HOPTOLOGY

Respect the Craft!


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November 10th; The day Green Flash Brewing bought Alpine Beer Co.

It’s a Monday morning in America’s Finest City and its mega craft beer event, San Diego Beer Week, is in full swing. Most of us craft beer enthusiasts are contemplating which of the dozens of fantastic and fun events lined up all over the county to attend. Then something happens. News from the craft beer industry breaks and San Diego beer drinkers do a collective double take and everything in our world of hand crafted brews comes to a screeching halt at the news and we let out a gasp of “What with the what what?”

Green Flash Brewing has bought Alpine Beer Company.

Honestly, it took me several long minutes for me to wrap my head around the very notion of it. While it’s certainly not unheard of for a craft brewer to acquire a smaller craft brewer, Samuel Adams has been doing it for a while now (even if you don’t consider them to be craft any longer), the idea of it happening here in San Diego took me by surprise.

As is no longer shocking, after a quick perusing of my social media feeds, there was a lot of mixed reaction. Some people liked it, some didn’t. Some out right hated it while others where just hoping the beer wouldn’t be affected. I think if the announcement wasn’t coming on the heels of the news of Anheuser-Busch purchasing Portland craft beer legend 10 Barrel Brewing this past week, the news might not have met with such diverse reactions.

I think a lot of assumptions were made initially, and hopefully now that the shock has worn off, people see this for what it is, two craft beer companies coming together to make each of their brands stronger and increase their odds of continued success in a beer market that is, with the exception of craft beer sales, flat or in decline depending on whose numbers you are looking at.

After reading several articles on the sale and the official press release, which you can find here, it’s clear that this is a move the will benefit both companies and craft beer drinkers alike.

Green Flash has an incredible line-up of beers, excellent marketing strategies and well thought out expansions plans, including a new facility which has recently broken ground in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Their larger production facility will mean that Alpine beers, long coveted and argued to be the best IPA’s in the world, will now be available to more people. How can this be considered a bad thing?

On the surface, it may look to some as if this is like Anheuser-Busch, a giant corporation gobbling up the little guys in an effort to stop the competition. I believe there is nothing further from the truth. What A.B. is doing is an attempt to get a foot hold in a market that they have been boxed out of by purchasing companies like 10 Barrel, Goose Island and others that already have a foot in the door.

The situation with Green Flash and Alpine is totally different. For one thing, Green Flash helped to create the market they are in. To the people who run the company, craft beer isn’t about competition but about comradery and the belief that great beer brings great people together. Alpine Beer Company on the other hand, has enjoyed immense popularity, particularly for their murder’s row of IPA’s like Duet, Nelson, Hoppy Birthday, Exponential Hoppiness and others. However, the bottom line has always been that they are a small brewery in east county San Diego and the demand for their beers continues to outpace their ability to brew it all fast enough. An experiment earlier in the year, where Alpine allowed Green Flash to brew their IPA’s meet with Alpine head brewer & co-founder Pat McIIhenny’s approval. One could speculate that this was the genesis of the idea for the new ownership arrangement.

Alpine Beer Company will still be run the same way. The labels on the bottle will be the same. The beer in the bottles will be the same. Pat will still be making the beer to his exacting standards. The small brewery and brewpub will still be open in Alpine, the plans for a new, larger restaurant are still in the works. The biggest change will be the volume of beer made and where it’s made at; Green Flash. This opens the door to wider distribution throughout California and I’d guess it’s only a matter of time before 49 other states will get their chance at some of the best beer in the world. And perhaps most importantly, the roughly 20 employees who work at Alpine will now have the opportunity for health insurance, 401K and other perks that the small scale brewery was unable to provide before now.

While a tiny part of me is sad that the Alpine Beer Company that was something of San Diego secret is now done and over with, the rest of me is very excited for the the rest of California, and the country to now be able to get their hands on what I consider to be the finest craft beers on the planet, because if you’ve not had Nelson IPA from Alpine, you are truly missing out on something special.

Cheers,

Tom

 

 


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San Diego Beer Week 2014; It’s Here!

