HOPTOLOGY

San Diego Beer, Local & Independent!


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Drink two beers and call me in the morning.

I have been felled.

A recent running injury has slowed me down on a couple of fronts in my life. It’s sucks, but I’ve been injured before and I’m sure I will be again at some point. Whether it’s sports related or drinking related is always debatable.

Well, if a doctor says it’s ok…

As I was sitting in my doctor’s waiting room earlier in the week, I sent out a tweet that said “At the Doctor’s office. Sadly they have nothing on draft.” A few very kind souls retweeted that and wrote me back with a nice “lol”. So it kinda got my brain going in a different direction for this weeks blog. I had a whole thing about coffee flavored stouts that I’m going to save for another day. In the meantime, I proudly present…

Top 10 reason your Doctor’s office doesn’t have beer.
10. He’s afraid of a mix-up involving your urine sample.
9. The nearest taco stand isn’t in walking distance.
8. He would prefer you not to try a beer intravenously.
7. He’s seen your game and already knows you have no chance with that cute nurse.
6. The pharmaceutical reps are already annoying enough without being drunk.
5. He would prefer you mix your medications with alcohol off of his property.
4. You already can’t read his hand-writing.
3. He would prefer you wait to drop your pants until he asks
2. What does he look like? An airline pilot?
1. Why serve beer when he knows your insurance isn’t going to cover it.

Prost,

Tom


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Hunting for Craft beer with Taphunter

In this modern day and age in which we live, people as a society are more plugged in to technology than at any other point in the history of civilization. If current trends hold and we don’t all cease to exist when the Mayan calendar runs its course, technology will continue it’s strangle hold on stealing all of our attention.

Whatever.
This blog isn’t to debate sociological issues, so let’s talk about something great that technology has brought to craft beer enthusiasts  in several different parts of the county.
I’m talking about my favorite smart phone application – Taphunter.
This app has become my best friend over the past several months. Ever since I upgraded from my crapberry phone, I’ve been using this app to find the beers I want when I want them. The concept is straight forward – look up the bar you are going to and see what they have on draft. Or, look up the beer you are craving and see what bars in the area are serving it. In my case, I generally will use the option to search which bars I’m currently close to and then see who has the beer list that makes me happiest.
Now there is the one rub, if the bar you are looking up hasn’t updated their tap list in several weeks than I’m less inclined to go there. The listing has a “freshness” rating next to the bars listed to help you know which places are most up to date  which helps quite a bit, but it isn’t perfect. Yet.
The most recent update for Taphunter has added a few neat features where you can “favorite” a bar or a beer and by accessing your favorites you will know what is on draft there or where you have to go to find that hard to locate glass of Mongo. You also have the ability to check off which beers you’ve had and you can rate them as well. This comes in very handy when maybe you are beginning to “feel the effects of the high” and you can’t remember if you like that Rogue Chocolate Stout or not (you loved it!)
I see this app getting better and better as time goes on and I also see it becoming more and more valuable to the consumer who knows what he wants and isn’t in the mood to stumble all over town to find it.
Just remember, it isn’t flawless. It doesn’t have real time stats to account for when a bar blows a keg and has to replace it with something else on short notice. The app is still dependent on humans to keep it updated. Taphunter has not become self aware just yet. Although, I suppose if an AI were to go rogue, one that could tell you where to get good beer isn’t all that bad right? “Come with me if you want to drink!”

“I know where the good beer is”

Back to the point … I’d really like urge more of the bars and brew pubs to take advantage of this app – update your beer list regularly. I’m sure I can’t be the only one who is basing my beer drinking choices knowing ahead of time what’s on draft.
See? Technology isn’t so bad! Wait…what’s that giant robot with the gun doing? Oh no…
Taphunter is a FREE download from your app store. It works in San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, Austin, Chicago, Denver/Boulder, Philadelphia, Portland, San Francisco Bay area, Seattle, Vancouver.

Prost,

Tom


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Pumpkin Beer : Two great tastes that taste great together. Sometimes.

First – I dedicate this post to my longtime friend K-Dub, she loves herself a good pumpkin beer!

I’m proud to say that I was born right here in San Diego. That said, I also have a co-hometown in the suburbs of Washington D.C. where my Father moved us shortly after he finished his term with the Navy. I spent a lot of time growing up on the east coast and many of my closest friends still reside there so I have never really left it behind, even after my most recent move back to San Diego. If there is one thing I miss about the east coast, not counting my friends and family there, it would have to be the fall season. Something about the cool crispness of the air, the changing of the leaves to shades of yellow and orange, it really does a lot to invigorate my spirit. I absolutely love this time of the year.

Which is why I’ve been holding this blog back several weeks as Southern California is mired in a brutal heat wave that doesn’t really seem to be letting up. It’s challenging to get in the fall spirit when you are standing in a cold shower trying to lower your body temperature after going for a six mile run. It would be pretty rad if I could break out a sweatshirt or something at night. Oh well. San Diegans who bitch about the weather are deservedly mocked so I’ll shut-up now.

One of my favorite fall treats are pumpkin flavored items. Pumpkin bread, and pumpkin pie are clearly at the top of that list but I’ve been known to indulge in other snacks that have been amped up with pumpkin spice, nutmeg and cinnamon.

Obviously, my favorite thing in the whole wide world is drinking beers, so for me it’s kinda fun to see what some breweries are able to come up with in the pumpkin beer area. I know it’s something of a novelty and maybe that bugs you and maybe it doesn’t. I’m pretty straight forward about what types of beers I like, but please allow me this one random indulgence. None, of these are what we would call “hoppy” beers, but as many beer drinkers will attest to, there are some that far outshine others. What we have in today’s post is a tiny sampler of what is out there in the pumpkin beer market of Southern California. I was able to find most of these at the local BevMo if you decided to go looking. My other store of choice was K’nB Wine Cellars.

