Bottle (re)Cap: San Diego Beer News for January
A new brewery, notable bites & brews, and a barrage of bottle releases
First releases in Mikkeller's Weekly Beer Series.
I’m in Bottle Shock. Not the wine kind, the beer-release kind. Maybe it was the excitement brewers felt in starting a brand-new year, but this past month felt like a non-stop bonanza of bottle releases from breweries both big and small. Not that I’m complaining. So much good stuff came out in recent weeks that it’s almost an embarrassment of riches—but hey, I’ll find a way to cope.
Not only were bottle releases plentiful (cans too), a number of breweries announced plans that encompass year-long release programs that are focused on various themes. These programs promise to make lots of unique and interesting beer available in the months to come, so keep your eyes peeled on this space. There’s going to be a lot more where this came from…
Mikkeller Launches New Beer Every Week Series
Saturday Is Release Day at the Brewery
Keep ‘em comin’ back for more: That’s the goal of any good business, and that’s what Mikkeller Brewing is looking to do with the launch of their weekly Beer Release Series. The brewery’s goal is to release one new small-batch beer on every Saturday of every month in 2017. The program was kicked off with a special event on January 12 where Beer Geek Brunch (an Imperial Oatmeal Stout brewed with Coffee and aged in Bourbon barrels), Uklar IPA, and Fruit Face Berliner Weisse (with Raspberries and Coffee) made their debuts. The series was officially continued with a new beer release on January 21 and subsequent releases will take place at noon on Saturdays from here on out. On the following Mondays, each beer will be available on draft at select local taprooms and at Mikkeller locations in San Francisco, Oakland, and (eventually) Los Angeles.
From Mason Ale Works and Urge
A Trio of Tasty Treats
Mason Ale Works and its sibling company, Urge Rancho Bernardo, have a lot to celebrate recently. For Urge’s 6th Anniversary, Mason/Urge brewed an intriguing collaboration beer with The Ale Apothecary, called Connor. This wild-fermented ale, which was aged in Pinot Noir barrels, uses marionberries (a kind of blackberry native to the Pacific Northwest) to create a uniquely rich, fruity, sour, and funky brew. Only available at Brothers’ Provisions (also a sibling company), this beer is very limited and likely to only be around for a short time. Mason Ale Works has also been busy on other brewing fronts and has recently released their first barrel-aged beer to the public. Second Son is a blend of Barleywine and Imperial Stout that’s been aged in Elijah Craig barrels. The 22-ounce bottles are all hand-numbered and hand-waxed, and are currently available at local specialty beer and bottle shops. But wait: Bottles are not the only thing these beersmiths can celebrate. In the past month, Mason Ale Works released their first canned beers, which include Jambi IPA, Cash Imperial Coffee Stout, Willy Time White Ale, and Charley Hustle Red IPA. These selections are available at local Trader Joe’s, BevMo, Baron’s, and other fine liquor stores and bottle shops.
Opposites Attract at Green Flash
Palate Wrecker Returns with GFB Blonde
For the past year or so, Green Flash has let it be known that it is a brewery capable of doing all styles of great, hoppy beers—from pale ales, to session IPAs, to single hop IPAs. The focus recently has been on the more “approachable styles,” mainly because the company gained so much notoriety for their big, aggressive, hop bombs like West Coast IPA and Palate Wrecker, which quickly gained cult-like followings among hopheads and branded the company as a hopping heavyweight. This month, Green Flash aims to please beer lovers in both camps by re-releasing Palate Wrecker (9.5% ABV) in bottled six-packs while it also debuts GFB, their new blonde ale. At 4.8% ABV, GFB is a highly approachable, easy-drinking option for those who crave a more restrained hoppiness in a lighter, crisper package. Both beers are widely available on draft, and are currently on shelves at most major beer retailers.
Passion Fruit Runs High at Mission
The Fruit & Oak Collection Takes Root
The good folks at Mission Brewery, like many breweries in San Diego, can’t ignore the public’s seemingly limitless craving for fruited beers. This month, Mission launched its Fruit & Oak Collection, which will feature beers like their first release, a Passionfruit Gose. Real passion fruit purée gives this unfiltered German-style kettle sour big tropical fruit aromas and flavors that blend perfectly with the citrusy aromas of the hops. The beer is currently on draft throughout California and a limited release of 22-ounce bottles will also be available at select retail locations.
Another High-Water Mark for Ballast Point
Manta Ray Double IPA
It’s good to see that Ballast Point continues to innovate and develop great new recipes, not the least of which is their newest Double IPA, called Manta Ray. The team has used its considerable hop-taming talents to create an exceptionally approachable double IPA (8.5%) that bursts with tropical fruit, pine, and grapefruit on the nose and has a wonderfully satisfying rich mouthfeel with the slightest hint of sweetness on the finish. Manta Ray is now available at all major retail locations in 6-pack bottles.
