I actually haven’t seen a single episode of Brew Masters, the Discovery Channel show about Sam Calagione and Dogfish Head that focuses on their making of new and unique beers. Regardless of never seeing the show (which appears to have been cancelled after only a few episodes), I still fully appreciate this parody from the guys at Ska Brewing Company in Durango. To be fair I used to live in Durango, and some of these folks are friends of mine, but I think anyone that is remotely interested in craft beer and has a sense of humor will enjoy it. And to keep things local, keep an eye out for Ska’s President/Co-founder Dave Thibodeau wearing a Hamilton’s Tavern t-shirt in the first couple of scenes.
Ska Brewing Company is the biggest brewery in my former home of Durango, Colorado. Durango is home of four breweries and about 20,000 people, a pretty good ratio in my opinion. I’m a big fan of Ska so I brought back as much beer as I could when I visited earlier this month.
Euphoria is Ska’s winter seasonal which they team up with Venture Snowboards on. Every year they throw a kick off party up in Silverton, Colorado (above 9000 feet) in the dead of winter. Sadly I didn’t get to attend when I was living out there, but I hear it’s quite the party. Venture makes a Euphoria branded snowboard which is given away at the party.
Euphoria pours a dark amber color (I didn’t take a picture when I was drinking it, but found this picture on Flickr, I’m not sure if there’s much more light in the photo or if my Euphoria is just darker than in the photo, but what I’m drinking is much darker) with a thin off white head that disappears pretty quickly. The citrus, specifically grapefruit as well as some sort of grainy malt smell stand out.
The taste is well balanced between bready and grainy (with maybe a bit of toffee or carmel) malts and grapefruit like bitter hops. There isn’t nearly as much pine in Euphoria as there is in Ska’s IPA Modus Hoperandi (look for a little write up on it soon).
Euphoria is just over 6% but easily drinkable. One of my favorite things about it is that it comes in a can (I’m a big fan of canned craft beer). Last year Ska released Dementia a barrel aged version of Euphoria to commemorate their 15th anniversary, unfortunately I wasn’t able to get any of this (If anyone out there reading has a bottle they want to trade email me using the contact form on the About page).
Sadly Ska doesn’t distribute in California, so there’s nowhere to find this beer in San Diego, although Ska is usually at the Stone Brewing Co. Anniversary Festival in the summer. And they do distribute in Arizona, so if you find yourself out there, pick up a six pack. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Photo: CC Flickr User TRAFFIK [US]
Belgo Imperial Russian Stout, Black Raspberry Nectar, Colette Farmhouse Ale, Espresso Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout, fireworks saison, great divide san diego, great divide socal, great divide southern california, Hop Diego, hop-it, Imperial Russian Stout 10th Anniversary Blend, La Granja Coffee Stout, lost abbey tea, mike's beer cheese, Modus Hoperandi ipa, nogne o saison, norrebro, Red Stone Meadery, Smoked Porter with Chipotle Peppers, stone brewing co. 14th anniversary, traditional experimental ale, triple white sage
The Stone Brewing Co. 14th Anniversary Celebration and Invitational Beer Festival came and went this weekend, and plenty of great beer was consumed. The festival itself seemed fairly well organized, I heard many people complaining about long lines and the lack of shade, but we never waited more than two or three minutes for a beer, nor did we have any problem finding a place to sit or stand under the large tents. It was warm but not nearly as warm as it could have been in San Marcos in August.
We opted for Session A, arriving at exactly 11am, we got our glasses and wristbands without a wait and were drinking our first beers just a few minutes later. As far as I could tell everyone in attendance was having a great time. Mike’s Beer Cheese was a crowd pleaser for sure. We tried all four varieties offered with Napalm Bastard being the favorite.
Below are short notes about each beer tasted, not so much reviews but quick and mostly distracted thoughts on the four ounce tasters offered, a few at the end were shared among us and I didn’t get a full taster.
- Stone Brewing Co. Belgo Imperial Russian Stout. Stone’s IRS with a Belgian yeast strain. I quickly looked over the beer list the day before the festival and this was the beer I was most excited about, so it makes sense that it was also the beer I was most disappointed with. It wasn’t bad, but it couldn’t live up the high expectations I had for it. I’m not sure how fresh it was, but it tasted more mellow than the fresh IRS I’ve had lately. But I thought it was sorely lacking many Belgian characteristics.
- Stone Brewing Co. Smoked Porter with Chipotle Peppers. This is a beer I had been wanting to try for a while since I love spicy foods and Stone Smoked Porter. The chipotle flavor was fairly mellow, but prominent. It gave the already smoky beer a nice smoky/spicy kick. Not at all like other chili beers I’ve had, but this was my first chipotle beer.
- Nøgne Ø Saison. A good saison, but fairly unremarkable. Crisp and refreshing in the San Marcos heat. It seemed to lack the fruity esters and spicy phenols and all around funky farmhouse flavors I enjoy in a saison. It could also be that my palate hadn’t quite recovered from those two previous beers, I’ll be giving this one another shot.
