Sprocketbier Black Rye Kolsch from Stone Brewing Co.
#BEER, #CRAFT BEER, #FOOD & BEVERAGE, Uncategorized

Sprocketbier: A pleasant surprise from Stone Brewing

I finally visited Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens in Escondido, CA this past weekend, and the experience did not disappoint! I’ve been told by many of my friends that a trip to Stone’s home base is something that every fan of craft beer needs to do, and they’re right.

I’ll get into the details of the visit in a later post, but one of the best things that happened that day was finding out about a special, one-time-only sale at Stone’s distribution center the following day. A worker in the merchandise shop gave us the tip that a bunch of beer and gear was going for discounted prices during the sale, so myself and my good friends Harim and Tammy took the trip to see what we could get our hands on.

We took home a bunch of beer, many of which I had never heard of. The distribution center allowed customers to taste all of the beers available, and pretty much all of them were good, and worth buying especially at the discounted price.

One of these beers I’d never seen before is Rick and Robbie’s Sprocketbier , a Black Rye Kolsch that came in first place in Stone’s 2014 Spotlight Series brewing competition. I had never tried any Black Kolsch so I was intrigued by the concept of making a black version of one of the easier-drinking beer styles.

 

Sprocketbier Black Rye Kolsch from Stone Brewing Co.

Sprocketbier Black Rye Kolsch was the winner of the first Stone Spotlight Series brewing competition in 2014.

Created by Stone Quality Assurance Supervisor Rick Blankemeier and Production Warehouse Lead Robbie Chandler, Sprocketbier was a one-time release that hit the public on April 21, 2014. The bottles on hand at the distribution center were all nearly two years old, which generally isn’t ideal for a lighter alcohol beer like the 5.4% ABV Sprocketbier.

I popped one open last night and was pleasantly surprised by this easy-drinking hybrid-style ale. I love stouts, porters and really any kind of roast flavored brews, and despite the aging the Sprocketbier still had plenty of this character.

While these roast characteristics were present, the Sprocketbier is still light-bodied, not overpowering, and has pleasant floral aroma and spice flavors, like a traditional Kolsch. It pours black with a thin layer of tan head, and the coffee aroma hits the nose upon the first sniff.

This beer is a combination of very different styles, but it comes together beautifully, even after two years in the bottle. It has enough of the traditional characteristics of dark beers to please fans of stouts and porters, but is light and easy-drinking, enough so that fans of lighter beer styles will probably still like it.

I came home from the one-time-only sales with four bombers of Sprocketbier, and after tasting it I wish I would have picked up more! It came in first out of 19 entries in Stone’s inaugural Spotlight Series competition, and while I’m not sure what it was up against, I can definitely appreciate why this beer took first prize.

If you can get your hands on some, I highly recommend trying it. Cheers!

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Duvel Belgian Golden Strong Ale
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Duvel Belgian Golden Strong Ale: #Masterfulness

The Belgians make strong, complex, interesting and legendary beers. The outstanding beer author and ambassador Randy Mosher calls Belgium “The great adventure land for the beer-curious, the wine lover’s beer destination, the foodie’s easy pairing resource, the living museum of beer history.”

Many strong and flavorful brews await for those that delve in to Belgian beers, and so many great ones are out there that it’s hard to know where to begin. Duvel Golden Strong Ale is a good place to start.

The Alstrom Bros., founders of Beer Advocate, give Duvel a rare perfect 100 rating for this beer. This experience in beer perfection starts with the appearance after a perfect pour.

Duvel Golden Strong pours a pale, brilliant gold with great clarity if the yeast isn’t poured, or a bit of haziness if it is. The Duvel Moortgat Brewery suggests using a proper Duvel branded Belgian Tulip glass, and pouring at an angle until reaching the middle of the logo on the glass, then straightening the pour to create a majestic 2-4 inches of head.

Duvel Belgian Golden Strong Ale in an official tulip glass.

Duvel Golden Stong Ale look magnificent, especially when poured into an official Duvel tulip glass.

