Latitude 33 Shows Interest in Canned Beer



More and more canned craft beers are becoming available in San Diego these days, but no San Diego breweries are canning their beers yet. Hess Brewing Company and Pizza Port have shown some possible interest in canning in the future, and now Latitude 33 can be added to that list of local breweries considering canning.

On their blog today, The HOBO (Kevin Buckley, Head of Brewery Operations and Brewmaster) asked for feedback on consumer’s thoughts about cans.

We have been taking part in a fun little debate around the brewery. Now, I would like some outside opinions on the matter. Bottles, cans what is the perception? For as long as I can remember cans have been shunned as the inferior packaging that is home to the dirty lil secret beer. We all still have one that we like to steal a drink of. Has this finally started to change?

There’s been a resurgence of the talk surrounding canned beer and the environmental impact of cans vs bottles recently thanks to comments made by Tony Magee Owner of Lagunitas Brewing Company: “We’ll be last brewery in the US to use aluminum cans.”

My take on canned craft beer is mixed. Personally I’ve long since gotten past the stigma of canned beer being low quality. I’ll buy cans if that’s the only way to try a certain beer (Oskar Blues and Golden Road for instance). Otherwise I typically buy bottles unless I’m planning on drinking the beers where glass is unsafe/not recommended. Canned beer is great for tailgating, camping, hiking and all those outdoor activities where broken glass could be a problem. For my everyday regular drinking beer I’d rather it come from a glass bottle (no BPA) or growler.

If you have thoughts on canned craft beer one way or the other Latitude 33 wants to hear from you. Hit the link to read the rest of their post.

Sierra Nevada Hoptimum


HoptimumSierra Nevada’s Hoptimum doesn’t seem to get as much attention as some other seasonal beers that beer geeks go crazy over. Maybe it’s the fact that four packs of Hoptimum can be found pretty much anywhere that sells decent beer, and at a relatively reasonable (for a seasonal Double IPA) price of $10 for said four pack.

As the name implies, Hoptimum is hoppy, 100 IBU’s of whole cone hop goodness including some new Sierra Nevada proprietary hops as well a Simcoe, Citra, Chinook and German Magnum.

Just like you’d expect, it’s bitter, but it also has a great grapefruit and fruity hop flavor. Like many Double IPAs, Hoptimum is fairly sweet, but has the hop bitterness and flavor to balance those sweet malts out.

Hoptimum won’t be on shelves for long, so pick some up soon (and if you do manage to find a bottle a few months from now it’s best to avoid it, all the hoppy goodness will have probably faded).

White Labs Tasting Room Now Open


White LabsI haven’t been able to stop in yet, but I noticed a Facebook post stating that White Labs Tasting Room is now open at their facility in the Miramar area (conveniently located just about halfway between Alesmith and Ballast Point). The tap room features 32 taps and will feature beers made with different yeast and brewing and fermentation techniques.

White Labs is the local company that provides many local (and not so local) breweries and homebrewers with liquid yeast.

Doggie Beer Bones posted a picture on Facebook of some of the beers offered last night, they included a Saison and Red Ale each fermented with six different yeast strains and a Brown Ale with four different yeasts. A lot can be learned about just how much yeast influences the flavor of the beer by tasting a few fermented with different yeast strains side by side. The White Labs Tasting Room looks to be as much (or more so) about education as it is about just drinking a tasty beer, which isn’t a bad thing in my opinion.

White Labs Tasting Room is at 9495 Candida Street, San Diego, CA 92126 just off Kearny Villa Rd. The tasting room will be open Thursday and Friday 4-8pm and Saturday 12-8pm until June when their hours will expand.

If You Have to Drink Green Beer on St. Patrick’s Day…


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Please skip the Bud/Miller/Coors with green food coloring added, and instead try a Berliner Weisse with Woodruff syrup added.

Honestly, with the weather being forecast for San Diego this weekend I wouldn’t recommend either of the above mentioned green beers, and would instead opt for a nice dark, roasty (and quite possibly higher ABV) stout. It might be a good time to pull an Imperial Stout you’ve been aging for a year or two out of the cellar. If you’re dead set on the Irish theme of St. Paddy’s day you could stop into Monkey Paw for a pint of their Down’s Family Irish Stout which I’ve heard great things about.

