Posts Tagged altbier

Chuck Alek and the Super Flights!

Chuck Alek Interior PanoHappy New Year everybody! I hope you all had a safe and happy celebration. I celebrated with my very first mobile post and a trip to the desert east of San Diego. In the town of Ramona, there was a small strip mall with a brewery called Chuck Alek Independent Brewers. The door lead right to the tasting bar up front. There was not much fanfare at the tasting bar, except for some barrels in front of bar. The walls were white with a large dark red stripe in the middle. The Chuck Alek logo was stenciled into the gray concrete floor. There were picnic tasting tables to the right, with rustic-looking framed posters describing their beer. Some more barrels sat by the tables.

I had never heard about them before, but they certainly welcomed all who came to taste their beer. They had not only a 6-beer taster, but also a flight that includes tasters of all TEN of their beers! Not expecting this, I figured I may as well kick off the new year right and get the most well rounded idea of their offerings I could.

I started with the Flycaster Helles Lager (4.8% abv). It poured clean golden with only a little head. Slightly hoppy and floral aromas characterized this first one. It tasted light and sweet. A touch of malts came before the floral hop flavors came in through the middle. Light in both carbonation and body, this easy drinker finished clean, though somewhat sweet and flowers trailing.

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Next, the Dowser Düsseldorf Altbier (5.4% abv). This one poured bright cloudy orange with small white head. It smelled malty sweet and rich. The first taste was malty with a little caramelized sugar. The middle is medium-bodied and lightly carbonated and it finished with the same flavors as the start. Not real dynamic.

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Third, The Weiss (4.5% abv). It poured an almost neon cloudy yellow color with lacy white head. Lemons and a little hoppiness dominated the aroma. It tasted effervescent and sour. There was lots of lemon flavor into the middle. Light carbonation and body, it finished tart and sour. Not very interesting.

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Then I tried the Cartographer IPL (6.6% abv). It poured clear pale yellow- like a Pilsner. There was little to no head and virtually no smell. Hoppy tasting up front, there was little else to distinguish the drink. Light-bodied and light in carbonation, it finished just as hoppy as the start. This was kind of a nothing drink.                                 

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The midpoint of my tasting oddessey saw me try the Adventus Holiday Red Ale (7% abv). It poured like the Dowser, with small white head. It smelled malty with only a touch of caremelly sweetness. The taste was malty at first. Then some piney hops come in toward the middle. Light body and carbonation, it finished hoppy, with a bit of malts to calm things down.                                  

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Chuck Alek Tasting Flight The second half featured the dark stuff. It started with the 1933 Milk Stout Nitro (3.7% abv). It poured black with creamy tan head. It smelled of coffee and chocolate. The taste was full of coffee that carried through to the middle, which was a bit heavy and light in carbonation. It finished somewhat heavy, with lots of coffe and some bittersweet chocolate. I enjoyed the heavy dose of coffee in this one.

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Next up, the 1850 Runner Running Porter (6.3% abv). It poured dark brown with foamy brown head. It smelled of coffee, chocolate and a little nuttiness. It tasted of chocolate at first. It was quite mild, so not much in the middle. Medium body and light carbonation, it finished with chocolate and some nuttiness.                              

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The eighth taster was the Conductor Baltic Porter (9% abv). It poured deep dark amber with smooth tan head. It didn’t smell like much. It tasted mild and slightly sweet. A little chocolate and dark fruit flavors came on into the middle. Medium-heavy body and light in carbonation, it finished with lots of chocolate and molasses flavors.                              

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Trading Co. Barleywine British-style Old Ale (11% abv)
. The biggest beer of the bunch, it poured like a fruit juice- cloudy and red-orange, with small white head. Fruity and sweet aromas characterized this one. The taste was rich and fruity, with a touch of booziness into the middle. Medium body and light carbonation brought a finish that was fruity, boozy and warm.

