Thursday, May 31, 2012

What the...?!?

Click here if you don't see the video.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

San Diego's Thriving Craft Beer Scene

Yeah, we've known it for years, but it's nice to see word has spread across the country.  Check out this nice piece in The New York Times with nods to beer hot spots all around the county.  Brew on, San Diego!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Brewery Project: Rough Draft

Rough Draft Brewing Co. has only been open since March, but is already making a name for itself in the beer community.  Regular social media updates, weekly (usually daily) food trucks, and hosting various events around town has put this fledgling brewery on San Diego's "beer map".  At 7:30pm on a Thursday evening the place was hopping.  No pun intended.  Actually, the pun was intended.  Anyway, not only was the place filled with people, it was nice to see a diverse crowd as well.  A nice bar area, large bar-height tables, and intimate, cozy seating areas provide large groups, smaller parties, and even those with children a spot to commune over the current selection of brews being offered.  When asked what time they closed, the guy behind the bar (possibly the manager or owner) said that they close at 8:00pm, but would stay open as long as people were there.  I like that philosophy.  Take care of the customer and they'll take care of you!  I sampled 7 different beers, and while there were no huge standouts, they were all very good.  I expect great things to come from this brewery, and am sure they will grow to be a San Diego mainstay.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Beach to Brewery Beer + Music Fest 2012?

I was thinking about the annual Karl Strauss event the other day wondering why I hadn't heard anything about this year's festivities yet, so I went to their website and found the following announcement.

"As most of you know, we partner with the Surfrider Foundation each May for our annual Beach to Brewery Beer and Music Fest.  Over the past eight years, Beach to Brewery has raised more than $100,000 for Surfrider’s cause, while offering Karl Strauss fans an exclusive behind-the-scenes brewery experience.

This coming May our Main Brewery will be in the middle of major renovations.  This massive project will transform our brewery from a production facility into a craft beer destination open to the public.  When we open in late summer, the Karl Strauss Brewery will offer public tours, beer tasting, and plenty of hosted events.  Due to all the construction, we’re regrettably cancelling Beach to Brewery this year.  However, we look forward to continuing our longstanding partnership with Surfrider in the future."

Progress, at times, means taking a few detours along the way.  I can't wait to see the upgraded facility, and will be content waiting for Beach to Brewery Beer + Music Fest 2013.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Brewery Project: AleSmith

I have been a fan of AleSmith Brewing Co. since attending this tasting event, hosted by owner Peter Zien, back in 2010.  I already liked the beer, but the passion that Peter showed for his craft completed the package for me.  This isn't a "business" or "work" to him, it is his art.  Liquid art.  In fact, the brewery itself could be called a "Liquid Art Museum".  Hmmm... I may be on to something there.  I should coin that phrase!  But, I digress.  The recently renovated tasting room looks very clean and polished.  Large brewery prints adorn one wall, while beer-filled barrels line an adjacent one, creating an artistic beer-drinking backdrop and conversation piece.  Used barrels sprinkled throughout the space serve as tables, and a large L-shaped bar provides plenty of spots to enjoy current offerings.  The bartenders were friendly, if not a little cold, lacking the warmth and enthusiasm of smaller, newer breweries in the area.  I hope that growth and prestige don't lead to a path where the beer becomes more important than the people who drink it.  I think that is the turning point that changes the product from a "craft" to a "commodity".  The danger is present whenever a brewery grows in size and popularity, but the choice to stay true to the craft always lies with the brewery itself.  With Peter in charge, I don't believe that will be a problem.  The beer, as always, was spectacular.  The highlight of this visit was a private tour of the brewery.  Ryan, an assistant brewer, showed off  the brewery as if it were his newborn son.  He has only been there since September, but I was in awe of his knowledge of the brewing process and the equipment itself.  The small space is so tightly packed with brewing equipment, I wonder how long it will be until a larger space is required.  A huge thanks to Ryan for taking the time to share his passion.  With people like Ryan on board I have no worries about the future of this growing company, know that the craft of beer will always remain the top priority, and look forward to the exciting road ahead.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Happy Ballast Point Day!

How will you celebrate today?  Here's what the honoree suggests.

"This year the official Ballast Point celebration is at Slaters 50/50 in Liberty Station.  They will have a killer selection of Ballast Point brews including Victory at Sea, Sea Monster Stout, Fathom IPL and Tongue Buckler IRA, among others.  If you haven't been and had the 50/50 burger now is the time.  The patty is 50% ground beef and 50% ground bacon (that's right).  They will dress it up any way you could imagine and they also serve fried pickles.  Come hungry and thirsty, you will leave fat and happy."

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Saturday, May 12, 2012

American Craft Beer Week

As Monday, the official start of this year's festivities, approaches, it's time to make a game plan for how you'll celebrate "The Mother of All Beer Weeks".  All the resources you'll need can be found here.  Don't forget to download your very own Declaration of Beer Independence, as well.  Let's support, share, and flourish the love of craft beer!

