bitter Brothers Brewing Co. Walking through the roll up door under a Vegas-style incandescent sign, it was a simple enough set up, with the brewing system at the back in front of another roll up. A steel top tasting bar wrapped the main seating area, with industrial looking stools that had seats that screwed into the bottoms on huge bolts. The whole place was unadorned, save for a silhouette of two men, clearly at odds, with their arms crossed standing back to back. There was also white herringbone tile backing the bar.



As always, my first time at a brewery called for a flight. In this case, I had company, so we got two and sampled everything the brewery had to offer. I started with the Little Brother Citra IPA (4.8% abv). This beer poured clear yellow with thin white head. The aroma exploded with lots of piney hops. The taste was mild at first, with some refreshing piney hops into the middle. Light bodied and lightly carbonated, it finished with the same piney hoppiness.


Next I had a taste of the Prodigal Son Amarillo IPA (6.8% abv). This one poured darker yellow than the Little Brother with the same thin white head. The aroma was sweeter with a nice maltiness. The taste was mild and smooth, with some fruity hop flavors into the middle. Light bodied and lightly carbonated, it finished a little maltier than the first one. Otherwise, a very similar beer.


Third in my tour of Bitter Brothers, I had Sibling Rivalry NW IPA (7% abv). It poured deep red-orange in color with thin slightly off white head. There was almost a complete absence of aroma, though maybe a little maltiness. The taste was a little sweet, with some hoppiness that lent a slight melon taste. The middle was light and fresh. Light bodied and lightly carbonated, it finished fruity and hoppy.


After that, I tried the Family Tart Berliner Weisse Naked (4.5% abv). As provocative as it sounds, the name merely indicated that it was not flavored with anything extra. This beer poured hazy pale yellow with fizzy white head that dissipated quickly. It smelled heavily of lemons and fresh-cut grass. The taste was refreshing, with a slight tingle from the tiny bubbles and a heavy dose of lemons. Light body and with slightly more than light carbonation, it finished with the sort of stickiness that happens in my mouth after tasting something very sour, even though the drink didn’t bowl me over with sourness.


Rounding out the first five was the Family Tart Berliner Weisse Guava (4.5% abv). This version of the Family Tart that immediately preceded it in our flight poured the same as the previous one, but the head would not stay longer than a few seconds. It smelled heavily of guava and fruit sugars. The taste started out like its predecessor, but with lots of fresh tasting guava juiciness. The middle was sticky and sweet. Light bodied and lightly carbonated, it finished with the same fruity stickiness and a tiny hop flavor trailing.


Bitter Brothers flight


Heading up the second half of our flight was the Golden Child Hefeweizen (5.2% abv). This beer poured hazy golden in color, with almost no head. the taste was bready and starchy. Lots of banana flavor hit my tongue at first and continued on into the middle. Light body and light carbonation lead to a finish that was slightly malty, but mostly yeasty and banana-y. Not my favorite style to begin with, but especially not with such heavy banana flavor.


Brotherly Love Dunkelweiss (5.5% abv) was next. It poured rich, dark brown, with moderate off white head. Aromas included lots of malty sweetness and a toasty character, though I did not get any of the banana that so defines the closely related Hefeweizen style. The taste was also a bit different, with a light grainy quality. The middle was somewhat bitter, with light body and light, tingly carbonation. It finished with more roastiness and malty sweetness.


Fourth (or ninth, but who’s counting?) up was the Black Sheep Coffee Porter (5.2% abv). This one poured deep chocolate with thin tan head. It smelled roasty and slightly sweet. There was a slight coffee flavor afterward. It tasted almost like a rye at first, with a slight spice note, leading to some toasted malts and maybe a little coffee bitterness. Medium bodied and lightly carbonated, the drink finished somewhat bitter, but mostly it tasted like roasted malts. Tasty.


I finished up with the nitro version of the Black Sheep. This version poured the same color, but with the thick cap of tan head that marks nitro beer’s signature feature. The aroma was very similar to the draft version. The taste was almost fruity, with something like a dark fruit sweetness at first. Then some bittersweetness came on into the middle. Medium body and light carbonation lead to the finish, which included rich, sweet flavors, with a touch of bittersweet chocolate. Oddly, I did not enjoy this one as much as the regular draft version.


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