Woodruff SyrupBut if you really want the green beer, pick up a bottle of Berliner Weisse, The Bruery’s Hottenroth Berliner Weisse is a good locally made choice, or opt for a bottle of 1809 Berliner Style Weisse straight from Germany. Then head up to Tip Top Meats in Carlsbad and pick up a bottle of Woodruff syrup. Pour the Berliner Weisse into some nice stemware, add a bit of syrup to taste, and you’ve got authentic green beer.

For more background on Berliner Weisse check out the Wikipedia page, or this post on Beervana.

Photo: CC flickr user the__photographer

“Don’t Bro Me if You Don’t Know Me” – How Not To Build Community Around Local Craft Beer


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Don't Bro Me if You Don't Know Me

3/10/12 See update with info from Arsalun Tafazoli at bottom of post.

I have no idea if this pint glass, adorned with the Neighborhood name and logo along with the Stone Brewing Co. name and gargoyle is a commentary by Neighborhood aimed at Sid Mikhail of Best Damn Beer Shop. If you know Sid you’ve probably been greeted by him with “Hey bro” at least once, it’s something he’s fairly well known for in the local beer community. I’ve had multiple people bring it up with me when talking about Best Damn Beer Shop. Granted some people don’t like it, some people find it a little odd, others just understand it’s the way the guy talks and don’t mind it (myself included).

Neighborhood recently had a fairly public dispute with Best Damn Beer Shop when they announced plans to open a tasting room and off-premise bottle shop near their current bar/restaurant at 8th and G St Downtown (which happens to be just a few blocks from Best Damn Beer Shop). You can read more about that here (and be sure to read the comments).

An email to Arsalun Tafazoli, owner of Neighborhood, asking about the glasses and if they are a commentary about Sid Mikhail was not returned. Neighborhood’s publicist who sent me the image of the glass and info about the night had this to say about it: “It’s just a Neighborhood saying that means just that. A quote from Arsalun I believe.”

I’m perfectly willing to admit that there’s a chance that this has nothing to do with Sid and Best Damn Beer Shop, if that is the case it is a most unfortunate coincidence. Previously Arsalun Tafazoli said his opening a bottle shop wasn’t about competition but rather about building community in craft beer. If that’s really what he’s after this certainly isn’t the way to do it. Arsalun is a smart guy, and pretty on top of things, it’s hard for me to imagine that even if it weren’t his intention he wouldn’t know that some people might see this as a comment about Sid at Best Damn Beer Shop given what’s gone on between the two businesses recently.

And just why is the glass co-branded with Stone Brewing Co.? The glasses will be given away Tuesday night (March 13th) with the purchase of any Stone Brewing Co. beer at Neighborhood, when they’ll also be releasing for the first time a new custom blend which they just got ABC and TTB approval for, Stone Mixed Tape-GK & LU’s Blend Vol. 1 will be on tap for the first time ever. It’s a blend of Stone Levitation Ale, Stone LeVariation Ale (Levitation w/ our Belgian yeast strain), Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale, Stone Smoked Porter, Stone Cali-Belgique IPA, 2011 Stone Imperial Russian Stout and 2011 Stone BELGO Anise Imperial Russian Stout with added notes of sage, peppers, lemon thyme, and Citra hops.

In an email Greg Koch CEO of Stone Brewing Co. distanced the company from the glass and any potential bad blood between Neighborhood and Best Damn Beer Shop, “I’m not aware of the source of the “Bro” thing.  We were not part of the design process of the glass.  We are not part of any ‘spat,’ and I’m not aware that the glass is either.”

As for the beer I’ll say it sounds interesting — in both the I am really genuinely curious how that will taste sense of the word, as well as the way one might stretch out the first syllable when they say the word, innnnnteresting, to denote that they might have a few reservations about it. One way to find out how the blend works out is to try it, 6pm Tuesday at Neighborhood, Koch will be on hand to see how folks respond to it.