It’s hard to believe it’s been a year. Time continually seems to move with the rapidity of a crimson and gold cowled super hero (The Flash, he runs fast!). Yet here we are, almost 365 days removed from the start of one of the most amazing times to be a resident or a visitor to the Craft Beer Capital that San Diego has become. That’s right folks, the electricity in the air, the gentle rumbling of stomachs, that little bit of drool I have in the corner of my mouth… it all signals the start of San Diego Beer Week!

The local breweries of the city have all be busy this past year. Most are growing, setting up new and larger brewing facilities. Some are cementing their reputations for quality, some are still starting up and this is their first year as part of the beer week fun, but one thing cannot be denied, over the past year San Diego has continued to turn out some of the finest craft beers on the planet and this is the week that we all, locals and visitors alike, get to celebrate and share our high quality fermentables with everyone at just about every bar, restaurant and brewery in town.

There are so many fun and incredible events every day between November 6th (Beer Week eve) to the end of the event on November 16th that it’s practically impossible not to find something to suit your needs. This is also an amazing opportunity to take your friend who maybe hasn’t yet had the opportunity to sample the craft beer scene here in town and help show them whats it’s all about and spoil them with some fantastically fresh and tasty beers as well.

The amount of events is almost impossible to cover here, but a pretty detailed listing is available at SDBW.org, so head over and check it out. There is also a convenient app available for your smart phone that will help make planning your time considerably easier.

A lot of the events are free to get into, but some do require tickets to be purchased. Please check with each location if you have any questions about that before you head out. Also, you might want to download a ride-sharing app like Uber, Lyft or Sidecar to make sure that in all of your excitement, you still have a way to get home.

I’m only going to mention a few of the insane amount of events/tastings/pairings and tap takeovers that are planned. Use the site listed above, or check social media of your favorite bars, breweries and restaurants for their event schedules.

November 6th (Beer Week Eve Kickoff)

Friend of the blog, Rudy Pollorena Jr. aka Crafbeerd, will be holding the first of many pop up events tonight at Mike Hess Brewing in North Park at 6pm. Swing by for a beer and check out the latest designs from our resident craft beer artist.

Ritual Kitchen will be hosting a Rare & Local taps event tonight featuring incredible beers from IPA juggernauts Alpine Beer Company as well as Alesmith, Groundswell, Lost Abbey, Monkey Paw and Ballast Point.

You might see me at both places today.

November 7 & 8th

Guild Fest – This is the spot where you can rub elbows with San Diego’s craft beer dignitaries while taking in a great view with craft beer and tasty food in your hands. A not to be missed event, tickets are required, get them at SDBW.org

November 9th

- Worlds Largest Bottle Share – Friend of the blog, Brian Beagle is helping to make this new event one that will be talked about for a long time to come. This is the opportunity to hit bars along the legendary 30th street, from Normal Heights to North Park to South Park, all on a shuttle bus as you and your friends share bottles (bring a few, nothing fancy unless you want) and get to sample some amazingly rare beers along the way. Tickets are only $10 and the event goes from 1pm to 6pm and knowing Brian, there will be a ton of fun along the way. Click here for more details and how to get your tickets.

- 6th Annual Green Flash Smoke Out at Carnitas Snack Shack. If that doesn’t say enough, this link will have to, because I don’t have the words.

November 12th

- Alesmith’s Speedway Grand Prix – So let me get this straight, I’m going to sample 12 different variations of the finest stout in all the land? Sign me up. Tickets here.

- Battle of the IPA’s at Urge Gastropub. A fun, blind tasting event where your votes will help decide the winner! This is always a good time and the food at Urge is second to none. No tickets required. More info here on all their SDBW events.

There is a very good chance that I’m at both of these events.

November 14th

- Hamilton’s Tavern will host its Firkin Friday with dueling casks from Monkey Paw Brewing, with personal favorite Bonobos going up against their 3rd Anniversary Ale. No SD Beer week is complete without at least one visit to this fantastic bar.

Also over the course of the week head to Toronado for only about 50 different IPA’s and take a look and the new “other side of the bar” as Toronado grows! They will also be hosting an event on the 14th, no tickets needed but it should be a blast as always. Be sure to say hi to Nate.