The official Duvel glass is etched with a “D” at the bottom of the glass, which the brewery says isn’t just for looks, but “creates a slow release of carbonation, ensuring a full, creamy head.”

The look of this perfectly-poured Belgian masterpiece will have you admiring it as a work of art, and the epic continues with the first sniff of the aroma. Sweet, clean malt with hints of citrus (grapefruit), spices and yeast make it easy to lose yourself in this brew before you’ve even tasted it.

After taking in the aroma, it’s time for a taste, and the beer is a balance of malt sweetness and bitterness. Despite the 8.5% ABV, Duvel is highly drinkable, refreshing, and crisp, with strong carbonation, a spicy aftertaste and a warm, noticeable alcohol presence.

The flavor profile is strong enough to stand up to any strong Belgian beer, but Duvel is deceptively drinkable, and even those who’ve never tried Belgian beer will probably like it. Duvel is named after “Devil”, and this is probably why.

Duvel Belgian Golden Strong Ale back label

The back labels on Duvel bottles feature different attributes of the beer with custom artwork, making them collectible as well as delicious!

Todd Alstrom from Beer Advocate says Duvel Golden Strong is “Deceptively seductive and powerful. It lures you in with mesmerizing eye candy, then as the absolute refresher, then whacks the shite out of you with an 8.5% ABV club. It’s not called the “Devil” for nothing.”

Duvel bottles are adorned with a number of different attributes of the beer on the back label (all ending in –ness), including “Confidence-in every sip-ness, Patience-in your pour-ness, Devil-in the details-ness, and Love-what you do-ness. The different labels make the bottles collectable, and the brewery’s website (http://www.duvel.com/en-us) encourages Facebook, Twitter and Instagram participation with photos, videos and stories using the hashtag #Masterfulness.

If you haven’t ever tried Belgian beer, Duvel Golden Strong Ale is a great place to start. If you do enjoy the “masterful”, complex and gran brews of Belgium, you already know this of course.

Cheers!

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#BARS, #BEER, #CRAFT BEER, #FOOD & BEVERAGE, Uncategorized

Pliny the Younger: Mission Complete!

Well it’s finally happened; I got to partake in a couple of glasses of Pliny the Younger! The triple IPA from Russian River Brewing in Santa Rosa is a tough find, considered to be the Holy Grail of beers by some connoisseurs (although Trappist Westvleteren XII, the Quadrupel from Westvleteren Brewery in Belgium, is also considered to be a “Holy Grail” beer).

I’ve heard the stories about people waiting six hours or more in line to get a taste of Pliny the Younger, which Russian River brews only once a year, and releases on the first Friday of February. It’s only available in kegs; it’s never been bottled and growler fills are not allowed.

So in order to be amongst the lucky few that get to enjoy this highly-sought IPA, you have to find a bar that’s amongst the lucky few accounts that get Pliny the Younger shipped in. It was available at Russian River’s brewpub in Santa Rosa February 5-18, with a limited amount of the beer available each day, and a three-beer (10 oz. serving maximum) per customer.

PLINYCOLLAGE

The Pliny the Younger release at Toronado in San Diego was an epic event for craft beer hunters!

I’ve never made it to Santa Rosa, unfortunately, but now that I’m living in San Diego, I knew I had a shot at trying some Pliny the Younger this year, as some of SD’s top beer bars are in the mix. One of my go-to spots, Toronado in North Park, has Pliny the Elder on tap all the time, also one of the highest-rated beers in the world (12th on the Beer Advocate top 250 as of this writing), and I got on the bar’s e-mail list, and found out that February 18, at 10 am, was the expected time for the arrival of the Younger.

I got in line outside the bar at 9 a.m. and had a great place in line for what was sure to be a great start to a Thursday. After hearing the stories of the six-hour-plus waiting times, I was excited to be so close to the front of the line, which got significantly longer as 10 a.m. approached.

