HOPTOLOGY

San Diego Beer, Local & Independent!


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San Diego Beer Week 2014; It’s Here!

It’s hard to believe it’s been a year. Time continually seems to move with the rapidity of a crimson and gold cowled super hero (The Flash, he runs fast!). Yet here we are, almost 365 days removed from the start of one of the most amazing times to be a resident or a visitor to the Craft Beer Capital that San Diego has become. That’s right folks, the electricity in the air, the gentle rumbling of stomachs, that little bit of drool I have in the corner of my mouth… it all signals the start of San Diego Beer Week!

The local breweries of the city have all be busy this past year. Most are growing, setting up new and larger brewing facilities. Some are cementing their reputations for quality, some are still starting up and this is their first year as part of the beer week fun, but one thing cannot be denied, over the past year San Diego has continued to turn out some of the finest craft beers on the planet and this is the week that we all, locals and visitors alike, get to celebrate and share our high quality fermentables with everyone at just about every bar, restaurant and brewery in town.

There are so many fun and incredible events every day between November 6th (Beer Week eve) to the end of the event on November 16th that it’s practically impossible not to find something to suit your needs. This is also an amazing opportunity to take your friend who maybe hasn’t yet had the opportunity to sample the craft beer scene here in town and help show them whats it’s all about and spoil them with some fantastically fresh and tasty beers as well.

The amount of events is almost impossible to cover here, but a pretty detailed listing is available at SDBW.org, so head over and check it out. There is also a convenient app available for your smart phone that will help make planning your time considerably easier.

A lot of the events are free to get into, but some do require tickets to be purchased. Please check with each location if you have any questions about that before you head out. Also, you might want to download a ride-sharing app like Uber, Lyft or Sidecar to make sure that in all of your excitement, you still have a way to get home.

I’m only going to mention a few of the insane amount of events/tastings/pairings and tap takeovers that are planned. Use the site listed above, or check social media of your favorite bars, breweries and restaurants for their event schedules.

November 6th (Beer Week Eve Kickoff)

Friend of the blog, Rudy Pollorena Jr. aka Crafbeerd, will be holding the first of many pop up events tonight at Mike Hess Brewing in North Park at 6pm. Swing by for a beer and check out the latest designs from our resident craft beer artist.

Ritual Kitchen will be hosting a Rare & Local taps event tonight featuring incredible beers from IPA juggernauts Alpine Beer Company as well as Alesmith, Groundswell, Lost Abbey, Monkey Paw and Ballast Point.

You might see me at both places today.

November 7 & 8th

Guild Fest – This is the spot where you can rub elbows with San Diego’s craft beer dignitaries while taking in a great view with craft beer and tasty food in your hands. A not to be missed event, tickets are required, get them at SDBW.org

November 9th

– Worlds Largest Bottle Share – Friend of the blog, Brian Beagle is helping to make this new event one that will be talked about for a long time to come. This is the opportunity to hit bars along the legendary 30th street, from Normal Heights to North Park to South Park, all on a shuttle bus as you and your friends share bottles (bring a few, nothing fancy unless you want) and get to sample some amazingly rare beers along the way. Tickets are only $10 and the event goes from 1pm to 6pm and knowing Brian, there will be a ton of fun along the way. Click here for more details and how to get your tickets.

– 6th Annual Green Flash Smoke Out at Carnitas Snack Shack. If that doesn’t say enough, this link will have to, because I don’t have the words.

November 12th

– Alesmith’s Speedway Grand Prix – So let me get this straight, I’m going to sample 12 different variations of the finest stout in all the land? Sign me up. Tickets here.

– Battle of the IPA’s at Urge Gastropub. A fun, blind tasting event where your votes will help decide the winner! This is always a good time and the food at Urge is second to none. No tickets required. More info here on all their SDBW events.

There is a very good chance that I’m at both of these events.

