Sunday, January 31, 2010

Bristol Farms

Bristol Farms is a great gourmet food store in La Jolla. They are a bit on the expensive side, but the selection is awesome. They have a fantastic deli, tons of free samples like cheeses, crackers, & juices, and a wonderful beer selection! From local favorites to hard to find styles from around the world, you can find them all here. However, as with other items in the store, the beer prices are a bit higher than other places. They can be found at 8510 Genesee Ave., San Diego, California, 92122, or online at to find a location near you. Go check them out, and don't forget to grab a few free samples while you are there!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The AleSmith Cometh Beer Tasting part 3

The AleSmith beer tasting was great! Upon arrival we were presented with an AleSmith tasting cup, coaster, water cup, and a tasting notes sheet that listed all 10 beers to be sampled. The sheet included details such as bottle size, alcohol content, and original gravity of each beer, along with the snack plates that would be served throughout the evening. Each table had a large bottle of water on it so that the tasting cup could be rinsed, and the palate cleansed between tastings. AleSmith owner Peter Zien hosted the event and gave detailed information about each beer we sampled. He seemed very genuine, down to earth, and hugely passionate about his libation of choice. The camaraderie of San Diego breweries came through as he spoke about his fellow brewers around town. He was very enjoyable to listen to, and the information he provided about his brewery, and beer in general, was fantastic. They poured 2 ounce samples of each uniquely styled beer. Among the offerings were X, Grand Cru, Decadence, Old Numbskull, & Speedway Stout. Pretzels were served along with 2 sampling plates that featured artisanal meats, cheeses, bread, & crisps. Peter also dabbles in cheese making in his spare time, and was kind enough to bring 3 types of cheese that he had made at home. That was a special treat. The entire evening was a success. Between Peter and Jessica, a member of his "artist colony", as he puts it, who spoke about beer and food pairing, the evening actually ran longer that the expected ending time of 8:00pm. We were a little rushed on the last 3 samples, but manged to get them all in. This was actually the only negative to the evening. It would seem to me that if the event ran over by a bit it wouldn't have been such a big deal. How many people hang out at the tables in Whole Foods on a Friday night, anyway? However, we were all ushered out quite quickly by the staff after the last pour. Other than that I had no complaints. My compliments to Whole Foods for putting this event together, and to AleSmith for the great beer and presentation. I hold AleSmith in higher esteem after this event, and will seek out some of their seasonal releases such as My Bloody Valentine which is due out next month. I will also make it a point to attend future events at Whole Foods. This wraps up my AleSmith series, for now! Keep an eye out for a future post that will go into more detail about the brewery itself. AleSmith is a class act that produces great craft beer. If you haven't already, go get a bottle and see for yourself!

Friday, January 29, 2010

The AleSmith Cometh Beer Tasting part 2

Well, I made it to the AleSmith beer tasting at Whole Foods in Hillcrest tonight. It was wonderful! I will have my full review of the evening along with a few pictures of the festivities tomorrow. Grab an AleSmith and check back tomorrow for all the malty, hoppy details!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

What's a growler?

I don't know how many times I've heard this question. I found a great article in The New York Times that talks about growlers and their growing popularity in New York. Read it here. We need a Whole Foods like the one in this article. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The AleSmith Cometh Beer Tasting

Whole Foods holds beer tastings every now and then. This Friday, January 29th, the Hillcrest store will be having an AleSmith tasting. Here is a snippet from their website:

"One of San Diego's best-Alesmith owner & brewmaster Peter Zien will share his vast knowledge and passion for his internationally acclaimed craft beers. Cheeses and snacks included. To register, please call 619-294-2800"

The event costs $15 and runs from 6:30-8:00pm. I have not attended a beer tasting at Whole Foods before, but I hope to make it to this one. Please comment if you have been to one of their tastings and your impressions of the event. If I make it, as I hope to, I will post about it on Friday or Saturday and let you know how it went. If I don't make it, maybe I'll just buy a nice AleSmith brew and review it. You'll just have to wait and see.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Can it be 75 years already?

