Bottle (re)Cap: San Diego Beer News for March
San Diego can forecast for the month: Hazy with a chance of deliciousness. Plus celebrations with some of San Diego's 1- and 2-year-olds.
Indian Joe Brewing
It’s spring: Let’s celebrate! Truth is, if you follow all the beer-related events going on in San Diego, every month is a series of celebrations. With nearly 140 breweries in town, you can virtually always find some brewery celebrating something—whether it’s an anniversary, a new beer release, or a special lineup of beers and food. So, why not join in the celebration?
Become a Brazil Nut
Novo Brazil’s Second Anniversary Party, April 8
This Chula Vista brewery has a lot to celebrate this year; not only have they survived their “terrible” two, they managed to do it while they snagged a bronze medal for their Corvo Negro British-Style Imperial Stout at the 2016 World Beer Cup.
Novo Brazil’s Anniversary party promises to be a big, beautiful, Brazilian blast, with live Brazilian music, Brazilian food (plus birria tacos and BBQ), face painting for the kids, guest breweries Thorn Street Brewing and Bay Bridge Brewing, and 4 rare barrel-aged Novo Brazil beers being tapped straight from the barrels. The event will run from 1–6 p.m. on April 8 and tickets are $10 per person.
While you’re there, see if you can score a few cans of Novo Brazil’s newest release, Bossa Haze Double IPA (7.6%). Massively hopped with Galaxy, completely unfiltered, and sporting a golden cloudiness, the brewery promises haze-lovers a big blast of tropical fruit aromas and a rich, velvety mouthfeel.
Rancho Bernardo’s Brewery Turns 2 on April 1
Abnormal brewer Derek Gallanosa has been awfully busy these past few months. Not only has he just released his first-ever set of cans, he’s also re-booted the Abnormal Dinner Series and laid plans for the brewery’s upcoming Second Anniversary party. The first cans were two of his super-popular hazy IPAs, Turbidity IIPA (8.5%) and New Money IPA (7%), which were released to the public at a special event at the brewery a week or so ago.
Just before the can release, Abnormal and its parent restaurant, Cork & Craft, restarted their regular beer dinner series with an eight-course menu developed in collaboration with Beachwood Brewing and Chef Evan Cruz from Arterra. The dinner, which also marked the debut of Cork & Craft’s new Executive Chef, Scott Cannon, included a host of innovative and daring culinary elements, such as Serrano Ham Foam, Potato Soil, White Chocolate Foie Gras Cream, and Oxtail with Nettles and Bacon. A tasty lineup of Beachwood and Abnormal beers were paired with the dishes, including Chaos Is a Friend of Mine Lambic from Beachwood’s Blendery, and Abnormal’s tart and crisp Calamansi Saison.
The 2nd Anniversary Party will happen on Saturday, April 1, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and will include the debut of four new beers, special draft kegs, and on-site bottles for sale. There will also be a preview keg of Derek’s Imperial Stout aged for two years in Pappy Van Winkle barrels and then blended with Tahitian vanilla beans and Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee roasted by Mostra. No tickets necessary.
1 Year at the Beard
El Cajon’s Burning Beard Celebrates Its First Anniversary
By many accounts, Burning Beard Brewing Company is one of the hottest new brands in San Diego. In just twelve short months, they’ve built a solid reputation for big-flavored, highly satisfying, exceptionally balanced beers—and their impressive fan base is a testament to what quality beer will do for a brewery. “The Beard’s” founders, Mike Maass and Jeff Wiederkehr, have planned a big bash for Saturday, April 1, but—alas—tickets have already sold out.
However, all is not lost: Starting on April 8, a limited quantity of their first bottled beer will be available in the tasting room. The beer is called Panic at the Monastery, and is a Belgian Quad that has been aged in Woodford Reserve barrels. A bunch of other new beers—a Berliner-style called D’Brücke, their Wave of Phase Hazy Pale Ale, and You Tacky Thing Hazy IPA—are also coming online for the anniversary celebration, so some of them will likely still be available for a few days afterward (get to the tasting room with fingers crossed!).
Setting the Standard for Beer Dinners
Second Chance and Double Standard Double Up
Executive Chef Chris Gentile just recently decided to start doing beer dinners at Double Standard, and it’s a good thing he did. For his first menu, Gentile teamed up with Second Chance Beer Co. and created a very tasty and well-conceived five-course dinner. The dishes and pairings did exactly what a good beer dinner should do: they made new connections for diners about what kind of beer goes with what kind of food. The two standouts of the evening were the Wagyu Tartare (served with yolk, mustard, and a spent grain crisp) that was paired with Second Chance’s Luminous Blonde, which cut through the rich, umami-laden ingredients perfectly with its crispness and lightness.
The gold-medal pairing was the Duck Breast (with a plum molé fava beans, green garlic tortilla, and watercress) that was served with the brewery’s always-delicious Tabula Rasa Toasted Porter. Unlike many chefs, Gentile recognizes that dark, malty beers are not just for dessert; they can work extraordinarily well with rich, roasted meats, and this combination of sweetness and roastiness from both the food and the beer makes for a delectable and satisfying duo. My advice: Keep your eyes peeled for more information from Double Standard about future plans for more dinners like this.
