Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Too much booty!

Is it me, or is this way too much money for a Gordon Biersch glass boot?  How many of those could they possibly sell at that price?  (Link provided in case you actually have money to throw away.)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Black Tuesday

Tomorrow is the day.  10:00am PST is the time.  This is the place.  If you know, you know.  If not, go here.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Brewery Project: Gordon Biersch

When you think of craft beer in San Diego you probably don't think of Gordon Biersch Brewing Co.  I know I didn't.  Don't get me wrong, I've always enjoyed my visits to this nationwide chain restaurant, but always looked at them as just that, a nationwide chain restaurant.  Sure, they have flashy brewing equipment in the front windows, but I assumed that was merely for show, and that the brewing for all of their locations was done at their San Jose, California facility.  Well, it turned out I was wrong.  Each of the German-style beers they serve are brewed right on premises.  That being the case, they ranked a spot on my list of local breweries to visit.  Although I was already familiar with all of their beers, I decided to order a taster set to compare each beer, side by side.  I must say, I was quite impressed with the lineup.  Styles I don't normally care for such as their light Golden Export and crisp Czech Pilsner I found to be really good, and stood up just fine next to old favorites such as the rich Blonde Bock and malty Märzen.  A great beer experience paired with equally great food and service made for a nice evening and a newfound respect for this "nationwide chain restaurant".  There's great beer to be found all around us.  Don't let ignorance or a preconceived notion rob you of finding your next favorite beer.  Get out there and enjoy all our fine county has to offer!

Saturday, October 27, 2012


Just a few years ago a beer over 12% alcohol would have been considered extreme.  New brewing techniques have left those standards in the dust.  Behold, Armageddon, the latest release from Scottish brewery, Brewmeister.  At 65% alcohol, this beer is bound to knock off a lot more than your socks!  Read more about it here.  What's next?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Thanks, Jacob, for your unique perspective on this Bitch Creek ESB!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A true friend?

Maybe I'm being too emotional or perhaps my choice in friends is questionable, but I was and still am annoyed by the following conversation from a couple of days ago.

Friend: You should buy me a beer.

Me: I was thinking of going to such-and-such brewery to try a new beer they just released.  Do you want to go?

Friend: Why not?

Me: Cool, let's go.

Friend: You should buy me a couple of beers.

Me: I only have enough money to buy you one beer.

Friend: No, a couple of beers.

Me: I'm sorry, I can only afford one today.

Friend: I'll pass.

You be the judge.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

What's up, ECBC?

If ever there was a proponent of El Cajon Brewing Co. it was me, as evidenced by my many posts about the year old East County brewery restaurant.  After only a year in business, though, I wonder if they'll be around for another year.  A series of troubling events have occurred over the past couple of months, starting with the dismissal of owner/brewer David Meadows from the business.  Check out his response to my Brewery Project post from back in April.  Next came a new brewer, new beers, and a company struggling to reinvent themselves, all in the first year of operation.  Right on the heels of this reorganization came news of the company filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, also within the first year of opening their doors.  With the ink still drying on the bankruptcy paperwork, the faltering company chose to fire a missile at the City of El Cajon with the following remarks in a Facebook post from yesterday.

"We wanted to thank all who shared in our FIRST anniversary party, it went well.

We especially want to thank Jeff Klien from US FOODS for his generous contribution of food items for our celebration.

We were very disappointed however that the NO ONE from the CITY HALL attended the celebration. We were further disappointed that they REFUSED to even announce our anniversary on their public media email list.

Our new QUATRO CAJONES quad IPA is just wonderful, its probably the best beer we have made since our opening. We have plenty in reserve. We also have a great NEW BOURBON BARREL STOUT that is getting rave reviews, but we only have a limited amount and when its gone its gone. So get it quick before its too late.

Thank you all again and we look forward to next years even bigger party.


Patrons, past and present, came to the defense of the city, who poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into the venture.  Responses such as the following showed no support for the spiteful post.

