San Diego Beer, Local & Independent!

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My Orange County Adventure pt. 2 – Left Coast Brewing

Usually by the second day of any trip to the city of Los Angeles, I’m more than ready to head home at the earliest opportunity. On this particular Sunday I was even more anxious than usual because I had it in mind mind to stop on the way home and finally check off a brewer that had been on my ‘need to visit’ list for far too long. After trudging my way across the 101 freeway only grind to a halt more often than not along the 5 south, it’s always a relief to cross into Orange County and those beautiful yet spacious lanes from Fullerton all the way down to the San Diego county line. My destination on the warm day would be just short of the San Diego limits. Nestled in the hills just east of interstate 5 in the town of San Clemente is a small brewery with a very large flavor profile. I’m talking about the good people at Left Coast Brewing.

With this being something of an impulsive visit and I would be driving home to San Diego, I wanted to make sure I didn’t go crazy on the beers, something that is usually far too easy for me to accomplish. Luckily I made sure to have a large lunch before leaving L.A. but I wanted to make sure to only order a taster flight and so I made a quick promise to a higher power that after the flight I was cutting myself off. A taxi from San Clemente wasn’t going to be in the budget.

My flight was six tasters, a mash-up of some of their usuals and a few seasonals. Here’s how it all went down.

Rye IPA – 7.0%ABV – Like most of the rye style IPA’s I’ve had this was one that went down easy and gave me little to complain about.It’s a nice copper color with a malty aroma, but taste-wise isn’t overly malt heavy. It’s taste has a nice citrus zest to it and I enjoyed it. A nice beer overall.

Wedge – Black IPA 7.1%ABV – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I don’t usually like the roasty-toasty flavor that most black IPA’s have. It’s a personal preference, but I try to set that aside so I can be objectionable when I’m tasting new beers. If you like roasted malts flavors, you will really like this beer. The smell of roasted malts comes right off the glass. While that flavor fills the glass, you can also note that this is a brew with a full body to it. Hops are mild but noticeable and seem to provide a little punch the roasted malt profile. If you like that flavor, you’ll love this beer.

Asylum Trappist Belgium 11.8%ABV – This beer has some really great things going on, if you are a fan of this style of beer. A nice balance of sweet flavors from honey that hits you across the nose. The sweetness does a great job of balancing out the high alchohol flavor which is present but in no means overpowering. Again, I found this to be a beer that has a high drink-ability to it and was glad that I only had a 4oz taster, anything more and I would be in my car sleeping it off.

Una Mas – Amber Lager 5.8%ABV – If you like ambers than you’ll enjoy this beer. It pours out a nice penny-copper color and has a nose of caramel coming off of it. This beer high drink-ability factor, especially for a warm summer day. The malts are a little heavy, but that’s personal preference again.

Trestles IPA – 6.8%ABV – Now we start to get a little more in my wheelhouse. I got a great hit of citrus hops on the nose along with some notes of grapefruit. It tastes much as it smells, which is a delightful combination of the hops profile and the malt and earth flavors that are also noticeable. I enjoyed this IPA quite a bit.

Hop Juice IIPA – 9.7%ABV – This beer is the reason why I walked in the door, so I had to save this one for last. The color is a nice golden copper and the nose is all hops as well. This is a hop dominate double IPA from the first sip, it’s in the front, middle and end of the beer. You cannot hide from these hops, but why would you want to. In my opinion, this is one of the more underrated double IPA’s around and if you’ve not tried it, I definitely think it’s worth a shot.

