Drinking Adventures in Denver

We were in Colorado for a family reunion last month, and flew in and out of Denver to get to Glenwood Springs. On our way back, we took the opportunity to enjoy some drinks in Denver. Denver is known for great beers, and I was excited to go to Great Divide. I’ve had the “I Believe” yeti sticker on our beer fridge for years now. We took an Uber from our hotel, which was obviously less memorable than the beer, since I can’t even give you the name of it at this point. (Hyatt? Hilton?)

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We had two rounds of tasters, including the Yeti Imperial Stout, of course!

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I hit up Yelp and based on a combination of proximity and good reviews, we walked to Jagged Mountain Brewing next.

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The beers here were also excellent, most notably a Belgian/IPA mix that was well-suited for both lovers of Belgians and IPA’s. Thereafter, we decided to try something a little different. We walked into Mile High Spirits, a distillery that specializes in flavored hard liquor. I was planning on consuming lots of Denver beers, but this ended up being a pretty fun experience. They had about 20 different flavors of liquors, with fairly normal ones like pineapple vodka and honey bourbon, and then some really weird ones like pickle, garlic, pepperoncini, and black pepper.

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Strangely, it was the weird ones that we enjoyed most. I particularly enjoyed the garlic and pepperoncini vodkas. The venue was also really cool because there was a large patio area with cornhole and other fun lawn games.

Coming Back From The Desert

Sometimes you get greedy. You have a good weekend and you don’t want it to end so you delay by stopping at random places on the way home to extend the good times. This is not a bad thing.

On our way home from Anza Borrego, we stopped by Hill Top Winery in the Valley Center area. shareBearPic895 shareBearPic897

Cute location, though the day was a bit overcast and cold. It was nice to have a couple of glasses of wine to warm up.

After that, we hit up Valley Center Brewery. This was an unpretentious place with a divey-feel, located in a nondescript strip mall. They are able to do this and still have great reviews because their beers are pretty damn good.

Woods Valley Cream Ale: 4.3% ABV. Nutty, vanilla, smooth, light. Very nice cream ale.

Hunza Hill Hefeweizen: 7.2% ABV. Quite the bold one and quite the alcohol content for a hefeweizen. Saison flavors, fruity, warm, with a little bit of a tart edge.

Burnt Mountain Road Smoked Ale: 6.5 ABV. This is a barrel-aged smoked red. It tasted a bit like campfire and leather, in a good way, if you can imagine it. It was unique.

Hellhole Canyon Stout: 6.5% ABV. Smoky, full, deep, tastes of bourbon and coffee.

Morning Star Circle: 5.0% ABV. Belgian IPA. Smooth, creamy, floral, and slightly nutty. It was apparently dry-hopped with lavender which is pretty interesting.

Our bartender was very friendly and helpful. We had a fun tasting experience here. The bear sitting at the other end of the bar was quiet, but I think he was having a good time too.

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Uber Beer Tours Part II

I wasn’t kidding when I said using Uber for beer tours was the best idea we’d had in a while. We had such a fun time last time, we did it again recently. Things took a somewhat unexpected turn and we ended up walking to a few places instead, but we still took Ubers there and back, beginning with Sublime Ale House:

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The Alesmith Cream Ale was smooth, light, slightly nutty, and well-balanced. I tasted some vanilla in there. Pretty yum.

The Left Hand Milk Stout was a great follow-up to the cream ale. It was also smooth and nutty with some vanilla flavor, but was also smoky and reminiscent of coffee. It could have been a dessert (but not in a syrupy, heavy, gross way).

The DBA American Strong Ale was floral and nutty with a flavor in there that reminded me of berries, because it was a little tart. Citrus zest of some sort might have been in there too.

We tried a Chocolate Oatmeal Dry Stout (didn’t note the brewery, unfortunately) that was smoky, nutty, roasty, and malty. Chocolatey too, and bitter. I don’t think we intended to get a bunch of beers with similar flavor profiles, but it coincidentally worked out that way and I thought it was a good choice of a flight.

We then proceeded to try another flight (pictured above). The Alesmith Decadence was a lovely dubbel with licorice and fennel flavors. It was malty and rich. The Deschutes Jubelale 2015 is a nice winter ale with warm spices and tasted fruity and malty with hints of bourbon. The Ballast Point Big Eye IPA with ginger was a lovely surprise, because I don’t usually like the Big Eye IPA. While I’m a big fan of Sculpin (and especially the grapefruit one), Big Eye has always struck me as a bit of a bore. I did like this ginger version though, which was fresh, gingery, nutty, and a lot better than the original. Finally, we had a Caracole Saxo’s Belgian Golden Strong ale. This was a typical Belgian with citrus, coriander, floral, and orange peel flavors.