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Brewery Project: Hess

This time out I visited Hess Brewing.  I was really impressed with this nano brewery, the first of its kind licensed in San Diego.  Standing in the tiny tasting area, sipping on my sampler and petting the dog of one of the other patrons, I felt as though I was in a friend's garage trying his latest batch of homebrew.  The place felt "real".  There was no glitz or glamour.  Just a group of dedicated people doing what they love, making great beer.  I was able to try each of the 8 beers in their current lineup, and was impressed with each of them.  Their Claritas Kolsch really took me by surprise.  I tend to like bigger beers, so at 5.8% I was expecting the light-colored brew to be uninspired.  I was wrong.  This little beauty was full of body and flavor.  I could definitely go for a pint of that on a warm summer day.  There were 2 Stouts and 2 Porters featured.  These are not my favorite styles, but I enjoyed them nonetheless.  I'm not sure if I puzzled, annoyed, or offended one of the brewers as I started on Fors Hiberniae Oatmeal Stout.  Before sipping the dark, coffee-infused elixir I was letting my nose tell my mouth what to expect.  I mentioned to my friend that I detected a hint of pepper.  The brewer, working just behind us, interjected, asking what I had just said.  He looked troubled, but didn't say any more.  A few minutes went by when he again questioned me, asking if the aroma I had detected was peppery in a chili way or in a cracked black pepper way.  I told him it was a bit of both.  He looked puzzled, but said no more.  I never did find out why he was so curious about my findings.  Had I discovered something that no one else had?  Was this batch slightly different from past batches, yielding something unexpected, even to the brewers?  Could it simply be because I had a cold?  Who knows.  I just love the fact that they cared enough to ask me about my thoughts on the brew.  Great people, brewing a great product, in a great city.  What more can you ask for?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

What's a keezer?

Click here if you don't see the video.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Happy National Homebrew Day!

Although most celebrated on Saturday by participating in the American Homebrewers Association Big Brew, today officially marks the day set aside for the growing pastime/hobby/obsession.  Read about its history here.  Do you homebrew?  Do you like beer?  Then why not try making your own sudsy creation?  I consider myself an infant in the homebrewing arena, but am trying to always further my knowledge and experience in the craft.  If you homebrew already, share with the rest of us.  Tell us what you've brewed or plan to brew.  Tell us what worked and what didn't.  Let's all learn from each other.  If you don't homebrew, why not start today?  Within just a few short weeks you could be sipping your very own brew.  Once you get started, you won't want to stop.  Just remember to save a bottle for me!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

World Beer Cup 2012

Congratulations to all the winners announced last night here in San Diego!  Touted "The Olympics of Beer Competition" by president of the Brewers Association, Charlie Papazian, it truly is an honor to medal in this prestigious event.  Check out the complete list of winners here, and see where your favorite beer/brewery placed.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Brewery Project: Manzanita

I'm certainly no stranger to Manzanita Brewing Co.  I visited them here, and even had a brief stint helping out in the tasting room.  I really like their beer and have a great deal of respect for the work they put into getting their product into the hands of local craft beer lovers.  They are easy to find around the county, both on tap and in bottles.  Nearly their whole lineup can be found at any nearby Albertsons.  As they gear up for a move to their new, larger location just down the road from their current one, they released a special brew for the Craft Brewers Conference and upcoming American Craft Beer Week called Cluster's Last Stand.  It is an American Pale Ale that features Cluster hops.  It's cloudy, medium bodied, and has a fairly smooth, hoppy finish.  It's definitely worth a try, but will only be available in the tasting room until it runs out, so you'd better hurry in for a pint!  I don't know if they will be keeping both brewing locations once the move has been completed, but their current spot might make a nice pilot brewery for one-off and experimental batches.  We'll see.  Wherever they call home, I'll always keep my eye on this East County brewery to see what's coming next.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

BeerCity USA 2012

It's time, once again, to find out which is the most beercentric city in the country.  I'm all for freedom of choice.  I want you to vote for whichever city on the list you feel to be the right choice.  However, those of us from San Diego know there is only one true choice!  Right now San Diego has 3% of the votes.  3%!  Asheville, NC & Grand Rapids, MI are both sitting at 25%, and even St. Louis, MO has 10%!  Come on, people!  Let's support San Diego and show the rest of the country that we are BeerCity USA!  I've used too many exclamation points, I know.  I will calm down now.  I will leave it in your hands to pick the city most deserving.  Whatever your decision, you have until May 13th at 11:59pm Mountain Time to choose.  Click here, and choose wisely.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Karl Strauss opening a new location

San Diego's first craft brewery, Karl Strauss Brewing Co., is opening a new brewery restaurant in the 4S Ranch community of San Diego.  Read about it here.  This new location, along with current plans to dramatically expand their main brewery in Pacific Beach, will make for a busy year for the beloved company.  With just about every major brewery in the county expanding or making plans to do so, it's obvious that craft beer is finally getting the attention it deserves.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Pick up a case of Stone!

Stone Brewing Co. is now bestowing cases of their glorious nectar upon us!  That's 12 bottles of Stone goodness enclosed in a single box.  144 ounces of...  Alright, I may be going overboard here.  You get the idea.  The bottom line is, when taking a case of beer to a party, bring the good stuff.  Enough said.