This list doesn’t even scratch the surface of all that will be happening in town over the next 9-10 days, depending on how you want to count. Check the websites of your favorite bars and breweries to see what they have going on. Lots of tap take overs, meet the brewers, keep the glass events that I can’t even keep track of.

Enjoy your Beer Week San Diego, you’ve earned!

Cheers,

Tom


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It’s the Great Pumpkin (Beers), Charlie Brown!

It’s that time of year when the temperature begins to drop and the cool, crispness in the air signals the change of season from summer to fall as the leaves begin to turn color and sail to the ground where they wait for us to rake them up into big piles for the children of the neighborhood to jump into.

Well, maybe not in Southern California.a97bf1d1-794a-401e-a8dc-16a9dfe23805

October in San Diego usually means odd pumpkin patches in the middle of parking lots with straw on the ground. Costume shops in every strip mall that has an unoccupied building and lunatics who try to tell you that cold cider is just as good as hot cider. Savages I tell you!

But what we don’t have in the way of the more iconic definition of the fall season, we more than make up for in our efforts to evoke that fall feeling of cool nights and crisp air with some truly wonderful pumpkin ales made by some of the best craft brewers in San Diego, and for this list, one who is slightly further away.

Much like last week’s post on specialty ingredient hibiscus, pumpkin is something that can easily be done wrong. It’s also easy to look at the absolute flood of pumpkin related items and say that pumpkin beer is simply a gimmick to get money from suckers who worship at the house of gourd.

The question has been asked to me on several occasions; can pumpkin beers be considered a true craft beer? Or do you lose credibility because of the perception that pumpkin beers are merely a fad? It’s a question I like to answer with another question; Is it brewed by a craft brewer? Than the answer is yes, it’s craft beer. However, if you want to delve into the question further, I will happily elaborate. The beer must be carefully crafted to be something unique, not something that is simply allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon added to a fermentor. The design of the beer has to be really strong and showcase what real pumpkin flavor can bring to the world of craft beer.

That being said, allow me to present four craft beer that might make you rethink the way you look at pumpkin beer.

Coronado Brewing Company: Punk’in Drublic Imperial Pumpkin Ale.2014-10-08 18.39.43

The beer opens with a rich orange/amber color. lightly carbonated. The nose is a mix of pumpkin and nutmeg with a noticeable hint of cinnamon. First taste is a nice blend of natural pumpkin flavor with more sublet notes from the added spices and a light honey sweetness. The beer drinks easy and has all the nice flavors that a fall beer should have. The spices don’t overpower the beer, you can readily taste the natural pumpkin flavor without thinking that you are being force-fed pumpkin pie in a bottle. Plus the brew has a nice 8.0%ABV which you might not suspect as I found it to be a rather subtle. I love the design on the bottle and the name alone kind of makes it an easy sell to me, good thing it is also easy to drink and even easier to recommend.

Mike Hess Brewing: Magma Cucurbita, Imperial Pumpkin Stout.2014-10-13 16.06.38

Another beautiful bottle for a stout that pours at an impressive 7.25%ABV. The color is a dark molasses with a rich foamy head. The aroma is a roasted earthiness mixed with subtle hints of spice. Taste wise, it’s matches well with it’s aroma. This beer is roasted like pumpkin seeds and has an earthy quality like the brew just came out of the ground at a pumpkin patch. This beer drinks very well and gets more complex and enjoyable as it warms up to room temperature. On the front end of your palate, you get all the malty goodness, the pumpkin and spices are more subtle and noticeable on the back end. This is a wonderful beer to sit around on a cool autumn night with to help you stay warm.

Alpine Beer Company: Ichabod Ale.

With the amazing brewers at Alpine using a wheatwine as the base for this ale, you have to know it’s going to have a little something behind it, and at 10%ABV it doesn’t disappoint. The ale pours a golden orange color with a lovely nose of cinnamon and nutmeg but used moderately so as not to over power the beer they have crafted. It tastes as good as it smells and with a sticky wine sweetness that adds to the overall enjoyment of the beer. This isn’t one that should be gulped down in a hurry, this is a much more easy going, take a sip and enjoy the leaves changing color sort of beer. Take your time with this one and you’ll truly appreciate what it has to offer.2014-10-11 16.16.37

Kern River Brewing Company: Pumpkin Ale.