We then moved on to San Marcos Brewery. I had been here years ago and was not particularly impressed, but this time, I was very pleasantly surprised. I tried a few on their tap list and liked every single one. None of them were beers that punch you in the face with hops or flavor, but all were fairly smooth and well-balanced. I have resolved to return soon.

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Next, we moved onto Dos Desperados, which I have described before. After that, even though everyone’s tastebuds were probably shot, we went to Rip Current. The beer tours ended there, but we returned back to our place for continued debauchery. Very appropriate for Thanksgiving weekend, because there are plenty of things to be thankful for, and beer is one of them.

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Beer Tasting At Slater’s 50/50

Yes, Slater’s has some pretty good burgers, but what I find even more impressive is their beer selection.

Their burgers are a bit ridiculous. Their normal burger could feed three adults. The Alarm Burger is so spicy they serve it with gloves (hand and eye protection I suppose). It’s not that I don’t enjoy their 50/50 burger or the Alarm burger. Both tasted fantastic. It’s just that I could never eat the entirety of any of their burgers in one sitting without eating myself sick.

In many ways, their beer selection is as excessive as th eir burgers, so it’s sort of the same concept. They have about 100 beers on tap, and we stopped by for a tasting recently (after some grocery shopping next door). Next time, I’ll probably just come for some pints, as I found their taster flights to be somewhat pricey.

I present to you the first flight:

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Shipyard’s Pugley’s Smashed Pumpkin: 9.0% ABV. ‘Tis the season, and I cannot resist a pumpkin ale every once in a while, particularly when it comes to ones I have not tried before. This one tasted like pumpkin pie with a nice bite and a bitter finish. It was a little citrusy, sweet, and I thought there might be some orange zest in there. It had surprisingly light feel, consider it’s 9.0% ABV (be careful with these!)

Delirium Nocturnum: 8.5% ABV. I love Delirium Tremens, and I love Delirium Nocturnum. This is not a new one, but this Belgian is always a treat during the holiday season. It’s warm, malty, roasty, and reminds you of everything you love about the holidays.

Hop Concept IPA: 8.5% ABV. It’s hoppy, fresh, pretty bitter, and everything you expect of an IPA. It’s full-flavored, smells floral and citrusy, and overall decent. I’m not sure I really get a big “tropical” impression, but that’s OK. To be honest, it’s a little heavy for the island life.

North Coast Stellar IPA: 6.0% ABV. This was not fresh, citrusy, or floral enough for an IPA. It almost had an amberish taste, though it wasn’t sweet like some ambers are prone to be – it was plainly bitter.

Flight number two was just as fun:

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The Great Pumpkin: 8.1% ABV, brewed by Elysian. Beer Advocate gives it a 92. This one also tasted like pumpkin pie, although it also tasted strongly of clove, which is again reminiscent of the holiday season. It was overall a warmer and stronger taste than the Shipyard pumpkin ale.

Zumbar Imperial Stout: 9.3% ABV. Beer Advocate gives it an 87. Brewed by New English. Deep coffee and bourbon flavors. Not bad.

The other two were a pumpkin ale by Avery and a stout by Mother Earth that I’d had before. Didn’t keep notes because sometimes you should pay more attention to your husband than the details of your beer.

 

Some Beers In The Bay Area

We were up in northern California for a wedding recently. The wedding itself was in a sleepy and quaint Mill Valley, but we ended up spending some time in San Francisco as well as Walnut Creek, since we were there for a long weekend.

I’d like to say we came upon Resolute, a wine bar, after walking by its highly compelling sign (“HAPPY HOUR EVERY DAMN DAY!” pictured above), but the truth is we found it on Yelp. I believe this place is fairly new, as I had been in the neighborhood for work just a couple of months prior, and had not noticed it. We came by for happy hour. I had the “Hella Lite” pale ale, which was as juicy and citrusy as its description promised it to be. It was hoppy despite the fact it was “hella lite.” This would have been a great summer beer. Too bad the weather was already starting to cool down. The low ABV of 3.8% was probably also appropriate considering all the wedding festivity drinking from the night before. The rye saison by Henhouse Brewing wasn’t bad either. After that, we shared a glass of tempranillo, which was also lovely. Also had a cheese plate (manchego) to go with it all. Very nice.

