HOPTOLOGY

San Diego Beer, Local & Independent!


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Copenhagen to San Diego: Good Beer Knows No Boundries

In case you have somehow missed the news about Mikkeller San Diego opening its door this past weekend, I offer my own humble report for your perusal.
First off, I love this place. Walking in, you still recognize the bones of the old Alesmith. They have since moved to a brand new and massive brewery space just a little further down Miramar Rd. Yet Mikkeller (Originally out of Copenhagen, Denmark) has made the site very much its own. The tasting room area is cozy with plush couches and tables making for a very welcoming tasting room experience. It is hard not to feel both welcome and very comfortable as you walk in and take in the feel of the place. The lighting was low and added a special ambiance to the space, and while it was a packed house with long lines for beers, the environment was so relaxed that most people were very good about simply having a good time and not making a fuss about the wait.  IMG_6799
On this opening weekend the beer menu was full of variety, something for everyone so that even if you were not a fan of or had never even tried Mikkeller before, there was very little reason for a person to not find something to their liking. From a hoppy pilsner, big IPA’s, to dark Belgian delights, to the legendary Beer Geek Breakfast Stout, the draft list and killer, and with Mikkeller being known as a man who is not shy about putting a beer recipe together, there are literally thousands of option that exist and will eventually see its time on the board at some point.
A quick history for this not familiar with Mikkeller (also known as Mikel Bjorg Bjergso). He is what is known as a “Gypsy Brewer”. It simply means (prior to this opening) he did not have a dedicated location for brewing his recipes. He would travel to other breweries and either do it himself, or let that brewery team pull it together according to his instructions. San Diego is his first steady base of brewing operations. Perhaps the smartest, and from a local perspective, the best decision he made (aside from setting up in San Diego) was the hiring of Bill Batten.
Bill Batten is the man who has helped make Alesmith Brewing what it is today.IMG_6803
So if you are going to hire a brewer to work in the old Alesmith Brewery, you might as well bring on the guy who knows how to get the most out of that particular brewing system. It should be noted, that Alesmith is a parter in this venture, so the idea of Bill being the brewer should not come as a total shock.
On this opening trip, the crowd was lively, the beer was tasty and much like the warm sunny weather on this opening day, the future for Mikkeller SD looks to be very bright and I cannot recommend enough taking a visit to check it out for your self.
Cheers,
Tom


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The only Culture we need is Beer Culture.

The writing of this particular blog post has taken on several different iterations since first beginning to craft it. Initially I had planned to write a simple recap of where and what I drank while adventuring around the indie beer scene in Portland, Oregon. I decided that was boring, no matter how many different ways I tried to write it. The next attempt was to try to cover my trip and make a comparison between the beer cultures of Portland and San Diego. I wrote it, it came out pretty good. Then two questions occurred to me; first, does four days in Portland really qualify me to speak at length on the differences and similarities in the beer culture of Portland compared to San Diego? Secondly, is it really that important to write about the differences in the drinking cultures of these two fantastic cities? No, it doesn’t. Just like every list ever written that ranks the best indie beer cities or tries to tell you what the best IPA’s in the world are, it is all subjective and usually has some sort of bias on the part of the writer. That is why I am going to put this right out on front street:

San Diego is the best city for indie beer.

That is my opinion and I stand by it 100%. However my brother in Los Angeles might disagree. My friend Bobby in Portland may see it differently, just as my cousin Corrine in Denver, my father in Baltimore and my buddy Chris in San Francisco all probably believe their city is the best. Here is the best part though: they are all right. Yes, for every person who drinks and supports independent beer, the town they live in should be the best and they should be proud of it.

Trying to compare drinking cultures in different cities is a lot like comparing apples to a bunch of other apples. Each one has its own unique flavor, but they are still apples in the end. It is important to remember, each and every city can and should stand on its own without having to deal with comparisons to other places.

Independent beer often has the ability to showcase some of the best qualities of the culture in which it was brewed. Here in San Diego it is very easy to find beers that are bright, shiny and clear in their color, reflective of a typical warm summer day and the sun reflecting off the ocean. In Portland many of the beers are little darker in color, like the woods of the forests around them and the general pioneering history and embracing the natural world around them. With each city having its own distinct flavor and sense of style, it presents endless options for the indie beer drinker who likes to explore.

