Ballast Point Little Italy

Ballast Point makes Sculpin IPA, which is one of my favorite beers of all time. We used to go to their tasting room/Home Brew Mart in Linda Vista when we would go there to buy grains and other brewing supplies. I only recently went to the restaurant/bar they opened in Little Italy. The place is huge, which is great. It was fairly easy to find seating, even around lunch time on a Saturday. We easily found several seats outdoors on the patio for ourselves and a couple of friends. They also were showing a soccer game, and not one of the many other sports I don’t give two fucks about, so that was cool too.

I was totally unoriginal and ordered the grapefruit Sculpin. I posted about this heavenly beverage before; I didn’t think it was possible for Sculpin to be any better, until I had the grapefruit version. I have also heard about a mango version which I have yet to try.

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My second beer was the regular Sculpin, but I did also get a chance to try some other beers. The Tongue Buckler with lemongrass and ginger was lovely and interesting, but it’s probably reasonable to serve that in an 8-ounce serving. The Victory At Sea Imperial Porter was also fantastic – standard coffee and vanilla flavors, but really great.

Night Time and Red Seal

Another good beer I’ve had the pleasure of drinking recently is the Night Time by Lagunitas. It is an American Black Ale and is smoky, deep, bitter, and rich. It has a little bit of a spicy bite. I had it recently, but it would be a wonderful holiday beer with the warm spices. It’s a little reminiscent of chocolate and coffee, and is nutty. It’s 7.9% ABV, and 74 IBU’s. The beer cutely warns the drinker to “fear the dark” (pictured above).

On Saturday, I met a friend in San Clemente. The weather was amazing (I guess not surprising for SoCal this time of year). We had a beer at the Fisherman’s Restaurant and Bar outside on the balcony, overlooking the ocean. I had a Red Seal Pale Ale by North Coast Brewing. It’s on the hoppy and flavorful side for a pale ale, and the color is sort of an amber. It starts to taste a bit sweeter and nuttier as it gets warner. It is 5.4% ABV and 42 IBU’s. Overall, nice beer (see below).

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A Tail Of Two Cats, And A Lot Of Beer Part I

Fiona

It’s Friday. Mum and Dad’s friends are coming to get drunk and I love it. Mum has an IPA in hand, and I watch her when she answers the door because I want to see which friends are coming. I love the men. They are strong and beautiful and I could watch them and brush by them gently, purposefully, all night. Mum always moves so quickly. She runs to the door sometimes like they haven’t had a visitor in years. I’m watching but it often looks like I’m staring or glaring; my eyes have that kind of intensity, like maybe I am trying to bore a hole into your dark soul with my gaze.

I don’t think she believes in reincarnation, but…well, I’m fairly certain she does not believe in reincarnation, though some people do. It could be that dead is dead, and my little bones and organs will be forgotten, decomposed matter in the ground, ashes floating in the wind. But if Mum did believe in reincarnation, I think she’d want to be me in her next life. I think she’d find herself rather happy being me.

She thinks she is happy now. She and Dad are always talking and laughing. They go out drinking with friends on the weekend and if they go out they come home late, just when I am starting to think they might not be back at all. Their friends start out at our place, drinking lots of craft beers (Coors and Bud are not permitted in this house, unless for beer pong or other drinking games). Sometimes Mum is talked into shots of tequila or whiskey. They go out downtown to clubs and bars, come home loud and inarticulate, and sometimes cook food at 2 in the morning. Their friends pass out on the couch, and everyone wakes up incredibly late.

The next morning they complain about headaches and watch internet videos and eat bacon. Usually, Mum and Dad will give me a small piece of bacon too, though they make me do tricks to earn it. I find this inordinately humiliating, as I don’t see why people should have bacon for breakfast as a matter of course, while my sister and I should be subjugated for that small morsel of heaven. It’s particularly difficult for me. My sister is such a sad creature she could not possibly be further degraded beyond her pathetic state in any event, so I doubt it’s any any skin off her back.

If Mum and Dad go out, she always wears small, tight dresses, and I’m not sure how all that beer fits. If drinking at home, she likes yoga pants and T-shirts. Her favorites are a shirt with the Beatles on it and another one featuring a George Orwell quote – “We have always been at war with Eastasia.” Her outfits can be simple, but her closet’s quite obscene. She has several suits for work, more dresses than any woman needs, and certainly more shoes than necessary. Her accessory collection spans an armoire and two large troves. She also has an entire trunk full of costume material. If she was reincarnated as me, she wouldn’t have to be so preoccupied over clothes. She thinks she enjoys it, but I think secretly, she’d be equally happy with just a black coat of fur, a red collar, never having to worry about outfits, color detail, and accessorizing for the rest of her life.