Update: Arsalun Tafazoli of Neighborhood wrote back to say this has nothing to do with Sid and Best Damn Beer Shop and that glasses were actually planned and made for a San Diego Beer Week event that had to be bumped due to scheduling conflicts. So it turns out that this is just a really unfortunate coincidence as I previously wrote could be the case. I asked around a bit before publishing this post yesterday and every one I talked to assumed this was aimed at Best Damn Beer Shop, so regardless of intention, I wasn’t the only person that interpreted it as such. Tafazoli’s email is below.

San Diego Beer News Roundup


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I’ve been a bad blogger lately, with a ton going on at work and home I haven’t been blogging much. Things might be a little slow for a while longer, but here’s a quick roundup with some links to keep you up to date.

According to Amy T. Granite, the CCDC has approved Neighborhood for an off-site consumption permit. They still need to get a license (or a change to their current license depending on how they will be operating) but it looks like they’re one step closer to opening a spot to sell bottles to go near 8th and G downtown. Here’s a post with a bit of back story on their proposed bottle shop/tasting room. Check out the comments to see what folks are saying about it.

This Saturday is Churchill’s Renaissance at Churchill’s Pub and Grille in San Marcos. The tap list looks amazing (dare I say Pliny the Younger is the most pedestrian beer on the list?). They’ll also have a limited amount of bottles of Port/Lost Abbey brewed Churchill’s Finest Hour available for sale to go, if last year was any indication it’s a good idea to get there early if you’re looking to score a bottle.

Tomorrow (Saturday) is also the second Turista Libre TJ Craft Beer Tour, the last one was a ton of fun, it’s great to see ambitious homebrewers turning out good beer south of the border.

Pat Mcilhenney at Alpine Beer Co. sent out a newsletter earlier in the week in which he announced a few changes to the ways their beers get released. First off he says they won’t be giving much notice when a new beer is coming out, maybe they’ll announce it the day before it goes on sale, maybe once it’s already on sale, or (Mcilhenney  doesn’t explicitly say this) but maybe they won’t announce beer releases at all. Much of his email is about rewarding local and loyal customers, not out-of-towners and those looking to resell Alpine’s beers and make a quick buck. Which brings up the part that got everybody talking (just check out the comments at Beerpulse):

You have seen your very last growler of “Exponential Hoppiness” ever to be dispensed. [The link included no longer show’s the auction which was ended soon after the email went out, here’s a link to the seller’s Ebay page]

Since I previously stated if I ever saw a growler of “Exponential Hoppiness” for sale on ebay there would never be another growler sold again. Don’t blame me, but you can see who to blame on the above link. As for bottles of “Expo” on ebay, I’m seriously considering never bottling it again. This is not just a personal issue, it’s illegal.

Mike Shess at West Coaster and Peter Rowe at Brewery Rowe both followed up with Mcilhenney, and it sounds like he may change his mind somewhere down the line, but I wouldn’t expect to see Alpine filling growlers of Expo during the next release.

And not to be forgotten in the hoopla, Alpine released bottles of the always delicious Chez Monieux Kriek this week. No word on how fast it’s selling (or if it’s sold out already) but I’d hurry up there if you want some.

Speaking of West Coaster, the March issue is out now, and if you didn’t get a chance to pick up the February issue, my column about “imitation” craft beer was posted to the web a few days ago.

San Diego Brewed: Stone Brewing Co. Old Guardian



San Diego Brewed is sponsored by Bottlecraft.

Bottlecraft is a retail shop and tasting room in Little Italy showcasing local, domestic and international craft beers. They offer hundreds of beers for your enjoyment in their onsite tasting room or to-go, as well as daily beer flights, events, glassware, merchandise, and gifts. Open Noon-10pm seven days a week. 2161 India Street, San Diego, CA 92101.

Stone Brewing Co. Old GuardianI’m not a huge Barleywine fan, but enjoy them enough and try to have one from time to time. Stone Brewing Co.’s Old Guardian is probably one of the first I ever had (it was either Old Guardian or Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot). I was a bit fan of the Belgo Old Guardian last year, so much so that I don’t think I had the regular version at all.

From what I can recall Stone tweaks the recipe of Old Guardian from time to time, this year is no exception. “For 2012, we made a deliberate effort to move away from the English hop influence of the past few years,” Brewmaster Mitch Steele said in a press release. “We took out the East Kent Golding hops and used a blend of American Chinook, Calypso and Cascade, which gave strong hints of grapefruit and pine to the aroma and flavor.”