Kern River is not a San Diego brewery, but you’d never know it from the way their “Just Outstanding” IPA tastes. In fact, that beer is the sole reason I was so excited to try out this pumpkin ale. The label is simple yet the tag line says it all, “So good it’s scary!”. The beer pours a healthy orange color with a nice level of carbonation. The nose on this ale is full of fresh pumpkin smell and that’s exactly what you get as the ale touches your tongue. You’ll notice a soft undercurrent of allspice on the backend, but only if you are paying close attention. This pumpkin beer is amazingly drinkable and at only 5%ABV it’s not going to end your night of trick r’ treats early. The restraint from the temptation to over spice this beer is perhaps the most impressive thing of all. It takes true craftsmanship to show that level of restraint and let the fresh pumpkin flavors be the star of the beer. A phenomenal ale and luckily, everyone I’ve shared it with has agreed with that assessment. Highest recommendation you go find this beer right now.2014-10-13 23.06.59

So there are my four favorite pumpkins ales for this Halloween season, did I forget any? Let me know which ones have caught your eye.

Now if we could only get the brewers to make that beer with the turkey/cranberry/gravy/stuffing flavor for Thanksgiving we’d be all set!

Cheers and Happy Halloween!

Tom


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Real Men (& Women) Drink Pink Beer!

Specialty ingredients in beer are always something that people have a ton of opinions about. Some people think it’s gimmicky, some people think it’s creative and there are all kinds of opinions that fall in-between and around those two opposing thoughts. Recently I’ve had two beers that are two different styles that are tied together with one common specially ingredient; hibiscus.

Hibiscus is a flower most commonly associated with tropical and sub-tropical regions. When not in flower form, it’s most commonly used as an ingredient in specialty teas. However this is San Diego and we aren’t known for brewing tea, we are known for brewing beer. So lets grab some hibiscus and make some beer with it. First up…

Stone Brewing’s Stochasticity Project: Hibiscusicity.2014-10-02 23.47.07

This beer is a Belgian style ale, normally a golden ale, however with the inclusion of dried hibiscus leaves to the recipe this beer now pours a beautiful shade of pink with a really nice floral nose touched with a hint of citrus, probably from another ingredient used; orange peel. I found both the color and the aroma of the beer to be very surprising. Initially I had moderate expectations for a Belgian style ale that was using dried flowers as a selling point for the beer, but after seeing how it poured and letting it’s aroma fill my sense of smell, I had become intrigued. Very intrigued. Putting the glass to my mouth, the floral and citrus hit your palate nicely and then you discover a hint of tartness mingled with the spice that is customary in a Belgian ale. It finished dry and is amazingly refreshing. I honestly couldn’t get enough of this beer which was something I wasn’t expecting. This beer comes in at 7.4% ABV and is dangerously easy to drink. I highly recommend giving this entry in the Stochasticity Project a taste because I’m confident you won’t regret it. It’s delightful!

The next beer I had recently with this ingredient was none other than…

Coronado Brewing Company’s Hibiscus IPA.

For an IPA, you will know this beer is pretty different just from reading that it’s ABV is only 4.9%, a pretty low level for most beers to be called an IPA. Something else to note is that it also has a very low IBU (International Bittering Units) level as well, at 40 which is as low as you can go and still be considered an IPA. If those sort of numbers set off alarm bells in your brain, I suggest you ignore them because this beer is really good. When I poured to my glass I noted the vibrant pink color and the floral aroma that came off the beer, it was mingled with a slight citrus smell. When the beer hit my palate, the first thing I thought was just how smooth and easy drinking this beer is. The presence of chinook and centennial hops are noticeable but they play a complimentary role to the hibiscus, they don’t over power the beer in anyway. Again, this was also an incredibly refreshing beer, especially considering its IPA characteristics. It should be noted that this is not a new beer, it was originally a collaboration between Coronado and Maui Brewing to help raise funds for the breast cancer awareness organization, Beer for Boobs. Now the beer is being made once again, this time it’s Coronado on it’s own, but the link to the fight against breast cancer remains as a portion of proceeds go to the charity. A pink beer to raise breast cancer awareness, I love the way brewers think! In closing, the beers is fantastic and you owe it to yourself to give it a shot and not dismiss it because it’s pink bottle and low ABV frighten you. This beer is totally legit and really, really good!2014-10-03 00.31.17

That’s all for now guys. Have a great time drinking craft beer!

