A Good Weekend With Ballast Point

Ballast Point has a lot of good stuff. Of course they are not perfect. There was that one time they had a few batches of Yellow Tail pale ale that tasted like soap. At first, I assumed the bar did not properly wash the glasses and asked for a new glass. The second was the same. I assumed that particular bar just had bad dish washing practices, until I ordered a Yellow Tail at another bar the next weekend and it also tasted like soap.

But that can all be forgiven, because of Sculpin, which is one of my favorite IPA’s. Oh god, it’s so lovely. Sweet, citrusy nectar. Beer Advocate considers it world-class. I drank it while painting my nails this weekend:

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Sculpin is far from Ballast Point’s only redeeming quality, though. They have several solid beers. It’s beer week and I tried a Homework Series #3 IPA a few nights ago, which is an English style IPA. Hoppy and malty:

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Interesting that they call it “English style” IPA – didn’t the English invent IPA’s? You’d think that all IPA’s are by default “English style.” By the way, I do not have a reputation as a cannibalistic serial killer at that bar (The Regal Seagull). That’s just the way they do their tickets for food. When you order (delicious) sausages, instead of a number, you get assigned a random fictional character. 

Final note: Ballast Point also has a tasting room and home brew mart with great supplies and grains. Overall, lots of good stuff.

Mixing Things Up!

I popped by Bier Garden last week with a friend after we had dinner. I ordered Mother Earth’s Cali Creamin’, which is a smooth, nutty, ale with vanilla tones. She ordered a Belching Beaver Peanut Butter Milk Stout. Our bartender filled our pints low by an inch. Of course, my gut reaction normally would be, sacrilege! But I come here frequently enough to know better. Our bartender then presented a small sampler of the two of these beers, mixed together. He stated that if we so desired, he would fill the rest of each of our beers up with the other one. If we did not like the mix, he would fill the rest of the beers up normally.

We both decided to do so. The Cali Creamin’ is great, but I do have it all the time, and it was nice to have a change. Topping it off with the peanut butter milk stout gave it a nice, unique boost of flavor without turning the whole beer into a stout. Plus, I’m not the biggest fan of peanut butter, so that little dash was perfect for me.

My friend’s beer was equally good, though hers obviously contained a higher ratio of the stout. The Cali Creamin’ toned it down a bit and gave it a softer, even creamier finish.

Well played, bartender!

Deschutes Inversion IPA

Deschutes, located in Bend, Oregon, is one of my favorite breweries. They have a variety of great beers, and a number of delicious IPAs, but one I particularly enjoy is the Inversion IPA. This beer is properly bitter, floral, hoppy, and satisfying. Its color can hardly be described as pale, as it’s almost an amber color, but you can’t hold that against it. If drinking during the day, be sure to listen to Sprawl II and Samba de Bencao while imbibing. If drinking at night, Voodoo Child and Stylo.

This is the kind of beer that makes you happy as you drink it. Happier when you drink another. Unfortunately, it makes you a little less happy when you wake up the next morning after having 6 or so.

Another great Deschutes beer is Mirror Pond Pale Ale. Pale ales usually bore me, but this one is notable. It’s citrusy, floral, easy, smooth, and is perfect for hanging out in the backyard in summertime. Its flavors are distinct and confident, but not as arrogant as an IPA. In comparison, some of the hoppier, heavier IPAs can get to be a bit much on a hotter summer day, as they turn warm quickly and take on a dull, syrupy texture.

Hillcrest Brewing

Haven’t been in these parts of town in a while, but stopped by here for a drink recently. “Just the Hop” IPA was enjoyable, though probably not as hoppy as I would prefer. It was a reasonable IPA, but it did not blow me away. I didn’t try the “Banana Hammock,” Scotch Ale, but the opinion on that was that although it was expected to taste strong at 9%, the taste of the alcohol was a little too prominent.

If you’re feeling adventurous, take some time and try their other sexy delights –  “Crotch Rocket,” “Hop Sucker,” and “Perle Necklace.” Service was very friendly here, and they have some outdoor patio seating, perfect in sunny weather.

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Giving Due Credit to Stone

As if Stone needs my support! It doesn’t, but I’m posting this because Stone is such a longstanding pro, that I take it for granted at times. I’m always on the hunt for new IPAs, new beers, and new tastes, and I forget I can never go wrong with a good solid Stone IPA. Sometimes I go months without touching any kind of Stone, until I realize I haven’t been all that satisfied, and I remember that Stone IPA’s fresh, consistent taste is always a relief after a long day at work. Or after any type of day involving any work. Or any day period – as pictured above, it is quite pleasurable sipped out of its own logo glass, with a canyon view, on a Sunday afternoon. A big plus is that you can get cases of the IPA or regular pale ale at Costco around here for $28, which is a steal.

I’ll resort to the pale ale when they don’t have any other types of Stone on tap, but as far as the easier Stone beers go, Levitation (an amber) is one of my faves, though I typically am not the biggest fan of ambers. And then, of course, there’s the Arrogant Bastard. Arrogant Bastard is an American strong ale that is as awesome as it sounds. It is an amazing, punch-you-in-the-face kind of beer. Beer Advocate considers it outstanding.

