Lost Abbey

Lost Abbey‘s very close to me, but I hadn’t been in years. I took my brother when he was in town for a wedding, and we had a few tasters. I was up in Orange County for work all day, and made it back down to San Diego around 4:00 p.m. I had a long day and didn’t feel the need to go back into the office. I picked my brother up and we hit up Lost Abbey. I don’t usually drink on Tuesdays, but apparently everyone else does. At 4:00 p.m. on a Tuesday, the place was bumpin’. Don’t people work? I wondered what I am doing wrong. I need to be drankin’ at 4:00 p.m. on Tuesdays…

The menu was extensive, including their own beers and that of Port Brewing, their sister company.

Carnavale: This is a French country ale, with an ABV of 6.5 percent. It’s fruity, tropical, and very Belgian-trippel-ish.

Devotion: This is a dry-hopped blond ale. It’s 6.5 percent ABV, and does have a “crisp hop finish” as described on the beer menu.

Lost and Found: This was an Abbey-style dubbel. It was a bit tart, fruit, and was not as thick as some dubbels. It had a hint of caramel, and was a malty, roasty beer. A bit red. It has a sweet finish.

Serpent’s Stout: I’ve had this one a few times, and it’s a good stout. It’s a double mash imperial stout, with an ABV of 11 percent. It’s bitter like espresso grounds, and tastes of vanilla, bourbon, and spices. It’s got a bit of heat, but is smooth.

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I also had some Wipeout IPA by Port Brewing. That’s a fruity, fresh, hoppy west coast IPA, 7 percent ABV, dry hopped with amarillo and centennial hops. To be honest, this is more my type of beer, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a decent appreciation for Belgian styles.

 

Green Flash

I had the pleasure of hitting up Green Flash and tried a couple of new beers, as well as a couple of my old favorites.

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I started with the Jibe Session IPA (4.0% ABV), which I kind of feel is a West Coast IPA light. It’s hoppy, light, fresh, smooth, floral, with just an edge of bitterness. It’s really easy to drink, and is a pale golden color (but not as light as a lager). It would be easy to knock back three of these while sitting on a beach, if it weren’t illegal pretty much everywhere in Southern California. Green Flash’s tasting notes on this one: woodsy, oroblanco, pine, eucalyptus. I had to ask what oroblanco was – apparently, a seedless sweet citrus hybrid fruit similar to grapefruit.

Next, I had the Soul Style IPA (6.5 %ABV), which sounded familiar for a reason. I had it for the first time in New Hampshire several months ago. I described it already in the previous post, but I’ll just add that in comparison, it was a bit less well-rounded than the Jibe Session, and not as notable as their West Coast IPA. The session is pictured left, below, while the Soul Style is on the right:

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The Trippel was warm, fruity, and 9.7% ABV, though you would never know by the taste. This is probably a dangerous beer. Its smoothness and unassuming flavor belies its strength. I thought I tasted some plum, but the tasting notes report ripe banana, cane sugar, and pepper.

Hop Head Red (8.1% ABV) is one I particularly like. Tasting notes advertise luscious caramel malt and resinous hop. The caramel is obvious, and goes well with the hoppiness (though the pairing is somewhat unexpected). This is sort of an IPA/red ale combo. This beer is on the bitter and heavy side.  Beer Advocate considers it “very good,” and classifies it as an amber/red ale, though it probably has a lot more flavor and punch than 90% of the ambers/reds out there.  Interestingly, Beer Advocate notes, “In 2011 the recipe was altered to bump the IBU’s from 55 to 70; ABV also increased from 6.4% to 7.0%. In 2014 the ABV increased to 8.1%.” I used to order several of these when out at bars, but it’s getting to be a heavier beer (see below, beer on the right).

The West Coast IPA (8.1 ABV) is one of my all-time favorites. Green Flash declares it is extravagantly hopped (no doubt about that). It is also described as “pine, citrus, floral.” The beer really hits you in the face, in a good way. It’s vaguely nutty. It’s a beautiful beer that pairs well with happy times.  Similarly, Beer Advocate indicates this beer was 7.2% ABV before 2014, but has an 8.1%ABV beer after 2014 (beer on the right, below).

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Get In My Beer Belly

Went up to LA for the weekend, and my dear friend took me to this cute little gastropub in K-Town called Beer Belly. They had a decent beer selection, though I wish they offered more IPAs in pint-sized servings:

She started with a Seafarer by Three Weavers Brewing, a Kolsch, and I ordered the East to West IPA by Ballast Point (I know, so original of me – San Diego resident goes to LA for the weekend, and first pick is a San Diego beer). The East to West IPA was fresh, hoppy, floral, light, and citrusy, like IPAs tend to be (pictured above, in the goblet-style glass). It is also a very typical quality for Ballast point – well-balanced, smooth, satisfying. Ballast Point rarely disappoints, of course.

When the Seafarer came, I grew curious, because it was an amber color. I don’t usually get very excited about Kolsch beers, so this unusual color (for a Kolsch) caught my eye. I tasted it and rather enjoyed it. It was malty, fresh, nutty, and had a smoky aftertaste. My friend thought it was actually a bit floral. Well, turns out it wasn’t a Kolsch. Our server brought the Vapor, a California Common by Faction Brewing instead.  So the Seafarer ended up being her second beer, and I got the Vapor the second time around. The Vapor is the darker one on the left, and the Seafarer is to its right:

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The food is also worth mentioning. We indulged in all kinds of health items including duck fat fries, and pork belly chips. No regrets. We ordered two types of wings: buffalo and volcano. Volcano was the spiciest, and my preference, though both were really good. By far the most interesting was the kimchi ragu, which was a kimchi tomato stew that topped with meatballs and an egg in a little skillet. Very interesting and delicious.This place is listed on Yelp as “American,” but it is located in K-Town after all, so I suppose they had to get with the program. This isn’t a food blog, but this one is totally worth mentioning, especially when paired with an IPA (or even the Kolsch, since the flavors in this dish are so strong already).

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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.

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.