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.
The artwork at SILO at Maker’s Quarter in Downtown San Diego is amazing…
…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.
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, 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.
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!
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….
…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 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.
Photgraphing the murals at SILO at Maker’s Quarter took up much of my time at Craft Beer + Bites….
… And the pictures don’t do them justice.
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 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 was well represented at my most recent beer-tasting event…
….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.