At about five minutes to the hour, the Stone Brewing distribution truck drove by on 30th Street and honked at the growing number of people waiting outside Toronado, and we knew the Younger had arrived! Within minutes the doors to the bar opened for business, and a few minutes later I had a seat at the bar and a 10 oz. serving of one of the rarest beers on earth in my hands.

PlinyYounger-Elder

I had to try Pliny the Younger and Elder side-by-side for a comparison.

The beer, at 10.25% ABV, is very good, and smooth. Its flavor reminded me of Pliny the Elder, but richer, fuller and a bit more complex. This year’s batch was brewed with Simcoe, Warrior, Chinook, Centennial, Amarillo and Tomahawk hops, and its right up there with some of the best beers I’ve ever had.

Toronado did a good job of keeping this Thursday-morning release on the DL, as everyone who showed up got to enjoy some of the Younger. I went back for a second glass and ordered a pint of the Elder with it, to compare the two beers at the same time.

PlinyBarPic

Everyone who showed up at Toronado had a chance to try Pliny the Younger, as the bar did a great job of keeping the release on the DL.

It was a fantastic event, and I met a lot of very cool people that morning. Everyone in attendance was very happy to be there, with many enjoying the Younger for the first time just like me.

Now if I can get my hands on some Westvleteren XII, and perhaps some Heady Topper from the Alchemist, my life will be complete!

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#BEER, #CRAFT BEER, #FOOD & BEVERAGE, Uncategorized

STONE RUINATION 2.0: THE PERFECT DOUBLE IPA?

March 20, 2015 was a sad day for fans of the original Stone Ruination IPA, as Stone Brewing announced that it was discontinuing production of its classic imperial IPA that was beloved by hopheads everywhere.

Declining sales for Ruination led to a reinvention of the recipe for one of the brewery’s longest-standing beers, as the brewery replaced the original with Stone Ruination Double IPA 2.0. While saying goodbye to the original “Liquid Poem to the Glory of the Hop” wasn’t easy, Ruination 2.0 is a worthy second stanza to that poem.

Nearly a year after the re-release, even amongst the massive selection of imperial IPAs available on today’s market, Ruination 2.0 stands out as one of the best.

STONERUINATION2.0BACK

The “Liquid Poem to the Glory of the Hop” lives on, as Stone Ruination 2.0 is one of the best imperial IPAs out there!

APPEARANCE (4.5): From a 12 oz. bottle, Ruination 2.0, pours a vivid, clear honey-gold color, with about a finger of white foam that dissipates into a fine layer of bubbles that stays on top throughout. The clarity of this beer is remarkable, and the carbonation keeps coming from bottom to top.

AROMA (4.5): Hoppy, grassy and citrus notes hit your nose big upon the first sniff of this beer, and then some sweeter aromas begin to come through. Grapefruit, orange and pine are also present in the mix, and the beer’s overall aroma is a tantalizing balance between hoppy bitterness and tropical citrus.

FLAVOR (4.8): While Ruination 2.0 definitely has more tropical aroma and flavors than its predecessor, hopheads can rejoice that the hoppy flavors of the original hasn’t been left out. Brewed with six different kinds of hops, the back end of this beer carries a burst of bitterness and piney flavor that lingers on the palate. The grapefruit, orange and berry flavors come through when this brew is first sipped, but the hops come through in the finish. At 100+ IBUs, this beer can certainly cause the “ruination” of your palette.

MOUTHFEEL(4.3): Crisp, medium carbonation, with a full, smooth mouthfeel.

OVERALL: Ruination 2.0 is definitely a worthy re-invention of one of Stone’s classic beers, and is one of the best imperial IPAs out there in 2016. Fans of the west-coast style of IPAs will love this brew, as it strikes a perfect and complex balance amongst tropical, citrus flavors and floral, piney hops. It’s tough to label any beer as the perfect example of a style, but Ruination 2.0 comes close.

 

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A new favorite: Matt’s Burning Rosids Cherrywood-Smoked Imperial Saison

Sometimes a new beer style you’ve never tried before really opens your eyes, and that’s exactly what happened when I tried Matt’s Burning Rosids Cherrywood-Smoked Saison from Stone Brewing this week.

