Archive for category Out & About

Oasis in the East

Pacific Islander collageDriving through the Mad Max-style scenery of Santee, there was a small oasis called Pacific Islander Brewing. It had a great Polynesian surfing theme. The outside was adorned with Polynesian ceremonial masks and lifeguard chairs, with AstroTurf and large tile. Inside was a standard tasting room, complete with a long tasting table and lots of concrete. There were also surfboards hung on all of the walls.

Of course, I got a flight, on accouna I had never been before. First was a Li’ke Li’ke (6% abv): It poured rich golden-yellow with tiny bubbles and almost no head. It smelled somewhat skunky and a little cheap (like Miller or Budweiser). The taste was as mild as expected, with only a small amount of hoppiness and little else to distinguish it. All in all an underwhelming start.

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Next was the Duty Free IPA (7% abv): The second beer poured deep clear orange with just as few bubbles as the blond and only slightly more head. Aromas were super floral, with a bit of tropical fruit after. The taste was hoppy at first, with rich fruit flavors that included mango, a touch of coconut and maybe pineapple. Mild into the middle, it was light bodied, lightly carbonated and finished smooth and fruity.

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Pacific Islander flightThird up was a red that wasn’t on the menu (no name or abv given). The pour was dark red with bright white foam on top. Aromas included heavy malty sweetness and a little sourness. It tasted rich and sweet, with a little brown sugar into the middle. Mild and rich, it had medium body and light carbonation. The finish was malty and sweet. This was their best beer on offer that particular day.

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Fourth, was the Tahitian Brown (5.8% abv): This one poured a deep, dark chocolate color, with bright white head. It smelled of coffee, chocolate and malts. The first thing I tasted was coffee, followed by the chocolate and malty sweetness. Mild, lightly carbonated and light body, it finished smooth and rich, with the bitter chocolate trailing.

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Last was the Stink Eye Chocolate Stout (7.1% abv): The last one poured almost black, with thick, sticky tan head. It smelled like rich, bittersweet chocolate and a little boozy. The taste was unexpected: it included a chile flavor and a little vegetal bitterness. There was also a touch of pepper. The middle was heavy and equally rich. Lightly carbonated and heavy body, it finished heavy and sticky.

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Faniciness Prohibited

Prohibition collage

Prohibition Brewing Co. was a way out-of-the-way place in Vista. The building it sat in reminded me of a cross between an old motel and a Mexican food restaurant. The outside was squat, dark and covered in a mural of a small bar scene. The inside was reminiscent of an ecclectic barn-meets a pizza parlor. There was a host stand in the entry way, with both wooden and round fiberglass picnic tables beyond. The floor was made up of large black and white checkers. To the left of the entrance was the small bar area, which from the outside, was all I was expecting to see on the inside, to be honest. Their beer selection was larger than I was expecting, with some equally surprising styles, including a Black Rye IIPA, Wheat Hopped IIPA, and Vanilla Cream Ale.

Prohibition sweet biscuit amberI got the Sweet Biscuit Amber (6.1% abv): This beer poured red in color with thin, fizzy white foam on top. It smelled very malty and a little sweet. There was also a little fruit aroma toward the end. The taste was mild at first. Then the malty sweetness kicked in, followed by a touch of fruitiness. The middle was characterized by more maltiness and a biscuity dryness, that I assumed gave the beer its name. Medium body and light carbonation lead to a somewhat bready finish, with malty sweet stickiness trailing.

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Brew By the Bay

Bay City Brewing collageI hope all had a great Mother’s Day. I went to a really random-seeming spot called Bay City Brewing. This was a very small place tucked away by the freeway by, well, Mission Bay in San Diego. It was kind of beachy, with a light blue wall behind an industrial-rustic wooden bar top, Edison light bulbs and skylights overhead. There was one long tasting table with the same wood on top. Beyond the bar was the brewing area, with four fermenters, two brew tanks, a lauter tun and one mash tun. They even had something delicious looking in barrels on the floor.

inexplicable door

A door…leading to a pole.