"Was in there at 5:00pm tonight. 4 people in the bar, 3 in the restaurant... As I left, the owner and several employees were discussing this thread, making excuses and being defensive about the posts. Very unprofessional to do in front of patrons, even if there was just a handful of us... Bottom line, with the amount of money El Cajon put into this company, they have no business filing for bankruptcy. They obviously don't know how to run this type of business. Very sad."

An attempt at an apology was made, with very little response or support from the public.  I have no idea what's coming next, but I truly hope they get their act together fast, or I fear their days will be numbered.  My advice?  Make great beer, pair it with good food, and offer fantastic service.  If they can do that, El Cajon Brewing Co. may have a shot.  If not, they'll be missed.

Monday, October 22, 2012

401-Keg Plan


If you had purchased $1000.00 of Nortel stock one year ago, it would now be worth $49.00.

With Enron, you would have $16.50 left of the original $1000.

With WorldCom, you would have less than $5.00 left.

If you had purchased $1000.00 of Delta Air Lines stock you would have $49.00 left.

If you had purchased United Airlines, you would have nothing left.

But, if you had purchased $1000.00 worth of beer one year ago, drank all the beer, then turned in the cans for recycling, you would have $214.00.

Based on the above, the best current investment advice is to drink heavily and recycle.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Brewery Project: Craft

If you're going to name yourself Craft Brewing Co. you'd better do "craft" beer right, and these guys do!  If you're not familiar with this Riverside County brewery, you need to be.  Wait, did I say Riverside County?  What happened to San Diego County?  Have I moved?  No.  Have I simply disregarded my own rule about visiting all of the local San Diego County breweries for this project?  Well, yes, I guess I have.  I've known about this brewery for quite a while and threatened to visit several times, but never made it.  Now engaged in my weekly brewery visits, I would be remiss to leave them off my list of "local" breweries.  Tucked away in a labyrinth of buildings in a Lake Elsinore industrial park, they are doing just as their name implies, crafting great beer.  With 8 beers on tap and 8 tasters in front of me, I had my work cut out for me on this tasting session.  Each of the beers I sipped, from their light Fallen Angel Blonde to their dark Raven Stout, were solid.  I particularly enjoyed the Four Headed Hef with its rich banana and clove notes.  Anyone who knows me knows I am a sucker for a good IIPA, and the Double Warlock IPA packed a nice punch.  I was also treated to their Oktoberfest, which was malty and delicious.  The people were great as well, treating a stranger like myself as a regular, which I'm sure they do to everyone who comes through the door.  Unless you are in the area or just happen to be passing through, it's definitely a trek to visit this fine brewery, but well worth it.  Stop in, pull up a keg and taste the "craft" that goes into their beer!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Great American Beer Festival 2012: The (bittersweet) Event

Calling the Great American Beer Festival “bittersweet” may sound a bit odd, but don’t let my melancholy fool you, the festival was awesome!  The hall was arranged a bit differently this year, maximizing the already large space to fit in as many breweries, brews, and beer enthusiasts as possible.  As always, there were a couple of beers that stood out for me above the rest.  Interestingly enough, one of them was a standout for me back at the 2010 festival as well.  Twisted Pine Brewing Co., out of Boulder, Colorado, knows what they’re doing when it comes to brewing with chilies!  Billy’s Chilies Beer is, in my opinion, a brewing feat!  Read my 2010 review here.  Not to be outdone, Bellaire, Michigan’s Shorts Brewing Co. prefers to brew with tomatoes to make their Bloody Beer.  Yes, tomatoes!  If you like a good Bloody Mary, you’ll appreciate this beer.  If you don’t, you’ll still appreciate this beer.  Even if you don’t like this beer, which I can’t say I do, you can’t help admiring the complexity of the beer and the skill that went into brewing it.  Once you try it you won’t soon forget it, and like it or not, that’s not a bad thing!  I also found the beer I was pouring to be outstanding.  Who knew great beer was coming out of Billings, Montana?  Apparently, there are a number of new breweries in the state's largest city.  I had the privilege of pouring for Überbrew.  The beers, which consisted of a lighter beer called Golden Ticket all the way to a dark, roasty Porter called Dieselpunk, were all top quality.  My personal favorite was Humulus Ridiculous, their IIPA.  Discovering beers like these is what this festival is all about.  With great beers like this to quaff, what could possibly have dampened this year’s festivities for me?  At the risk of sounding whiny, I’m jealous!  Don't get me wrong, I love volunteering for the annual event, but I dream of walking around with the "special" wristband and glossy lanyard sporting the name of the brewery I am with.  Perhaps I brew for said brewery.  Perhaps I hold some other position, be it in production, marketing, or sales.  Dream of dreams, it could even be my own brewery!  That is where I want to be, and that is where I will be!  The destination is known, the path is yet to be found.  Until then I will follow my dreams by way of the Great American Beer Festival, festivals everywhere, and this blog.  I look forward to next year, where I will likely be pouring more awesome beers for thousands of beer lovers.  Look for me.  Perhaps I'll have that lanyard by then.  Perhaps.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Brewery Project: Ballast Point Old Grove