It is simply a great time to be a beer lover in America. Never before in the nations history have we had more breweries in production than we do right now, and that number is only increasing. A person can board a flight and travel from one end of the country to the other, east to west, north to south, come out of the airport and be in the general vicinity of a local brewery. Its exciting to to explore the beers of a new city and immerse yourself into the culture of that town or city and learn what beer means to them. It is also exciting to know that, if for one reason or another, the beers of that city or town do not sit on your palette just right, the odds of finding a Stone IPA (or your own local favorite) are dramatically high as well, so you can support your hometown brewery and maybe turn on a few people who have not yet had the chance to see what your town is all about.

San Diego is a city that is still developing its beer culture. Yes, there are handful of breweries in town that have been brewing great beer for over 20 years, but it wasn’t until 2007-2008 that craft beer/independent beer began to skyrocket in its popularity, not only here but across the country. However, we are on the right track. Not only are we the proud home of some of the best breweries in the country, we are also home to some of the best beer bars in the country. Couple that with the continued growth of the farm to table food revolution and more top notch independent restaurants that serve local, independent brewery tap handles, San Diego is a destination not only for locals but for beer lovers across the globe. If the rate of growth in the independent beer market continues to expand, it will mean a much deeper permeation of beer into the fabric of what makes San Diego so great. The saturation point still seems to be far off, when too many breweries exist, but as long as the beer stays high in quality, it is only a matter of time before the sign reads “Welcome to San Diego, America’s Finest City, and Independent Beer Capital of the World.”

Won’t that be a great thing?

Cheers,

Tom20130523-124543.jpg


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San Diego Beer Week is upon us!

The popular saying around San Diego is that in reality, every week is beer week. Sure, living in the craft beer mecca that San Diego has become can seem that way with the sheer number of breweries and a seemingly endless barrage of events happening throughout the year, but the fact remains that this week is special and should be held above all other events in town. This is the March Madness of the craft beer world.

The list of events is staggering, from tap takeovers to special barrel releases and insanely fun and delicious food & beer pairing dinners, it is impossible not to find an event of six to satisfy your beer drinking desires. Head over to the SD Beer Week website for the full calendar of events and have a truly great time. 

This past weekend, myself and my broadcast partner/ good friend Cody of ThreeBZine fame, were lucky enough to have the privilege to record our latest podcast episode live from the SD Brewer’s Guild Beer Festival, the annual kick-off event for Beer week. The conversations we had with some of San Diego’s elite brewing talents are both entertaining and insightful. If you’d like to hear what was said, please follow the link to ThreeBZine where you can listen or download from iTunes or your other favorite podcasting app. Thanks for listening and have a happy SD Beer Week!!IMG_2473 copy


Cheers,

Tom

 


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The Stunning Conclusion: Part 2 of Pizza Port, The Burning of Rome and Eukaryst on The ThreeBZine Podcast!

When last we left our heroes, their lives were in mortal danger at the hands of The Joker as his plan to release his deadly joker toxin into Gotham’s water supply nears success…

Oh wait…wrong podcast.

The only danger Cody, Dustin and myself were in was having too much and fun and drinking too much incredible craft beer. Head over to ThreeBZine or Itunes to check out the final installment of epic time hanging out at Pizza Port Bressi Ranch with Pizza Port OB Head Brewer Nacho Cervantes, and the guys from The Burning of Rome and Eukaryst. Also, check out this sweet video that Pizza Port made for our show!

Cheers!

Tom


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ThreeBZine turns 50 with Derek Gallanosa of Abnormal Beer Co.!

50 episodes of a podcast is a big deal. For the vast majority of people, there isn’t much in the way of financial recompense for the efforts. It’s all about dedication and passion to make a great show for people to enjoy. That’s what the guys at ThreeBZine have been doing for the past few years and now they have reached the big 5-0. Not only have I been lucky enough to become good friends with both Cody and Dustin, I’ve recently joined the cast of the show, taking their dynamic duo and hopefully turning into and terrific triumvirate…or at least a modern day version of the Three Amigos.

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On this special episode, we sit down with Derek Gallanosa, Head Brewer of Abnormal Beer Company, Beer Curator for The Cork and Craft restaurant, and craft beer enthusiast. The conversation covers a lot of fun and interesting ground from the spark that started Derek on his craft beer path, the way he goes about deciding what styles of beer to brew and his thoughts on how best to pair craft beers with a fine dining experience all the while keeping things fun and entertaining. Derek is a genuinely nice person and his passion for craft beer shines in every word he says as well as the beers he makes. During the recording of this episode, we were lucky enough to be among the first people outside of Abnormal Beer Company to try the very fist batches of 5pm Session IPA and Mostra Mocha Stout. Both beers are simply fantastic to drink on their own, but as you will hear in the podcast, they also get paired together with a few tasty treats as well. The episode is also full of exclusive information and exciting news for Abnormal Beer Company.IMG_4822

Please head over to either Three.BZine.com and listen there or download from the iTunes store and listen while you pump iron at the gym. That’s how I roll. 

