Monday, April 29, 2013

If I did yoga, this is where I'd do it!

I just had to share the photo Mission Brewery posted on Facebook yesterday.  Talk about the perfect environment for yoga!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Brewery Project: Intergalactic

Alex Van Horne.  You may not know this name, yet, but I'm sure you will.  The owner and head brewer of the newly opened Intergalactic Brewing Co. is part of a new breed of young brewers hitting the San Diego brewing scene.  A small brewery, outfitted with just the essentials, brewing beer their way.  The beer is the focus, pure and simple, the way it should be.  That's what Alex is about, and it shows in his beer.  With a grand opening set for May 4th, he already has an impressive tap list with a wide range of beer styles represented.  The 4.4% alcohol Subspace Session Ale was exceptional.  A style I would normally shy away from, this beer had enough flavor to warrant another round.  The Astro Scottish Ale, at 4.9% alcohol, was also very good.  Lighter in body and color than I'm used to seeing in this style, it was very drinkable and not too heavy.  An IPA and Stout were also present, but the Red Planet Rye, an 8.2% alcohol Imperial Red Ale made with rye, was probably my favorite selection.  Aggressive, without being cloyingly so, it gave me my bitterness fix without leaving me worn out afterward.  Another beer of note was the Reentry Smoked Pale Ale.  A drinkable, 5.1% alcohol beer, the smoke was evident, yet subtle in a way that left you wanting more.  Not a fan of Smoked Beer (also known as German Rauchbier), I would order this one again.  If these are the beers he's putting out for his soft opening, I can't wait to see what he's got in store for the grand opening!  Alex Van Horne.  Get to know the man.  Get to know the beer.  Get in on the ground floor as this young brewer takes the San Diego beer scene by storm!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Alpine Beer Co. to contract with Cold Spring Brewing Co.

I support our local breweries and their brewing decisions, but I was taken aback when I read this article about the pending deal Alpine Beer Co. has made with Minnesota's Cold Spring Brewing Co. to contract out the brewing of several of their beers.  I echo the words of the following comment made about the article.

"I love their beer but something about moving the production to Minnesota leaves a bad aftertaste in my mouth.  Does this have anything to do with the resent theft of brewing equipment?"

Apparently, Cold Spring contract brews for several breweries across the country, including 21st Amendment Brewery and Redhook, among others.  I personally like their John Henry Three Lick Spiker Ale, but don't care at all for their other brews that I have tried.  If Alpine really needs to find a bigger facility to brew for them, couldn't they find space at a local brewery?  Or, if they need to search beyond California, isn't there a brewery that produces a better product of their own that would be a better choice?  I'm just an outsider looking in, but I just hope they make a decision that won't negatively affect their beer or their reputation.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

This really bugs me!

Fresh, local beer paired with delicious, edible bugs?  Something's buggy about that, but I'm intrigued.  San Diego Natural History Museum’s NIGHTSattheNAT is hosting just such an event next Wednesday, May 1st.  Go here for all the creepy, crawly details.  I guess I can't complain the next time a gnat lands in my brew!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Mad Lab Craft Brewing

My friend Mike, who runs Mad Lab (you may remember my Brewery Project visit here), put together a social media commercial for the brewery and asked me to spread it around.  Check it out and share it.  If you haven't already, go check out for yourself what Mike is doing for craft beer in South Bay.  He puts his heart into everything that goes on there and will be more than happy to share his brewing experiences with you over a pint.  I'll see you there!

Click here if you don't see the video.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits is expanding, again!

You can't stop growth, especially when you're always evolving and diversifying like these guys!  I saw this posted around midnight last night, er, this morning.  Perhaps I was up too late.  Actually, I was enjoying a can of Big Eye IPA at the time.  Wow, I need sleep.  Anyway, I digress.  Again.  Where was I?  Ah, yes.  Congratulations to all the guys, but particularly Colby Chandler, who will be at the helm of this new location.  I can't wait to check out the new spot!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Brewery Project: Thorn St.