After I wrapped up my tasters, I made sure to eat some of the awesome pretzels provided by Left Coast and partake in several tall glasses of water. I had a chance to chat with several fellow tasters and generally had a pretty darn good time while doing it. So while I may not make it to Orange County all too often, it’s good to know that they have a beer scene that is thriving in much the same way as San Diego’s. It’s also nice to know you’re going to get a nice selection of some different styles that you may not find around town too much. Now if only I had a helicopter…   



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My Adventure in Orange County pt.1 – Noble Ale Works

Recently I had the opportunity to spend some time in the city of Anaheim. I had planned to try and make the time to check out at least one of the breweries in the area but which one? It was a question I wrestled with for all of five seconds. I didn’t really have any choice in the matter, it had only been a week since I had gone on a grand and mighty quest with my good friend Franz. Both of our wives had been away and he had recently discovered a new beer that he quickly become obsessed with, something called “Naughty Sauce”. The word “obsessed” might not do his state of mind justice, he was like Gollum in search of the one ring. We drove from one San Diego bar to another in our search of this mystical elixir, eventually to be found with the good people of Local Habit. Franz could slay the beast deep inside his stomach. In hindsight, perhaps it was silly, but it was a night out on the town so what the hell, we were having a damn good time. This got me thinking though, I really didn’t know a whole heck of a lot about the guys who made this beer that could make a grown man go instantly ga-ga. So I promised myself that I would make some time to get to know the beers of Noble Ale Works.

20130528-081622.jpg“What do you mean, No Naughty Sauce”?

Nestled nicely between Angles Stadium and the Honda Center, Noble is one of the newer breweries to hit the scene in Orange County. I was surprised by the diverse lineup of beers they offered on the day I went in for a tasting. Sadly the new batches of Naughty Sauce weren’t ready yet, but they had more than enough to try and keep me occupied with. I ordered up a flight that I let the helpful bartender, Mark, pick out for me and I went to work. These five beers are by no means everything they have. This was just a sample and they are constantly working on new creations that make it to the tasting room.

Lunch Pale – American Pale Ale 5.4%ABV is a nice and easy drinking pale ale with a strong flavor and noticeable pop from some citrus. It’s a solid beer, not my personal favorite, but it was a good opening shot across the bow for me.

3rd Dip – American Strong Ale aged in rye whiskey barrels, it’s a 12.5%ABV, it has a dark Carmel color and it smells and tastes a lot like whiskey in all the right ways. This is exceptionally good.

Pistoloa – Serrano Pepper pilsner, light on the alcohol at 4.2%ABV. I get an endless amount of joy whenever a brewer decides to brew with a peppers and this beer is another example of why I’m enjoying it so much. When you grab a whiff it reminds me of when you are roasting peppers at home. Taste-wise, the pepper isn’t subtle but it is not overwhelming either. This beer is also basically the “Pistol Whip’d” the the added bonus of peppers. With it being a pilsner it’s flavor roll on the tongue differently than many pepper beers that use a pale ale base. Good stuff.

Shandyland – This was a special on tap the day I was there. I’m told its made differently each time so what I had was pretty unique. It has a lot of great character that reminded me of drinking a sort of alcoholic grapefruit juice. It was tart and refreshing, probably could be described as a good into to sour beers. I enjoyed this a lot.

Big Whig IPA – 6.8ABV it has a nice golden color, the nose detects a scent of fruit and the palette agrees. It has a nice robust flavor with notes of citrus throughout, tangerine and honey add a lot of that character. The hops are up front making this a very solid IPA.


These were the five that I had and they made a very nice impression on me. Noble is very different kind of brewery that what I’m used to here in San Diego. Being a hop head, I’m very used to going to a brewery here in town and seeing multiple IPA’s, single, double and even triple IPA’s, which is great for me because thats what I love. Noble seems to want to be different. When you take a look at the multiple styles they have on hand you get the impression that the heart of the brewers are in a different place than trying to out hop every beer in town. I think that’s a good thing. The beers are creative and good, which is the most important thing.


Now to answer the question that many my have burning through their brain, what is “Naughty Sauce”? Well, it’s a golden milk Stout infused with a ton of coffee. What’s most unique about it is that they have been able to avoid the overly roasted flavor that many coffee flavored beers have. This beer has a wonderful creamy texture and is very sweet and tasty. Almost like a dessert. If you follow my twitter feed, @hoptologysd, I try my best to let everyone know when and where it’s available, it’s hard to come by as a cult following has sprung up around it.