The saison is a style that I haven’t delved into much; although I like the ones I’ve tried so far at beer festivals. It’s probably the only Belgian style I haven’t fallen in love with, but this beer is going to change that.

I tried it for the first time while attending this week’s Exploring Craft Beer class in the San Diego State University Business of Craft Beer program. This week’s session was all about food pairings, and we got to try four different beers with three flavors of donuts from local San Diego bakery Donut Panic.

I love beer and I love donuts, and I thought all 12 possible combinations of the two were pretty fantastic.

LIEFMAN'SDONUTPIC

We had the privilege of trying donut and beer pairings in class this week in San Diego State’s Business of Craft Beer program.

The beer selection included Matt’s Burning Rosids, Cuvee-Brut, a sour red beer from Brouwerji Liefmans in Belgium, AleSmith’s Speedway Stout, and Iron Fist Brewing Company’s Dubbel Fisted, a Beligan-Style Dubbel. Each beer was paired with each of three donuts, with the flavors including lemon-lavender, chocolate espresso-almond, and maple walnut.

As far as the donut pairings went, I came away with the knowledge that the AleSmith Speedway Stout is an incredible compliment to donuts, and you could probably pair it with any donut in the world. But overall, the Matt’s Burning Rosids just blew me away.

At 10.5% ABV, this big-boy beer immediately hits you with a pronounced smoky flavor, along with barnyard funkiness and a bitter, hoppy finish. I wasn’t sure what to think of this incredibly complex brew at first, but as I paired it with each donut, it grew on me more and more.

It got even better as it warmed up a little bit, and the Cherrywood flavors began to come through. I thought it paired especially well with the maple-walnut donut, with the smoky flavor of the beer complementing the nutty and maple flavors of the donut very well.

MATT'SBURNINGBACK

Matt’s Burning Rosids is a tribute to Matt Courtright, who developed the recipe. Courtright died in a tragic industrial accident on the job in 2013.

The beer was brewed by Stone as a tribute to Matt Courtright, a brewer at Stone who died in a tragic industrial accident on the job in 2013. The recipe for the saison was developed by Courtright and fellow Stone brewer Brian Bishop, and the beer was released in a large batch for the first time in January 2014, paying homage to the beloved Courtright.

The Burning Rosids name is a reference to the rosid plant family that includes cherry trees. The beer is brewed with Cherrywood-smoked malt, and has an incredibly complex, intriguing flavor profile that makes it an unforgettable brew.

I will certainly be on the lookout to try to get a couple of bottles of Matt’s Burning Rosids Cherrywood-Smoked Saison, and I’ll be exploring the world of saison beers more often as a result of trying this beer for the first time. I highly recommend it to any beer connoisseur.

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New brews from Stone

The folks at Stone Brewing are keeping it interesting this fall, with a bunch of new and seasonal brews.

Recent releases from Stone include the 24 Carrot Golden Ale, Xocoveza Holiday Mocha Stout, and the Sorry Not Sorry IPA, which is collaboration amongst Stone, 4 Hands Brewing from St. Louis, and Bale Breaker Brewing Company out of Yakima, Washington. The Xocoveza is back for the 2015 holiday season, after first appearing in September 2014.

All of these beers are collaborations, and I can’t wait to break out the six pack of Xocoveza over the h holiday. It’ll be well worth the wait, but one beer that I had to crack open right away was the Sorry Not Sorry IPA, which my buddy and Instagram master Jerry brought to my attention when the brewery released the photos announcing the brew.

Sorry Not Sorry IPA, Stone Brewing, Bale Breaker Brewing Company and 4 Hands Brewing

Stone’s new Sorry Not Sorry IPA is a peach-infused collaboration, with Stone joining Bale Breaker Breaker Brewing Company and 4 Hands Brewing to create a tasty Imperial IPA.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Sorry Not Sorry ; when I first read about this new creation I was intrigued by the fact that it’s an Imperial IPA brewed with peaches. I love citrusy, hoppy west-coast-style IPAs, but I don’t recall trying one with peaches as such a big part of the flavor profile.

