Where’s Waldo? CBC Edition

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One of the pleasures of the Craft Brewers Conference is sneaking away for a pint and Toronado is an easy bus ride away from The Town and Country.
I found Lagunitas Waldo, a deliciously hoppy Double IPA among plenty of other great beers.

Toronado seems to be the unofficial brewers hangout during CBC, if you’re into meeting the best of the best in the craft beer world, stop in for a pint in the next few days, chances are you’ll see some of your favorite brewers.

Rumor has it Lagunitas Waldo will show up at 4:20pm tomorrow (Friday) at Tiger!Tiger! also.

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(Not Quite) San Diego Brewed: Butcher’s Brewing Free Range IPA

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Free Range IPAI say not quite San Diego brewed because Butcher’s Brewing is currently contract brewing their beers at other locations (including Irvine’s Bayhawk) while they are working towards opening their own brewery in Carlsbad.

Butcher’s Brewing is the brainchild of Rey Knight, formerly of Knight Salumi Co. I talked to Knight at Bottlecraft a few weeks ago for the Free Range IPA release and one thing that stood out was the fact that he wasn’t shy about the beer being contract brewed for now. In my opinion there’s nothing inherently wrong about contract brewed beers, it’s when companies try to hide the fact that their beer is contract brewed that bothers me. Knight told me where the beer was made (they use two different facilities) and told me about his plans to open their own brewery here in San Diego County.

Free Range IPA isn’t a perfect beer, but it’s a great start from such a young brewery. The 7% ABV beer is hoppy with that sweet tropical fruit smell and flavor of Nelon Sauvin hops. Free Range IPA also uses Summit hops, which some people perceive as smelling and tasting like garlic or onions, but I don’t get any of that from this beer. It’s hoppy, but not a total hop bomb, there’s a bit of toasty malt, not overly sweet but it’s there. I prefer a more dry, totally hop forward, hop bomb of an IPA, which this isn’t, but it’s not bad and isn’t a bad start.

Free Range IPA is worth trying, but it may be hard for them to compete in such a crowded market. I paid $8.59 for this 22oz bottle at Bine and Vine, which is around the same price (or even more expensive) than other tried and true IPAs and Double IPAs like Alpine’s Nelson, Ballast Point’s Sculpin or Port Brewing’s Mongo. (This problem of pricing isn’t unique to Butcher’s Brewing, it’s a problem many new breweries face). This is one style of beer where Butcher’s will have plenty of competition, but this isn’t a bad start. Free Range IPA might not be my favorite IPA, but I’ll certainly drink it again.

Pizza Port Bressi Ranch (East Carlsbad) Breaks Ground

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Pizza Port Bressi RanchPizza Port today celebrated what will be their fifth location (previously reported here) at Bressi Ranch in eastern Carlsbad near Palomar Airport Rd and Gateway Road. The 35,000+ square foot building will house a brewpub similar to Pizza Port’s four other locations as well as a production facility and canning line.

Peter Rowe at U-T San Diego’s Brewery Rowe reports that Pizza Port is aiming to open the facility later this year.

Pizza Port Bressi Ranch GroundbreakingPizza Port Bressi Ranch Plans

Photos: Mark Ranallo

Craft Brewers Conference and World Beer Cup in town Next Week

Brewers from around the world will be making their way to San Diego over the next few days to take part in the 2012 Craft Brewers Conference and World Beer Cup. The conference taking place at Mission Valley’s Town and Country Hotel and Convention Center is open to industry members only, but with so many brewers from all over the country and world in town there will be plenty of things going on at bars, restaurants and breweries that are open to the public.

I haven’t had time to make a list or guide to what’s happening, and unfortunately probably won’t have time before things get started next week. West Coaster has quite a few events listed on their Calendar. Check with your favorite craft beer spots, chances are pretty good they might have something special going on, new beers (look for the Green Flash / Founders collaboration Linchpin White IPA to make it’s debut at Green Flash on Tuesday, May 1st and elsewhere later in the week), rare beers, meet the brewer nights and more.

Karl Strauss brewed this year’s CBC Symposium beer, a 10% Double IPA named “San Diego Pale Ale” which will be given out to conference attendees. Chances are this beer will also show up at a few locations throughout town in the coming weeks.

Be sure to pick up the May issue of West Coaster which should hit the streets soon, it will have all sorts of info on the Craft Brewers Conference and World Beer Cup, including a look back at some of the 2010 WBC winners (the WBC takes place every other year) that are available locally.

New Stone Company Store Coming to Oceanside

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Stone Brewing Co.The reader tips just keep on coming… After this morning’s post about Poor House Brewing Co. applying for a Type 23 license at a location on 30th St, a reader that would like to remain anonymous tipped me off that Stone Brewing Co. has set it’s sight on Oceanside.

