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.

Home Beer Tasting

We did a home beer tasting the other day, which was super fun. Most beers weren’t new, but it’s still fun to do comparisons even if you’ve had the beer  before. Notably disappointing was the Duvel triple hop. We saw it at BevMo and were excited to try it since we love Duvel, but the triple hop was fairly unremarkable. Other featured beers included Deschutes’ Mirror Pond, Obsidian Stout, and Inversion IPA; Stone’s pale ale, milk stout, Ruination, and IPA; North Coast’s Old Rasputin; Maredsous; New Belgium’s trippel; Lagunitas’s Censored Rich Copper Ale and IPA; Leffe Brune; Port Brewing’s Ponto SIPA and Swami’s IPA; Magic Hat #9 (pale ale); Mississippi Mud; Sierra Nevada’s Five Hop IPA, among others.

We took detailed notes about scents, flavors, and textures, which predictably degenerated into gibberish as the drinking progressed.

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This was the end result:

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This is always a good time, and we threw in a couple of sodas because so my nephew could participate in the tasting (result: I don’t like Hansen’s raspberry soda as much as I thought I did – it’s got a sort of chemically taste, Ramune (marble soda) is as awesome as ever, and sugar free shit unsurprisingly sucks).

Pro-tip I learned from my friends: Get a mystery box from BevMo if you want to try your luck. Apparently BevMo packages “mystery boxes” of random mismatched beers and will sell a case for $18 or so. They guarantee there are no more than 5-6 Coors/Buds in there (gross).

Pro-tip #2: Uber comes in handy even when you’re tasting at home. Have mom drop dad off for fun times and send him home in an Uber. He will be impressed by the technology and convenience.

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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