Thursday, December 31, 2009

Stone Brewing Co.

If you haven't already heard of them, I would like to introduce you to Stone Brewing Co. Stone is located in Escondido, California, and is my favorite craft brewer. Perched high above Escondido on Citracado Parkway, the brewery holds a pristine position in the North County locale. Known for being on the cutting edge of the brewing scene, it's flagship beer is Arrogant Bastard Ale. It, like many of their offerings, is an aggressive beer. Second only, in my opinion, to Double Bastard Ale, which is released once a year around November. But, I digress... I could talk about Stone's beer all day long. The subject of today's post is the brewery, not the beer. I'll save that for another time. The brewery boasts a nice company store, wonderful restaurant (which is among my top 5 favorites in the county), large beer garden complete with koi pond, fire pit, outdoor bar, and several little secluded seating nooks to sit, relax, and sip on a fresh pint, and of course, a great tour. Tours are free, and are offered daily. My personal favorite tour guide is Matt. He is knowledgeable, funny, and you can tell he has a true passion for the product. Did I mention the free samples at the end of the 45 minute tour? Typically you can try 5 or 6 of their current offerings. What could be better? You can find them online at Go check out my favorite brewery. Peruse the store, catch a tour, then enjoy a wonderful dinner in the bistro. For me, a day well spent!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Grocery Outlet

Where do you buy beer? I go to several different places, but I have one place that I consider a hidden gem in the world of retail beer sales. It's called Grocery Outlet, and there are 2 locations here in San Diego county. I go to the one located in National City. The store is nicely laid out, and has a good selection of groceries at great prices. They have an excellent wine selection, with well known brands going for up to half off retail prices. Most of their selections are less than $5.00 per bottle. However, just around the corner from the wine is a couple of shelves dedicated to... you guessed it... beer! There are some off brands that they carry, which typically go for around $3.99 per 6-pack, and they usually have cases of Bud and the like for discounted prices. But, if you get there at just the right time, before they sell out, you can find some excellent beers at fantastic prices. Right now they have a Widmer Brothers variety 12-pack for $12.99, and some 750ml Belgian ales for $3.99 each. I like the Metolius Dolly Varden IPA, which they sell in 22 ounce bottles for $1.29 each. The selection varies, and they sell out of the great finds fast, so I recommend going often to see what's "on tap" that day. Check them out at Do you have any great places you go to buy beer? Please share!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Victory Old Horizontal

As I type this I am sipping a very nice barleywine. As part of my blog I will be doing weekly (at least) reviews of different beers. I am currently enjoying a beer from Downingtown Pennsylvania's Victory Brewing Co. called Old Horizontal. This is a winter seasonal that they offer which weighs in at 11% alcohol, and is a very good representation of a traditional barleywine style ale, which is typically sweet with a hint of bitterness. It pours with a nice 2 to 3 finger head, more than I expected, actually, with a nice aroma right off the bat. The color is a beautiful, rich, coppery caramel. It has a full-bodied mouthfeel which coats the mouth just slightly with each sip. The finish is smoother than I expected, with a warmth reminiscent of a nice scotch or brandy, without the burn. At the end you are left with an ever so faint bitterness which diminishes quickly. All-in-all this is a solid ale which rates 4 out of 5 stars for me. Give this one a try and let me know what you think! Do you have a beer that you love and would like me to review? Maybe there is a new one on the market that you aren't sure about and would like a review first. Just let me know, and I'll be happy to review your favorite, or try a new one for us all. Take care, I'm going to finish my beer!

Monday, December 28, 2009

To brew or not to brew...

...that is the question! I am an amateur home brewer. At least that is how I see myself. I brewed a couple of batches of pretty good home brew a couple of years ago. I got my friends interested in it, and promised them a batch of red beer. That was a year and a half ago! A good friend asked me today, "Hey Hop Daddy... Where is that beer you promised us?" Where indeed!?! I'm not sure! I just haven't done it. Why? Could it be that I am nervous about living up to the last couple of batches I made? Did I take on a bigger beer than I am ready to brew? Do I lack experience, or need some training? Yes. Yes is the answer to all of these questions. Why did I promise something I cannot seem to deliver on? I can't put it off forever. Truth be told, my friends gave me money to brew that batch of red, which I still have in an envelope in my drawer! I know, I know. I feel bad, but just haven't been able to put together the time or materials to make the promised product. Maybe I lack inspiration, who knows. I hope to find the inspiration, in the words I put out to you, to move on in my brewing efforts. Do you brew? Where does your inspiration come from, other than the love of the liquid bread we call "beer"? Speak up, inspire us! Until next time, I bid you good drinking, and hopefully, happy brewing!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

About the Hop Daddy

Hello! My name is Dave, and I'm the Hop Daddy. I live in San Diego, an area that has had a budding beer community for the past several years. We have many craft breweries here, and several are arguably among the best in the nation. I have been an avid beer enthusiast for several years. I thoroughly enjoy my local beer community, but also enjoy trying beers from around the world. I keep a beer journal of the beers that I try, with a photo of the beer, some statistics like where it is brewed, style, & alcohol percentage, as well as a personal rating system. I have tried over 400 different beers, and am constantly looking for new brews. I will use this space to share my love of beer with you. I will keep you up to date with my beer journeys, from visits to breweries around the country, to stories & jokes that I have heard. I will also give reviews of beers that I try with the same information I keep in my beer journal. I invite you to come along for the ride. Feel free to share your thoughts on beer, the brewing community, or your personal opinion of beers I rate. Thanks for reading, and we'll see you next time!