HOPTOLOGY

San Diego Beer, Local & Independent!


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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