That's right, this week marks 75 years since the introduction of the beer can! Krueger Brewing Co. was the first brewery to sell beer in cans. A lined can had to be devised, because without lining the metal cans ruined the beer. American Can Co. developed a lined can made of steel that was strong enough to contain a carbonated product. In 1933 a test run of 2,000 cans of Krueger's beer was produced and sent to a select group of people. The trial was a success. In January of 1935 the first cans of Krueger's Beer & Ale were sold. Although the company was sold in 1961, and the original brewery leveled in 1988, their memory lives on with each can that comes off the line today. Even if you prefer your brew in a bottle, go buy a can, crack it open, and drink in the history of your favorite beverage this week!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Main Tap Tavern

A decent beer bar in East County? I found one. Main Tap Tavern, located in El Cajon, is a hidden gem in the otherwise beer bar barren East County. The storefront is unassuming, and blends into the Main Street line of stores, businesses, & restaurants that runs East/West through El Cajon. Inside, the decor is nice and newly remodeled. Your eye is caught immediately by the 24 backlit glass tap handles that shine in the dimly lit bar. That's right, 24 taps with craft beer from around the world flowing from each. They appease the uninitiated beer drinker with a tap each dedicated to Bud and Bud Light. Beyond that, you will find local favorites from Alpine, Ballast Point, Coronado, & Lightning to name a few. You will also find regional favorites from places like Lagunitas, Lost Coast, & Sierra Nevada. You will even find beers from around the world such as Belgium's Brasserie D'Achouffe. These are all on tap! They also have a two handled beer engine (see What is cask-conditioned beer? post) which allows for special cask-conditioned beer offerings. Looking for a bottled favorite? They keep an extensive bottle list of at least 50 different varieties to choose from. The taps and bottles are rotated regularly, so there is always something new to try. The only problem I have with this place is the fact that there is a $15 minimum when using a credit card. I am hopeful that this will go away as their business grows, but who knows. Check them out at If you find yourself in East County, and are looking for a good brew, find your way to Main Tap Tavern, and be sure to ask about their VIP wall!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Think when you drink!

I didn't post yesterday because I didn't follow my own advice. There is a lot of talk about drinking responsibly. I heartily support this! If you don't use moderation when drinking any alcoholic beverage, you not only affect yourself, but others around you as well. But it's not always just about overconsumption. You have to take a lot of things into consideration when you decide to have a drink. One drink will affect you differently depending on other factors going on at the time. This is where I come into the scenario. I have been sick all week with a cold. When you are sick food and drink affect you differently than when you are well. I decided to have a beer after work. Being sick was strike one. I hadn't eaten very much earlier in the day. There's strike two. If you decide to have a drink, you should make sure you don't do it on an empty stomach. Alcohol affects you much differently when you have nothing in your stomach at the time. It is also a good idea to eat while you have your drink. You should also drink a large glass of water between drinks. This not only counteracts the alcohol you are taking in, but will fill you up so that you actually drink less. Overall diet will also have a bearing on how alcohol affects you. I recently decided to get back into a healthy lifestyle, which has meant a dietary change. Strike three. I'm out! That same beer on another occasion, without those factors playing a role, would have had no affect on me. In fact, there was no immediate affect after I had the beer. However, later on, I found myself not feeling well. Instead of sitting with my wife watching a movie or some TV, I was destined for an early night to bed. Before you reach for that beer or other alcoholic beverage, take a mental inventory of your current bodily condition. Not feeling well? Haven't eaten very much that day? Had recent dietary changes? It may be better to hold off on that drink for now. Plan ahead and take steps so that you can enjoy your drink, and not regret it. Remember to think when you drink!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

What is cask-conditioned beer?

Many bars and restaurants are now offering cask-conditioned beer from a beer engine on occasion. Karl Strauss Brewing Co. is now doing this every Thursday night. The terms "cask-conditioned" and "beer engine" may be unfamiliar to some. The Karl Strauss web site has a nice explanation of these terms, so the following is directly from their site.