Congrats to Cody and Dustin to making it number 50, I hope I can continue to be a part of the journey as we now work our way to the big 100.

Cheers,

Tom


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An Epic of Epic Epicness!

History is full of tales of people coming together to wage battle against the forces of evil and defend the world from impending darkness. This isn’t quite as dramatic as that.

When Cody Thompson first asked me to join him and Dustin Lothspeich on their podcast as the third member of their show, ThreeBzine.com podcast, I was both elated and slightly nervous. It would be a big task to bring my views and personality to a show that already has a stellar reputation in San Diego Craft Beer and Local Music community. Luckily, I’ve become friends with both Cody and Dustin over the past year and that made the task as easy as slipping on a velvet glove.

This past Wednesday was my first episode as a member of the show and the guests we featured couldn’t have been any better to help me realize how much fun this is going to be.

We spent the evening at Bagby Beer Company in Oceanside, California with our two hostesses, Dande Bagby, of Bagby Beer Company and Melanie Pierce of Keep a Breast, to discuss not only all the goings on at Bagby but to also the put a spotlight on the wonderful work that Melanie has done for this weekend’s Brewbies Beer Fest at Bagby Beer Company, a charity event where all proceeds go to the Keep a Breast Traveling Education Booth to assist in early detection of breast cancer.

So in short, it’s kind of a big deal.

We might become a traveling band.

We might become a traveling band.

Dande and Melanie might be my two new favorite people on the planet, sorry Kanye; beat it! This episode is an absolute delight; it’s full of funny stories, insightful information and a story or two that might even tug on the old heart strings. Basically, you want to listen and maybe even get involved.

Head over to ThreeBzine.com for all the info on downloading or streaming the show and please don’t hesitate to let me know what you think of it. Maybe crack a beer or two while you listen and enjoy!

Cheers,

Tom

 


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No need to be humble; New English Brewing’s Humbly Legit IPA is on point!

New English Brewing has been around San Diego for a while now, almost seven years if memory serves. For reason’s I can’t possibly explain, other than perhaps my own sillyness, I’ve not made the time to try more than a small handful of beers from them. It’s possible that my love for big hop bomb IPA’s has clouded my judgement to this point. Maybe I delude myself into thinking that they only make english style ales that I wouldn’t be interested in. I’m here to tell you that it was a error on my part to not make the time for the creative brews coming out of this inventive brewery and it’s something I’ll be remedying in 2015.  Simply put, whenever I do have a beer from New English Brewing, I come away impressed.

This past year I was able to try their Brewers Special Brown Ale, which to me was on the same level as Alesmith’s Nut Brown Ale as perhaps two of the best representations on that style here in San Diego. The pleasant surprise that beer gave me was quickly forgotten as my next dose of New English was in the form of their Zumbar Chocolate Coffee Imperial Stout. A big, chocolatey, roasty glass of goodness like this is certainly something to be shared with the masses. After having only two offerings, New English had blown the doors off my expectations.

In what could only be negligence on my part it took me almost six months to make the next opportunity to try New English Brewing, this time in the form of an IPA called Humbly Legit, a West coast style IPA that still manages to stay true to the English Ale roots by which New English operates.2014-12-29 23.55.29

Humbly Legit comes in at a healthy 7.5% ABV and upon popping the top you get a wonderful floral nose with hints of citrus and all the goodness that awaits within. The beer tastes incredibly clean and crisp with a malt presence that is certainly noticeable but not in the manor typically associated with the type of IPA’s made in the United Kingdom. The use of English style malts here is put into a complex and careful harmony with the use of cascade and centennial hops, which provide that wonderful aroma as you drink your beer. The sweetness of malts never threaten to overwhelm as the hops provide a nice level of bite that keeps a certain west coast character in the brew, it’s a wonderful balance and it drinks very clean with only the slightest lingering of hops on the backend.

My Assessment: This beer is a winner and will provide the final kick in my pants to get me over to their brewery in the very near future, because these guys are making really great beers of all styles with traditional English malts but healthy dose of West Coast hops to create something truly unique and exciting to try. Go get you bottles of Humbly Legit now or just stop by the tasting room at 11545 Sorrento Valley Rd Suite 305 San Diego, CA 92121

Cheers,

Tom