Pliny The Younger San Diego Alternatives

Well, we all know it’s coming. Pliny The Younger season is upon us and we are all salivating in wait. While we still do not know when or where the kegs of PTY will be blowing at record pace, we do, however, know the best 5 alternatives in San Diego.

Pliny The Younger San Diego Alternative Exponential Hoppiness

Exponential Hoppiness Double IPA by Alpine Beer Company

Exponential Hoppiness – Alpine Beer Company

If there is one IPA in San Diego that is more sought after than Pliny the Younger, it’s Exponential Hoppiness from Alpine Beer Co. As a biannual release, Exponential Hoppiness garners huge lines outside its brewery for people seeking to snag a few bottles and/or enjoy it on tap at its neighboring pub. What sets “Expo” apart is its massive dry hopping and conditioning on oak chips that adds both an additional dryness to the beer followed by vanilla notes. Get it while you can. I encourage you to take the hike out to Alpine, and hope you’re lucky enough to try this beer since it is usually released without prior notice. It is only available in very limited quantities: 22 oz bottles and draft. On occasions, Alpine Beer allows just a few kegs to sneak out to local bars for special events.

Pliny The Younger San Diego Alternative Roustabout Double IPA

Roustabout Double IPA by Societe Brewing Company
Photo cred: Instagram user societebrewing

Roustabout – Societe Brewing Company

The Roustabout is the lowest ABV beer on this list clocking in at 9.2%, but it packs a hop punch that few beers can rival. The Roustabout took gold medal at last years San Francisco Beer Week IIPA festival where it beat out the likes of Double Jack and Pliny the Elder. Societe recently brewed another batch to send up to San Francisco to defend its gold medal so drink it while you can. Very limited draft offering.

Pliny The Younger San Diego Alternative Caught in a Rip Double IPA

Caught in a Rip Double IPA by Rip Current Brewery
Photo cred: Untappd user davidelizarraga

Caught in a Rip – Rip Current Brewery

Newcomer, Rip Current Brewing, has hit the ground running and they have brewed a winner with their Caught in a Rip IIPA. Founded by National Homebrewer of the year, Paul Sangster, the San Marcos brewery has produced an exquisite beer that typifies an IPA. Caught in a Rip IIPA has huge hop presence, and is high in alcohol content without having to sweeten up the beer with a larger malt bill. Available occasionally, draft only.

Pliny The Younger San Diego Alternative Green Bullet Double IPA

Green Bullet Double IPA by Green Flash Brewing Company
Photo cred: Instagram user greenflashbeer

Green Bullet IPA – Green Flash Brewing Company

The Green Bullet by Green Flash Brewing Company is the only IPA on the list using New Zealand hops. These hops from down under provide unique nuances of honey-dew and melon. Green Bullet was first introduced as Green Flash’s 9th Anniversary ale, and they decided to keep this beer around and for good reason. The fresh citrusy hop flavors mask the bitterness otherwise an attribute to most massive IPAs. Green Bullet is available on a rotating basis in both 22oz bottle and draft forms.

Pliny The Younger San Diego Alternative Dorado Double IPA

Dorado Double IPA by Ballast Point Brewing Company

Dorado Double IPA – Ballast Point Brewing Company

After a few years on hiatus, Dorado Double IPA is back. This gem by Ballast Point is easily found around the year as opposed to the past. Dorado utilizes hops in just about every stage of the brewing process: Mash Hopping, First Wort Hopping, Kettle Hopping, and Dry Hopping to produce a beer bursting in hop flavors and aroma. The beer does well to hide its 10% ABV. Dorado is available both on draft and 22oz bottles.

There you have it. If you want to escape the madness of Pliny the Younger this year or if the keg blows as its your turn to order, we leave you with some great San Diego alternatives.

-David E. , Manny O.

Barrel Aged Stoopid Stout Release

Barrel Aged Stupid Stout

Coronado Brewing is getting into the barrel aged game with their first Coronado Collection release of 2014, their Barrel Aged Stoopid Stout. The release is set for January 23rd at their tasting room located on Knoxville St. Bottles will be 2 per person, $14.99 a piece, and with only 240 bottles being released, I expect an early line. Along with the bottles being released, you will also be able to sample it in both taster and half pint sized portions. No growler fills will be available with a beer so limited as this. Tasting room opens at 11am. More info could be found on their Facebook page.

Coronado Brewing Tasting Room

1205 Knoxville St

San Diego, CA 92110

11a-9p (on 1/23/14)

-Manny

Bourbon Maple Victory at Sea

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It’s maybe a good thing no one drinks cask ale in El Cajon and a great cask like this can hang around for a day. Bourbon maple added a caramel/toffee like sweetness. One of the better Victory at Sea casks I’ve had.

