San Diego Beer, Local & Independent!


Dating a ‘Younger’ man. Pliny the Younger that is.

“I’m kind of a big deal”

The words may have been spoken by Ron Burgundy, but they could easily apply to the extremely scarce triple IPA known as Pliny the Younger from the good people at Russian River Brewing. If you are an enthusiast of the craft beer scene here in California, you may have heard about it in hushed whispers. It’s the beer with a big reputation, the #2 rated beer on the planet and in a move that only fuels people’s desire for it, it’s only available for a very small window in February.

I’ve had some bad luck in years past, usually not in the right place at the right time. So Pliny the Younger has been elusive, the Moby Dick to my Ahab if you will.

This year, I went into Pliny season with a renewed sense of hope. With my job status currently currently hovering somewhere around none and zero, and my school schedule confined to Tuesday and Thursday, I really believed I’d have a shot at sipping from the fountain of wow.

This past year is really when I first started using Twitter. I’ve always found it a little odd but it has been growing on me. Turns out Twitter has been my best friend for tracking down when and where bars are tapping Pliny. The flip side of the coin was that two bars in my area had announced their tappings about an hour before hand and they did it on a Thursday, just to kick me in the balls a little. Not just any Thursday mind you, but Valentine’s Day. Yup, the wife would love me forever if I ditched school and Valentine’s Day to drive around with the hopes of some Pliny dancing in my head.

Turns out I needed have worried. Toronado blew their keg in 50 minutes and Hamilton’s blew theirs in 16 minutes, according to reliable sources via Twitter. Savages, I tell you.

So Friday morning rolls around and after I finish my work out at the gym, I head to Costco to grab a few things for the house and as I’m walking back to my car with a cart full of stuff, I see the tweet from Toronado, they are tapping another keg at 11:30am. I look at the clock on my phone, it’s 11:00am already. I decide ‘what the hell’ and race up to North Park, groceries in the back of the car and all. I do a drive by, if the line is going to be wrapped around the the block I’m going home. It’s maybe 30 people deep, not too shabby. So I quickly locate a parking spot and hurry to get in line. It’s at that point I notice that I’m still in my sweaty, stinky gym cloths. Oh well, this may be my only shot.

11:30am rolls around and Toronado lets us in quickly. I ordered up two of the insanely rare beverage with the thought that I’d better make this last.

I settle in at a table and take a moment to reflect. I’m a little sad that none of my friends could be here, but texting them and sending pictures to taunt them is almost as much fun.

So how does it taste? Does it meet the mountain of expectations and hype?

It’s hard to say really. A week of reflecting as not really settled the debate in my mind. There is no doubt that it is a great beer, and one of the finest triple IPA’s I’ve ever had the fortune to drink. Would I drink it again? Hell yes. Would I stand in line and wait for it? Maybe. Hard to say for sure, that may have more to do with my aversion to standing in line for anything.

It’s a strong, boozy blend of hops and malt, coming in at close 13%ABV. One of the reason’s I believe in it’s popularity is that fact that this might be the smoothest triple IPA on the planet. It goes down incredibly easy. It’s also great to look at with it’s golden color and distinctive scent of hops and booze.

No doubt it’s a great beer. In fact, if I do find it again this season I’ll be more than happy to drink it with a smile on my face. This is a supreme effort from Russian River and they deserve a lot of praise. I know a lot of people who were delighted with this beer at the recently concluded San Francisco beer week.

So if you find yourself in a position to try some and you never have, I truly believe you should take advantage of that. If you miss out….well, there is always next year. Or just order Pliny the Elder, that is an IPA of excellence as well.

There are still Pliny the Younger keg tappings scheduled for the upcoming weeks, follow me on twitter @hoptologysd and i will keep you apprised as I learn of them.



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Weekend Snore-ior

A visit from family put a damper on any crazy beer drinking shenanigans this past weekend, but I did manage to make what I could get count.

On Saturday I had the opportunity to try out “Cape Towne” by Automatic Brewery when I swung by Tiger Tiger. This is a nice pale ale, good hops with a bright citrusy flavor. Enjoyable to say the least. Lee has knocked out another very nice beer.


Next up was this very Monday, I made a point to make it to Societe Brewing. Many of you know just how impressed I’ve been the beer they are making at this Kearny Mesa brewery. Well, to make things even more exciting they have unveiled a new double IPA called, “The Roust About”. It clocks in at 9.2% ABV but you would hardly notice…initially. This beer has what I like to call a sneaky factor. Easy drinking with bright citrus notes and maybe the slightest of breadyness. The hops are right upfront and complement the other flavors very nicely. This is an exceptional double IPA that I believe even the most critical of palettes will enjoy. Societe keeps making the good stuff! I can’t stress how much you need to be up here if you’ve have, for whatever reason, not made it yet. Call me, I will go with you.