If she were a pretty black cat like me, life would be simple, like she likes it. She could sit and stare out the big glass windows all day without responsibility of any sort, cast her golden, crystal eyes on the lawn as birds dance up and down. She could throw tantrums and look cute doing it. She can’t do that now; no one appreciates a grown woman throwing a fit.

There are about 8 people here now, and Mum’s lighting up the hookah. She was sipping on Inversion IPA again. She’s been drinking that one a lot lately, though it’s one of many of her favorite beers. It was probably on sale at the grocery store. The beers come and go quickly with the conversation. Dad’s favorites are Belgians, but the only Belgian style beer in the beer fridge currently is a Trippel by New Belgium. The blond one loves IPA’s, but recently, she’s on a Porter and Stout kick. She’s having Black Butte Porter, brewed by Deschutes. I cause her to have allergic reactions and itch and sneeze, but she’s still nice to me, perhaps because I am simply that charming.

Dad’s brother also loves IPA’s, but he is currently drinking the Hoppy Lager by Sierra Nevada (from the “Beer Camp” series). The girl with Mum’s same name has brought a 22 ounce of Sculpin IPA by Ballast Point and is sharing it with Mum. Her husband doesn’t drink. He’s a dentist. Maybe he thinks beer rots your teeth. The boy I like a lot used to drink IPA’s along with the rest of them, but he only drinks scotch now. I like him a lot because when he used to live here, he spent a lot of time on the couch, and provided very reliable lap space for my naps. In general, I love all the boys. They have the biggest, warmest laps.

My sister is silently observing us from the second floor, staring down at us from behind the banister like a creeper. She has some certifiable mental problems, that one. She loves to cling to Mum and Dad, but as soon as people come, she hides away like a scared little mouse. She is terribly socially awkward and bores me to tears, so I don’t even pay her mind anymore if I can help it.

They’re all loud and happy now. I wonder if I could have some beer. It smells so delicious, and seems to be some magic elixir of contentment.

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Stay tuned for part II. 

Beers at Wine Bars

We recently met up with some friends in San Clemente and hit up a couple of wine bars. I tried a flight of wine tasters at San Clemente Wine Bar, They were all great, but after that, I moved onto beers. First up was the Oskar Blues G’Knight Imperial Red IPA (See picture above). It was hoppy, nutty, smooth, flora, and light. It had the scent of apples, but did not have a strong IPA smell to it. A fresh, solid IPA. Beer Advocate considers it “Outstanding.”

We then moved on to The Cellar, another wine bar (which has a fantastic weekend brunch with live music, by the way). There, I had the No Name IPA. It was nutty, with mild hoppiness (mild by San Diego standards). It was on the lighter side of what we’re used to on the West Coast. It had a thin head, and a bit of a metallic smell. In reading its Beer Advocate page, the lack of characteristic hoppiness is explained by the fact that Cody, the brewery, is located in Massachusetts. East Coast IPA’s tend not to be quite as hoppy.  This is going to sound awful, but occasionally, it had the scent of wet dog. To be fair, I asked everyone else at the table to confirm, and they did not perceive this wet dog scent, so maybe I’m just a loony toon.

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Idiot IPA

The first time I had this double IPA was years ago, when we were visiting the Hotel Del Coronado, and happened upon Coronado Brewing. It is a nutty and bitter IPA, with less floral and citrus tones than some of my favorite IPA’s. It doesn’t smell particularly distinct. It’s 8.5%, but one might not immediately guess it’s a double IPA. It’s rated as “very good” by Beer Advocate. My friend brought a 6-pack over and I refamiliarized myself with this nice beer. Not bad.

Hangar 24 Essence (Imperial IPA)

Went to Bellows to celebrate a friend’s recent promotion. Bellows is the whiskey/scotch-focused, classier version of Churchill’s. I like whiskey too, but I learned in my early twenties that drinking Jack on the Rocks makes the night go by way too fast. Bellows has some great food, but their beer selection pales in comparison to Churchill’s. Of course, that’s the point. Churchill’s has all the beers and greasy pub foods, Bellows has all the scotches and fancy foods you can’t pronounce. The stuff they do have is thoughtful, though.

Had a Hangar 24 Essence IPA. It’s a fairly standard IPA (and I do not mean that in a bad way at all). Beer Advocate gives it an 86 (“very good”). It does the citrus tones and hoppiness very well. I liked it enough to have two of them, and I am only now realizing was an Imperial/Double IPA. If I had known when I was drinking I might not have had two of them then gone on to drink wine. In retrospect, I should have known, since the beer came in a smaller, tulip-style glass. Then again, I’ve been to snooty foodie places with craft beers that pour regular IPA’s in 10-ounce servings too.

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