Exponential Hoppiness 2013

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22oz single serving

EH=PH^2. Most of my readers know that equation to Exponential Hoppiness. The biannual release is the most popular beer at Alpine Beer Co. and one of the most coveted. This year’s batch as compared to others seems a little more juicier. No big hop bite, but full of that grapefruity citrus hop flavor. The oak I think also plays a big role as compared to years past. Perhaps the result of extra conditioning time. Would reccomend. 10/10. Thought I missed the boat on Bad Boy this year. They had the nitro version on at the pub. I liked the regular CO2 version better. Also pictured is Token and Nitro BA Odins Raven (non-infected, and really good). I haven’t gotten any Pliny the Younger despite my efforts of tracking the releases, but Expo will do.

Awesome Alpine flight

Fathom Bistro Bait & Tackle

So last Wednesday I caught wind of a new craft beer centric bar opening up on Shelter Island Pier. After having been tipped off that this location would be sold to Scott Blair, of the Hamilton’s empire, I had to check it out.

photo-2Turns out it is run by Dennis Borlek, who used to manage Hamiltons. This location has the familiar chalk board you would find at any Blair establishment but ups it an ante, with a nautical decor featuring diving equipment and ocean themed movie posters of years past. It is small, cozy, and just only slightly larger than my bedroom, but outdoor seating is available.

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Running on the television was  Sea Hunt, an old black-and-white television show that my dad used to watch about divers. Diving seemed to be a dangerous activity back then. But moving onwards, This location sits above the water , with what is likely the best views of San Diego available. At my table I was able to see the whole San Diego Bay to my left and the Coronado Islands to my right all while the sun is setting over Point Loma. At the time I was sipping on a New Albion Ale, just one of the great 15 number of taps available. At its soft opening, the tap list was excellent and provided something for everyone.

Running on the television was  Sea Hunt, an old black-and-white television show that my dad used to watch about divers. Diving seemed to be a dangerous activity back then. But moving onwards, This location sits above the water , with what is likely the best views of San Diego available. At my table I was able to see the whole San Diego Bay to my left and the Coronado Islands to my right all while the sun is setting over Point Loma. At the time I was sipping on a New Albion Ale, just one of the great 15 number of taps available. At its soft opening, the tap list was excellent and provided something for everyone.

photo-1Now that it is officially open, another visit is in order. The menu at the time of its soft opening consisted of mostly sausages, hotdogs, and the like but the plan is open it up more and have some soups available. Dennis Does not plan of making it a cliché seafood restaurant above the water (Although fish tacos along with a local IPA sounds incredible). Well in all, Fathom Bistro Bait & Tackle comes highly recommended, and although I cannot speak for their bait & tackle. It is likely you’ll find me one of these days with my line in the water and maybe you’ll join me for a pint.


photo-3Monkey Paw – Kong Barleywine


Cheers,

Manny O.

The San Diego 6 Pack

With my brother driving up to Portland and Seattle, I thought of the beers he should bring down. While the pacific northwest is heavy in brewing tradition and skill, I really cannot think of many exciting beers I would have my brother bring back for me. There are many beer guides suggesting I visit this bottle shop and that bar, but to order and pick up what? That’s what is hard to figure out. Sure in Portland, there’s Deschutes, Widmer, and Rogue, but we already see great distribution down here. So I started looking, limiting myself to a total of six bottles and the research began.

Hopworks, Cascade, and Elysian came to the surface first, offering unique beer styles ranging from the fruity Elysian styles, to the sour barrel aged beers coming out of Cascade. I am not very knowledgeable about the beer scene up there, but I think I know a bit about San Diego. So here it is, my six pack (plus a little more) of the beers to pick up while in San Diego:

1. Anything Alpine (IPA’s preferably – Duet, Nelson, Pure Hoppiness)

Alpine is the leader in the west coast IPA beer styles with each offering that big citrus and fruity hop profile backed by a nice dry finish. Certainly not for the faint of heart or those who don’t care for bitter beers, but you’ll be missing San Diego’s best local brewery if you decide to pass this one up. This beer maybe a little harder to find, but call around, and stick to the bigger bottle shops around town. (I can think of maybe a dozen that carry Alpine, or just go and visit the brewery itself!) Should be able to find a 22oz for around $8

2. Alesmith Speedway Stout

Once ranked the best beer in the world, this Imperial Russian Stout clocks in at a boozy 12%. Split a bottle of this coffee packed beer with a few friends and be greeted a rich roasty stout experience. Year around availability, 750mL, around $12

