HOPTOLOGY

San Diego Beer, Local & Independent!


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Intergalactic Brewing : To Infinity and beyond!…and beer!

For those who know me well, or even a little bit, admitting I’m a nerd is not a very big revelation. I love my comic books and video games but most importantly, I have always held a special place in my heart for science fiction. I’m completely fascinated by the vastness and wonders of the universe but even more fascinated by Jedi, smugglers and Death Stars.  Star Wars was the bread and butter of my childhood, I’ve long since lost track of how many times we watched our old battered VHS tape with the original Drew Struzan covers. During that void of 80’s and 90’s when there was no Star Wars I found my way to Star Trek and reruns of Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers and Alien Nation on the newly launched Sci-Fi Channel, back when they used to know how to spell correctly.

When I heard about a new brewery who would be incorporating the names and imagery of the genre that is so near and dear to my heart, I knew I would be unable to resist the opportunity to go and check them out.

Intergalactic Brewing is located at 9835 Carroll Centre Rd #108 San Diego, CA 92126. It’s a little tricky to locate but some recently added signs will keep you going in the right direction and you can probably still make the Kessel run in less than twelve parsecs.

Going to a new nano brewery is something of an adventure because you just don’t know what to expect. I’d heard some positive buzz beforehand so that was encouraging but until that liquid gold touches your lips you just don’t know what you might be in for. What I found while there was nothing short of excellent. I was optimistic the beers would be good but I didn’t have any clue they were going to be as great as they are.

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Alex Van Horne is the owner and head brewer of Intergalactic and he’s a super nice guy to chat with while I was drinking my way through a flight of his creations. Not only did he answer my silly brewing questions but he was more than happy to talk some Star Wars and what we think J.J. Abrams might have in store for the franchise. You can read a really nice article about Alex by Brandon Hernandez of the San Diego Reader here.

On my visit they had eight of the twelve taps flowing and I was eager to sample them all. The usual suspects of styles were to be found. A porter, a stout, a red, an IPA and so on, but upon taking a longer look at the beer board, I instantly had an appreciation for the names of the beers on hand. As you’ll see, Intergalactic Brewing has a theme and they stick to it.

First up was the Subspace Session Ale, an Extra Pale ale with a light 4.0%ABV, that I found to have a nice crispness to it that made for a very refreshing opening number. That first beer is what got my brain thinking that this place is different. Normally, I really don’t care a whole lot for extra pale ales, I find a lot of them to be rather ‘meh’. This had some pop to it, and it got me eager for the next round, a what a next one it turned out to be. Astro Scottish Ale, this is a 5.3%ABV was as big a surprise as I could ever image. I’ve had a few scotch ales in my time that I’ve enjoyed, but this one puts them all to shame. No hops to be found, it’s a wonderful concoction of multiple malts that makes for an almost spice bread aroma and flavor that impressed the heck out of me, a die hard hop-head. Next I moved to Orion’s Oatmeal Stout, 5.8%ABV and another style of beer that I’m usually fussy to the point of avoidance. This beer has a wonderful dark chocolate flavor and avoids the trap that usually makes me want to avoid stouts; which is that roasted flavor that I can’t stand. It’s nowhere to be found in this brew. So far we have three beers of styles that I have found to be very average in my life, and we have three beers that are defying my standards by which those styles are to be measured. What about beer number four? Space Oasis Coconut Porter, 6.9%ABV, again porters are kind of a mixed bag for me. I find some to be exceptional and others I find to be lacking. You can put this in the exceptional category, and I don’t even like coconut. It’s a very robust porter with just the right amount of coconut flavor so as to overwhelm or to be understated.
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Red Shirt #1, an English Brown Ale that comes in a 5.4%ABV proved to be another excellent example of taking my notions of what a brown ale normally tastes like and putting a new spin on it. Very tasty as well. Now move a little more into my comfort zone as I decide to try the Black Sun IPA, an 8.5%ABV monster, this is a black IPA that again avoids all the things that I don’t particularly enjoy about the black IPA style. I am specifically referring to the roasted, sometimes burnt flavor that pervades many of them. It’s not here. At all. Alex told me how he avoids that flavor and while I don’t think it’s a huge secret to most brewers, I’m not going to be the one who tells you just in case it is. Suffice to say, if you’ve been trying to find a black IPA this might be the one for you. Now here is where I made a tactical mistake that I’m still kicking myself over. I have to tasters left and I decide to save the IPA for last, that’s just how I normally roll. Now big deal right? Well, when the other taster in your hand is Reentry Smoked Ale, a 5.1%ABV rauchbier with smoked Serrano peppers… you might be able to see where this is headed. As for the Smoked Ale? My God, it’s fantastic! It’s peppery flavors are bold and assertive but you still taste the rich ale underneath. I loved every single sip of this one, it is hands down one of the best pepper beers I’ve had, and I’ve had several very good ones. So that leaves us with the Andromeda IPA, a 6.8%ABV. Listen, bottom line is I liked this beer, but by drinking the Reentry Smoked Ale first, it left me with a bad case of pepper breath (which in my house has double meaning because my K-9 life partner is named Pepper) so any subtleties or complexities of the beer went completely undetected by my wrecked palette. Alex warned me, but if you only knew the power of the dark side…