Being the patriot I am, I had the ‘Merican Stout (6.66% Bay City Brewing 'Merican Stoutabv): This beer poured deep, dark brown, with thin white head. It smelled of coffee and only slight bitterness. The taste was unlike any stout I had had before: it was carmelly, somewhat malty and a little bitter. Some sourness lead into a middle that was light, malty and had medium carbonation. The finish was light, with some malty sweetness and lingering bitterness, as the carbonation tingled on my tongue.

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Bay City Brewing Sour BrownThen I tried was the Sour Brown (4% abv): The second beer poured a light brown color, with thin white head that didn’t stick around long. It smelled like spice, anise and slightly of malt. The taste was sour at first, with some spice and then the anise kicked in- not enough to knock my teeth out with licorice, but a nice subtle flavor. The middle was medium-bodied and lightly carbonated, while the drink finished with some spice and a lot of malty sweetness.

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Hooligan Kinda Day

Mike Hess HooliganMike Hess brewing is known for widely palatable beers. St. Patrick’s Day is an occasion for special releases. This past holiday they released a cask of Hooligan Irish Stout (5.5% abv). It poured black with a nice cap of smooth tan head. Aromas included lots of bittersweet chocolate, roasted malts and just a hint of coffee. The drink was smooth, not served too cold and creamy. Medium body and light carbonation lead to an equally smooth finish, with mostly bittersweet flavors trailing. None too interesting, but still festive.

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New English- A Blurb on Bourbon

New English Bourbon Barrel Aged BrownBourbon barrel-aged Batch #6 stout (6.6% abv): This beer poured deep chocolate-brown with a slight haze and light white fizzy head on top. It gave off strong bourbon aromas with a little bit of chocolate. The first taste was mild with a bit of sweetness. Then the boozy bourbon flavor kicked in, with a touch of maltiness into the middle. Medium body and light carbonation lead to a pretty mild finish with mild bittersweet chocolate on the end.

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Hop on the Good Foot

IMG_4885IMG_4955The Miramar/Mira Mesa area is known for an abundance of breweries. One fairly new brewery (est. 2015) tucked away in another industrial office park was Duck Foot Brewing Co. This small brewery had its own parking area, rare for many tasting rooms and breweries around San Diego. Walking in, I was struck by the wall to right paneled in unfinished wood slats. The rest was treated concrete and industrial looking pipes. The tasting bar was directly to the front with white subway tile behind, surrounded by dark metal bolted to the wall. There were also tasting tables in front of the door and a counter around the windows overlooking the street outside. The tasting counter continued off to the left where the brewing area was. There were also giant murals on two of the walls of Rock’em Sock’em robots with boxing gloves and two pin-up girls riding a rocket painted like a shark.

Duck Foot IPA with gingerI started with the IPA w/ginger on cask (unknown abv). This beer poured a creamy opaque orange-yellow color, with creamy white head. The aromas included ginger and fruity hops. I was surprised at how cold it was for a cask. It started smooth and light. The first taste was hoppy, a little fruity, creamy and dry. Then the ginger kicked in, but not overly much. The same tastes persisted through the middle, which was mild, light-bodied and lightly carbonated. It finished with mild fruity flavors and the light ginger trailing.

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The sucker I am for beers on nitro, I finished with the Irish Stout on nitro (4.7% abv). It poured black, with a nice cap of creamy off white head. It smelled first of coffee, then of bittersweet chocolate and a touch of vanilla. It tasted creamy and mild at first. The coffee came on after, with a little chocolatiness. The middle was still mild, with light body and light carbonation. It finished with a little sweetness and more chocolatey coffee flavors.

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This was a cool brewery, with a lot of potential.