Earlier this week Stone Brewing Co. applied for a Type 01 Beer Manufacturer license (the same type they have at the Stone Company Store South Park) for 310 N Tremont St in Oceanside. I’m not too familiar with Oceanside, but this location is just off the North Coast Highway near Mission Ave not far from museums, a movie theater and the Oceanside Pier. If I remember right from the last time I was up there the area has a lot of shops and restaurants and sees quite a bit of foot traffic, especially in the summer.

It’s unclear at this time if Stone will be brewing beer at this location or if it will operate like the South Park location with merchandise, bottle sales, growler fills and tasters. Based on the name on the license and the license type being the same as the South Park store I would bet the latter to be the case. At this point the details might not be set in Stone yet (pun intended) as it’s so early in the license application process that things could change at any moment.

If the license is approved and Stone opens this Stone Company Store in Oceanside it would be their third or fourth beer related location depending upon timing (they also operate Stone Farms). Escondido is home to the brewery, Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens restaurant, the original Stone Company Store and a hotel is in the works. Stone Company Store South Park opened on 30th St in June, 2011. Stone is currently working to open a second Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens in Liberty Station, which is planned to include a restaurant, 10 barrel brewhouse and Stone Company Store selling merchandise, growlers and beer.

I’ve emailed Stone for comment and will update this post if I get any more info.

Update: I heard back from Randy Clemens, Stone’s media guy, he confirmed that they are planning another Stone Company Store in Oceanside and are hoping for an early summer opening. It will be similar to the Stone Company Store South Park in that they won’t be brewing on site, but Clemens promises it won’t be cookie-cutter copy. He says they’re still in the early planning stages but hope to share some more details about what will differentiate the store in Oceanside in the coming weeks.

Poor House Brewing Co. & Supply, A New Brewery Coming to 30th St?

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Poor House Brewing Co. & SupplyReader David Hess (@AudacityOfHops on Twitter) sent along this photo of a company called Poor House Brewing Co. & Supply applying for a type 23 Small Business Manufacturer license at 4494 30th St Suite B about halfway between El Cajon Blvd and Adams Ave.

On the pending ABC License a “Christopher William Finch” is listed as a Managing Member of the new business. While I haven’t been able to confirm that this is the same person, Christopher Finch was one of the founders of the now defunct Firehouse Brewing Company in Mission Valley. In February 2011 UT San Diego’s Peter Rowe reported on a change in leadership at Firehouse, that Finch had been replaced as President and Board Chairman. Two months later in April I reported that Firehouse Brewing had filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and shortly after that their assets were sold at auction.

If anyone has any more info on Poor House Brewing Co. & Supply or knows if this is the same Christopher Finch that co-founded Firehouse Brewing please leave a comment below or send me an email, I’d love to hear more.

Update: The now expired ABC License for Firehouse Brewing Company also lists “Christoper William Finch,” still not confirmation that this is the same person but seems more likely.

16oz Monkey Paw Cans Coming Soon

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Scot Blair, properietor of Hamilton’s Tavern, Small Bar, Eleven and Monkey Paw Pub and Brewery just sent an email over with some exciting news: three Monkey Paw beers are coming to 16 oz cans next month, a first for a San Diego brewery.

So where has Monkey Paw been hiding this canning line? Turns out these days a brewery doesn’t need their own equipment to get their beer in cans. No we’re not talking contract brewing/packaging here, Monkey Paw will be recruiting the help of The Can Van, a San Fran bay area mobile canning service. During the Craft Brewers Conference early next month Monkey Paw will be canning ten barrels each of Oatmeal Pale Ale, Sweet Georgia Brown and Rich Man’s IIPA which turns out to be 100 cases of 16oz cans.

Will The Can Van be back in the future? That’s uncertain, but Blair doesn’t want this to be a one time deal, he’s dedicated to finding a way to continue packaging Monkey Paw’s beers, “How will I sustain it and what is the next step (my own canning line, etc) is all undecided as we’ve been flying by the seat of our pants but clearly, I don’t want it to be a one hit wonder so I will continue to push forward with my original plans as we look at our predefined goal but suffice to say ‘Brewed and Canned in San Diego, CA’ will be a fact that we will have the privilege to say in a couple weeks..”

The can artwork hasn’t received final approval from the governmental powers that be yet, but here’s an early look at the Rich Man’s IIPA.

Rich Man's IIPA Can

Updated to add Sweet Georgia Brown and Oatmeal Pale Ale artwork.

Sweet Georgia BrownOatmeal Pale Ale

A Friendly Reminder to Check Date Codes

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I try to do most of my beer shopping at small, locally owned shops; places like Bottlecraft, Bine and Vine, Olive Tree Market and (though I don’t stop in nearly enough because the location isn’t very convenient for me) Best Damn Beer Shop. Places where I can be fairly confident that the beer turns over with some regularity and isn’t sitting around on the shelves for months at a time. But every once in a while I find myself near a BevMo and decide to stop in to see what they have.