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Mr. Stinky Mouth

It was an impressive first time for me at Intergalactic Brewing. The beers are unique and creative, the flavor are bright and lively. I feel 100% confident in saying that you will find something here that fits your flavor saver just right. I’m already making plans to head back in the very near future as the pictures that Alex has been putting up on their Facebook page are impressive…most impressive. Alex Van Horne is a name to take note of immediately so you should probably all get to Intergalactic Brewing now so that you can proudly say you were there at the start.

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As I mentioned, you can find Intergalactic Brewing on Facebook and their own website. http://www.intergalacticbrew.com
I can’t urge you enough to go and check them out. You won’t be sorry.
Cheers,
Tom


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Going to Coronado Brewing without using a bridge.

Perhaps you suffer from acrophobia, the fear of heights. Or maybe it’s a case of gephyrophobia, the fear of bridges. Or maybe you just get easily distracted by scenic views of San Diego’s skyline. These are all reasons why you might try to avoid the Coronado Bridge. So how else would you get to Coronado Brewing?

For the sake of this blog we will also assume you have a fear of the South Bay and the Silver Strand, and since Imperial Beach is more or less my hometown, I’m kind of offended by your irrational fear so I would thank you not to mention it while in my company.

So, again, how would one make it over to Coronado Brewing without actually having to go to Coronado?

Did you know Coronado Brewing has a tasting room in Bay Park? Well, I didn’t so thanks for telling me. Somehow this news completely missed my ears, I blame school for this oversight. When the news did finally reach my previously occupied brain, I wanted to make arrangements to head over at the first opportunity. Fortunately, that opportunity was a lot easier to come by do to the fact that I live more or less around the corner from the location in question. Also making it easier is the fact my wife loves to go to places that are in a less than five mile radius of our home.

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After a few rights and a left we found ourselves outside of a very understated yet elegant design to the front of the brewery and tasting room. We made our way inside and were immediately impressed with the layout and the design of the place. On the right hand side of the impressively large space are the tools of the trade, this is where they make the magic happen. On your left is a really nice bar area with stools and tables along the invisible line separating brewing area from tasting. They have a refrigerated unit just around the corner so you can load up on your favorite 22oz’s and small area for any merchandise that may have caught your eye.

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Located at 1205 Knoxville Street in the Bay Park neighborhood, Coronado Brewing originally opened this location in 2012 as a 20,000 square foot, 30 barrel brew house to help keep up with the increasing demand for their beers. Judging from the beautiful tasting room I’d have to say it has been money well spent.