A Dive Into the Wild Brew Yonder
Harrah’s Resort SoCal Launches Its First Beer Fest
Most beer festivals take place in a parking lot or a large hall, so it’s nice when an event comes together in a different kind of setting. Harrah’s Beer Fest at Dive—which debuted this month—was organized around the resort’s large pool, and included the use of various hot tubs, pool bars, and the lazy river as part of the day’s enjoyment. Numerous organized activities—such as beer pong, corn-hole, and pool volleyball—added to the fun in the sun, as did the sampling of craft beer; a total of eight breweries were represented, including Belching Beaver, Stone, Ballast Point, Refuge, St. Archer, Pizza Port, Firestone Walker, and Harrah’s very own (brand new) brewery, SR76 Beerworks.
Coronado Brewing Collabs with Cigar City Brewing
The brewmasters from these two breweries had a hankering to create a West Coast Style IPA that featured Polaris, which is a new German varietal known for its pineapple and herb aromas and flavors. Coronado Brewmaster Ryan Brooks actually flew to Germany so he could hand-select the hops he wanted for this beer. The finished product employs a blend of Polaris, Equinox, and Simcoe hops, which are used both in the boil and for the dry-hopping. The result is a medium-bodied brew with plenty of tropical, juicy, and herbaceous notes. Conquista (6.5%) is available in 22-ounce bottles at Coronado’s tasting locations as well as through its regular distribution network.
Cellar 3 Launches Barrelmaster’s Reserve Series for 2017
Pat Korn, barrelmaster at Cellar 3, continues to experiment with the unpredictable but surprisingly delicious effects that barrels and brettanomyces have on beer. His latest release will be Brilliant Sauvage (6.1%), a wild ale aged in red wine barrels with passion fruit. According to Korn, the beer offers flavors of tart mango, red wine, and the always-complex brett-induced notes of damp earth and barnyard funk. Only 600 bottles of this beer were produced, and—on Saturday, April 8—they will be released at the Cellar 3 tasting room on a first-come, first-served basis (limit two bottles per person). Last year, similar releases sold out within hours, so get there early if you want to add these prizes to your cellar.
Indian Joe Brewing, Vista
They first opened a tiny tasting room in Vista back in 2012, but after a year or so, they decided to move to a new location. Fast forward a few years, and Indian Joe Brewing is finally back in business. Their new brewery and tasting room dwarf their original spot, and now these folks are poised to make tons of beer and serve scads of thirsty people. A big, long bar greets you as you enter the tasting room, which has 30 beers on offer. Tasters are the main focus here, as are beers that play with fun and fruity flavors. Fruit-beer lovers will be happy with the variety of styles and flavors available, including creations like Lime or Tangerine Wit, Pineapple Passionfruit Gose, Blueberry-Plum-Ginger Sour, Peach-Pink Peppercorn Sour, and Joe-Rita Citrus Gose aged in tequila barrels.
2123 Industrial Ct, Vista, CA 92081
Jacked Up Brewery, Escondido
Yea! Escondido has a new brewery! It’s about time. It’s not big and it’s not fancy, but this cozy and comfortable tasting room provides all the essentials for enjoying a cold pint with a friendly crowd. Owner/brewer Mike Poulson is working his way up to having 10 beers on tap, but right now he’s pouring a light, slightly citrusy Blonde Honey Ale, a Red Rye Ale, a honeyed, more malt-forward Pale Ale, a Smoked Porter, and a nice Stout with hints of chocolate and coffee.
800 West Grand Avenue, Escondido CA 92025
SpecHops Brewing Company, Vista
The Poinsettia Business Park area of Vista is turning into quite the little brewing mecca. Latitude 33, Toolbox, Booze Brothers, and Belching Beaver have already made homes there—and now there’s SpecHops. Co-founder, brewer, and Marine, David Casperson, has set up a sizable operation, with a large, open tasting room and a brewing space that’s dominated by his shiny, new 15-barrel brewhouse. Just opened on March 25, SpecHops is presently working hard to populate all of its taps. When I visited, five beers were flowing, with another two or three soon to be available. The beers are all done with an admirable military precision; they’re clean, flavorful, and very true to style. The Cointelpro Session IPA, the Coldbore Pale Ale, and the Activity Black IPA were all satisfying, but the Culper Ring Stout stood out for its milk chocolate aromas and light, clean finish, and the Jedburgh Saison shined with a light, crisp balance and very pleasing toasty aromas reminiscent of spices and corn flakes.
1280 Activity Drive, Vista CA 92081
Final note: Just as Escondido got its newest brewery this month, we also learned that Offbeat Brewing Company is closing its doors. We’re sorry to lose them, as they were one of the more creative and adventurous small breweries in San Diego. They will be missed.