"Cask-conditioned beer is an ale that undergoes a secondary fermentation by maturing in small casks (approximately 11 gallons), which give it more developed flavors than draught beer. It is also smoother then keg beer because it is dispensed without the use of carbon dioxide (CO2). Draught beer is pushed from a keg using CO2, while cask beer is pulled out of the cask and drawn into the glass using a siphon pump device called a beer engine. This is the traditional serving technique found in pubs in the UK. Cask-conditioned ales are stored and served slightly warmer than regular beer. The normal temperature for cask ale is 50-55°F. This temperature allows more of the delicate flavors that are developed during the secondary fermentation to be tasted."

Want to try a cask-conditioned brew? Head on down to your local Karl Strauss on Thursday evening to see what is flowing from the beer engine. I'll meet you there!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The brewing bug is back!

It's been some time since I brewed my last batch of beer, but the brewing bug has bitten me once again, so a new batch is in the near future! I got a catalog in the mail yesterday from a company called Northern Brewer. I've never heard of them, and I'm not sure how the catalog got sent to me. The catalog is nicely laid out, and the prices are really good. I have been promising some friends a batch of beer for quite some time (see To brew or not to brew... post) and the time has finally come. The promised beer was to be a Red. With the ingredients and pricing I found in this catalog I have decided to do an Irish Red. I will will post on this subject all through the process, from purchasing of the ingredients, to brewing, fermenting, bottling, conditioning, and consumption. It should be an interesting series, hopefully with a "hoppy" ending! Are you brewing right now? Share your experiences, tips, and tricks so that we can all become better brewers. We can all learn new things and we all have something to share. Until next time, enjoy your brewing!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

South Bay Drugs

There are lots of liquor stores. There are lots of liquor stores that carry beer. There are a few liquor stores that have a really good beer selection. There is only one South Bay Drugs. It is a typical drugstore, with an atypical beer selection. Is it worth the drive to Imperial Beach, from anywhere in San Diego County, just for a beer? Yes, it is! The reason to go to South Bay Drugs goes far beyond the great beer selection. A store is only as good as the people who run it. I've talked about bad customer service before, but this place is on the opposite end of the spectrum. Here, you'll find Joey carefully pouring over the refrigerators, filling in the gaps with the newest arrivals, and making sure the beer is kept at an optimal temperature. You see, unlike most liquor stores, Joey genuinely cares about the beer. He hand-picks each beer that he carries. He drinks the beer. He knows the beer. He always has something new, and can point you in the right direction if you can't make up your mind. Not in the area, or don't want to hazard the drive into IB? No problem! Joey ships beer! But, if you decide to have the beer shipped, how will you know what to order? Go to The web site is constantly updated, and has a complete bottle list for your ordering pleasure. So, whether you're local, a few miles away, or across the country, South Bay Drugs is your answer for great beer!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Philosophical ramblings of a beer drinker...

Living is filling your life with what you love, otherwise, you are merely existing. Who wants to just "exist"? I want to live! So, do what you love with your life! Do you love rocks? Great! Study them. Collect them. Shout to the world about how much you love rocks! Love football? Play it, watch it, talk about it! Is beer your thing? Then search out new, great beer. Find others that share your passion. Drink it, brew it, discuss it. Fill your life with the things you love most. Hobbies, family, friends, and fulfilling your dreams are the things that change your meager existence into a full life. Do what you love and let others do what they love. We can all coexist happily if we do this. Take stock in what you have. Embrace it and make the most of it. Try something new each day. Live. Love. Drink beer, if you want to. If not, that's fine too!

Saturday, January 16, 2010


Wow! I'd buy some for my wife. What a brilliant, and funny, idea!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Tell 'em whatcha think!

Have you ever had a beer, perhaps one that you were excited to try, and been really disappointed with it? What did you do? Nothing? Or maybe you just told your friends that it wasn't good and to skip that one. Did you think about contacting the brewer about it? Chances are they would welcome the criticism and work hard to keep you as a loyal customer! That was my experience with New Belgium Brewing Co. I had always enjoyed Fat Tire, their flagship brew, so was excited to try some of their other offerings. I tried Mothership Wit and 1554. Frankly, I was not impressed. That could have been the end of the story. However, I decided to write the company and let them know how I felt. They were very happy to hear from me, and in fact let me know that they had been having some problems with the recent batch of Mothership Wit and wanted my opinion with the new batch. They sent me a variety six pack, at no expense to me, so that I could try a fresh bottle of the wit, along with 5 other brews. I was really impressed with the customer service they displayed. When the beer didn't arrive after a couple of weeks, I inquired on the status of the shipment. It turned out that the beer had been destroyed in transit, and had made its way back to their brewery. They promptly sent out another package that made it to me safely. Again, I was really impressed. The lengths they went to in order to insure a happy customer gained them one for life. Don't be shy! Tell your brewer what you think of their beer. They will benefit from your observances, and you will benefit from a better product. Everybody wins!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

But she likes wine!