November 14th

Hamilton’s Tavern will host its Firkin Friday with dueling casks from Monkey Paw Brewing, with personal favorite Bonobos going up against their 3rd Anniversary Ale. No SD Beer week is complete without at least one visit to this fantastic bar.

Also over the course of the week head to Toronado for only about 50 different IPA’s and take a look and the new “other side of the bar” as Toronado grows! They will also be hosting an event on the 14th, no tickets needed but it should be a blast as always. Be sure to say hi to Nate.

This list doesn’t even scratch the surface of all that will be happening in town over the next 9-10 days, depending on how you want to count. Check the websites of your favorite bars and breweries to see what they have going on. Lots of tap take overs, meet the brewers, keep the glass events that I can’t even keep track of.

Enjoy your Beer Week San Diego, you’ve earned!

Cheers,

Tom


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Happy Thanksgiving!

Here we are, Thanksgiving is upon us once again and it’s time see the family and over-indulge in all sorts delicious treats, and that includes all sorts of fun winter specialties the breweries have started churning out.

Being a craft beer drinker/supporter/promoter and home-brewer in San Diego we definitely have a lot to be thankful for and as such I’d like to take a few minutes and name just of the things that craft beer enthusiasts in San Diego should be thankful for, not just for the holiday season but every day of the year.
So, in no particular order…
I’m thankful for… San Diego Breweries – Lets just get this one out of the way right off the bat. We are rapidly closing in on 100 breweries in the county of San Diego. There are so many that naming them all actually makes my brain cry. While the big guys like Stone, Ballast Point and Green Flash tend to get most of the attention one that I’m most thankful for is Societe Brewing. Those guys make great beer and there isn’t one that I don’t love on a shockingly intimate level.
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I’m thankful for… Craft Beer Bars – When out of town friends come to town and want to head out for a night of drinking, they are always surprised that we don’t head downtown or to Pacific Beach. Bottom line, over in those parts of town it’s amateur hour and as I’ve gotten older I no longer suffer fools lightly. The guys are very macho and want to fight.The girls are just over the line from being high class hookers. Instead we can go to North Park, or South Park or Normal Heights and a nice selection of other neighborhoods as well. Craft Beer bars are typically frequented by people who are just out having fun and know how to handle themselves when they get a little sloppy (It happen to the best of us) I can’t even remember the last time I saw a fight break out at Small Bar or Toronado or Hamilton’s. These bars have a great atmosphere about them and they aren’t filled with douch bags who are trying to slip roofies in to girls drinks. So that a bonus for all the ladies.
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I’m thankful for… Bottle shops – Maybe the bar scene isn’t for you, you’d rather spend your night at home sitting on the patio and relaxing with friends in the comfort of your own home where bathroom lines tend to be much shorter. This is why we are thankful to have such a  great selection of bottles shops as we do here in San Diego. Bottlecraft, Clem’s and Bine & Vine are just a few examples of truly outstanding shops where you can find a wide array of beers and styles from all over the world. The people in the shops are friendly, knowledgeable and make it really hard to find a bottle that won’t satisfy your refined palate.
I’m thankful for… Our local Homebrew supply stores. I’ve only been brewing beer for 6 months or so but it has quickly become something that I’m passionate about. While it’s great that there are a lot of local shops where I can find all ingredients and equipment a I need for making beer what I have enjoyed the most is getting to chat with the people who work in the stores and picking their brains for insights and their experience. The Homebrewer shop in North Park is quickly becoming a favorite.
I’m thankful for… All the really great people I’ve met and interacted with because of my blog and social media.
And finally,
I’m thankful for… my drinking buddies. I guess I can also call them my friends. Yes, this is completely sappy and mushy but that is what the holidays are for. I run with a great group of people and we tend to have way more fun than most people our ages usually do.  They are the best.
So let all go eat a ton of food and heed the wisdom of the great Louis C.K.
 louisck
Happy Thanksgiving!
Cheers,
Tom


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Striving for my Apex or How I’m spending my spring break.