First off, this is a beer that needs to warm up. Take the bottle out of the refrigerator and let it sit out longer than you think is necessary. Don’t guzzle it down while it’s too cold or you’ll miss much of the flavor.

At 11% ABV it’s boozy, and at 85 IBUs it’s hoppy, but there’s so much rich flavor from the malts that, while I wouldn’t call it balanced, it all comes together pretty well.

I often don’t think much about food pairings, but a beer like this I knew needed something that could compliment it well. I picked up some Stilton Blue Cheese (which just so happened to be on the recommended pairing list, thank you Dr Bill). The Stilton complimented the beer perfectly, the rich, creamy cheese coats your mouth and starts to prepare your taste buds for the intense flavor to come. The beer washes the cheese away as you drink, perfectly transitioning from rich creamy cheese to big hoppy, malty beer.

I don’t remember it well enough from year’s past, but I have to say I think the aggressive American hops might be a bit much for me. Though surely many fans of super aggressive West Coast IPAs will enjoy it.

Note: Stone provided this bottle free of charge as a press sample, but 22oz bottles are on the shelves at better beer shops where Stone is distributed (including Bottlecraft)


Neighborhood’s Proposed Bottleshop and Best Damn Beer Shop’s Response

Last Wednesday Ryan Lamb at West Coaster put up a blog post with a few details about a proposed bottle shop and tasting room that Arsalun Tafazoli, owner of downtown restaurant and craft beer bar Neighborhood is hoping to open in the same building that houses Neighborhood on the 700 block of G Street. As Lamb put it, “This move would bring the beer-for-here/beer-to-go model close to the Gaslamp Quarter where many tourists and conventioneers stay while in town.”

Tafazoli filed for a Conditional Use Permit with the Centre City Development Corporation (CCDC) on January 17th. West Coaster’s post provided a contact at the Centre City Advisory Committee that readers could contact to get more information about the project, and concluded with: “Support for this project can be sent to Lorena Cordova at the CCDC is the woman to contact. Her e-mail address is”

Support was positive on Facebook and Twitter with a few people leaving comments in favor of it. One person said that it would be a great addition to East Village while another said he wrote an email to Cordova at CCDC to show support. But it turns out not everyone is looking forward to the possibility of Neighborhood opening a bottle shop downtown.

A few days later on February 13th, Neighborhood posted the following messages to Twitter:

According to Tafazoli CCDC contacted him to let him know that Sadeer Mikhail (Sid at Best Damn Beer Shop (BDBS), and the son of the owner of Super Jr Market which houses BDBS) emailed to inquire about more information on Neighborhood’s plans and for information on how to petition the license application. Mikhail would not confirm nor deny that he wrote the email to CCDC which said in part, “I’m afraid if the Neighborhood Ale House opens up a bottle shop/tasting room it will dramatically effect us [Super Jr Market/Best Damn Beer Shop] directly considering we are 3 blocks away. Please let us know how we can petition this application for beer and wine off sell license.” The email also listed three other businesses that would be effected if Neighborhood were to open a bottle shop, though Mikhail later declined to provide me with any contact info for other business that would be effected.

Mikhail provided a statement (which he asked that I post in full, see below) in which he said “I was told by a few people in the community that The Neighborhood has plans to open up a bottle shop beer & wine. So I inquired about what their plans are. I was told to email CCDC to find out more information about the license they are applying for. I’m not the only business that is concerned about this application. Super Jr. Market (Best Damn Beer Shop) never filed anything. My family has owned the store since 1978, and many employees and family members live off of Super Jr. Market. We have nothing against The Neighborhood Ale House, I actually enjoy that they do not supply ketchup with their fries. However, any business person would try to protect his/her livelihood and their employees from someone opening a similar type of business 3 blocks away.”

One can’t fault Mikhail for wanting to protect his family’s business, but some don’t like the way he’s possibly going about it, with one person responding to Neighborhood’s tweet: “WEAK!” another person commented on Facebook, “It really sucks. I love the Best Damn Beer Shop, but such animosity for fellow beer lovers makes me not want to patronize them anymore.” Tafazoli added in an email, “the city official was even surprised she said it was the first time she had seen a protest from another business on the grounds of competition.”