Cheers,

Tom


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ThreeBZine’s Dustin Lothspeich Q&A! Yea!

This year has been a banner year for HoptologySD in the sense that I’ve spent a lot of time branching out and trying to meet other folks who talk about and cover the Craft Beer scene here in San Diego. I’ve made a lot of new friends as the months have rolled along and none of those have been better than the guys at ThreeBZine.Com. You probably remember Cody, one-half of the ThreeBZine podcasting duo, who was kind enough to contribute to my series on craft beer snobs and craft beer geeks. However, I had not had the opportunity to engage with the other half, the musical half, of ThreeBZine.com, and that is the one of a kind, Dustin Lothspeich.

In my estimation, Dustin is a modern day renaissance man. Not only is he a podcaster, he’s a writer of both words and music as well as a vocalist and guitarist for several local San Diego bands. As someone who has zero musical ability, other than singing every thrash metal song ever written, I’ve always been insanely envious of musicians. A strange thing about my relationship with Cody has been that more often than not, Dustin and I had not had the opportunity to meet on my appearances on the ThreeBZine podcast. Well, I had to rectify that immediately and I wanted people to have the opportunity to get to know Dustin better, so he was very kind when he agreed to be the first victim, errr… guest to be interviewed by me, here at HoptologySD.com.

I’m thrilled to present the interview I did with Dustin of ThreeBZine.Com, Old Tiger, Diamond Lakes, Boy King, and I’m pretty sure he was also in Motley Crue and Poison at some point as well.

First a quick thanks for agreeing to do this, you and Cody with be my first interviews on the site. Hopefully it goes well and I don’t make a mockery of internet journalism. If that’s even possible. First, I wanted to ask how you got involved in the ThreeBZine Podcast?

“”A mockery of internet journalism” — LOL even the use of the word “mockery” and the fact that all of those words are spelled right, puts you several steps above most others in the field. haha