On an unassuming street in the heart of San Diego sits an unassuming brewery.  Thorn St. Brewery, on Thorn St. oddly enough, presents itself as a quaint little tasting room.  As you walk in the front door a moderately sized bar immediately greets you.  A couple of bar-height tables are to the left, and a cozy nook to the right houses another small seating area.  I liked the look and feel of the place immediately.  A tasting flight of 8 beers was reasonably priced at $6, which made me even happier.  The beers were good, each sticking to their respective styles nicely.  I liked the Belgian Strong Ale a lot, but found the American Strong Ale unmemorable.  I really liked the IPA, which was very smooth.  Their Chili Pale Ale was very balanced, with no heat at all on the tongue, but a nice warm finish in the back of the throat.  Not a huge fan of Stouts, I liked their Stout better than their Coffee Stout.  Both were similar, but the addition of coffee to the latter made it a bit too bitter for my palate.  As I was enjoying my tasters, I kept seeing people come through the front door, but the room wasn't filling up.  Finally I noticed that a lot of people were going through an unmarked door next to the restrooms.  I started wondering if there was a patio or something that I wasn't privy to.  Chris, who accompanied me on this excursion, ventured through the mystery door to see where it led.  Assuring me it was something I needed to see for myself, I ventured forth.  Was I ever glad I did!  Through the door and up a small set of stairs opened up to a huge room which included a nice brewing area, an additional bar, plenty of table and seating areas, and even some toys and a play area for the little ones.  The place was abuzz with tasters being enjoyed, conversations being had, and kids scurrying about.  The vibe was comfortable and laid back.  Had I not been paying attention I could have missed the best part of this brewery, other than the beer, of course.  I will definitely be back here again, possibly with my family.  If they keep their beer consistent and the atmosphere friendly, this unassuming brewery will continue to call this unassuming street home for quite some time.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Thursday, April 18, 2013

21 years ago today...

I married the love of my life, my best friend, the eventual mother of my 4 beautiful children!  The past 21 years have been an adventure that I wouldn't trade for anything.  And so, I dedicate this, my 800th post, to her, our life together, and the ever changing road ahead.  I had hoped to celebrate this evening with a bottle of Karl Strauss 21st Anniversary Ale, 2010 vintage.  Try as I may, I came up empty handed.  That's alright, because tonight what's in my glass will not be my focus.  This blog will not be my focus.  Tonight, I celebrate my wonderful, loving wife.  I celebrate the world we have created, the joys it has brought us, the awe and wonder that we find in it every day.  Tonight, surround by my family, I celebrate.  Tomorrow, the adventure continues.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Monday, April 15, 2013

Putting the cart before the horse?

I've been a proponent of breweries having nice tasting rooms for years, as evidenced by this post from 2011.  I'm a bit concerned, however, with the current trend of new breweries spending months putting together big, beautiful tasting rooms before ever opening the doors or sampling their beer to the public.  A well equipped tasting room, in my opinion, is a must, but should it be the first thing a new brewery does?  Wouldn't it make more sense to develop a good product, a devoted fan base, and some actual equity in the business before investing borrowed money for a fancy place to sample a new, untested, and untried product?  Then again, what do I know?  I'm just a consumer.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Brewery Project: ChuckAlek

It's been years since I've been through the remote, sleepy community of Ramona, and I've never had reason to actually stop there.  That reason presented itself when I heard about ChuckAlek Independent Brewers.  Open since January, this small, family-run brewery specializes in what they call "Heritage Infused Brewing", using Old World brewing techniques to bring historical beer styles into the 21st century.  Grant, the owner and brewer, was happy to answer questions and chat about his creations, and even took me on a behind the scenes tour of the small, but well-equipped, brewing facility.  I was impressed with his knowledge and enthusiasm for the craft, and his infectious energy showed in the final product.  I sampled 7 of his brews, including a Düsseldorf Altbier, Pale Ale, Berliner Weisse, Porter, Grodziskie Ale, Baltic Porter, and another Porter they called "East India Porter".  Each beer was unique and delicious in its own way.  I really enjoyed Conductor, the 9% alcohol Baltic Porter, which had a hint of blackberry in the finish.  Another standout was the East India Porter, a hoppy, 8% alcohol, 96 IBU brew which is deserving of further attention.  Further attention is what this brewery will be getting as word gets out about what's going on in this area otherwise devoid of fresh craft beer.  You may not have planned on visiting Ramona anytime soon, but I recommend putting it on your itinerary now!  You'll be happy with the change of scenery in both landscape and liquid form.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Top 50 Breweries of 2012