It’s been far too long since I’ve had the opportunity to keep myself busy on the blog here. Midterms were this past week and they were a kick in the pants. Now that they are finally over I have the opportunity to catch everyone up on the comings and goings or the pints and pitchers of the past few weeks.

Recently I had the opportunity or, more accurately, the overwhelming desire to get out of the house and get the hell away from all the books that I had buried my nose in for the past several days. So why not head to my favorite bar in South Park? You know you love Hamilton’s as much as I do.

So I contemplate the always impressive chalk board of tastiness and come to the conclusion that I probably would like it all. Just then, a glow begins to emit from one of the listed beers, it gently whispers my name on the wind and sings me a song of serenity to sooth my frayed nerves. The beer was Apex, from those magnificent masters of brewing at Bear Republic.

I’ve sung the praises of Bear Republic in past posts but for any one new out there, if you are in to hops, these guys will always deliver a beer of insanely high quality and magnitude. That is not just my opinion, but it’s my blog so that’s the only opinion you’re getting.

The Apex is a listed as a Double IPA, but it’s not quite the same kick in the mouth that many DIPA’s can sometimes give you. That is by no means a criticism against it. The beer clocks in at 7.5%ABVso it’s by no means a light weight beer. It pours a light copper color and has that northwest pacific hops aroma that has become a staple of beers from Bear Republic. The first taste was a real surprise. I was expecting something like Racer X but this was much more subtle due to the lower alcohol content but flavor wise offered a nice complexity and a nice balance between the U.S./English malts and the Pacific Northwest hops that they use aggressively. You’ll find the fruity/citrus flavor of grapefruit sits just perfectly on your tongue and really makes it pop in your mouth with flavor.

Definitely the APEX of my day!

Definitely the APEX of my day!

I have gotten to the point where I’m never really surprised anymore when I find a new beer from Bear Republic that I absolutely love. That said, I’m still always impressed by the amount of thought and effort they put into their beers. The Bear Republic guys & gals take a lot of pride in their craft and if you make beers half as well as these guys do you know you should get to brag a little bit. I don’t doubt that Bear Republic will have many new heights to reach in the years to come, this Apex is only the first of many.

Cheers,

Tom

PS – Yes, I know this beer was originally produced in 2009, but this is my first time trying it…at least to my recollection, I hope you find it and enjoy it as much as I did. 🙂


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A Labor intensive weekend…of beer!

So how he hell did it get to be Friday already?

I love these short work weeks, maybe one of these chuckle-heads running for President can get on a platform to support the 4 day work week. Yeah, I know, but I got to keep dreaming the good dream.

What I’m planning here will be a bit a jumble from my holiday weekend. A little of this a little of that and all the beers I had along the way.

Friday got of to a great start with a quick hit and run visit over to Ballast Point’s Old Grove location at 10051 Old Grove Rd San Diego, CA 9213. The sun was shinning and this was my first opportunity to check out the new front patio area. BP is probably my favorite brewer in town, so a chance to kick off my three day weekend with a Sculpin is always a solid way to start. I also took the opportunity while there to try out the Oktoberfest; a marzen that clocks in at 6.2% ABV. rich amber color and malty profile, this beer was a little sweet but drank very smoothly. Probably would have enjoyed a little more if weren’t so damn hot in town. I like my marzen when the air has some crispness to it.

Next up, was a quick trip to my future wife’s favorite pizza place – Oggi’s in Mission Valley. While here I sipped my way through a tall glass of Torry Pines IPA and more slices of pizza then a normal person should eat in one sitting. I still have a mind to put together a more though review of the Oggi’s beers so for the time being I’ll hold off on saying anything more than, I like the Torry Pines IPA, its a solid and reliable IPA.