I’m also not the kind of person who likes to point out negative things but here is one – The pumpkin beer made by Blue Moon is one of the worst things I’ve ever had in my life. That includes asparagus and anchovies. Do not drink it, it is not good.

Let’s start with Buffalo Bill’s Brewery: Pumpkin Ale 5.2%ABV : This beer is refereed to as ‘America’s Original Pumpkin Ale’. It has a light pumpkin aroma to go with the light orange color. Tastes good, the pumpkin is a little too sublte for me, it does not overwhelm the palette. The little lady said she couldn’t even taste the pumpkin.

Shipyard Brewing Co. : PumpkinHead Ale 4.7%ABV : Light, golden color with a fragrant pumpkin aroma and a more overt pumpkin flavor. Well balanced with the malts so it’s no too sweet. The future Mrs. compares it to pumpkin bread. This one works well for my tastes.

Samuel Adams : Harvest Pumpkin Ale 5.7%ABV : Dark, golden color with a rich aroma. Deep malty flavor, tastes like a true autumn beer – I can almost see the leaves change color. Again, I find the pumpkin to be underplayed here. If you like the pumpkin to be subtle, you may find this beer right up your ally.

Dogfish Head: Punkin Ale 7%ABV : A brown ale with a strong pumpkin pie flavor to it.A very tasty beer from the boys in Delaware. It’s slightly too sweet to my tastes but that’s not from the pumpkin, it’s from the brown sugar they dropped in this sucker. Enjoyable for sure.

Now we get to my two favorite mamajama’s

Unita Brewing : Crooked Line Oaked Jacked Imperial Pumpkin 10.31%ABV : The gang from Utah sure knows how to brew a pumpkin beer that will whip your ass! Dark brown color, strong pumpkin aroma and one of the closest tasting beer to pumpkin pie you can imagine. Minus the crust. Taking a pumpkin ale and then aging it in oak barrels might be one of the most genious idea’s I’ve heard in a while. You get a crisp yet boozy beverage that I found incredibly smooth and easy drinking. I also found it very hard to get off the couch after drinking the entire 22oz bottle by myself. Awesome beer!!

Shipyard Brewing Co : Smashed Pumpkin 9%ABV : This was my into to what pumpkin beers should aspire to taste like. It’s pretty much the gold standard in my opinion. It has a nice orange color, strong aroma of pumpkin and an excellent flavor with a slightly boozy edge to it. Not as strong as the Unita. You also have wonderful, big flavors from the malts to offset too much sweet from the pumpkin. Shipyard is one of the best when it comes to having a well balanced beer and this is another example of that. Simply fantastic.

So there is my pumpkin beer drinking experience for the fall. Maybe you’re not so much of a pumpkin beer guy, that’s OK. I can’t get mad at you. However, if the mood ever did strike for you to try one, this list is something that I hope will help.

Now if we could only figure out a beer that tastes like Thanksgiving Dinner…

Cheers,

Tom

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Mid-Week fun at K’n B Wine Cellars

I’ve been working in the area of San Diego State University for almost four years now. Not once during that time did anyone ever mention to me how much fun I was missing over on the north side of interstate 8. I’m here to tell you that if you’ve not checked out K’n B Wine Cellars, you need to correct that oversight immediately.

As of late, I’ve been enjoying the company of my co-workers on a social level. Last week after getting together for drink after work it suddenly dawned on us, why aren’t we doing this more often?

Enter K’n B Wine Cellars.

Very conveniently located near work, this is a beer and liquor store turned up to 11. A nice and comfy bar area awaits you with an amazing selection of craft beer on tap. 32 of them in fact. It’s pretty easy to pull up a seat and just kick back after a day of work. They also have a kitchen running, with a pretty full spectrum of items to choose from. Small plate appetizers all the way to full blown oven made meals. Also neat is that they are fond of using the beers on hand in the ingredients. Last night I enjoyed a Bavarian soft pretzel with Great Divide Yeti Stout and Iron Fist Dubbel Fisted mustards, I really enjoyed them both!

I couldn’t even fit the entire board in this shot!

As for what I drank on the night – Nothing too far out of my comfort zone. A Firestone Union Jack IPA, Port Wipeout IPA and the real highlight was the Great Divide Rumble Oak Aged IPA. That boozy beer rings in at 7.1%ABV with a nice hops flavor up front and a medium boozy flavor that accentuates the malts on the back end. A wonderful aroma precedes this drink and really helps distigish it from other IPA’s.

Great Divide RUMBLE!

I highly enjoyed my time here, and I can’t recommend it enough if you happen to be out and about by SDSU. Even if you don’t have time to stick around for a draft, that have some really great beers already chilling in the coolers and ready to go. Also, for any fancy Dan’s out there, the wine selection here is staggering. Grab a bottle or three for the next dinner party and I think you’re going to come out the hero.

You can also bring your own bottle and drink there after paying a small corkage fee. I believe you can do the same with beers if you pay a cappage fee. Don’t hold me to that.

A final note for all us beer enthusiasts, Wednesday is $3 draft night, so what the hell are you waiting for? I’ll see you guys there next Wednesday night!

K’n B Wine Cellars is located at 6380 Del Cerro Blvd San Diego, CA 92120, go and check them out, you won’t regret it.

Cheers,
Tom
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