I had originally become involved with Cody and ThreeBZine about three years ago. He caught my band Old Tiger at a small club in La Mesa randomly, we ended up chatting and I became his first band interview for his online zine. We talked more and hung out and I decided to volunteer to help him write some articles for the music part of the site. I did some interviews, reviews and a couple other articles until I had to devote most of my free time to the bands I was in. But we remained good friends and every so often, he’d bring up the idea of doing a podcast. As with everything, there are the ideas that happen and the ideas that don’t. Well, we batted the idea around for maybe a year until one day, he was like “I’ve bought a mic, I’ve got my buddy scheduled to sit in and how would you feel to be a co-host on the show?” Of course, I was in. The funny thing was, I thought maybe we’d do one and then that’d be it. It’s hard to keep grand concepts like that going, especially with all the schedule strangling that goes on with projects like that. But it turned into an almost weekly thing (or as frequently as we can). We started doing them, had fun, got to meet cool people, talk about fun stuff and decided there was no real reason to quit. And here we are, 35 episodes later.”
Do you think being a vocalist in several bands has helped to make you comfortable in front of the mic for a podcast? Or was there an adjustment period where you had to find your footing in something different from being on a stage?
“I don’t really know if it helped or not, to be honest. haha. I’ve never been particularly comfortable playing in front of people, and feel especially awkward when it comes to stage banter. So, I doubt it helped. For the first few episodes, I was pretty nervous when the tape started rolling. Beforehand, I’d be talking like normal, just goofin’ around and then we’d start recording and I felt like nothing came quickly or naturally. I felt like I sucked big-time. But now, I think we’ve settled into a good groove — I don’t even realize we’re rolling these days. I actually get kinda amped when we press “record.””
It’s kind of a different animal right? The idea that people are listening to your conversation can be a little strange at first, I’d imagine. One of my favorite aspects of the show has been listening as you have grown from being very new to craft beer to someone who is growing more and more comfortable talking about and describing the beers you are drinking. Can you talk a little about your evolution as a craft beer advocate? It’s alright if you want to blame Cody. Haha!
“Lol, I totally blame Cody! I never would’ve gotten into craft beer if it weren’t for him. I had no desire to learn about it and actually didn’t really like the taste of beer at all. But when all you’ve had to drink your whole life is Corona, PBR and Coors Light, can you blame me? Haha. It’s been strange and interesting, the more I’ve gotten into it. I find myself flip-flopping between the beers I like the most. Sometimes it’s a hoppy IPA. Sometimes it’s a really dark, heavy stout. I’m still not altogether comfortable describing beer to people who actually know what they’re talking about (like Cody and nearly every “beer” person that comes on the show) because I feel like there’s just so much I don’t know. But I’m able to pick out certain reasons for why I like certain beers and why I don’t like others. Before the pod, it used to just be “that one tastes OK, and that one doesn’t”. Now it seems like I have a slightly better handle on WHY I like or dislike certain kinds. And I think it has just come with drinking as many different beers as I can. I’m becoming more familiar with brands that I like as well. For example, I’ve found that I don’t typically like Stone beers. They’re too aggressive for the most part, in my opinion. I think that’s probably their MO, but they’re not for me. But I do like most of the Modern Times releases I’ve tried – most of them seem very balanced to me. I think that’s really what I look for the most now – it used to be I’d look for beers that “tasted” good. That’s why I didn’t like IPAs as a whole. Now, I seem to gravitate towards any kind of beer that has a clean finish, some character, but isn’t overwhelming on any particular front. It’s all about balance, in my book. Either way, I’m still learning. Every time we do an episode, I feel like I’m just soaking up information. And that’s one of the cool things that I think our show offers – it’s not for the ultimate beer drinker/expert. It’s for everyone. People who are just dipping their toe in the whole craft beer scene can start to understand what it’s all about, while those that already know about it all will be entertained – and hopefully we can make ‘em both thirsty.”
I think you’ve nailed it. Since the start of the year my focus has shifted to not only talking up great craft beers but trying to help new people to enjoy the craft beer movement while hopefully providing enough insight that people who are already well versed are enjoying/learning from what I’m writing. It’s not an easy balance but a fun one to be sure. I can also relate to you in the sense that I can sometimes get quite around “experts” because I don’t want to say anything foolish in front of them, but the more I hang around these people, the more comfortable I get with my descriptions of beers. I’ve learned there are not really any wrong answers (well, that’s not entirely true, if you drink an IPA and say it tastes like mustard, I’m pretty sure that’s wrong) And most people won’t judge you negatively. Each beer you drink is your own personal experience and your palate is different from everyone else. I know in my case, I’ve broken my nose several times and that has an effect on the palate so sometimes when I’m having a complex beer I can miss subtle flavors, but nobody has ever mocked me for not detecting soft notes of jasmine in a saison or anything. Ha! Sorry for the long response.