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While up in the area, we also popped by to visit some dear friends, who had just returned from their honeymoon in Belgrade, London, and the Amalfi Coast (so jealous – if I ever make it back to Italy, it’s the Amalfi Coast for sure). We hit up a sort of Indian fusion joint called Kanishka’s Neo-Indian Gastropub in Walnut Creek. I can be slightly wary of fusion places, but when I looked up “beer” this is one of the first places that came up, and the thought of Indian food and beer was simply too enthralling to pass up.

This place did not disappoint. Lots of lovely beers of all types on tap. Good Belgians, good IPA’s, not much more a girl can ask for. The lamb sliders were probably more akin to wraps, but it doesn’t matter; they were heavenly. The tikka masala fries were also to die for and paired so nicely with IPA’s. All I want for Christmas is for someone to replicate this place and drop it off in San Diego.

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Alesmith’s New Location

Alesmith Brewing Company, which makes some delicious beers, opened up a new location recently. They didn’t move very far; the new place is just down the street, and it’s beautiful. There’s plenty of lounge space and seating, and a fire table outside.

By a stroke of luck, our real estate agent who sold us our condo just a few months ago had the ins with the owners of Alesmith, and invited us to a special pre-opening event at the new beer garden. I was super excited and fought through cross-county traffic (woe is me) to get there after work.

I ordered a flight of 4 tasters, including the IPA, the Double Red IPA, the scotch ale, and the Velvet Speedway Stout.

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They were all fantastic beers, and don’t require a whole lot of explanation. The IPA was hoppy, citrusy, fresh, and well-balanced. The scotch ale was excellent. It was darker, more full-bodied, and more substantial than most scotch ales I’ve had. The double IPA was intense, but great. Velvet Speedway Stout was really nice, although I think I actually prefer the original. I also had a chance to taste a couple of the Belgian-style beers, including the Horny Devil and a quad, which were also very good. This is probably one of the few breweries that does several styles of beer very well.

After we finished a round, we were taken on a tour of the brewery by one of the co-owners of Alesmith, who served as our lovely tour guide, providing interesting information about the machinery, origin of the barrels, and other aspects of the brewing process.

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Seeing the bottling machine, the aging barrels, and the kegs in the massive fridge sort of made me feel like a kid in a candy shop.

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Really cool brewery. I can’t wait to come back soon.

 

 

 

Pizza Port

I have been a big fan of Pizza Port since I moved down to San Diego for law school some years ago. My tastes in beer have changed since then. Back then, anyone would buy any pitched of some random Port Brewing beer and I’d love it. This is probably still somewhat the case, but I heavily lean toward IPA consumption.

I love this place, even though I don’t even like the pizza, and I’m pretty sure I got food poisoning from the kale salad there recently. Oh well, doesn’t matter. The beer makes up for it. NO REGRETS. We hosted a good friend’s wedding rehearsal at our house once, and a big keg of Ponto IPA by Port Brewing arrived in our yard. The keg was not finished that night, but we enjoyed it for the rest of the week. Even though it’d been sitting in the yard. In the sun. STILL NO REGRETS.

2-Step IPA: By Pizza Port Bressi Ranch (I didn’t know they were making a distinctions between the brewing operations at different locations). 6.8% ABV. Very hoppy and bright, but a bit thin. Thin might not necessarily be a bad thing though – this beer would probably hold up better in the blazing sun. This is a flavorful beer, but less hoppy than many West Coast IPA’s.

Solana IPA: By Pizza Port Solana Beach. 7.0% ABV. Thicker than 2-step. Golden, full, very hoppy, bitter, subtle floral tones. Deep, almost sweet, and a bit dull.

La Flama Dorada: By Pizza Port Solana Beach. A tripel with 9.6% ABV but you’d never know by the taste (those damn Belgians!). Golden colored, floral, bright, with a bitter ending. Lovely. Reminiscent of spring and roses. A little sexy and feminine.

Local’s Only IPA: By Port Brewing. 6.8% ABV. Smooth and nutty. Not as IPA-ish as I’d like. Smooth and creamy head. Gets a bit hoppier as it warms up. There’s something about it that’s almost cream-aleish.

X-Port: By Pizza Port Bressi Ranch. 6.0% ABV. A coffee stout. The coffee is incredibly prominent. Also chocolate. My description here doesn’t distinguish it from many other coffee stouts, but sometimes the point is to drink the beer not to remember every detail about it.

