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.

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Pliny the Younger – San Diego 2013

February is Younger season, the time of year that sees the release of the most anticipated beer made in America. This triple IPA is currently ranked #2 in the world according to beeradvocate.com. It’s annual release garners multiple hour waits at its brewpub at the Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa, CA. Luckily in San Diego we are lucky to receive a good number of kegs and shed some of the craziness that goes along with a beer release like this. According to the sandiegobeerblog.com (@SDBeer on twitter) 19 places received kegs last year. This year I am not quite sure if that number will increase or drop. Most places will be pretty hush-hush about its tappings to avoid madness so do not be alarmed to hear about a keg getting tapped, a pub full, and a blown keg in a matter of minutes.

Here are the places that received kegs last year along with any speculative info about this year:

Toronado:  Got 4 kegs, all done. 1st two kegs will be tapped consecutively on Thursday 10:30am and you guys killed the first one in 50 minutes.  They announced another keg for Thursday at opening, 11:30. Another scheduled keg is supposed to be tapped Sunday the 17th at opening.

Hamiltons: Pliny going to be tapped 2/14/13 at opening, 3pm. No info yet if they will get another keg, they blew through two of them on the 14th.

O’Brien’s: 1st keg will go on Saturday, the 16th at 5pm. Second keg is being reserved for charity on Wednesday the 20th, which I believe is already sold out. Another keg is scheduled for March 1st at 11am.

Stone World Bistro & Gardens: Website currently lists a “Seasonal release” imperial IPA from Russian River available at 5pm, finishedA keg is confirmed for their beer and cigar dinner March 5th, 7pm. Info here . Cigar dinner sold out. They also put out another keg 2/21.

San Diego Brewing Co: Tapping their keg Saturday  Feb 23rd at 10am.

Neighborhood: Keg went on at 2:30pm 2/18 . Tweet  Hinted that they got another keg to be put on. Saw some checkins on 2/25

Pizza Port Carlsbad: Went on tap 2/22 at noon.

Pizza Port Ocean Beach: Went on tap 2/26

Pizza Port Solana Beach: No info yet.

Pizza Port San Clemente: Posted via twitter that they tapped it. Killed the keg in 2 hours (02/15/13).

Churchill’s: Confirmed via twitter that they got kegs. March 2nd will be the tapping coinciding with Renaissance March 2nd. Tap list is crazy. I hope to be there.

Blind Lady Ale House: March 10th 11am. Ticketed event. Tickets can be purchased March 1st 6pm here . $15 gets you .25L of Younger and Elder

Downtown Johnny Brown’s: Keg went on tap Friday 2/15/13 at 6:00pm. Confirmation tweet

Encinitas Ale House: 2/25 at 4pm. Members of their “80 beers in 80 days” will be allowed first crack. Info here.

El Take it Easy: No info yet.

Tap Room: Will have two tappings: 2/25 at 11am and 3/4 at 5pm. Limiting to one serving per customer. More info can be found on their website

Urge Gastropub: Tapping on 2/21 5pm along with a number of other IPA’s.  Confirmation tweet

Tiger!Tiger!: Saturday March 9th 11am. Tickets go on sale here on March 1st 5pm. $12 gets you a .4L glass of Younger.

Breakwater Brewing: Breakwater posted via twitter that they got a keg. Scheduled for 2/21/13 4:30pm.

Eleven: Got sold, I say no kegs this year for them.

Livewire: Tapped a keg 2/24 at 1:00pm

Newport Pizza and Alehouse: No info yet

Thats it. With Eleven being sold, I would not be surprised to see a keg surface at either Small Bar or Monkey Paw.

If anyone has any information regarding a date/time by which Pliny the Younger will be tapped, send me an email to update the list.

Updated 03/1/13 at 12:37pm

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.

2012 Beer Trends

I know I may be a little late to the game on this one, but with over 90% of 2012 left, thought I’d share my thoughts/predictions for what this year has in store for craft beer.

Beer style on the up? Berliner Weisse. Very limited and with few breweries actually producing sour beer, I think that the style will receive more attention this year, especially in the summer months. Low in alcohol, (under 5%) it is light, refreshing, tart, and with fruit or syrup additions, it’ll gain more female appeal.

Breweries will take greater control and have differing methods of releasing highly limited and pricy beers. With Stone last year, releasing the first of its 500mL barrel aged beers to have a raffle benefiting charity, Stone was able to allow more people a shot at the beer, escape the mayhem of hundreds of beer geeks lining in front of the brewery, and also benefit a local charity. There will be differing methods, The Reserve Society put on The Bruery is also a different avenue by buying into an annual membership that gives you rights to exclusive beers and events. Flying Dog, out of Maryland recently adopted a similar membership idea with their Junto Society. More local, The Lost Abbey, took a drastic step in their release of their monthy “Track #’s” beers. By limiting beers to be an on-site consumption only and not allowing any distribution, Lost Abbey was able to eliminate any second hand beer market or trading. Whether it is raffle, exclusive memberships, or limiting beer to be draft or on-site consumption only, I think breweries will take greater control in releasing sought after beers.

Lastly, beer mixology? Hmm.. not buying it, but what I do think may be on the rise is beer mixing. Weird for sure, mixing two different styles of beers in hopes of incorporating both flavor inputs. Mix an oatmeal stout with a vanilla infused wheat beer? Vanilla chocolate stout sure does sound awesome and more or less, that’s the result when you can find combinations that will work. Beer mixing is not going to huge, but I can see a few restaurants/bars advertising certain beer only cocktails on their menu. 

Cheers,

Manny O. (the younger)

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)