Bottle (re)Cap: San Diego Beer News in November and December
New beer spots, fun fests, and some special sippers to look out for
Karl Strauss collaborated with Taylor Guitars on the 614 Farmhouse Ale.
As a beer lover, I’m always thankful when November rolls around. Not only do we have ten days of great beer festivities during San Diego Beer Week, we also have Thanksgiving, which is a great opportunity to pull out (and share!) some of those special bottles that have been languishing in the cellar. In between those beer bookends this month, lots of other awesome events and releases took place. Here are a few of my favorite highlights from November, and a couple of things to watch out for in December.
Karl Strauss Jams with Taylor Guitars
614 Farmhouse Ale with Toasted Maple
Evidently, these two iconic San Diego businesses have been looking to collaborate for a long time (partly because Brewmaster Paul Segura is a musician and a big fan of Taylor guitars) and now it’s finally a reality. The two teams were inspired to collaborate during a meeting in Skagit Valley, Washington, which is home to Skagit Valley Malting Company and also where the maple wood for Taylor’s 600 series guitars is grown. Together, the two teams decided to craft a Farmhouse Ale—which is a crisp, fairly light Belgian-inspired beer—and to highlight toasted maple and malt in their recipe. The final product, which also has flavors of lemon zest and spice, was named “614” in honor of the flagship model in Taylor’s 600 series of guitars. A very limited number of 22-ounce bottles were produced (sold exclusively at the PB tasting room) and the beer is available on draft at all Karl Strauss locations while supplies last.
Juicy Details on The Hop Concept
The New Tropical & Juicy IPA
This is the fourth release in the Hop Freshener Series from The Hop Concept, which is a line of beers created by the IBU-loving folks at The Lost Abbey. Each of the entries in this series is meant to achieve the flavor profile stated on the label through expert mixing of hop varieties and hopping techniques. Tropical & Juicy blends Mosaic hops with Galaxy, Vic’s Secret, and Citra to achieve its end, which boasts bold, bright blasts of pineapple, citrus, and papaya. The beer is available throughout the Port/Lost Abbey distribution network and is currently on tap at numerous locations throughout San Diego.
Stone Goes Beyond the Pale
Ripper San Diego Pale Ale
This new release is an homage to two coasts on opposite sides of the world: San Diego and Australia. Ripper Pale Ale is classic Stone; it’s deep golden in color with a bold bitterness and a medium mouthfeel—full of flavor, but not a light sipper. The brew uses a combination of Cascade hops from the Pacific Northwest and Australian Galaxy to produce big citrus and pine aromas and flavors that are well supported by a rich, malty backbone. Ripper is currently available in 12-ounce cans throughout California.
Green Flash Gins Up a Tripel
Barrelmaster Pat Korn has been doing wonderful things at Cellar 3, not the least of which are his unique and always intriguing Barrelmaster Reserve releases. The third release in this series is a Belgian-style Tripel that has been aged in gin barrels with added botanicals intended to mimic the flavors of a classic gin cocktail. The end result, which is a potent 10.8% ABV, is an enticing brew that offers aromas of juniper berries, cucumber, coriander, and clove, all wrapped up in a classically spicy, fruity, ester-filled beer of remarkable smoothness. Divine Enebro will release at the Cellar 3 tasting room on Saturday, December 10, and will be sold on a first come, first served basis. Only 600 bottles were produced and there will be a two-bottle limit per person.
The Headquarters, Downtown
Flour & Barley’s First Beer Dinner
It’s always nice to see new restaurants and chefs get inspired to start doing beer dinners. A few weeks ago, the folks at Flour & Barley decided to try their hand for the first time, and they decided their first partners would be the good folks at Coronado Brewing Company. Unlike many other beer dinners that have been done in town, Chef Crystal Parker decided to start with what her restaurant knows best: comfort food. So, instead of attempting wildly ambitious dishes and pairings, this dinner was built around simple, classic Italian ingredients and straightforward, well-balanced, food-friendly beers. The four-course menu included a spicy Calabrese pizza paired with Stingray IPA, Buccatini Bolognese paired with Mermaid’s Red, and a classic cannoli paired with Dublin Down, Coronado’s delectable dry Irish Stout. The standout pairing of the evening was the first course: Seared Ahi Crudo with Calabrian chili aioli, crispy shallots, eggplant caponata, and arugla, which worked beautifully with Coronado’s uber-food-friendly Orange Ave. Wit.
Del Mar Racetrack
Del Mar Craft Beer & Food Truck Fest
Not everybody knows that the Del Mar Racetrack has recently added a “winter” season (called the Bing Crosby season), which starts in early November and is currently winding down (ends December 4). Part of the winter schedule includes a Craft Beer & Food Truck festival that visitors can enjoy before, during, and after the races. This year, dozens of awesome food trucks—serving everything from Maine lobster rolls to sushi-ritos to pulled pork mac-and-cheese sandwiches—were accompanied by breweries both local, national, and international, serving up more than 100 beers. In addition to many familiar brews, lots of special winter releases and holiday beers were on offer, including Mike Hess’s Fig Saison, AleSmith’s Noel, and a tummy-warming stout with cocoa nibs and coffee from Breakwater. Next year, save the weekend after Thanksgiving to head out to the races!
Barrel Republic, Carlsbad
A serve-yourself craft beer pub? Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, that’s the way it’s done at Barrel Republic, where, upon arrival, you’re outfitted with a special wristband that allows you go get yourself whichever beers you want (they have 52 taps, mostly beer) and however many ounces you desire. The electronically enabled wristband keeps track of which beers you’ve taken and how much you’ve taken (it also figures out how much you can have within a given timeframe so no one is over-self-served) and when you’re done, the wristband talks to the register and your check is totaled. It’s pretty cool, and it’s also kind of fun. You can grab a 1-ounce taste of beers you don't know or ones you want to try, or you can pull a full pint of something you already love. With about 40 different beers to choose from (the other taps include wine, mead, tea, even cold-brewed coffee) the selection is quite good (lots of San Diego breweries are represented) as is the range of styles available. A full kitchen also provides a bunch of food options, including burgers, sandwiches, flatbreads, salads, and a nice mix of appetizers, many of which are refreshingly out of the ordinary. Standouts include Potato Barrels with Truffled Chimichurri, Spicy Four-Chile Mac & Cheese (with ghost pepper salt!) and Pistachio Crusted Lamb Meatballs with a Rosemary Red Wine Reduction.
The Brewery Igniter program, sponsored by real estate giant H.G. Fenton, has already helped open two breweries in Miramar (Amplified and Pure Project) and now they’re expanding to North Park. Their newest location, called CRAFT (El Cajon Blvd & Ohio), will be home to three breweries: Pariah Brewing, San Diego Brewing, and Eppig Brewing, which is the first of the trio to open its doors. Eppig’s beers are sure to be a hit with patrons; they’re being crafted by Clayton LeBlanc and Nathan Stephens, two former Ballast Point brewers who know their stuff. Their IPAs were the stars on the tap list, but the initial lineup is solid and offers a nice range of other styles, some of which are not commonly found at startups (Zwickelbier!).
Stay Strong San Diego
Pizza Port Strong Ale Fest
Here’s a heads up for the weekend: December 2 and 3 will mark Pizza Port’s 20th Strong Ale Festival, which is one of the longest-running beer festivals in San Diego. This year, the event will feature 75 beers with ABV of 8% and above, as well as a special release of 22-ounce bottles from Pizza Port. For more info and to purchase tickets, click here.