AleSmith’s Love Letter to You
My Bloody Valentine Is Back
Just in time for February 14th, AleSmith has released the 2017 My Bloody Valentine, a hefty, satisfying red ale that packs tons of caramel, toast, and chocolate on top of crisp, zesty hops. It's a big, full-flavored beer that’s balanced enough to make the hearts of both hopheads and malt lovers beat a little faster. The beer is available at AleSmith’s Miramar tasting room and at most retail locations that carry the AleSmith portfolio.
Brews, Bites (and Bottles!) at Bitter Brothers
Family Dinners This Year Will Benefit Feeding San Diego
This month marks the first anniversary of Bay Ho’s brewery, Bitter Brothers. Their most recent Family Dinner (which they do quarterly at the brewery) was not only a celebration of their first year in business, it was also an opportunity to give back to San Diego by donating the proceeds to Feeding San Diego. Co-Owner Monica Andresen says that all Bitter Brothers Family Dinners from here on out will benefit charity, and a different charity will be designated each year.
An impressive collection of local chefs came together to help chef and Co-Owner Bill Warnke celebrate in the kitchen, including Spencer Hunter, Tim Kolanko, Phillip Esteban, Ami Cisneros, and Travis Clifford. The six-course dinner started with Chef Hunter’s Shanghai Lumpia (accompanied by Sweet Chili Pepper Sauce) paired with BBB Czech Pils; then came Tim Kolanko’s Porcini Dusted Cauliflower with Celery Root Purée paired with Brotherly Love Dunkelweizen; third course was Phillip Esteban’s Chicken Ballotine with Buttermilk Leche de Tigre and Black Garlic paired with Black Sheep Coffee Porter on Nitro (my pick for most interesting match-up of the evening); next up was Ami Cisneros’s Carnitas with Kabocha, Sunchoke, ad Chamoy accompanied by Prickly Pear Family Tart Berliner Weisse (a great food beer); fifth course was Travis Clifford’s Blackened Prawns with Andouille and a Gumbo Emulsion matched with Big Brother Double IPA; and—to end the evening—Chef Warnke’s Espresso Crème Brûlée and Bittersweet Chocolate Sablé paired with Little Sister Russian Imperial Stout. This delicious barrel-aged beauty (Woodford Reserve Bourbon barrels with Cocoa Nibs, Coffee, and Vanilla) is Bitter Brothers’ first bottling and is currently available only at the brewery for $20 per bottle.
CPK Partners with BP for a Tasting Menu
Try These Mouth-Watering Pairings
Small—mostly independent—restaurants in San Diego have embraced the joys of pairing great food with great craft beer for a while now, so it’s nice to see that some of the really big guys are following that lead. This past month, the brand-new California Pizza Kitchen in Escondido partnered with Colby Chandler and Ballast Point to create a tasting menu that showcased some of Ballast’s classic brews. The menu started with three awesome apps paired with Piper Down Scottish Ale (my favorite was the Spicy Buffalo Cauliflower, which was battered, deep-fried, and served with a Sriracha Buffalo Sauce, Celery, and Gorgonzola). Five other courses followed, and included pizzas, a wild mushroom pasta, a grilled ribeye, and dessert. Most mouth-watering pairings of the evening: Carne Asada pizza paired with Cinnamon Raisin Commodore American Stout and the dessert of Salted Caramel Pudding paired with Victory at Sea Imperial Porter with Coffee and Vanilla.
Burgeon Brewing Co., Carlsbad
Say hello to Carlsbad’s seventh brewery: Burgeon Brewing Co. opened its doors at the very end of 2016 near Palomar Airport Road, a location that’s quickly becoming a north county brewing hub.
The Burgeon tasting room is large, spacious, and simply designed with a bunch of “green” elements that underscore its overall theme of growth and “planting roots” in the community (there’s actually a tree at the end of the bar!). Hop lovers will be very happy here, as there are numerous IPAs to choose from as well as two very tasty and hoppy pale ales (the brewmaster, Anthony Tallman, is a Stone alum who has also brewed for Rough Draft and Backstreet). In addition to the piney and lemony Lot 19 Pale Ale, the Thuja American IPA was a particular standout, with a big blast of lemon and grapefruit on the nose and a very satisfying body—balanced and medium-bitter without being astringent.
Evidently, the gluten-free movement has taken hold in the brewing community (thanks Duck Foot!) and Burgeon’s beers (like a handful of others in San Diego) are fermented with a gluten-reducing enzyme called ClarityFerm that—according to Co-Founder Matthew Zirpolo—makes the beers palatable for gluten-intolerant folks (though they make no claims about specific gluten levels in their beers).