So while a relatively, get it?, uneventful weekend for me, there is still beer to be drunk around town that can knock your socks off. Hopefully you made it out to one of the many events this past weekend to enjoy the craft this town offers. Let me know how your experience was.

See you at the bars and keep your eyes peeled this week for the legendary “Pliny the Younger”. It’s working its way down the coast!


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Karl Strauss – Thank You!

This blog is long overdue in a couple of different ways. Firstly I’m late. My new schedule has made sitting down a writing a bit more challenging. Secondly, I actually meant to write this particular blog back in November. Oops.

What I’m going to talk about today is an unabashed plug for something that was so great, I really hope everyone who reads this will consider using them for your own special occasion. What am I talking about? Karl Strauss Brewery Restaurants. Particularly we’re going to talk about them hosting your next big event.

Karl Strauss sometimes may go overlooked in the vast ocean of craft brewers here in the San Diego area. It’s not because their beers aren’t wonderful. I think it’s because Karl Strauss has been here for so long that sometimes we just take them for granted. I know for a fact that I’ve been guilty of this. When I’m at the local beer store and end up walking out with a six pack of Tower 10, I usually will kick myself after drinking one because sometimes I lose sight of just how good that IPA is. Good beer should never be forgotten.

Karl Strauss has been a San Diego staple for almost 25 years now and they have been killing it the whole time.

Many of you have been to their brewery restaurants and have hopefully had just as great a time as I have. The location downtown is great, the Sorrento Mesa location, with the Japanese Garden, is simply beautiful. Then there is the one I will be spending my time talking about, the La Jolla location at 1044 Wall Street. Located right in the heart of La Jolla it’s hard to not feel like you are in the middle of everything. It’s also in a great spot if you want to let your significant other finish their shopping solo.

As some may know from posts here on the site as well as my twitter feed, @hoptologysd, which you can also follow on instagram now for fun beer pics, I got married in November. I’m sure those of you who have been through this situation know just how much work goes into planning this event. One of the few areas I was allowed to tackle head on was the rehearsal dinner. Fortunately, my soon to be wife loves beer as well (Not to the same insane degree that I do) so she was very open to including beer as a part of our event. Initially we thought it might be really cool to go to one of the breweries and rent the place out and then have the event catered. The problems started dawning on me as soon as I began making inquires. The logistics involved just didn’t make much sense. We had a ton of people flying into town for this event and they would be staying close to the ceremony site in La Jolla. Asking people who don’t know their way around town to drive to Miramar, Escondido or Oceanside for a dinner then having them drive back sounded like a bad idea. Thats when the lighting struck my brain and I remembered the Karl Strauss restaurant that we went to after choosing our wedding site. Seems like such an obvious choice in hindsight.
Getting an event set-up with Karl Strauss is so easy and really took some stress out of our lives. The people I worked with, Alyssa specifically, were amazing. After sending an inquire email from their web site, I received a phone call in less than 24 hours. In reality, it was probably less then 12 hours, but I digress. I gave Alyssa all my information, the date we needed, the time frame we were thinking of and they did the rest. I was emailed all the different menu options and price points and what we needed to decide on. Once we made our selections everything was set. The people over there did a great job of keeping in touch and letting us know about things as they happened. They were great.
Happy family

Happy family

Once the night came, it was smooth sailing. Our section was ready to go, we had custom menus and the wait staff took really great care of us. The food was outstanding, the flank steak was killer. Oh and we went with unlimited bar service…so yeah it got a little crazy. Unlimited bar service on the first night of San Diego beer week. It’s pretty hard to go wrong there. The two beers that stood out was the special SD Beer Week Peanut Butter Porter – so tasty! It was just like the candy. The other was Tower 20, oh my how I love me some Tower 20 DIPA!
I can’t thank the people at Karl Strauss enough for all the hard work they did in putting together a really memorable night for my wife and our family and friends. After a night like that I’m not sure I could ever overlook Karl Strauss again. Be sure to stop by sometime and check them out and if you are ever in need of hosting an event these guys won’t disappoint you.
<a href=”http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/27/312572/restaurant/San-Diego/Karl-Strauss-Brewery-Grill-La-Jolla”><img alt=”Karl Strauss Brewery &amp; Grill on Urbanspoon” src=”http://www.urbanspoon.com/b/link/312572/minilink.gif&#8221; style=”border:none;padding:0px;width:130px;height:36px” /></a>