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The beers we selected were mostly of my wife’s choosing, but she is an IPA girl so it’s not like a pilsner was coming across my lips anytime soon. We started with Rambler Red, a nice easy drinking red ale the clocks in at 5%ABV. Next we moved to the Mermaid Red this one has a 5.7%ABV and while still very tasty I think I preferred the more brightly colored Rambler. To complete the warm up round we went ahead and had People’s Choice Pale #3, a very mild pale, light hops and strong notes of citrus. This was also only in 5%ABV range, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

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For the IPA portion of the program we dove head first into the Rye Dogg IPA, spoiler alert its a rye and its pretty tasty. At 6.2%ABV, I thought this beer handled its flavors well and showed some complex characteristics to boot. Next we went to the Sting Ray Point IPA, this one has a 6.8%ABV and comes along with a light body and a crispness to its taste. I found this to be a very refreshing IPA. Finally, we had to try the Frogs Breath IPA, the name alone beckons to me, this is a very fragrant brew, it has a floral aroma that I found pretty inviting and the citrus notes really pop off your taste buds. I liked this beer quite a bit as well.

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Now, you probably have noticed that we stayed away from the Islander & Idiot IPA’s. This was done for the sole reason that those are two beers that have been a staple of Coronado Brewing for quite some time. If you have not had one yet, I say have at it and give it a go, they are rock solid and that’s why they have been around since Coronado Brewing opened their doors almost 20 years ago.

All in all, I’m really happy that we made the time to go and check this place out. As much as I love some of our more famous craft beer neighborhoods, it’s nice to see a respected brewer like Coronado Brewing opening their doors in Bay Park, which has a pretty decent craft beer scene of its own happening too. The best part is I can drive there without having to worry about tossing my burrito off the side of the bridge and accidentally hitting a motorcyclist who looks like Jack Black and is then going to kick my dog off said bridge. I hate it when that happens.

Cheers,
Tom


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The URGE for some Maui Brewing!

This past Thursday was an excellent excuse to head to one of my favorite places in San Diego – URGE Gastropub. If you’ve not had the opportunity to go, I can’t recommend the food enough, it’s pretty fantastic every time I’ve had the pleasure of dining there. So what’s the reason I’d venture out on Thursday night? Urge decided to host a Maui Brewing Glass night complete with island style dishes of Kalua Pig and my personal favorite, Loco Moco.

The Loco Moco was fantastic but I was so excited to shove as much of it in my mouth as possible as quickly as possible, the thought of taking a picture never even entered my brain. Live and learn I suppose.

So we can skip over those wonderfully tasty details and get right down to business. Beer.

The Maui glass is fantastic, it has the shape of a can which only adds to the fun of drinking Maui beers out of it. So the first beer is one of my staples, the Big Swell IPA. At 6.8%ABV this is a dry hop explosion that serves as an excellent opening number to some of the more rare and unique beers that Maui provided for the event including the excellent Freight Train IPA, which is a 7.5%ABV which has distinct notes of Chinook, Citra and Simcoe hops, which are wrapped up in a wonderful mix of hops aromas offset with a really nice malt base.

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Also of note at the event was Old Chinwig on Bourbon – An 8.1%ABV English style strong ale that hold some nice hops characteristics along with the solid malt that is typical of the style. The alcohol flavor is very nice, a carry over from the 13 months spent aging in a Heaven Hill Bourbon Barrel. The menu described it as ‘winter warmer’ and I’d say its hard to disagree with that assessment.

Next up was the Barrel Aged Red Cock Doppelbock, which aside from being really fun to say, is a very good beer. 8.5%ABV it has a reddish color with a chocolate and cherry aroma coming off the top. Since its a bock we can expect some hops flavor with a rich Caramel malt flavor that when added to the 13 months spent in a Woodinville Whiskey Barrel really creates a unique flavor that even my brother, the whiskey lover, would have to appreciate.

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All these beers combined with an awesome plate of Loco Moco made for one hell of an evening. The good people at URGE Gastropub really know what they are doing in the kitchen. They are also a true haven for craft beer enthusiasts. Living in Mission Valley, I don’t get to make up there as often as I would like, but when I do it always lives up to the very high expectations they have set for themselves. It’s also a real treat getting to drink some of the excellent beers from Maui Brewing, hopefully I’ll have the chance to do some more of that at their brewery on my next visit to Maui, fingers crossed!

URGE American Gastropub is located at 16761 Bernardo Center Dr, San Diego, CA 92128.
Urge American Gastropub on Urbanspoon
Cheers,
Tom