The explanations on the back label of Stone beers are always entertaining, and the back of this one proclaims that the trio of collaborating brewers “decided that pureed peaches be added to ‘up’ the fruit factor, while experimental HBC 342 and HBC 344 hops were selected to introduce notes of berries, citrus, tropical fruit and grassiness to this IPA.”

I split a bomber with my brother David last week, and Sorry Not Sorry blew me away. I was expected something with a lot of sweetness from the peaches, but instead I got a well-balanced, smooth and hoppy IPA that’s highly drinkable, even at 9.3% ABV.

Sorry Not Sorry IPA, Stone Brewing, Bale Breaker Brewing Company and 4 Hands Brewing

The back of a bottle of Stone beer is always enlightening.

The body of this brew is very crisp, and I found the beer to be refreshing. Brewed with Warrior, Simcoe, Mosaic, HBC 342 and HBC 344 hops, this IPA has plenty to offer for hopheads, and is a perfect exhibition of the evolution of Stone’s IPAs.

The Sorry Not Sorry IPA is a one-time release, but I hope they add it to the catalog as a regularly-available beer. Stone already has a ton of IPAs, but this is a worthy addition to the list.

I’m very curious to try out the Xocoveza over the upcoming holiday weekend. Officially called Xocoveza for the Holidays & the New Year  this beer is back by popular demand after a wildly successful release last fall. I’ll have a review of this beer ready to roll in the near future.

Stone Brewing Xocoveza for the Holidays & the New Year

This six pack of Xocoveza for the Holidays & New Year, a winter mocha stout from Stone, will be opened over the Thanksgiving holiday.

That’s all for this week; next week we’ll take a look at a couple of Las Vegas beer festivals, Big Dog’s Brewing Company’s Dogtoberfest and the Downtown Brew Festival. The #coolkids and I were lucky enough to attend both of these events on back-to-back weekends in October, and both festivals showcased some of the best craft beer that Las Vegas has to offer.

Cheers!

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SILO at Maker's Quarter in Downtown San Diego
#BEER FESTIVALS, #CRAFT BEER, #FOOD & BEVERAGE

Craft Beer + Bites: A party in Downtown San Diego

San Diego Beer Week has arrived! The best craft beer city in the world is in the midst of its sixth year of celebrating SD Beer Week, with more than 200 events taking place throughout the area November 6-15. Any city that takes 10 days to celebrate a beer week is a place I want to be!

The annual celebration is organized and operated by the San Diego Brewers Guild, which describes the event as “a ten-day celebration inspiring people to drink local, craft beer and promoting San Diego’s thriving brewing culture with multiple events happening across the county.” The collection of festivals kicked off November 6-7 with the 13th Annual San Diego Brewers Guild Fest, and will wind down Sunday the 15th with events like the AleSmith Tasting in Ocean Beach, and the Cask Ale Marathon at the US Grant Hotel, in Downtown San Diego.

More than 100 breweries can be found in San Diego, and the city’s breweries won a combined 19 medals at the 2015 Great American Beer Festival, the largest beer festival in the U.S. With breweries like Stone, Ballast Point, AleSmith, Green Flash and Mission, among numerous others producing wildly popular craft beer, San Diego really is the place to be if you’re a craft beer connoisseur.

Craft Beer + Bites, Mural at  SILO at Maker's Quarter in Downtown San Diego

The artwork at SILO at Maker’s Quarter in Downtown San Diego is amazing…

Mural at  SILO at Maker's Quarter in Downtown San Diego, Craft Beer + Bites

…And provided an unforgettable backdrop at the Craft Beer + Bites event!

I was lucky enough to attend the San Diego Beer Week edition of the Craft Beer + Bites festival, which was held at SILO at Makers Quarter in Downtown San Diego November 12. I’d never been to SILO before, and the artwork at the venue was striking.