- Great Divide Brewing Co. Espresso Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout. Great Divide is one of my favorite Colorado breweries that doesn’t get distributed out here, but according to the sign at their booth that will be changing soon as they’re coming to Southern California. I love Yeti, and have had Oak Aged Yeti but never Espresso Oak Aged Yeti. The oak was pretty prominent up front with a great coffee flavor on the finish.
- Lost Abbey TEA (Traditional Experimental Ale). I had no idea what this was going in. The lemon citrus flavors were overwhelming. I once had a Belgian Wit where the brewers accidentally substituted the same amount of the much stronger dried lemongrass for fresh lemongrass. This tasted similar. This would have been my first and only pour of the day but I ate some of the wonderfully spicy Mike’s Beer Cheese Napalm Bastard and this did a good job of putting that fire out.
- San Diego Brewing Co. Hop Diego. Not my favorite Belgian style IPA but not bad. Will drink this again to get a better feel for it.
- Stone Brewing Co. Imperial Russian Stout 10th Anniversary Blend. If you can’t tell by now I love Imperial Russian Stouts. And Stone’s is one of my favorites. I thought this was just delicious. I’m not sure the exact make up of this blend but it was smoother and sweeter with the hop and alcohol flavors of fresh IRS much subdued. Stone’s IRS with a few years on it is just great.
- Urthel Hop-It. Very carbonated. Good and hoppy with some nice earthy yeast flavors.
- Craftsman Brewing Co. Triple White Sage. This was the standout beer of the festival for me. I had seen Craftsman’s name around but never had any of their beers. I’ve spent a decent amount of time hiking around the foothills of Southern California and that’s exactly what this beer tasted like. A good but not overpowering white sage flavor. Refreshing enough to drinking on a hot day, but complex enough to keep it interesting.
- Craftsman Brewing Co. Fireworks Saison. Another great beer from Craftsman. Slightly spicy phenol flavors and some good yeast flavors made this very enjoyable.
- Red Stone Meadery Black Raspberry Nectar. Amazing honey flavor but almost overpoweringly sweet.
- Julian Hard Cider. A very nice cider. Was refreshing on such a warm day. Looking forward to trying this again sometime.
- Norrebro La Granja Coffee Stout. I wasn’t too impressed by this one. One of my least favorite coffee stouts I’ve had.
- Great Divide Brewing Co. Colette Farmhouse Ale. A good saison. Nice and yeasty good farmhouse flavors as the name implies.
- Ska Brewing Co. Modus Hoperandi IPA. I had to finish out the day with something from my friends in Durango. I was hoping for some Saison Du’Rango but they had temporarily run out. So Modus it was (the other choice would have been Merlot Stout, a great beer but I couldn’t do another Imperial Stout). Nice and piney with a great hop aroma, Modus is one of my favorite IPAs.
Click below for a few photos from the day.
If you’re reading this blog, we probably don’t need to tell you about Stone Brewing Co.’s 14th Anniversary Celebration and Invitational Beer Festival. In fact you probably already have your tickets. But just in case here’s a bit of a reminder. The main festival takes place Saturday, Augusts 21st in two parts. Session A runs from 11am-2pm and Session B runs from 3pm-6pm. Tickets are $40 which gets you into one session and includes ten taster tickets for samples from the 42 guest breweries (see below for our thoughts on a few of the breweries, and click on over to Stone’s site to see the full list of breweries on hand and buy tickets).
There were a limited number of all access tickets sold, which included access to both sessions (but only ten taster tickets) as well as access to an exclusive rare beer section, but it looks as if those tickets have sold out.
New this year is a Friday night (August 20th) Brewers Reception. The $65 tickets for this event get you into a special tasting reception with brewers from many of the participating breweries on hand.
Tickets for both Saturday sessions will almost certainly sell out, so if you’re interested pick them up in advance. Now a few quick notes on some of the breweries that will be on hand:
Many of the breweries listed you’re probably familiar with, about a quarter of them are from the San Diego area, and many more have distribution in San Diego. We hope that some of these breweries bring some limited releases and out of the ordinary beers that we don’t see at area bars and on the shelves of liquor stores everyday, but we’re not too worried, these guys hardly ever disappoint.
Looking down the list I did notice two of my favorite Colorado breweries that don’t get distributed in California will be on hand. Ska Brewing Company from Durango, CO (the town where I was living before moving back to San Diego a few months ago) are good friends of mine, and make great beer. I’m not sure what they’ll be pouring, but it will surely be something tasty. Also attending is Denver’s Great Divide Brewing Company. Rumors have been circulating for a while that Great Divide would start distributing in the San Diego area, and a rep from the brewery did tell me it’s likely they’ll be coming to SD, nothing is confirmed yet and no timeline is set. So make sure to stop by and see both of these breweries while you still have some drink tickets left, as they’ll probably be pouring something you haven’t had before, and won’t see for a while to come.