The great debate... Beer or Wine? What if you prefer beer, but she likes wine? Or maybe you love a good IPA, and he would rather a fine Pinot Noir? Typically, places with great beer selections have few wine choices, and vice versa. However, I know of a place that can handle both sides of this coin! Wine Steals is a really cool place to hang out and drink wine. With 4 locations throughout San Diego, you are bound to be close to one wherever you are. Each location has a different vibe, but all are cool in their own way. You can buy wine by the bottle in their market area, take it home for later, or open it right there to drink along with one of their salads, pizzas, or artisanal meat & cheese boards. You can also order your favorite wine by the glass, or choose one of their carefully paired flights. The selection is great and the food delectable. What about beer, you ask? No, they don't have any taps, but they have an awesome bottle list that varies by day and location. Plenty of locally brewed 22's are always on hand, along with interesting choices from around the world. Whether you choose wine or beer, they both pair well with the fantastic food. Check them out at Next time you're ready to go out but can't choose between beer or wine, don't try. Head on over to Wine Steals. You'll both be glad you did!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Great Beer Joke

The leaders of the big beer companies of the world decide to meet for a drink after the Great American Beer Festival. The president of Budweiser says, "Ah, the King of Beers!" and orders a Bud. The CEO of Miller says, "Nothing but the High Life for me!" and gets a Miller. The head of Coors says, "The Rocky Mountain spring water makes the difference!" and orders a Coors. Finally, it's Arthur Guinness's turn. He orders a Coke. "Why didn't you order a Guinness?" everyone asks. He replies, "If you guys aren't having beer, then neither will I."

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Beer Paradise

I don't know where this is, but I'm on my way!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Oskar Blues Old Chub

Colorado is no stranger to excellent craft brewing, and tonight's offering is no exception. Oskar Blues Brewery out of Lyons, Colorado may not be as large or well-known as other Colorado institutions such as Ft. Collins' New Belgium or Boulder's Avery, but they produce some great craft beer nonetheless. Old Chub is a Scottish style ale that weighs in at 8% alcohol. It pours a very small to nonexistent head, but the sweet, malty aroma abounds immediately. The color is an extremely dark amber, which gives clues to its rich, malty taste even before taking the first sip. A large, smooth mouthfeel is present, and the initial finish is equally as smooth. Alcohol is present with subsequent sips, but in a pleasant, warming way. A slight smokiness is perceivable, as you would expect from an ale of this style, but it blends so nicely with the other characteristics of the brew that you almost don't notice it. This well-rounded ale goes down very easily, and gets 4 out of 5 stars in my book. But wait... can it be? Does this large, full-bodied ale actually come from... a... CAN? Yes, it does! Oskar Blues has been canning their beer since 2002 and started a canned beer revolution, or, as they put it, "Apocalypse", and I'm on board! So, pick up an Old Chub, tap the top of the can, crack it open, pour and sip away. Until next time, enjoy your beer!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Pizza Port part 2

I got a comment from one of my readers that my Pizza Port post sounded like an advertisement. That being the case, I decided to further tout my favorite beer/pizza hangout with another plug. Located right next door to Pizza Port Carlsbad is the "Bottle Shop". The Bottle Shop is run by Pizza Port as well, and is a beer lovers paradise. You walk into a fairly small room lined with the typical glass door refrigerators you see in any other liquor store. The difference is that these refrigerators are filled with over 700 beers from around the world! You can purchase the beer to go, or you can have them open and pour it for you to enjoy right there, around a wooden bar built into the center of the room. You can even order your pizza there, and enjoy a beer while you wait. It is a truly awesome experience, and if you are looking for a hard to find beer, chances are it will be here! So, the next time you are in the mood for a bottle of beer, don't settle for a 32 ounce Miller High Life, head over to the Bottle Shop at 573 Carlsbad Village Dr., Carlsbad, California, 92013. You won't be disappointed!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Pizza Port