Tafazoli doesn’t seem deterred, “As you know this town has been flooded with establishments focusing on Craft Beer which has been a good thing for all, and something we’ve taken an enormous amount of pride in. We’re not competing against each other, our interests are aligned, and for those guys to actually file a protest is really disappointing. But the community will prevail. Ever since I sent out that tweet, the feedback has been awesome, Jack [White] from Ballast Point, Greg [Koch] from Stone, even Rob Tod [from Allagash] who is in Maine offered to help me out if needed. Greg said he would come out and speak in support if there was a hearing.”

Below is Mikhail’s full statement

Continue reading

San Diego Brewed: Iron Fist Velvet Glove


San Diego Brewed is sponsored by Bottlecraft.

Bottlecraft is a retail shop and tasting room in Little Italy showcasing local, domestic and international craft beers. They offer hundreds of beers for your enjoyment in their onsite tasting room or to-go, as well as daily beer flights, events, glassware, merchandise, and gifts. Open Noon-10pm seven days a week. 2161 India Street, San Diego, CA 92101.

Velvet GloveVelvet Glove is probably my favorite beer in Iron Fist’s small but growing lineup. It’s a 9% Imperial Stout that differentiates itself fairly well from the competition.

It smells just like you’d expect: roasty, reminiscent of dark chocolate, vanilla with a bit of strong booziness in there as well. But it’s the taste that sets it apart. I’m a big fan of Imperial Stouts, and I often pick up on the roasted flavors, which typically reminds me of coffee. But Velvet Glove doesn’t have that so much.

There’s a bit of roast in there, but it reminds me much more of good dark chocolate, maybe with just a bit of creamy espresso. It’s a touch on the sweet side, which also helps cause me to associate it with chocolate. There was a bit of fruitiness here, think dark pitted fruits, like a date.

The carbonation was spot on but the mouthfeel felt a little weak. It was thin, not really watery, but not what I expected from a beer with velvet in the name. Not a huge complaint, but I’d prefer a bit more body there.

Overall a nice beer. It’s certainly not the best Imperial Stout being made in San Diego, but it holds it’s own pretty well.


300 Million Gallons of Beer?


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Super Bowl BeerIf you read about the super bowl in the U-T San Diego yesterday you might have come across the claim that Americans will drink more than 300 million gallons of beer on Super Bowl Sunday. While it’s certainly true that a lot of beer is consumed, do we really collectively drink 300 million gallons? Probably not.

A friend sent me this story by Karla Peterson and we both agreed that the number sounded far too high. After a few minutes of searching I ended up at this post by Jay Brooks at the Brookston Beer Bulletin where he analyzed the claim that 325.5 million gallons of beer are consumed on Super Bowl Sunday. The verdict: ” It doesn’t seem physically possible that Americans could consume that much, even if they were so inclined.” As Brooks points out, the US Census estimates there to be just shy of 313 million people in the US. If Peterson’s “more than 300 million gallons” claim were true, that would mean that every man, woman and child would have to drink a bit more than ten 12 oz beers, and while some people probably did drink ten beers yesterday, plenty didn’t.

Brooks goes on to take a closer look at the number, figuring that if you subtract out the kids, every adult would have to drink an estimated 15 12 oz beers to get up to that 325.5 million gallon mark (or more than 13.5 12 oz beers for our more than 300 million gallon claim).

So where did this number come from? It’s hard to say, Peterson throws out another figure, that Americans will eat an estimated 1.25 billion chicken wings on game day, a number which she attributes to the National Chicken Council, but she doesn’t provide a source for her beer claim, and as far as I can tell the NCC doesn’t make any claims about the amount of beer consumed.

Brooks traced the references for his 325.5 million number back to an alcohol “Industry Watchdog” group Alcohol Justice (formerly the Marin Institute). There’s the number, 325.5 million, in their 2010 Free The Bowl Fact Sheet [pdf link] with no reference to the source or any explanation of how it was calculated.

So while I won’t dispute that we drink a lot of beer on Super Bowl Sunday, the amount probably isn’t anywhere near the 300 million gallon mark.

I highly recommend Brooks’s post, it has more info and a bit more background on Alcohol Justice.

Photo: CC/flickr user all taken