Another aspect of the show that I enjoy the hell out of, is when you and Cody get started on food topics. Red sauce vs. green sauce, your battle at Taco Fiesta to get a breakfast burrito are just a few of my favorites. You guys enjoy talking about food so much that you’ve rebranded the show by changing one of the three B’s to stand for ‘Bites’. In your experience, is there a meal that you think goes hand in hand with a great beer? And if so what do you like to eat with a great beer?  
“Man, so many great meals go hand in hand with beer. It’s hard to make that call: For a crisp, session style beer, it’s hard to beat some killer fish tacos. But for a really hoppy IPA, I gotta go with brats. Grillin’ up some brats, tons of mustard — nothing compliments that more than a great beer. I haven’t paired a lot of food with porters or stouts at this point, but there’s nothin’ quite like enjoying some chocolate, ice cream or most other kinds of dessert with an oatmeal or coffee stout. That’s one of my most favorite pairings ever.”
Lets wrap up with my favorite kind of hard hitting questions, the ones that are borderline absurd. Lets suppose you find yourself stranded on an island not too dissimilar from the one on “Lost” and you locate a bunker that has a CD/Record/Tape player and a complete catalog of a single artist. You also find a lifetime supply of a single type of food and a single type of beer. What do you want the band to be? What do you want the food to be? and what do you want the beer to be? 
“The band would be: Led Zeppelin. The sheer volume of awe-inspiring music those giants released still amazes me, and would provide for a lifetime or musical enjoyment. I hear something new everytime I listen to them.
The food would be: Pizza! You can’t really go wrong with any time of pizza. I like it all. Straight cheese, pep, deep dish, thin crust, regular crust, meat lover’s, veggie, surpreme, ricotta, margherita: you name it — I like it. And there’s enough variety to keep it interesting!
The beer would be: It’s a toss up between Modern Times Phalanx and Russian River Blind Pig. I love the Phalanx because the grapefruit flavor lends a little tartness and a little sweetness to a finely balanced IPA. Immensely drinkable and I enjoy it every time I’ve had it. But I’m also partial to Blind Pig. That to me, is basically the perfect drinkable IPA. It’s SO refreshing and balanced while having that crazy fresh hoppiness. Plus, I don’t get to drink it very much so maybe that would explain why I want it so much. LOL. I’m goin’ with the Pig.”
So that’s Dustin in a nutshell. In the time since we did this interview via email, I have had the opportunity to meet the man face to face and found him to be a very kind and gracious individual. If you are interested in hearing what Dusting gets up to musically and what he writes about while covering the local music scene here in San Diego, here are the links you’ll need.
He plays bass in Diamond Lakes, and the first track off our new EP is available to listen to here: https://soundcloud.com/diamond-lakes/borrowed-bones-3
He sings/plays guitar in Old Tiger. Here’s our FB: https://www.facebook.com/oldtigermusic
He plays guitar in Boy King. Here’s our FB: https://www.facebook.com/longliveboyking
He also writes about music for ThreeBZine.com, ListenSD.com, San Diego Uptown News, TourWorthy.com and NBC SoundDiego.
I’d also like to mention that his band, Old Tiger, is playing a show this coming week, October 9th at The Casbah, tickets are cheap and it’s going to be a great night so head out to support local music while drinking local craft beer. tumblr_ncdev7sR1E1qkmmhco1_500
Cheers,
Tom


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Pucker Up Buttercup! SourFest 2014 at Churchill’s Pub & Grille

I like sour beers. Scratch that. I love sour beers!

However that wasn’t always the case. I remember my first time trying a Flanders Red Ale and my tastebuds freaking out! “What the hell is this?” I’m pretty sure I didn’t say that out loud. In fact I’m pretty sure I said something far worse. My palate wasn’t yet ready for the complexity and mouth puckering awesomeness that waited in a tulip glass, with it’s funky nose of brettanomyces, lactobacillus and all the other yeast beasts that could funk up any beer and take it to another level. Nope, at the time all I could think of was, “This tastes like sour patch kids”.

It was a slap in the face to my taste buds. This is one of those moments were getting a slap in the face was a good thing. It woke me up to a whole new world of beer styles that I had been relatively ignorant of for a number of years. That had to change. My quest to continue to evolve my palate and to expand my beer horizons had found something new to absorb, and I relished the opportunity to learn and to taste my way to finding some of the finest beers in the world. It was time well spent.

Fast forward to now.

This past Saturday I had the opportunity to attend Churchill’s Pub & Grille 5th Annual Peter Reeves Memorial Sourfest. The event is an opportunity to not only have some of the finest sour beers from San Diego and around the world, it’s also an opportunity to make a donation to cancer research which is always a worthwhile cause and one that I’m more than happy to drink to.

The bottle and draft list featured over 60 world class concoctions including an impressive array of delights from Almanac, Cascade, Lost Abbey, Russian River and international superstar Cantillon. Impressive is a word that would almost qualify as an understatement when used to describe this list of beers.

My wife and I made the trip to San Marcos with a quick stop on the way in Escondido to grab our North County drinking partners, then we braved the heat and stood in line for twenty or so minutes before making our way inside and grabbing a comfy seat and we quickly got to work on the menu.

What you don't see is us melting in the sun.

What you don’t see is us melting in the sun.