3. Ballast Point Sculpin

One of the more sought after IPA’s coming out of San Diego, this beer keeps true to its west coast roots with hoppy notes of apricot and mango prevalent. This beer should be easy to find in both 6 packs and 22oz bottles ($14 for sixer, $9 22oz)

4. Anything Lost Abbey

These guys are the Belgian cousin of the award winning Pizza Port brewery and easy stand on their own producing fine Belgian style ales. The Lost Abbey has a wide range of styles that can fit your taste, whether you like something a bit light like Red Barn Ale, or something a bit bigger and intense like the Judgement Day Quadrupel Ale. They’re year around offerings are good, but their seasonals are a treat if you time your trip accordingly: Serpent Stout and Carnavale come to mind. Prices vary but expect anywhere from $8-$14

5. Stone Brewing Arrogant Bastard Ale

Stone is the largest brewery in San Diego and has been around long enough to pioneer styles such as the American Strong Ale. It all started with the Arrogant Bastard Ale back in 1997, and while surely there are more sought after ales, Arrogant Bastard stands on its own being an in your face bitter assault backed by a sticky rich malt profile. Stone is distributed pretty well and chances are you can find this beer in your area, but I say go to the brewery, take a tour, and grab a table as the brewery is one of the nicest settings and to drink a beer. $4-$5 for 22oz, year around available. Also available in 6 packs.

6. Pizza Port Old Viscosity

“Not your dads 30 weight” motor oil sits in on the front of the label and this big Imperial Stout, partially aged in oak barrels is a rich treat. 20% of the beer is aged in oak which picks up some smoke, booze, and vanilla notes. A complex brew that is easy to find for $9 or less a 22oz.

That is it!

Here are some breweries and beers to seek out produced outside of San Diego that you should snag up:

Russian River: Pliny the Elder, its double IPA is most hyped but you’ll find its sours are world class. Note that the sours are a bit expensive at $15ish/375mL or 12 oz bottle.

Firestone Walker: good solid year around beers with some seasonals like Velvet Merlin which is a favorite of mine.

Green Flash Brewing: Maybe should have included them in my 6 pack, but get their Double Stout, Imperial IPA, or West Coast IPA.

The Bruery: Great Belgian inspired beers, they often experiment with spices and other adjuncts which put a new twist to established styles like using yams instead of pumpkin for its Autumn Maple.

Hope this will serve as a small guide if you are visiting San Diego and looking to take home some of the beer back with you.

Cheers,
Manuel O.

Craft Beer on a Budget

Here’s a list of deals I’ve found around town to grab a great beer at an even better price.

Everyday:

OB Noodle House
2218 Cable St, Ocean Beach

Happy Hour 3p-6p: 1/2 off all taps

11a-5p: $1 beer special

This Vietnamese place in OB specializes in Pho, but backed by an awesome beer list. $1 daily specials on beer is excellent ($4 pitchers?!) make this an easy spot to check out especially on a rainy day where some Pho hits the spot.

Monday:

Toronado
4026 30th St, North Park

$3 local pints (all day)

This special is really great if your trying out some local beer, as they are one of the only places to have Alpine on tap. Maybe the best beer bar in town, and with this special, makes it hard to miss.

Wednesday:

KnB Wine Cellars
6380 Del Cerro Blvd, Del Cerro

$3 beer (all day)

This Wednesday deal makes it quite the popular hang out nearby SDSU. They heavily discount most of their beer offerings to just $3. You will find some premium beers discounted to $5, but you will find they are normally priced at $8 or higher. Great bottle shop attached as well with a wide selection on beer, wine, and liquor as high as the ceilings.

Thursday

Local Habit
3827 5th Ave, Hillcrest

$2+ Progressive cask ($2 from 4:30-5:30) +$1 every hour after that to a max of $4

Local Habit is one of the newer bars to open up in San Diego, but they have made waves with their beer dinners and focus on locally sustainable food. This is a great deal for the after work beer, and just an excuse to get the weekend started a little early.

Friday:

Blind Lady Ale House
3416 Adams Ave, University Heights

$2 cask (11a-2p)

Every week Blind Lady will tweet out their cask offering for friday. They open at 11am,and get there early as you will find the cask killed before 2pm. Recent beers have included Green Flash 30th Pale Ale, Sierra Nevada Celebration, and Hangar 24 Pale Ale. Named in Draft Magazine’s 100 best beer bars, you will not be disappointed.

Karl Strauss Brewing
Multiple locations

$8 1/2 gallon growler fills

Karl Strauss puts out a growler “code” on their Twitter or Facebook to get any growler fill for just $8. Doing the math, it comes to just $2 a pint, and when you can get some good/strong beer like Off the Rails, or their Imperial Russian Stout, the deal is really worth it.

