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Eric and Rebecca Giddens of Kern River Brewing Company

Eric and Rebecca Giddens of Kern River Brewing Company

An alternate title for this post could be: “Stouts, Stouts, Stouts (and an IPA or two)”

Tuesday was Kern River Brewing Co. night at Toronado. Eric and Rebecca Giddens and Kyle Smith of Kern River were on hand and brought with them Just Outstanding IPA, Citra Double IPA, Class V Stout and Class X Stout.

Just Outstanding IPA is well, just outstanding and since I had already had it before both bottled and on tap, I decided to skip it that night and try the other offerings. I chatted with Eric Giddens from the brewery for a while about it’s namesake mountain bike trail. And let’s just say a road trip to Kernville is being planned. I was most looking forward to the Class X Stout, and it did not disappoint. Class X Stout is the bourbon barrel aged version of Class V Stout, a respectable beer in it’s own right, and it was really interesting to be able to drink the two beers side by side. Class X Stout starts out as Class V Stout but is 100% barrel aged for eight months which changes the beer dramatically. Both were being served on nitrogen at Toronado, so it’s hard to compare them to other stouts served on CO2, but comparing them to each other was easy.

The Class V Stout had a very strong roasted smell and taste. It wasn’t quite a coffee characteristic, but the roasted smell and flavor were very aggressive. The Class X Stout on the other hand smelled of bourbon and bourbon, vanilla and chocolate were all very apparent in the taste. It had some roasted characteristics but they were definitely more subdued than the Class V Stout. I would really like to try Class X Stout on CO2, so I could better gauge how well it stands up against other barrel aged stouts, because on nitrogen I have to say it is fantastic. Citra DIPA is another great beer from Kern River Brewing Co. My experience with Citra hops is limited, but this one is great. It has a big citrus hop smell and taste, it’s fairly fruity but seems to be more lemon or orange than the typical grapefruit flavors of a lot of IPAs.

Wednesday night started at the new URBN pizza joint in North Park. They were holding a special media preview night at I had a few slices and some beer on the house. It was New English Brewing Co. night so I started off with a Trooper’s Tipple IPA. It’s an English style IPA which uses East Kent Goldings hops, it’s low in alcohol at 4.8% ABV and is fairly malty, but according to New English it’s a fairly classic example of the English IPA style. It was fairly light and refreshing, but I had to move on to something heavier next and had a Dogfish Head Chicory Stout. This 5.2% ABV has strong roasted and maybe even burnt flavors reminiscent of dark black coffee. It was bitter but not from the usual hop bitterness found in most beers. Chicory is used by some people as a decaf coffee substitute as it has a similar flavor which I think came through well in this beer.

After URBN I headed down to Neighborhood where they were featuring The Lost Abbey and Port Brewing Company. I opted to go with the barrel aged again and ordered a Deliverance. Deliverance is a a blend of bourbon barrel-aged Serpent’s Stout and brandy barrel-aged Angel’s Share. I have never had Angel’s Share, and have only had non-bourbon barrel-aged Serpent’s Stout, so this was mostly new to me. Deliverance is good and is maybe my favorite beer I’ve had from The Lost Abbey so far (my experience with The Lost Abbey has been fairly limited, that is being rectified). It hada  strong bourbon smell and taste, I couldn’t detect much brandy, along with roasted flavors from the Serpent’s Stout. The alcohol taste and heat was much strong on this than other barrel aged stout’s I’ve had. It was definitely a sipper and not something that could be drank quickly.

That finally brings us to Thursday when I stopped into Karl Strauss in Sorrento Mesa for lunch where I had a SDBW Stout. This dry stout is around 5% ABV but is pretty flavorful. I’m a big fan of Imperial Stouts, and typically shy away from the lower ABV stouts, but I really enjoyed this. It’s brewed with Star Anise and has a slight liquorice flavor. The roasted barley flavors mostly overpowered the liquorice, but too strong of liquorice flavors could be too sweet. The body was a bit thin but I felt it had a great flavor, I would have preferred a bit more liquorice, but I’m probably in the minority on that one.

Kyle Smith, Brewer at Kern River and Robert Sanders

Kyle Smith, Brewer at Kern River and Robert Sanders

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