It surely is outstanding, and it isn’t cheap either. There used to be a local dive around these parts that served $7 pitchers of any beer until 10:00 p.m. everyday, including Arrogant Bastard (for reals!). At $7 a pitcher, it literally was cheaper than the grocery store. You better believe we abused that deal on many an occasion (boy those were always fun nights). And you won’t be surprised to hear that they no longer offer that deal, which was pretty much a tragedy for me. But it’s OK; I took advantage of it for a good year or so. Even though I can’t get cheap ass Arrogant Bastard, I still have this shirt –

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Woah, get your mind out of the gutter! The shirt’s referring to beer… aged in oaked barrels. Duh.

Mother Earth, Julian Casablancas

I have always liked The Strokes. But Julian Casablanca’s solo album, Phrazes for the Young changed the experience of listening to The Strokes a bit for me. Casablancas is versatile, and his style seems to vary wildly, from folksy to poppy to electronic, but underlying all of his songs is a very distinct nostalgia. After Phrazes for the Young, Casablanca’s innate nostalgia seems to be constantly trying to claw itself out through some of those Strokes songs, barely able to make it to the surface for air every now and then. Like unfinished business.

This is relevant to beer, I promise. I was at Mother Earth last night for a networking thing, and couldn’t make up my mind about what I wanted to drink, because this –

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They have a pretty good selection of solid beers, so I got a flight. Their flights are no joke, by the way – six 6-ounce tasters.

And now, I’m going to attempt to pair beers with music.

When at Mother Earth, I always like to start with the Cali Creamin’, a vanilla cream ale that sounds boring, but has surprising strength and taste at 5.2%. Its smooth, nutty, richness pairs well with Old Hollywood, glamorous, black and white, zoning out most of the night, where we end up imitating all the ones that we once were hating, men as clumsy violent fools, women a delicate pool of flowers and cobras.

Once you’ve warmed up, you can try a little Kismet IPA. It’s got the expected hoppiness of an IPA, which is a must. It has an abv of 7.2%, and is not quite as a deep and thick as some really stellar IPAs like West Coast or Sculpin, but has a sadder, darker edge compared to Mother Earth’s Boo Koo Mosaic IPA. This goes nicely with Tourist:

Feel like a tourist out in the country
Once this whole world was all countryside
Feel like a tourist in the big city
Soon I will simply evaporate

And when you’re done being a little edgy, it’s time to head over to Ludlow Street:

Everything seems to go wrong when I start drinking,
Everything seemed to go my way last night.
Everything seems so wrong to me this morning,
I know things’ll be brighter later tonight.

Have that one with Mother Earth’s Sin Tax imperial peanut butter stout. For a stout, it’s surprisingly light. You might love that, or you might resent it, but either way, it’s smooth, light, yet no joke with an abv of 8.1%. It has a generous spirit, and you can contemplate a raging night life, fading history, and the invasion of yuppies while you drink it.

I don’t have a Mother Earth beer to pair with the 4 Chords of the Apocalypse, but I love it; it’s beautiful.

Colombian Beer

Just got back from Colombia. It was often 90+ degrees, with high humidity, so we ended up drinking a lot of lagers/light/yellow beers. The two most popular there are Club Colombia and Aguila. Aguila is comparable to Bud Light. Basically, undrinkable (in my humble opinion). Club Colombia is similar to a Modelo, and I rather grew to like it. Both these beers were cheap as hell. Street vendors were selling Club Colombia for around $3,000 COP (around $1.50). Aguila tended to be cheaper. It was around the equivalent of $1.50 at bars, while the Club would go for around $2.00 or $2.50 (definitely worth the extra $.50 to get the Club).

However, we did come across a couple of craft beer companies, including Apostol and Bogota Beer Company (BBC). Apostol, in my opinion, had the better brews. The Dubbel (below, left), got the Belgian flavors right. The Bock (below, right), was a black-lager type beer. It was good for the weather – dark and flavorful enough, but not too heavy. It still had a nice, light texture.

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Bogota Beer Company had the better marketing. Their beers have cute labels, featuring a vintage woodie car, and their beers have a trendy feel, if that makes any sense. We popped by the BBC restaurant/bar in Cartagena and had a couple of beers. Their style (the decor, labels, packaging, not the beer itself) is reminiscent of Karl Strauss. The beers there were a bit bland for me. I had the Monserrate Roja, a red beer, which was really on the light side of reds. The Chapinero Porter (see featured picture at the very top) was probably their best beer, but even that was really on the light or even watery side. Their menu featured some exciting-sounding seasonals, including an IPA, but they did not have them available when we visited.

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Culture Brewing IPA

I do love writing about individual freedoms and social issues, but if there’s anything I love even more, it’s beer. On Friday, I found out that a judge reversed her tentative ruling against my clients in a case after hearing my oral argument, and granted my Motion for Summary Judgment as to all issues, effectively dismissing my clients out of a lawsuit that has dragged on for years. If you’re not a lawyer this is gibberish to you and you don’t care. But anyway, to celebrate, my boss shut down the office early, and we went to go have some beers. I started with a Mother Earth Cali Creamin’, which is a wonderful, smooth, nutty ale that is great for any occasion, but I didn’t take a picture of it. My next beer was a Culture Brewing IPA. I’ve actually been to Culture several times before, and they have a few IPAs, but I forget if the menu specified which one this was (If I had to guess I’d say it was probably the El Dorado). It was 5.5% and unfortunately, not hoppy enough for me. The 5.5% should have been a clue for me, but I thought I’d start the evening with lighter IPAs. It was a pretty beer, but it was a little boring. I like it when the IPAs punch you in the face with hops. Like Greenflash Westcoast IPA, or Sculpin by Ballast Point. Next time I’ll have to remember to stick to their double IPA. Culture also makes a good black IPA as well.

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