Yesterday I was near BevMo in La Mesa and went in to check out the selection. While browsing the beer aisles I came across Widmer Brothers Nelson Imperial IPA, a beer I’ve heard good things about but have never had. A four pack of 12oz bottles was around $8 and the 22oz bombers were selling for around $4.50. I decided to get the 22oz, picked one up and kept browsing. When I was nearly done and about to pay I l looked at the label again and noticed the date code on the bottle. This beer had been bottled in August of 2011 and had been presumably sitting out on the warm shelves of BevMo ever since. Widmer Brothers describes Nelson Imperial IPA as having “a powerful hoppy character” but at 7+ months of sitting around on warm shelves I decided to skip it. I checked the four pack, which showed those beers had been bottled in February which seemed much more reasonable, though not being refrigerated wasn’t doing the beer any favors.

Though there are exceptions, most beer should be consumed as fresh as possible, especially IPAs and other hoppy beers. Sitting around for a few months shouldn’t ruin a beer, but the taste will start to drop off over time. Being stored cool and at a constant temperature helps maintain freshness.

I’m sure the Nelson Imperial IPA was still drinkable, though I’d be willing to bet it wouldn’t have nearly as much of that “powerful hoppy character” Widmer Brothers boasts, the hops would have faded and it would be much more malty and sweet. It certainly wouldn’t be dangerous to drink and shouldn’t be considered “expired”. But chances are had I drank it without knowing how old it was, my perception of Nelson Imperial IPA and Widmer Brothers IPAs in general would go down, causing me to avoid the products in the future.

Not all breweries put dates on their bottles, but for those that do it’s a good idea to check out how old a beer is before you buy it, especially if you’re shopping at stores that might not take such good care of their beer. The breweries that do date their bottles often use different formats, this site can be pretty helpful in find and decoding what a date on a given bottle means.

San Diego Brewed: Green Flash Palate Wrecker

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Green Flash Palate WreckerI don’t think I had ever had Palate Wrecker before this latest batch was released a few weeks ago – Palate Wrecker is now Green Flash’s Spring Seasonal available in 12oz four packs and 22oz bombers throughout Green Flash’s distribution area – the name always sort of turned me off. I know, don’t judge a book by it’s cover (a beer by it’s name?) but every time I saw Palate Wrecker on draft there were a few other beers I wanted to try also, beers that weren’t close to 10% ABV and didn’t imply that they would wreck my palate, so I opted for others instead.

Now that Palate Wrecker is available in bottles I figured I’d give it a shot. The first thing that caught my eye was the brewing process, from a press release Green Flash sent out announcing the beer’s release:

Chuck Silva came up with a new method to make intensely hoppy IPA by performing a double brew to make a single beer. First, there is a single infusion mash and subsequent boil at 65 IBU with Columbus and Centennial hops. Then a second, duplicate mash using the 65 IBU wort instead of water and another 65 IBU boil using the same hop schedule. The result is a higher gravity beer with kettle caramelizing in place of crystal malts, an elevated hop flavor and bitterness that could not be achieved in a single brew.

I don’t know of any other beers made like this, maybe they’re out there, but I’ve never heard of them. In the wrong hands a beer like this could turn out pretty bad, but Chuck Silva knows what he’s doing when it comes to stuff like this.

So the brewing process is cool, but how’s the beer? Not bad, but not really my thing. There are a lot of people that love this beer, like go crazy for it. I’m not a huge fan of sweeter Double IPAs, and while this one apparently doesn’t use crystal malt there’s plenty of carmelization from the double brew. I’ll drink it, but I probably won’t order a second pint when I’m done. It’s plenty bitter but I don’t pick up much hop flavor, the malty caramel like sweetness and bitterness dominate.

I picked up this single 12oz bottle at Bine and Vine for $3.29 (it’s a bit cheaper per bottle if you buy a four pack) and also available in 22oz bottles.

South Bay Drugs Reopens as Bine and Vine in Normal Heights

Bine and VineSouth Bay Drugs has reopened as Bine and Vine Bottle Shop at 3334 Adams Ave in Normal Heights. Until they closed early last year, South Bay Drugs was one of the most beloved craft beer shops in all of San Diego despite their inconvenient-for-most-people location just a few miles north of the border in Imperial Beach.

Unlike South Bay Drugs, Bine and Vine doesn’t have a pharmacy attached and instead is instead nearly 100 percent focused on quality beverages: craft beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages, like gourmet soda’s and tea.

They’ve been open a few months now, fixing things up and getting the shop setup just they way they want it and just recently officially announced the name of the new shop and started telling all of South Bay Drugs old customers where the new location is.

The prices are fair, they’ve got plenty of cold storage and Geoi the owner is a cool guy that knows beer. And if you have out of state friends that are always hounding you to ship them beer, send them to Bine and Vine’s website, they ship to over 30 states.