Whether you choose to enjoy the air conditioning of their sleek, newly renovated tasting room, or prefer to bask in the sun on their spacious patio, there is no better place to enjoy a taster or pint of your favorite Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits beer than their Old Grove location.  As their main brewery, this is where all of the brewing, distilling, and magic happens.  As noted by my various posts, I am obviously a fan of this veteran San Diego brewery.  I was extremely excited to see Tongue Buckler, their Imperial Red and one of my personal favorites, on the menu board, so I ordered that first.  A glorious, hoppy, malty brew that weighs in around 10% alcohol, I was a little sad to see they were only doing half pints of this brew, as pictured below.  I enjoyed it nonetheless!  I also decided to try a taster of Indra Kunindra, an Export Stout brewed with madras curry, cayenne pepper, cumin, toasted coconut, and kaffir lime leaf.  It sounds odd, and it was.  The aroma reminded me of hot, sticky, sweaty armpits.  The taste was like licking those armpits.  I would like to use more refined terms to describe this beer, but I have to call it like I taste it.  A Cicerone I am not... yet.  I will concede that this beer does appeal to some.  A friend of mine tried it a few days later and liked it so much he ordered a full glass!  To each his own.  I have had my last taste of this "unique" beer.  I have not, however, had my last visit to this brewery, and look forward to future visits which will be sure to broaden my current beer palate even further.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Friday, October 5, 2012

Get ready for the Great American Beer Festival!

If you'll be heading to Denver for the Great American Beer Festival next week, Beer Drinker's Guide to Colorado is a fabulous resource for the festival and the Denver beer scene in general.  Details on how to make your own GABF glass catcher are also on the site.  If you've been to the festival before, then you know how useful this clever little invention could be.  I'll see you in Denver!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Brewery Project: Helm's

On this outing I stopped in at one of San Diego's newest breweries, Helm's Brewing Co.  So new, in fact, that they have yet to open!  Thanks to my buddy Neal, who often accompanies me on my weekly beer adventures, we were able to get a sneak peek at this burgeoning brewery.  Brian, the brewer, opened the doors for us to see and taste what he has in store for San Diego in the very near future.  The aesthetics are still basic, but the moderately sized Kearny Mesa industrial space is decked out with everything needed to start and maintain production for thirsty craft beer seekers the county over.  I was impressed with the passion the young brewer showed.  Upon sampling his IPA, of which I actually quite liked, he told me that it wasn't "perfect", and said that a revamp of the recipe was already in the fermenter.  He also wasn't happy with the current incarnation of his Coffee Coconut Ale, which I found to be quite tasty.  He felt the coconut got lost in the brew, which I would agree with, so his next attempt would incorporate black pepper in place of the coconut.  Lesser breweries would simply rush a beer to meet an opening date, but here the end product is the focus, as it should be.  I had the privilege of sampling a young 100% Brettanomyces sour right from the fermenter.  Aging for only a few months, wonderful sour cherry flavors are already developing into a mouthwatering brew that should be fantastic in a year or so.  The care that's being put into these beers is what will put, and keep, this young brewery on the map.  Like the beer, the whole visit left me with a good taste in my mouth.  I can't wait to try the final versions of these beers, and I look forward to the success they will be brewing up as well.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Road Trip!

Click here if you don't see the video.

Monday, October 1, 2012