For those who have been to Pizza Port, enough said. For those who can't wait for the new location to open in Ocean Beach... I am right there with you. For those who love Pizza Port and didn't know that a new location was going to open soon in Ocean Beach... SURPRISE! For those who don't know anything about Pizza Port... I'm sorry! Pizza Port (particularly the Carlsbad location) takes my top spot for favorite eateries in San Diego County. What can I say... Awesome pizza. A great beer selection, including around half of their taps (10 or so) dedicated to beers from their sister company, Port Brewing Company. Ultra laid back atmosphere with picnic-style tables & benches from end to end of the restaurant. Do you have kids? No problem! Kids are always aplenty here. Don't have kids? No, worries. The atmosphere is like a chill beach bar with flat panel TVs, music, and lots of loud, happy chatter. Picture your favorite bar, but with a surf motif and kids running around. This place is awesome! With three current locations (San Clemente, Carlsbad, and Solana Beach), not to mention the new location coming to Ocean Beach, there is fun and good food somewhere close to you. Check them out at Better yet, pile the family into the car and drive to the nearest location right now!

Friday, January 8, 2010

An awkward moment at BevMo!

I like to go to BevMo! when I get a chance. On Friday nights they do a beer tasting. Usually for a dollar (or free, depending on who is hosting the tasting) you get to taste several beers. Sometimes a beer company has a representative there to do the tasting, and sometimes it is just an employee. This particular night there was an employee tending the tasting station. I walked in and asked if I could do a tasting. The girl pouring the samples was less than enthusiastic, and I was the only one tasting, so the event was doomed from the get-go. She poured the first sample, which was a wheat beer. After a few sips, and a lot of awkward silence, I decided to be clever. "They call beer liquid bread." I exclaimed, trying to prove my beer prowess. She looked at me with a blank stare and said, "That's because it's a wheat beer." Then she looked at me as though she had been able to express her beer expertise. We went on to the next sample, which was a beer from the Alaskan Brewing Co. Remember that, it will be important in a moment. After a few sips I decided to brave the waters (or should I say "beer") once again. "This is good," I said, "where is it made?" The look on her face turned to somewhere between shocked, amused, and annoyed as she picked up the bottle, pointed to the name, and said "Alaska." She bested me again, showing why she was working at BevMo! and I was merely passing through. I finished my sample, put my tail between my legs, and humbly excused myself. I do enjoy a good beer tasting, but I didn't know that an emotional flogging came along with it. I guess that's why they charge a dollar.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

More Beer Humor

This hits a little too close to home. Good thing I've gotten back to my healthy lifestyle!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

How to get banned from a liquor store

There is a liquor store half a block from where I work. I used to go there quite often, sometimes for beer and sometimes for energy drinks, depending on what time of day it was. There were times when I bought something, and there were times when I didn't. On one particular day I spent over $100 on beer, purchasing bottles for myself and several friends. On another day I found nothing of interest, so I started to leave the shop empty handed. As I got to the door, the young man who usually helped me asked, "Why do you always come in here, look around, and leave without buying anything?" I was taken aback, as this was the same young man I had made purchases from many times before. "I didn't see anything I wanted today." I replied. "Don't bother coming back, then." he said, without even looking up from his cell phone. He had a smile on his face, and even seemed to be giggling as he said it. I was really in shock at this point. All I could do was walk out the door. I stopped, thinking about the smile on his face, and thought he may have been giving me a hard time. I turned around, went back into the store, and asked "Are you serious, or just messing around with me?" "No," he replied, "I'm serious. Don't come back." "Okay." I said, and walked away. I was furious. So furious, in fact, that mentioning all of the past purchases I had made, or the history we had didn't even enter my mind. I did, however, tell everyone I knew about the incident, hoping to somehow negatively impact his business. He obviously didn't care about customer retention, although the store was usually pretty empty. To this day I haven't set foot back inside those doors. I have since found bigger and better liquor stores, but I will never forget the one I was actually banned from!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

What flower glass?