Noble Ale Works is located at 1621 S. Sinclair St Ste B, Anaheim, CA 92806

Stay tuned this week for part two of my trip in the OC, coming back home was even more fun!


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Happy Birthday to me!

These past few weeks have been pretty hectic. I’m finishing up my first semester back in school and that has dominated much of my time as my final exams finish up today and tomorrow. My school work has taken up so much time that I didn’t even notice the birthday of this blog was only a few short days ago.

Happy Birthday HoptologySD!

It’s been a very fun year and I’d like to thank everyone who has taken the time to check out the site, even if you didn’t like it, I’m happy you stopped by. Incidentally, I do hope everyone has liked it, I’m insecure like that.

Hopefully you see me getting better at this with each post. I’ve learned some important lessons, such as-

1) Just because spellcheck didn’t find it doesn’t mean you spelled the right word.

2) Easy with the comma splices big guy.

3) Always write the 1st draft in gmail because WordPress can and will drop the ball.

4) Never publish the blog you wrote while drinking anything over an 8.5%ABV

4a) This also goes for flights you are drinking on an empty stomach.

5) Make sure you are having fun because nobody wants to read about a guy bitching about shit no one cares about.

Again, thanks to everyone for their support this past year and to all the cool new people I’ve meet via social media because of this site. I hope we can all grab a cold beer this summer together.

I’ve mentioned before but there are some things in the works for down the road and I can’t wait to share it with all my friends here. Please keep checking back, I promise to keep doing good work for everyone to enjoy. Blog production will be ramped up this summer and I hope to see as many people around town I possible. Remember, craft beer can change the world.

Thank you!



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Fathom Bistro – Craft Beer and Sausage, ‘Nuff said.

Being somewhat spoiled by all the great craft beer breweries we have here in San Diego, it’s easy to see how that would have the natural effect of San Diego having some really great bars and pubs to choose from. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t have my favorites. I’d also be lying if I said that having a handful of favorites can sometimes cause me to not want to branch out very often. I like getting familiar in a place and getting to know the staff. A bar/pub that you are comfortable in can only serve to enhance your experience. It didn’t take me long to get comfortable at one of San Diego’s new quality drinking establishments, Fathom Bistro.


If you are a fan of Hamilton’s in South Park & Small Bar in University Heights, than you owe it to your self to swing down and check out this spot. It also has one of the more unique locations of any place in town. Located on Shelter Island and sitting on a pier over the waters of San Diego Harbor, Fathom offers quite the view on any given day, but as the weather begins to warm up it has gotten to be even more spectacular.


It’s a small spot to be sure but I loved it immediately as I walked in. The walls are decorated with all sorts of nautical memorabilia including excellent prints of Jaques Cousteau films and a childhood favorite like “20,000 Leagues under the sea” as well as a “Dr. Calamari” that always brings a smile to my face. Oh yeah, and a board offering a dozen excellent craft beers. Don’t forget, this is a bistro as well so that means food and let me tell you the sausage I had on my visit was just fantastic!

You can sit inside and look out the big beautiful window with a view of the boats on the water or you can grab a table outside and watch the fishing from the pier. Did I happen to mention that on the other side is a bait and tackle shop? Well, there is. All this adds up to a very unique experience that I hope people will take advantage as the warm up from winter continues.


So any new beers while on my visit? Of course! Ballast Point came up with special brew called Fathom IPL, India Pale Lager. I thought this was very tasty treat with a mild hops profile and some nice citrus action. It had a very refreshing quality to it. Looking for something to complement the tasty brews on tap? Be sure to try one of their in-house sausages, they are excellent and they don’t mind making them without the usual toppings so that I can bast my in yellow mustard.

Fathom Bistro is located at 1776 Shelter Island Dr San Diego, CA 92106

This is a very welcome addition to my usual rotation of drinking establishments. Go make some time to check it out for your self.