There was also some great food and fantastic beer on tap from the area’s breweries, including Stone, Mission, Karl Strauss, Mike Hess, Coronado, Second Chance and Rip Current. My first sample of the night turned out to be my favorite of the festival.

I got in line for the Latitude 33 booth and decided to go with the Blood Orange IPA to start the evening. This IPA has striking, zesty citrus flavor, and there’s nothing subtle about the Blood Orange component of this brew.

Latitude 33 Brewing Blood Orange IPA

The Blood Orange IPA from Latitude 33 Brewing was my favorite beer of the night.

At 7.2% ABV, this strong IPA packs a punch, and is my new favorite amongst blood-orange brews. The citrus flavor and aroma is potent but the beer still has plenty of bitterness for fans of hoppy IPAs. The orange flavor is definitely there, yet the beer isn’t too sweet.

Next up was Second Chance Beer Company’s Seize the Day IPA, infused with Mostra coffee. I’m a big fan of coffee in general, and especially beers with coffee flavors.

Stouts have become perhaps my favorite style of beer over the past year, largely thanks to the coffee aroma and flavor that comes with many of them. The Morning Joe, a Kolsch-style brew from Banger Brewing in Las Vegas, is one of my go-to beers when I’m in Nevada, and it’s the first coffee-flavored beer I’ve come across that isn’t a stout or a porter.

The Seize the Day IPA infused with Mostra coffee, from Second Chance Beer Company

The Seize the Day IPA infused with Mostra coffee, from Second Chance Beer Company, is the first coffee-flavored IPA I’ve come across.

The Seize the Day IPA was the second coffee-flavored beer I’ve tried that doesn’t fall into the porter or stout category, and I really enjoyed it. I couldn’t decide if the IPA profile or the coffee flavors were the dominant theme in this beer, although I would give the nod to the coffee in this 6.5% ABV offering.

As far as golden-colored, coffee-flavored beers go, this is right up there amongst my favorites. It’s different than the Morning Joe, which has a much sweeter aroma and flavor. There’s definitely some bitterness to the Seize the Day IPA, and I’ll seek this one out anytime I can.

Other selections I enjoyed at Craft Beer + Bites included the Karl Strauss Peanut Butter Cup porter, the Urbn St. Brewing Co. Brown, and the Rip Current Brewing Break Line Traditional Bock.

Break Line Traditional Bock from Rip Current Brewing

The Break Line Traditional Bock from Rip Current Brewing was a gold medal winner at the 2015 Great American Beer Festival.

Break Line Bock was particularly tasty, with a malty, rich and somewhat sweet flavor profile. I’ve really gotten into German beers since the Oktoberfest season, and I’m not surprised to hear that Break Line Bock took home a gold medal at the 2015 Great American Beer Festival!

Next I tried the Grazias Vienna Cream Ale from Mike Hess Brewing, which is a great tasting, creamy, sweet flavor profile and packs a punch at 6.3% ABV. Even more interesting was the new Open Mike can the brewery was showing off at the festival.

The Open Mike can is opened by removing the entire top off the can, and one of the Mike Hess representatives told me they’re the first brewery to offer this style of can. The open-top can gives the drinker the aroma and flavor of drinking out of a glass or cup, without actually having to pour the beer in said glass/cup. Definitely cool and unique!

Open Mike can from Mike Hess Brewing of San Diego

The new “Open Mike” can from Mike Hess Brewing of San Diego allows for more aroma and flavor to be enjoyed straight from the can….

Open Mike can from Mike Hess Brewing of San Diego

…And the brewery was showing it off with it’s Habitus Double IPA.

There was definitely a lot of great beer from top-notch breweries all around the Craft Beer + Bites festival. An unexpected highlight of the night happened when I came across the Golden Coast Mead booth and got to try mead for the first time.