There are many more local deals around town, and I suggest to check out WestCoasterSD.com as well as KingofHappyHour.com for other great deals. You don’t have to sacrifice your wallet to enjoy great beer.

Cheers,
Manny O.

Stone Winter Storm 2012

The new tradition of heading over to Stone Brewing Company before the Superbowl took its second anniversary for us beer geeks. We met up with a lot of our twitter friends: Cesar, Ken, Tony, Dante, and even got to meet Becker of @beckerink (sorry if I was awkward. It’s not you, its me). While it did take a while for the bartenders to get to us, the reward was well worth the wait. Ended up doing two flights of 4 beers (each 4oz) to split between my dad and I. Should have eaten before as didn’t purchase a beer below 8% ABV.

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We started off the way of the stout and went with the Barrel Aged 12th Anniversary Bitter Oatmeal Stout, 2008 Barrel Aged Imperial Russian Stout, 2002 Imperial Russian Stout, and 15th Anniversary Double Dry “Hopped” with Espresso Beans. All were fantastic. I found the 2002 to be overly oxidized and well past its prime, the 15th was excellent with the roasty espresso really playing nicely with the hopped up Black IPA. 12th Anniversary Stout was nice, maybe I was expecting more, but well off, and the 2008 Barrel Aged Stout? Well maybe my favorite Stone beer that they make. Needless to say after these four, the buzz was coming.

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Second flight went towards the strong ale/barley wine route: 2008 Old Guardian aged in Red Wine Barrels, 2006 Double Bastard aged in Brandy Barrels, Stonewall, and 8th Anniversary. Pictured below (one is missing), all these were pretty amazing. Liked the Double Bastard over the Old Guardian, but only by a tad. Stonewall, Stones’ strongest beer to date, is tasting pretty good right now, and I likely wouldn’t be holding onto it much longer if you happen to have it. The 8th Anniversary was a new one entirely for me, brewed by Lee Chase, and it has held up nicely for an Imperialized Mild (sounds like a weird style right?).

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Our gracious friends had offered some samples out of bottles like Sawyers Triple and StoneWall, so we contributed with a 2007 Imperial Russian Stout. It blew most people away, and really tasting fabulous. Having had a 2008 version only a week prior, the 3-5 year range on these stouts is where I like them the most.

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Dad got a pic with Stone Greg (he said he’s retiring the “Greg Face”) . My dad is not letting it die.

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Some random people who wanted a pic. If you happen to be these people, let me know if you want the big uncompressed version

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Would just like to thank Stone Brewing for putting on this awesome event. Great beer on a beautiful sunday afternoon, and with the awesome company of people who I’ve gotten to meet over twitter and this site.

Cheers to Stone and great friends!

-Manny O.

Airdales’ Closing and San Diego Craft Beer Market Saturation

The news this morning that Airdale Brewing Company has gone belly up and closing its’ doors has some people talking about the San Diego craft beer market and if we have hit a saturation point and if we are to see more breweries close shop.

Airdale Brewing, founded in 2008, ran its production up to an estimated 1,200 barrels in 2011 according to Peter Rowe of the Union Tribune. With a portfolio of seven different beers and being a mostly draught only company, “The Angry Panda” was its’ only bottled beer. Production levels for Airdale puts it about equal to Alpine, Lightning, and Manzanita Brewing. While these breweries are looking to expand and Lightning just having secured distribution through Stone, things looking to be going well for these three.

I do not know the story behind Airdales’ closing and can only speculate. According to Taphunter, an already 14 breweries are in planning or have opened up this year. What it means to the new comers to the market? I do not know, but to survive, it will have to be backed up by quality. San Diego is full of award winning breweries and it is a tough market to enter, but I do not think we have hit a saturation point. A bubble may be in the future, but as long as San Diego keeps being the leader in awesome beer, there will be room to grow.

More to come.

Cheers!

Manny O. (the younger)

Beer Review: Alpine Hoppy Birthday

Released 1/17/2012, reviewed on 1/19/12. 1/2 gallon growler picked up at the brewery.

Appearance: Super pale gold/yellow. Only a tad darker than your standard blonde/golden ale.  Head retention is great, but small to begin with.

Smell: Deep citrus: mango, pineapple, some apricot notes. Definitely hop forward.

Taste: Big dose of American and west coast style hops. Juice flavors rounded by a piney-like sharp finish. Finishes very dry, little to no malt backbone, only providing a slick and crisp flavor. Malt is of light biscuits.

Overall: Hoppy, crisp, dry, juicy. As an american pale ale, it hits all of its strides in being very light, crisp, and refreshing brew packed with serious hop flavor. Perfect session beer. A+. Get it while you can.

Cheers,

Manny O