Saturday got of to a quick start as I made my way to Hamilton’s in the South Park neighborhood. 1521 30th St. San Diego, CA 92102. Initially, I was heading there to find the new IIPA from Societe that had just been tapped. It had been a few months since my last visit and I have to say, I really enjoy going down there in the afternoons, just a great environment to drink in. They had some college football on the TV which I always enjoy. I started with a bang – Green Flash Imperial IPA right out of the gate. Insanely good, with a fantastic aroma and a really great hoppy character to it. Don’t let the 10% ABV scare you away, you’ll enjoy the hell out of the beer.  Next up was The Kaiser Imperial Oktoberfest from Avery Brewing, oh boy this was pretty tasty too. While it had a lot of the same characteristics of the BP Oktoberfest, this brew from Avery clocked in at an impressive 10% ABV. Going head to head with the BP, I think I give a slight edge to Avery, but that may have to do with the fact that I was sitting inside the cool air conditioned bar.

I left Hamilton’s shortly after and made my way to Societe Brewing in Clairemont for the super awesome Every Man’s IPA. If you missed it, my previous blog post incorporates that trip, so just scroll down a little more and read my ranting and raving about Societe.

Saturday night we rolled into my old neighborhood of Ocean Beach to grab dinner at Sessions Public. Located at 4204 Voltaire St. San Diego CA 92107, we’ve only been here a few times, but I really enjoy the beer selection and the food is pretty darn tasty as well. I was pleasantly surprised to find Stone’s Enjoy By IPA on draft so I helped my self to one of those while I ordered the session’s dog, which is a big ol’ brat served up covered in pastrami, gruyere cheese and some onions, you also get a side of duck fat fries which I find very tasty as well. I enjoyed the brat but if I had my druthers it would be a little spicier in the future. My fiancee loves the burger there as well. They are into the locally grown and organically raised movement which I’m always happy to support local farmers. For my after dinner treat a Russian River IPA was ordered and that went down very well with my meal. A very good dinner indeed.
Sessions Public on Urbanspoon
Sunday was, well, Sunday was a little different. Had my fantasy football draft first thing in the morning. I’m gonna kick everyone’s ass this year. Next, we went and checked out an organic vegetable farm with my friend and fellow blooger, Megan, of www.mokeybreadandsweetpea.com. Stocked up on the good ingredients for making a ton of salsa for the opening games of the NFL season this Sunday.

Monday was another trip to Ballast Point. One of the few breweries that I could find open on the holiday, and for that I say thanks! I used to work holidays too so I know that it can be a real drag sometimes. Of course we started with some Sculpin’s and drank those till closing at 2pm. As it just so happens 2pm was when Societe was opening their doors for the day, so we rolled over there and I let me friends in on all the fun they had missing by not checking them out with me the previous weekend.

Then on Tuesday I rolled into Ballast Point again. Wait, Tuesday wasn’t part of the holiday weekend you say? True, but as I’ve mentioned sometimes I’m dense, like on Monday when I forgot that I left my tab open at Ballast and went on my merry way. Oops. Probably just my subconscious helping me come up with another way to drink after work. This time up to Ballast I let myself indulge and try out a few more new things. One of those was the Longfin Lager. Lagers take me back to my days on the east coast. The majority of my friends on that coast on drink lagers. Mostly because they are wussies. So how was this lager? I liked it quite a bit, flavor-wise. I’m not going to give my IPA’s for it, but with an ABV of 4.5% this is a good beer to drink when you don’t want to drink heavy. I should also mention that this beer is currently only available in tasters.
Speaking of tasters, also only available currently in a sample size is Ballast Point’s Sour Wench Blueberry ale. The color of this one reminds me of Hawaiian Punch that my mom used to pack in my lunches. Taste-wise, it’s much better than that. It’s fruity, but not in an over-whelming sense. I could see this being something for the person in your life who doesn’t like beer, becasue flavor profile-wise, this doesn’t taste like one at all. Don’t let that fool you, at 6.0% ABV this one could sneak up on you.

There it is. Another busy but insanely enjoyable beer drinking holiday weekend in the books.

I wonder if I get time off for Rosh Hashanah?

Cheers,
Tom

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