Golden Coast was serving up just one offering, its Viking Tears Mead. Mead is an ancient alcoholic beverage style, produced by fermenting honey with water. Oceanside-based Golden Coast Mead offers several different products that revive the style, and the brewery’s representative did a great job of explaining the ingredients, production process and flavors I could expect while taking in Viking Tears for the first time.

At 12% ABV, Golden Coast definitely isn’t messing around with Viking Tears. I pulled a strong Chardonnay flavor from the mead, which tasted more like a sour than a beer and strongly stood out against everything else I was drinking that night.

Golden Coast Viking Tears Mead

Golden Coast Viking Tears Mead allowed me to try the ancient style of mead for the first time.

I’ve only recently even learned about the existence of mead, and it was awesome that Golden Coast set up shop at the festival. I would definitely like to further explore the brewery’s catalog of meads, and the Viking Tears opened up a door to something new (and ancient), which is always welcome!

Overall I was blown away by the venue and beer quality at Craft Beer + Bites. The art around SILO at Makers Mark was unbelievable, and I spent the first 20 minutes of the festival taking pictures of the scene and the various murals and other artwork around SILO.

Located at 15th and F Street downtown, Maker’s Quarter is described as “the hub for San Diego’s urban innovation economy, offering the environment and culture that inspires our city’s Entrepreneurs, Artists and Makers to unleash their creativity.” Here is more information about Maker’s Quarter.

SILO at Maker's Quarter in Downtown San Diego, Craft Beer + Bites

Photgraphing the murals at SILO at Maker’s Quarter took up much of my time at Craft Beer + Bites….

SILO at Maker's Quarter in Downtown San Diego, Craft Beer + Bites

… And the pictures don’t do them justice.

BEER-TASTING PARTY!

This past Saturday I hosted Fall Fest 2015, my latest beer-tasting party at my place in Apple Valley. At my first beer-tasting party back in July, I bought all of the beer for the event a couple of days before the party, and rang up a pretty hefty tab at Total Wine in Rancho Cucamonga.

This time I slowly but surely collected beer over the course of the past two months, and by the time Fall Fest rolled around I had so much beer in the fridge that there was hardly room for food! As the party approached I realized that I was overloaded with IPAs, which included Sculpin IPA and Dorado Double IPA from Ballast Point, Firestone Walker Double Jack Double IPA, Green Flash West Coast IPA, and Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Wet Hop IPA and Hop Hunter IPA.

Stone Brewery was well represented at the party, including Stone IPA, Delicious IPA, Ruination 2.0, Cali-Belgique, Coffee Milk Stout, Pale Ale 2.0, and Bourbon Barrel-Aged Arrogant Bastard.

The Fall Fest 2015 crew! If you closely you can spot Harim from the #coolkids!

The Fall Fest 2015 crew! If you closely you can spot Harim from the #coolkids!

The beer that I planned as the nightcap was the Stone Chai-Spiced Imperial Russian Stout, which has become one of my favorites since I first picked up a bottle at Sprouts Farmer’s Market a few weeks ago in San Diego. I split a bomber with my brother David that night, and at the time I thought it very well might be the best beer I’ve ever had.

We re-visited this beer at Fall Fest, and I would still put it right up there with the best I’ve had. Part of the “Odd Beers for Odd Years” series from Stone, I’ve been snapping up as many bottles as I can of this one-time release, as I’m hoping to age a few of them for a while and see how it turns out.

Stone Brewing

Stone was well represented at my most recent beer-tasting event…

Stone Brewing Chai-Spiced Imperial Stout

….And the Chai-Spiced Imperial Russian Stout has become one of my favorites.

The smoothness of this stout is remarkable, and the chai spices are prominent. The coffee and chocolate flavor profile of the standard Imperial Russian Stout is still there, along with notes of cinnamon and other sweet flavors that I haven’t quite nailed down yet. It’s an amazingly complex, tasty and potent brew at 10.6% ABV.

That’s all for this week; next week we’ll take a look at Stone’s new Sorry Not Sorry IPA, as well as a couple of beer festivals attended by the #coolkids on back-to-back weekends in Las Vegas.

Cheers!

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