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I came back to Pizza Port not 2 weeks later, and had some more stouts and IPA’s. But sorry, no notes from that time.

Barrel Republic Beer By The Ounce

My friend told me about this place a while back, but I just now got to check it out. This place has like 40 beers on tap and charges by ounce. You show your credit card and ID when you get in, they give you a bracelet with a sensor in it, and you scan the bracelet before every pour. They have a wide variety of glasses available for different types and quantities of beer.

They have a wide selection, including Belgians, IPAs, pale ales, lagers, you name it. There’s something for everyone; I suppose that’s the point. You can pour as little or as much as you want, so if you don’t like it, you can quickly move on. The catch is that it’s not a great deal. Most of the beers on tap end up being $7-$8 a pint which is what fancier joints charge for beers.

They even have a few wines. Although, there was some Adam Corolla-promoted wine called “Mangria” and I’d pretty much rather die than drink anything recommended by Adam fucking Corolla. Oh, I get it – MANgria.  YOU ARE SO FUCKING WITTY ADAM COROLLA. No thanks.

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After trying a whole host of delicious beers, none of the names of which I can recall currently, I ran into Thing 1 while waiting for the Coaster. Not sure where Thing 2 was. Speaking of the Coaster, it sucks now because they have banned alcohol. Because freedom and shit. ‘Murrica.

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Dos Desperados

Happy Friday! I love Fridays (Freedays)! A couple of Fridays ago, we went to Dos Desperados, a fairly recent brewery in San Marcos. I’d been meaning to try this place out for some time, and was happy to finally get a chance to do so. They offer tasters for $2 each, or $6 for a flight of 4 tasters, so the decision was obvious.

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Belgian Trippel: Familiar trippel flavors, smooth, fruity. As with most trippels, it has a higher alcohol content of 7.7%, but doesn’t taste like it. It has a little bit of expected sweetness to it.

Jailbreak IPA: 6.2% ABV. Fresh, malty, smells a bit tart, but isn’t. Nice, full bitterness. Not quite as hoppy as I like them, but a solid beer. Almost an amber color (though that could be the darker lighting in the brewery).

Double IPA: This one was a little too sweet for me, and also not hoppy enough. Nevertheless, I would still say it’s a solid beer. It is quite bitter and smells a bit damp, if that makes sense. I probably would not regularly drink a full pint of this. It’s overarching quality is the bitterness, and it’s hard to detect much else going on.

Vanilla Oatmeal Stout: Deep, full, oatmeal and vanilla, obviously. Smooth and lovely. Chocolate tones, well-balanced. This was one of my favorites from the flight.

Imperial Stout: Took just a sip of this from my friend’s flight, but I thought it was really good.

Overall, would say Dos Desperados does the trippel and the stouts exceptionally well.

My Neighbor Stumblefoot

Stumblefoot is a small brewery operating out of an industrial park near my house. We usually bike there because it’s a close and flat ride. Every once in a while, we decide we’ll hit it up and see what’s new. They have a few regulars on the menu, but they like to experiment and frequently have several new items on the menu.

We came here last weekend and had a flight.

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Schwarz Black Lager: This is a smoky, smooth, yet light beer. I don’t usually like lagers, but this one has enough flavor and texture to be plenty enjoyable. It’s well balanced and is comparable to a light porter. (If you were looking for a porter, you’d be disappointed, but as a lager, this is a very pleasant surprise).

Vixen Dunkel: This is a dunkelweizen with predictable banana and caramel notes. The description mentions clove, which is not very prominent. It’s another smooth and balanced beer, and smells like a standard dunkel.

Apollo IPA: This is where things fall down for Stumblefoot. If I recall, I do like the Grassyass IPA, but it’s not particularly notable, and the Apollo similarly did not impress as an IPA. It’s fruity, tart, with citrus and Belgian tones (described as orange and passion fruit). It quite honestly has an edge that is reminiscent of a rubber band.

Cascade IPA: Another weird IPA, unfortunately. It has a chemically taste, and does not meet the expected hoppiness level of west coast IPAs. It’s more like a pale ale. It’s again rubbery like its predecessor, Apollo.

Back to Black IPA: This one is hoppy and malty. It’s sort of like a black and tan, and is not bad on the taste buds at all. It’s a little bitter and smoky, but again, if you’re looking for a standard IPA, it’s not the characteristically hoppy kind.

Moho Stout:  One of their better ones. Choclate, caramel, coffee, and smoky. Not very thick or hoppy.