Posts Tagged knb
Oktoberfest is upon us! This celebration of beer and everything Bavarian is yet one more excuse to partake in that most magical of malted beverages. Originally, the event had more serious purpose, but today we can enjoy it in a way that allows for the beer to flow without all of those formal overtones.
I decided to stop by KnB once again, this time trying a Hanger 24 Oktoberfest (5.8%). It poured amber in color with medium-sized bubbles and sudsy white head. Malty and harvesty (yeah, I said it) aromas were about all that characterized the smell. The taste was mild and smooth. Some sweetness from the malts came through and a little bitterness toward the middle. Medium bodied and lightly carbonated, it finished with strong malty flavor and some of the same bitterness. Even though Oktoberfest beers aren’t known for being dynamic, the lack of distinction in this one was only mildly satisfying.
Tonight, I am doing a twofer: it is the last night of The Best Week Ever and I just had to get back to KnB. You see, they were featuring Firestone. Not just any Firestone, though. No, they had three of my favorites: Velvet Merlin, Velvet Merkin and an anniversary. All three are stouts, so it was a heavy night, but I could not pass this up.
I started with Velvet Merlin. I have told you about this one before, but it bears repeating. This beer poured black, with a somewhat thick, light brown head that quickly dissipated. Rising from the glass came rich aromas of chocolate and bittersweet flavors. It tasted sweet at first, with a lot of chocolate up front. Then it moved to rich roasty malts and a touch of what I could only identify as coffee. It did not finish as smoothly as I expected, due to heavier carbonation than I am used to in a stout. Still, this is one of the best stouts I have ever had. While not quite a 5, it is as close as possible at a 4.9, or for simplicity:
Working my way up the list, I next tried the Velvet Merkin. This is the Velvet Merlin on steroids. Firestone takes the Merlin Oatmeal Stout and ages it bourbon barrels. This gives it a ton of character and a booziness that is not entirely unwelcome. It also poured black, with copious tan head that really stuck to the sides of the glass. It had a light smell of caramel, roasted malts and a touch of raisin toward the end. The first thing I tasted were the rich malts, brown sugar and raisin. It was pretty boozy, so the vanilla got a little buried, but was still noticeable. There was also a bitterness that helped to keep it from being too rich. It was a bit sugary on the finish, with the heavy alcohol ever-present. I would rate this the same as the Merlin:
I finished up with the 18th Anniversary. I was looking forward to this all night, but at 13%, I didn’t want to do it right away. Also a stout, you won’t be surprised to learn that it also poured black, with light brown head. It did have some bigger sudsy bubbles in the head, but KnB was having some trouble with their lines, so I would chalk it up to that. It smelled very rich, with sugary notes and lots of alcohol. Despite the booziness, it was very smooth, though I could definitely taste the alcohol up front. This was followed by some brown sugar and smooth malts. It finished sweet and really boozy. With a blend of 13 different beers, I was surprised at how well each blended with one another. I would also rate this one:
With that, San Diego Beer Week 2014 draws to a close. Until next year, I will remember this week for…at least a year!
So, for San Diego Beer Week Day 6 (took it easy with a Ballast Point Pumpkin Ale on Day 5), I ventured back to KnB for their celebration of all things local brewing. They have changed things around a bit since new management took over a few months ago. They expanded the bar and classed it up a little, replacing the dank window into the side of the kitchen it used to be, which I fully supported, and replacing it with full-wall shelving and some fancy tile on the wall (to the right of the bottles in the picture above. Tonight they featured a new startup brewery called 32 North Brewing Company. According to the rep attending tonight’s event, these guys are a real small brewery in Mira Mesa who just started up a few months ago. Their thing is keeping things interesting, both in life and in brewing. The lineup they had at KnB tonight was definitely different, if lacking a little pizzaz. Yeah- I said it. It is probably the only time you will see that word here, but I think it describes the experience accurately. Read on to find out if you agree.
I started with what you might imagine as a heavier beer, but it turned out to be fairly light. 32 North’s Peanut Butter Crunch was a combination (read: mixing, meaning they actually mixed it at the bar) of their Peanut Butter Cup Porter and their Fly By Night Milk Stout. Sounds heavy, right? It ended up being very mild and fairly light. It poured black, with minimal white head that did not last long. There were practically no aromas coming from the glass. I could only smell faint malty sweetness. It tasted very light, with only a slight taste of roasted malts up top and some sweetness. There was very little carbonation and only meager bitterness. Some rich chocolate flavor did come through on the finish, with a hint of peanut butter after. Overall, a very mild and underwhelming beer. I would rate this beer:
Next up, I wanted something with some taste behind it, as KnB had only stouts and porters on offer from 32 North. Given the experience I just had, this didn’t give me much hope for any other dark offerings. Instead, I opted for the Pennant Pale Ale. This one poured a cloudy gold color, with foamy, thin head. It smelled hoppy and surprisingly floral for a pale ale that was not from India (har har…). It tasted light, with a slight sour tinge, followed by the flowers from the hops. Light carbonation did little to distinguish it from its fairly monotone flavor profile. It did have a pretty hoppy aftertaste, which is again surprising, as this one comes in at only 38 IBU.