One night at dinner my daughter Ariel asked me a funny question. "What flower glass is that, Daddy?" I was perplexed. I looked at my large pilsner glass thinking there was a picture of a flower on it somewhere, but there wasn't. Then I looked at my beer bottle, and there was a picture of a hop bud on it. "Oh", I said. "that's a hop flower." I was impressed that she actually knew that the hop was a flower. Then she said "No, not the bottle, the glass!" Now I was stumped! There were no flowers on the glass. What could she have possibly been talking about? Then, my son Zeke said "Remember Dad? Like the flower glass you used the other night." Ariel chimed in, "Yeah! Which kind of flower is this glass?" Then it hit me. The other night I had used a TULIP glass with my beer! All she remembered was that the glass had a flower name, so to her all beer glasses must be named after flowers. It was so funny! Kids, without beer they wouldn't be nearly as fun.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Beer Humor

Monday is a great excuse for some humor. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Macro, Craft, Micro and Nano, Oh My!

We've heard these terms, but what is the difference between them? Here's the breakdown...

Macro Brewery: These are the "big guys". These breweries typically produce close to or over 100 million barrels of beer per year. In 2007, Anheuser-Busch produced 104.4 million barrels of beer domestically. Is the quality there? That's up to the consumer, but Anheuser-Busch currently holds over 50% of the market share.

Craft Brewery: These are sometimes confused with "Micro" breweries. Craft breweries are typically smaller, but the term really refers to an approach to brewing rather than the size of the brewery. Craft breweries brew less than 2 million barrels of beer per year and typically brew using traditional methods, without adjuncts such as rice or corn, and strive for a more distinctive flavor rather than mass appeal. The largest craft brewer in the U.S. is the Boston Beer Co., brewer of Samuel Adams.

Micro Brewery: These breweries produce less than 15,000 barrels of beer per year. Since the amount of beer produced is small, distribution of micro brewed beer is very limited, and usually only found in the geographic area that it is brewed in. Examples of local micro breweries would be Pacific Beach Ale House and San Marcos Brewery.

Nano Brewery: A fast-growing segment in the brewing community, nano brewers are typically home brewers who are ready to take their craft to the next level. Because the beer is brewed in very small batches, they usually brew less than 100 barrels per year. While small bottle runs may be done, usually the beer is brewed for kegs or casks. By brewing in small batches and selling their product locally, these brewers hope to attain a following which will lead to bigger brewing runs, and hopefully, graduation to micro or craft brewing facilities.

Hopefully putting a definition to some of these terms will give you an edge when ordering your next brew. Learn all you can about the beer you drink. Contribute what you can to the local beer community. Most of all, enjoy your beer!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Great craft beer... fun for the whole family?

So, you're in the mood to go out for a great craft beer. There's just one problem... it's family night! Do you forgo the brew, knowing that family restaurants typically have few, if any, good beer choices? Or, do you skip out on the family for the evening so that you can hit your favorite brewpub for a pint or two? Truth be told, you don't have to do either. You can have your cake and eat it too! If you search, you can find family friendly restaurants that offer great craft beer as well. I hit up one of my favorite spots with the family this evening, San Diego Brewing Co. The atmosphere is as easy going as it gets. You walk in and seat yourself at one of their spacious tables or booths. I usually opt for a table because it gives me a good view of one of their large overhead chalkboards that list what's on tap that day. There are always lots of families and kids, so my three little ones are never (at least not usually) the loudest ones there! There are usually 6 or 7 beers on tap that they brew in-house, or you can choose from their extensive tap list, around 50 in all. The staff is nice, and the food is very good. I never visit without having a cup of their signature Jalapeno Beer Cheese soup. I always leave satisfied, as does the whole family. They are located at 10450 Friars Rd. Suite L, San Diego, California, 92120. You can visit them online at Stop by sometime, and don't forget to bring the family!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Hilarious Beer Commercial

Check out this great commercial. The quality isn't very good, but you will get the humor anyway!