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The Fifth

 Went to a very out of the way brewery near Palm Springs called La Quinta. It was a very small industrial place, with orange sponge paint on the walls, unfinished beadboard, and a brown concrete floor. There was a half wall with corrugated aluminum siding in front of a very small tasting bar. There was a tasting bar along the window to the left, overlooking the dusty street outside. The bathrooms were through a door to the left of the bar, which also led to a back room seeking area amongst the brewing area, with a picnic table and some stools along a tasting bar at another window overlooking the street.

Koffi Porter on nitro (6.2% abv). The beer poured very dark brown, with a thick cap of smooth light tan head. It smelled heavily of coffee, with lots of roasted malts and a touch of bittersweet chocolate. The first taste was of the chocolate, with roasted malts following. A heavy dose of coffee flavor came on into the middle. Medium-bodied and lightly carbonated, it had a smooth finish that had more of the coffee flavor lingering.

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Ghost of Hops Past

Rhinegeist MosaicFinishing up in Ohio, I wound up trying a brew from Rhinegeist, a Cincinnati brewery running out of a far older brewery that shuttered during Prohibition. The Mosaic Pale Ale (5.6% abv) was a great introduction to a brewery I had never tried before. It poured opaque golden, with thick sudsy off white head. The smell was super hoppy, with lots of floral and citrusy fruit aromas. The first taste was all hops, with the same floral notes as the aroma. A touch of malt came on into the middle. Light body and light carbonation lead to a somewhat malty finish, with more of the floral hoppiness trailing. This was a very smooth pale.

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Spring is in the Air!

St Archer-backlit

With the first day of Spring upon us, I thought it would be nice to take a break and go to a stalwart of the sunny San Diego beer scene. Even though Saint Archer Brewing Co. has not been on the beer scene very long. founded in 2013, it was recently acquired by MillerCoors. Despite the backlash against this transaction, for my money, they make pretty good beer. I have never been one to drink (or avoid drinking) on principle, so perhaps that makes me less than credible to some, but I am still willing to give them my business until they or their beer gives me a reason not to.

Saint Archer FlightThis particular visit started with the Mosaic IIPA (9% abv): This beer poured clear, pale yellow with minimal white head. It smelled sour and fruity. The taste was hoppy right away, with some fruitiness and a little malt flavor. Light-medium body and lightly carbonated, it finished hoppy and somewhat sour. I love mosaic beers, but this one was nothing particularly special.

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Next was the Scottish-Style Ale on nitro (7% abv): The Scottish Ale poured deep amber with super thick, creamy white head. It smelled somewhat sour and malty, with a touch of fruitiness. The beer tasted hoppy and fruity, with a somewhat malty backbone underneath. Medium in body and light carbonation, it finished fairly clean, with a nice smooth malt profile.

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I finished up with another nitro selection in their Irish Stout (4.2% abv): This last one poured black, with thick creamy white head that settled down to a loose foamy layer on top. It smelled mostly of bittersweet chocolate and roasted malts. The taste was light and mild, with lots of chocolate. Medium-bodied and lightly carbonated, it finished equally mild, with just the chocolate bitterness trailing.

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Just Clowning Around

Clown Shoes Unidragon Continuing our tour through Ohio, we stopped in at a local ‘mallpub’ (what I call bars that call themselves pubs, but are little more than yet another store in the middle of a strip mall.) Despite sitting among so many mall staples you know and love/hate, this somewhat local pub that had a pretty good vibe. There was lots of stained wood, dividers at the small bar with inlaid stained glass, a real tile floor and all kinds of nooks with private booths and low seating. We chose the bar and a beer out of Massachusetts called Clown Shoes Ohio Unidragon RIS on nitro (11.5% abv): It poured black with creamy tan head. Aromas included chocolate and bittersweet, with a little booziness at the end. It tasted thick and strong with lots of alcohol bite up front. The bartender recommended this over the Old Rasputin, but this one tasted far more bitter. The middle was characterized by heavy body and light carbonation, finishing smooth, with more of the bitterness and a touch of booziness.

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