I also would rate this beer:
Ok, straight off the top, I have to make a correction: I jumped the gun and posted some of the pictures under Day 1 that were actually part of the Day 2 festivities. So, here we go…
Day 2 started normally enough. I went for my morning run, came home and read the news with breakfast. Then, after some other mundane stuff, I headed over to good ol’ KnB to see what they were up to for the occasion. They were celebrating by featuring brews from Green Flash Brewing. I hadn’t had anything from Green Flash in a while, so I was excited to see what was on tap.
There was certainly no shortage of choices. I decided on the Hop Head Red. This double red IPA brings the hops, certainly, but didn’t take my head off with the bitter burn that normally comes with such a big beer. It poured a deep orange-red color, with creamy white head that really stuck to the glass. There were lots of hops on the smell with a little fruit, though mostly floral aromas came through. At first, it tasted like I was drinking liquified hops, as the bitterness about knocked my palate clean out of my head. In fact, it reminded me a little of Ballast Point’s Tongue Buckler. There was little in the taste of the floweriness that came through on the aroma. It was bitter straight through to the finish. Not a terrible beer, if only for the creaminess of the head, but definitely one I would drink only sparingly.
The second one I tried while at KnB was pretty much the Pièce de résistance of big (huge, really) bourbon barrel aged beers, as far as I am concerned. If you like bourbon, which I do, you will like this beer. At 16.5%, I opted to split this one with a friend and it still left me wanting nothing. Well, maybe a little more, but you know what they say about discretion being the better part of valor and all.
This poured black with dark brown head that dissipated quickly and left the glass clean. The aroma was all bourbon off the top, with some spice notes toward the end. I also got some rich chocolatiness, as well. Moving on to the taste, I knew what to expect: bourbon was all up front, before moving to the chocolate flavors and a little spice on the finish . This was likely from the bourbon, not that I minded.
Good and done with our libations at KnB, we headed inside to see what they had in their fridges. It took me all of a minute to spot the two (yes, I only got two) I wanted: Ninkasi Believer and Ballast Point Homework Series Batch No. 4 Pumpkin Ale. These are easily my two most favorite beers I have ever had (and I am making a note here) EVER!
The red comes from my favorite brewery, so you know it is good. It poured a dark red, with foamy head that sticks around a little while, though not on the sides of the glass. The smell is of roasted malts, with just a touch of hoppy bittersweet aromas. The taste is much the same, with a nice refreshing quality that may have been helped by the slight hoppiness to lighten things up a bit. All in all, a really good beer.
Then– oh then– I came to the Ballast Point Pumpkin Ale. This is far and away the best pumpkin ale I have had to date. None of my expectations came close before trying this one. It poured dark red-brown with lots of carbonation and quickly dissipating white head. It did not smell too sweet and had a little spice and some bitterness that gave me hope beyond hope that this pumpkin ale was not like any other. The taste confirmed that it was not. The first thing I tasted was a slightly sweet spiciness with some vegetable-like bitterness to follow and heavy carbonation to break it up. The carbonation dissipates quickly to allow the light sweetness to come back through on the finish with a hint of warm malts and some lingering bitterness. In case it was not obvious, I really enjoyed this beer. So much so, I am bringing the very two bottles you see together above to Thanksgiving Day dinner in a couple of weeks. A perfect compliment to a turkey dinner, methinks.
That wraps up SDBW2014 Day 2. Check back tomorrow for Day 3 goings on!
About once per month K ‘n B Wine Cellars has an event cleverly referred to as a BeerBQ. These are relatively small, intimate events, if for no other reason than the place itself is not large, at which they feature either brews from a local brewery, or beer that KnB itself makes from time to time. They always have great food, hence the barbecue part in the name, and it is always a good time.
Last weekend featured Hess Brewing. I had never heard of Hess before and I am always looking for new stuff to try. Lucky for me I was able to catch this one, as the beer I had was fantastic. Searching through the list of selections, I was nigh impressed by all the IPA and citrus flavored brews on offer (though I wasn’t completely turned off to the orange wit, but another time perhaps). My eyes landed on one and refused to look any further: Ex Umbris Imperial Oatmeal Stout in a cask. I am a big fan of oatmeal stout, due in part to its usual light creaminess that doesn’t fill me up like a normal stouts. I’ll have to look into why this is, as it seems very counterintuitive to have a beer made with oats be less filling than one without.
This beauty came as a dark chocolaty brown jewel in glass. Though not much head remained, what little was there was a somewhat thin dark tan foam. From other pictures I have seen, the head should have resembled that of a root beer float. No matter- I chalked it up to our server being busy and the beer likely sat for a bit before arriving to the table. I picked up definite coffee flavors in the smell, with some malty chocolate. The taste, per usual, was much as it smelled. I was hit first with intense coffee flavors, with the slightly bitter chocolate toward the middle. The finish was very malty, while both the chocolate and coffee flavors lingered.
A very tasty and easy-drinking beer, I could easily sip on this one, or multiples of them.
