Scenes from Quarantine: Beer

The last couple of years, I’ve migrated my preferred beer selection from standard IPA’s to hazy IPA’s. They tend to be fruitier, lighter, and easier to drink, and are particularly delicious in the warm weather. However, they lack the potent, bitter, hoppiness of original IPA’s and the sweetness comes through more, so sometimes, after a few too many hazys, I definitely crave an original IPA to balance out the palate.

COVID-19 hit in March, and shelter-in place orders trickled down the coast, beginning in Northern California, making its way down to San Diego County. Since shelter-in-place took effect, we have stocked up from Bevmo on a couple of occasions and taken the time to try different beers. While I didn’t buy into the toilet paper or hand sanitizer panic (somewhat to my detriment, however, as we have a pretty sad supply of hand sanitizer), I certainly did panic when I saw that some states were considering banning alcohol sales, and that there could be a beer supply problem due to shortage in CO2. Ultimately, it did not end up being a problem, and there has been plenty of beer to go around (thus far).

The Goose Island pictured below is not a hazy, but was unexpectedly citrusy, fruity, and well-balanced. I was not a huge fan of Goose Island’s original IPA, so this one took me by surprise. Price was also something to gloat about – not a lot of solid beers are going for $7.99 a six-pack, so I considered this a win. Both Lagunitas hazys had a similar feel. Lagunitas tends to be sort of unmemorable for me (no different from their original IPA) – drinkable and good enough, but probably not good enough to buy again if it isn’t on sale.

Since bars and restaurants were forcibly closed for an extended period of time, we watched sadly as longstanding neighborhood breweries went out of business. When we saw that Lost Abbey, which had opened just shortly before the coronavirus madness, was selling beers to go, we picked up a few bottles. They were selling them for very reasonable prices, comparable to retail. We’ve had the Judgment Day quad before, but it is no joke. Strong as hell, deep flavors (currant, raisin, warm Belgian spices).

 

Quarantine has not been too bad for us, as we have a yard, good weather, good books, and a few hiking trails nearby on which to enjoy our beers. There’s a lot of crazy shit going on, and it’s a good time to count blessings.

Beers in Chicago

I was in Chicago for work, but had a little time to explore. Chicago is an awesome city, but this post is dedicated to drinks.

Although I continue to believe San Diego makes the best IPA’s, Revolution Brewing‘s IPA was not bad. It’s entirely a thing of preference, but I like west coast IPA’s – super hoppy and aggressive. IPA’s hailing from other parts of the United States tend to be a bit less pungent.

On Saturday night, we bought a 6 pack of pick-your-owns at the closest grocery store (pictured above and below). I tried to get non-California beers, but caved on the Stone Pataskala Red IPA because I had never seen it or heard of it before, so it counts as something new. Whenever encountering a pitiable hotel room that features no fridge space, or no fridge at all, the sink and a trip to the ice machine is all it takes:

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Ironically, I made 3 laborious trips to the ice maker per my usual routine in hotel rooms because so many of them don’t have refrigerators these days… then looked down under a shelf and discovered there was a completely empty mini-fridge in the room.

Later on in the night, we went to an awesome pizza and cocktails place called Pi Gallery. The pizza there was absolutely amazing. To my husband’s initial disappointment, we were in Chicago, and this was not deep dish, but this was actually to my great delight, because I really think thin crust is the best. This kind of statement likely is akin to blasphemy/sacrilege in Chicago, but I’ve left the area now so they can’t get to me. We ordered the veggie pizza which had a balsamic sauce. We both really liked it and I’ll say that it was one of the best pizzas I ever had.

My first beer was Archer Avenue Pale Ale by Blue Nose Brewery. This was a lovely and flavorful pale ale. This beer is so new (and/or obscure) that it only has one review on Beer Advocate, and does not yet have a score.  This does not surprise me, because the owner of this awesome joint introduced himself, and we learned that he is really into music and the arts, so it would make sense that he would have good beers on tap “before they are cool.” The next beer I had was an amber ale that tasted slightly floral, slightly hoppy, and reminded me of candy. We tasted a couple of other beers, did some shots of Jameson with the owner, chatted with him about music, and this was a really great night.

Pi Gallery seems like it may have only recently opened, as it only as 21 Yelp reviews, but I thought it was a gem of a find. It doesn’t have a flashy entrance, and is located upstairs, so you sort feel like you’re walking into a mystery. If you’re in the area I highly recommend this joint.

Other notable beers while on this brief weekend sojourn included the Matilda (Belgian strong pale ale by Goose Island) and The Poet (stout by New Holland).

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