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This monster flight wrapped up with the Trading Co. Quadrupel Belgian-Style Dark Strong (8.8% abv). It poured bright orange, with tiny white head. It smelled grapey and roasty sweet. Tastes included malty and winey flavors. There was lots of tart grape flavor into the middle. Light-medium body and light in carbonation, this last offering finished dry, winey and grapey. Interesting.

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A fairly low budget location, Chuck Alek certainly had a promising lineup and a respectable philosophy. I just hope they are able to step up their offerings to make each one more dynamic.

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Bag Me A Beer!

Bagby Beer PanoSummer’s not over yet! Yes, I know that the calendar would have you believe that Fall officially began on September 23…but I refuse to recognize it! As should you, since there is a great town north of San Diego in the so-called “North County” section of the city called Oceanside. This is a pretty typical working-class beachside town that happens to house Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. The beach is fronted by a collection of hotels and high-rises, followed by some quaint shops and bars. A few blocks away from all the glitz is a brewpub called Bagby Beer Company.

This place has much of the same beachy feel as the boardwalk, but is located in a decidedly industrial part of town. Even so, it has a nice open front like you would find at a beach restaurant, with beechwood tasting counters at the patio railing running the length of the place. Roll up glass doors reveal long tables of the same beechwood as outside, with both cushioned stools and hard benches for seating. Glazed brick backs the bar area and loud green paint adorns the walls to one side.

All of this beachiness made me thirsty, so I dove right into a flight of house brews. I started nice and light with a German-style Altbier called ALT In the Family (4.7% abv). It poured a rich amber color, with tiny bubbles and thin white head that dissipated quickly. I smelled wheaty and malty aromas, with a slight sourness underneath. It tasted smooth and mild. In fact, there was little in the way of flavor at the beginning, shifting to only a little maltiness toward the middle. Light- to medium-bodied and lightly carbonated, this beer finished mild and somewhat malty, with little else to distinguish it. Refreshing, but a little boring.

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Next, I moved to the Struggle Bus Extra Pale Nitro (4.8% abv). This beer poured pale, clear and yellow in color, with little carbonation and a cap of creamy white head. It smelled sour, tart and slightly skunky. The taste was smooth from the nitro and light. It was a little lemony, with some sourness at the start. The middle was light and tart, with little carbonation. It finished just as light, with some sourness and little else. I had high hopes for this one. It was good, but it just wasn’t very interesting.

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Bagby Beer Flight

Next up, I had a hope-inciting beer called Reconnoiter Porter Hoppy Porter (7.4%). Figuring this one was from their Department of Redundancy Department, I was intrigued. This one poured very dark brown, with thin, but creamy off white head. It smelled of coffee and little else. It had thick and creamy mouthfeel, with strong coffee flavor up front. Some bittersweet chocolate came through the middle, with medium body and light carbonation. It finished with more strong coffee that overpowered whatever other flavors might have been there. I like coffee, but this was yet another one-dimensional beer.

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I finished ‘strong’ with the Bruges Cruise Belgian-style Dark Strong (11.4%). This big beer poured dark amber in color, with small bubbles and medium off white head that did not last long. Malty, sweet and boozy aromas defined this one, with a little sourness and spice at the tail end. Smooth and medium-bodied, some spicy flavors came through at first, mellowing to a malty sweetness toward the middle, though the spiciness lingered. Medium carbonation helped to keep things lively, while it finished with malty flavors and that lingering spiciness. Despite the prominent spice, I liked how dynamic this beer tasted.

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Mermaid Sighting!

Coronado Collage

I recently took a trip to Coronado “Island,” though technically it is classified as a tied island, connected to the mainland by a thin strip of land called a trombolo. For the purposes of this visit, however, I will continue calling it an island. It is a beautiful place, with lots of beaches and the ever-present shopping areas. One of the shopping areas houses the main brewery and restaurant location for Coronado Brewing. A friend told me this was basically a fancy-looking Coco’s. Despite what I had heard about this place, I had to try it. “When in Rome,” as they say…

Coronado Brewing Pano

The general theme of the place seemed to be a mix of old world industrial and Caribbean plantation. It is a big place, with brick on the outside and lots of wood copper, stained glass and more brick on the inside. There were big wooden plantation-style shutters on the windows, slate tile on the floor and a tin roof. It was very much a working brewery-restaurant, with the brewing operation out back. In fact, I passed by it on my way to the rather inconveniently located restrooms.