I just tried a new release by Karl Strauss at, where else, my favorite neighborhood haunt. In short, the Peanut Butter Cup Porter is a humongous, tasty beer. Got it poured, but had to wait for it, as it was quite busy, so the head was all but non-existent by the time I saw it. It looked to be a pretty dark off white/tan color that complimented the super dark, barely opaque nectar in the glass. It smelled very rich, like a bag of Tollhouse chocolate chips. I didn’t take any peanut butter from the smell, though. The taste, on the other hand, was just about all the peanut butter the smell was lacking. It first hit me as engine oil, very thick on my tongue, rich, though not sweet, and somewhat chocolatey toward the middle. It finished with a nice alcoholic warmth.
All in all, not a beer I could drink all the time, but a good one, nonetheless.
Last Thursday I went to my friendly neighborhood brewery/bar KnB Wine Cellars. I’ve written about them before and I continue to love this place more each time I go. This time I went for the third day of their 4 day long 5-year anniversary celebration. To commemorate this day they were tapping 3 of their own test batches, along with some new menu items. Since I love everything that I’ve tried on their regular menu (so far), I was pretty excited to try anything new they had to offer and they did not disappoint. Come along and let me take you on a little journey…
First up, I ordered a Figueroa Mountain Davy Brown (6% abv). This has a smooth, creamy head, with a medium-dark color. The taste is nutty and creamy, with light hints of caramel and a noticeable caramel aftertaste.
Next I wanted to try each of their KnB Test Batch beers, #3, #4 and #5. I didn’t get to try #1 or #2, which appear to have been IPAs (here is the only “review” of #2 I was able to find). I wanted to start low to high on the alcohol content and still be sober enough to enjoy them. I thought the best way to do this would be to order their beer flight sampler, which is pictured above.
I started the sampler with Test Batch #4, which was a saison (8.1% abv). This beer is a dark yellow, cloudy and very fizzy. The head loosely laces the glass and doesn’t stick around long. The characteristic sour smell of this beer may be off putting to some, but I found it kind of refreshing. Also, the sour taste of lemon and grapefruit, with a little peach mixed in was pretty good. The tart aftertaste stuck around a while and while it was not unpleasant, I felt like heartburn was likely. Surprisingly, it didn’t happen.
Then I went to Test Batch #3, an American strong ale (9.0% abv). A dark burnt orange and semi opaque, I was really looking forward to this beer. I waited too long to get to this one and the head had all but disappeared, but that didn’t seem to take away from the taste at all. It had a semi-sweet, very rich flavor. Its high alcohol content was really apparent cutting through after the initial sweetness. The aftertaste was about the same, though I was feeling the effects of the alcohol by then, so it may have just clouded my taste buds.
Next, I tried the Test Batch#5, an imperial stout (11.2% abv). This was super dark, with a semi-sweet, sugary smell. I again waited too long (20 mins) to get a good look at the full head, but what was left held lightly to glass. The taste was very rich and sweet, with brown sugar and mild spice (cinnamon?). The heavy, sweet aftertaste of caramel was appropriate for such a big beer, but in the end, the sweetness was just a bit overpowering for me.
I was going to stop there, but there was a Shipyard Smasher Pumpkin (9.0% abv) right there on the menu, taunting me. I couldn’t help myself. This beauty poured a surprisingly bright orange color, with an off-white, medium creamy head. It smelled sweet and spicy, with a noticeable pumpkin aroma. It had a very creamy feel to it and tasted a bit creamy as well. I could easily pick out brown sugar, pumpkin, cloves, a little cinnamon- pretty much pumpkin pie in a glass. The cinnamon aftertaste with some brown sugar and clove finished the beer nicely.
I should point out that while I don’t pretend to be a professional, or even experienced beer reviewer, I am able to pick out certain common elements. I may not always use the “correct” terms, but I hope it’s apparent that I do love and truly appreciate beer. Which beers are you most excited about?
This blog isn’t just about my own efforts into brewing beer. I also want to pay my respects to purveyors of the stuff. First up is a little place just down the street from me called K ‘n B Wine Cellars. This is pretty much a giant liquor store with a restaurant plopped right down in the middle of it. As you can see from the picture, their selection is… let’s call it “extensive”. They have just about any brew, spirit or wine you could think of and even some you can’t. In fact, if they don’t have something, you can ask them to order it and they will try. The sheer variety of beer on their shelves and in their refrigerators is why we go. They have so many local and craft brews, it can be a bit intimidating at first. Fear not, though, for I am here to help. Here is what you do: sit down, look at the beer list and try everything. If you aren’t particularly familiar with a particular selection, the servers and managers there are more than happy to answer any questions you might have.
This place is great for more than just great booze, though. They also have fantastic food. Their sweet potato tots are really good and they have real good sandwiches, too. If you don’t want to eat and you find the selections they have in stock not to your taste, go to one of their occasional events they have throughout each month. I just went to a scotch tasting last month, where they had Dalmore and Jura for my (yes, and other people’s tasting pleasure. Coming up at the end of this month is their 5-year anniversary. Should be a party. Come by and check it out!