All said we managed to drink right around 25 sours, which was a lot more than expected but once my wife offered to drive us all home, it was something we couldn’t resist. We only experienced a few misses, as the sours weren’t quite tailored to what we like, but they were by no means bad beers. We experienced far more great and amazing beers than we had any right to expect, and rather than list off all the ones I liked I’ll share with you my top 3 of the day, in no particular order;

Lost Abbey Spontaneous Cheer – Spontaneously Fermented Blonde Ale with White Peaches, 6.0% ABV and oh my God is it good! No surprise that the same people who make Duck Duck Gooze also make a bunch of really great sours, but this one was a standout for me.

Societe Highbinder – Sour Ale Aged in Wine Barrels with Raspberries Added, 6.2% ABV and sweet fancy moses is this beer amazing! Everyone knows how I sing the praises of the guys over at Societe and beers like this are the reason why I will continue to do so. I can’t wait to try their next one.

Cantillon Cuvee Saint Gilloise – Lambic Aged for Two Years Dry Hopped with Hallertau Hops, this was a close call because Cantillon’s Lou Pepe Gueuze 2010 was pretty damn kick ass too, but this one just had a certain something that beat it out. Incredible flavors and aged to perfection.

Almanac Dark Pumpkin Sour, Cantillon Lou Pepe Gueuze2010, Societe Highbinder, Lost Abbey Duck Duck Gooze!

Almanac Dark Pumpkin Sour, Cantillon Lou Pepe Gueuze2010, Societe Highbinder, Lost Abbey Duck Duck Gooze!

Overall it was another fantastic visit to arguably the best pub in North County San Diego, and I didn’t even get to mention all the amazing eats we had while working our way down the menu. If you’ve not yet had the opportunity to visit Churchill’s, I highly recommend doing so, they have a continually amazing draft beer and bottle list that can make even the most discerning beer drinking happy and a great menu of meals to compliment them all.

So maybe sours aren’t your thing or maybe you’ve not had the opportunity to try very many just yet. I urge you to give them a chance, they are drinks that fit nicely into the beer genre but you should prepare your palate for a completely different adventure with every sip you take.

Cheers,

Tom


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Beer-Con Podcasts; Sounds so good you’ll think you’re drinking craft beer!

On Saturday August 23rd I had the privilege to attend Beer-Con 2014, and it was truly a special event that I’d like to share with everyone. Luckily, Cody from ThreeBZine.com has made that really easy by being onsite and recording his podcast live from the top floor of the ballroom. Cody sat down with each of the guest speakers and really get to the heart of what each person was bringing to the table as far as why they were at Beer-Con and why it’s important that the event continues to grow. It was an impressive lineup of San Diego Beer heavyweights like “Dr” Bill Sysak, Mike Hess of Hess Brewing, Shawn Dewitt of Coronado Brewing, Mike Sardina of Societe Brewing, Grant Fraley of ChuckAlek, Steve Zigray of Rip Current, Angel Miron of Lets Go Clandestino, Katy Hall from White Labs, Misty Birchall of PubCakes, Charles Eck of bottletrade.com and a few others heaped in for good measure, like Rudy Pollorena Jr. and Michael Bowen, the founder of Beer-Con. To be crystal clear, these guys weren’t at the event as some sort of sales pitch to buy their beers, these guys were here to share why it’s important that everyone continues to help craft beer grow and thrive in communities around the country. What these people had to say was fascinating and you’ll be able to tell from they way they speak on the subject, just how passionate they are about craft beer.

What is also very cool about these podcast episodes is the fact that Cody was gracious enough to allow me to sit sidecar as his usual co-host Dustin (who also gave me his blessing) was unable to attend. It was a truly special moment for me personally to get to sit in on these sessions and for that I can’t thank Cody enough. I hope you’ll seek out the sessions that are most appealing to you and enjoy them as much as we did making them, and then you can go back and listen to all the rest because there is some really great information in there as well as a couple of guys having a lot of fun. Cody has been releasing episodes on the iTunes store under podcasts at keyword ThreeBZine (they are free!) as well as on his website (also free!) and if you want to get crazy, head over to bandcamp.com where you can download all the sessions as one great album (Free! but please donate if so inclined).

Please check it out and let me know how we did. Well, to be honest, Cody crushed it as usual, so please let me know how I did.

Cheers,

Tom   

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