Coronado Brew Pub

Which, appropriately enough, brings us to the beer. I decided on a sampler, as I am prone to doing at places I have never been before. I tried to cover the spectrum, light to dark, refreshing to filling, with one thrown in for interest.

My sampler began with the Maidens Altbier. It poured dark amber with white head that slowly slid down the sides of the glass, but left nothing behind. It smelled malty sweet, with hints of plum and raisin. Dark fruit flavors brought a malty sweet taste to the front that was quite mild. Medium in both carbonation and body, it had a malty middle that faded into a somewhat bitter finish. I liked this one, but would have preferred a tad more complexity.

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Next came what I thought would be the most interesting of the lineup: the Lime Light. This one poured very pale yellow with tiny bubbles and head that clung to the glass. The second I put my nose over the glass for a whiff, all I could smell was the very strong lime aroma. Strong though it was, it did smell fresh. The taste was very mild, with some grassy flavors and a whole lot of lime. I could detect virtually no carbonation and it went down very light. Light flower notes came out toward the middle, with more grass and lime flavors carrying through to the finish. Much like the chile experience I had in New Mexico, this just was not my cup of tea…or beer.

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Coronado Flight

I thought a good way to transition from the strong flavor of lime from that last taster would be to have a sour, so I tried the Second Chance Sour. It poured very pale yellow, though slightly darker than the Lime Light. On top was a cap of creamy white head. Grassiness and sour aromas were all that rose from the glass. The taste was very tart, almost puckeringly so. That same sourness pretty much dominated the entire drink from beginning to end. I’m a bit of a sucker for sour beers, so I did not mind.

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Next up was the Stingray Point IPA. This one poured a rich golden color with fine white head. Lots of bubbles made this drink look quite lively. It smelled flowery sweet, with a bit of maltiness to back it up. The taste was much the same, with hoppy flowers, followed by a malty undertone. It finished mildly hoppy without much else to complicate it. A simple IPA.

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I finished heavy with the Export Stout. It poured dark brown, with tan head that stuck around for a long time. It smelled light for a stout with definite coffee and chocolate notes. The taste was super malty, with bitter chocolaty flavors. It mellowed through the middle, finishing back with the malts, bittersweet chocolate flavors and coffee underneath.

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Overall, a good trip to Coronado. I do not agree with the Coco’s assessment, however. I thought the setup and decor of the place made it a unique and fun place to visit. Even so, I wish this selection of lesser-known beers from a brewery I really like had been better.

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A Great Holiday Sipp’r

Ninkasi Sleigh'r labelChristmas truly is the most wonderful time of the year: trees, lights, decorations…and Ninkasi’s seasonal beauty Sleigh’r Dark Doüble Alt Ale. It is in the German altbier style, which means it is brewed at a cooler temperature than other ales and uses top-fermenting yeast. This yeast imparts a fruitiness not normally seen in ales. Altbier is also matured at a cooler temperature than is usual for an ale, making it clean and crisp. This beer helps truly ring in the season for me. Come. Take the journey with me.

It poured a rich dark copper color with small, fizzy head that did not stick around very long. It reminded me very much of the way a lager pours. Not much in the way of aromas came from the glass at first, but then lots of caramel and fruity notes pushed through. It tasted light, with pleasant caramel and light sweetness. A bit of bitterness came toward the middle and persisted to the finish with some caramel notesNinkasi Sleigh'r with wreath to balance it out.

I really enjoyed this beer. At 7.2% abv, it makes a really good sipper for the holidays.

I would rate this beer:

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