The Brewers Association has released its annual list, which can be found here.  Kudos to San Diego's Stone Brewing Co. (#10), Karl Strauss Brewing Co. (#39), and Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits (#46).  California occupied a whopping 11 spots on the list, with Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. holding strong to second place.  Congratulations to all the craft breweries who made the list this year!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Monday, April 8, 2013

BrewDog IS Hardcore!

I LOVE this video that BrewDog put out for their Hardcore IPA.  Enjoy!

Click here if you don't see the video.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Brewery Project: Lightning

I've talked time and again about the fact that a great brewery is made up of more than just great beer.  This fact was hit home with my visit to Lightning Brewery.  There is nothing fancy here, with the brewing floor serving as the rudimentary "tasting room".  Right in the middle of the action, there's no mystery as to where you are or where the beer you're drinking comes from.  Sipping your beer, you feel as if you are an honorary member of the team taking a quick break before getting back to work crafting the next batch of brew.  They don't need a fancy tasting room, a spacious seating area, or even chairs, because what makes this brewery great, aside from the beer of course, is the people behind the beer.  Rick, one of the two people manning the brewery at the time, greeted me with a firm handshake, introduced himself, and warmly welcomed me to the brewery for the first time.  Explaining how tastings worked there, he set me up with a tasting flight of 6 samplers.  He was more than happy to answer any questions he could, but didn't hesitate to admit it if there was something he didn't know.  A "real" person, he made me feel at home in the heart of a thriving brewing environment.  He wasn't trying to sell me on the brewery or the beer, but that's exactly what he did.  That's what makes a great brewery.  That, and great beer, which they also had.  Familiar with most of their offerings, I was happy to see a beer I had never seen before.  Double Strike IPA, a 9% alcohol IIPA, was excellent.  Bold and flavorful, it fit the style without beating you over the head about it.  I'll be looking for this one the next time I shop for beer.  I've always liked this brewery, but this trip has turned me into a true fan.  Make your own trip to the brewery and join the club!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Who said that?

"Beer makes you feel the way you ought to feel without beer."
- Henry Lawson

Friday, April 5, 2013

Butcher's Brewing

Seeing a Butcher's Brewing van drive past me in El Cajon today I was reminded that they have taken over Manzanita's old brewing facility in Santee.  I've read that they have signage up, but no word on whether or not the tasting room is open yet.  I'll investigate and report back.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

It was only a matter of time

El Cajon Brewing Co. posted the following to their Facebook page a few hours ago.

"As of Monday April the 1st the restaurant and brewery is under new ownership.  The restaurant will be temporarily closed.  It was a an unexpected change in ownership, but over the weekend we hammered out a deal the was very generous for all.

We do not know how long it will take for the new owners to reopen the business but we are confident that it will be soon.  We wish them the very best of luck and we hope they are highly successful."

I've seen this coming for quite some time.  This was a pretty good indicator of what the future held for this struggling brewery.  What's next?  Hopefully a name change, perhaps a familiar face to the San Diego beer scene taking over the reins.  Then again, maybe not.  Perhaps the large amount of money the City of El Cajon poured into this business will prevent a change of name, and another hopeful entrepreneur will strive to carry on the ECBC torch.  Whatever the case, I hope they brew great beer, serve good food, and offer fantastic service.  If so, they just may make it.  Time will tell.

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Bruery is at it again!

A new 2 ounce growler size from The Bruery!  I wonder why they picked today to unveil this?  Hmmm.