Monday, February 28, 2011

Niksicko Pivo

Type: pilsner
Origin: Niksic, Montenegro
Price: $2.39 per 0.5 L

I love beers like this. This is from the only brewery in Montenegro, and this is by far the most popular beer from there. The wikipedia page says this only costs 1.50 euros for a 0.5 L in bars. I could just imagine pounding 10 or 15 of these on a hot summer day near some revitalized town square. The beer is a classic pilsner, with a little bit more of a bitter note than most from the area. This probably helps to preserve this better on the long trip over considering there is no skunkiness whatsoever. The sweetness is a little lighter, and it reminds me of a mix between a budweiser and a bud light. The ABV is nice at 5% and a little unexpected from the lightness.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Blue Frog IPA

Type: IPA
Origin: Fairfield, California
Price: $4.29 per 22 oz

This is the first beer I've seen from Blue Frog, and the price was right, so I had to have it. Like many California microbreweries, I'm assuming this one started out as a good restaurant and the customers started demanding the ability to buy the beers in stores. On first smell and taste, I could tell this was a NorCal IPA, and upon investigation, I found that Fairfield is about halfway between San Fran and Sacramento. I do love the painted bottle that reminds me of Left Coast's bottles. They did put the original gravity on here, which I think is a bit pretentious considering that its an almost meaningless number to pretty much everyone (we were actually having a conversation about this a week ago and how douche-y it is). The IBU's are sitting at 60, which is why I assumed this was NorCal since most San Diego IPA's are well into the 70s if not beyond. The bitterness is there, but definitely a bit subdued. There is also a considerable about of maltiness in here, which is an interesting take on an IPA. I think the subdued nature of this would allow for copious consumption of this, and thats a +1 in my book. I would love to see what else they put out.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Bornem Double Abbey Ale

Type: belgian ale
Origin: Ertvelde, Belgium
Price: $17.99 per variety 6 pack

The website description of this is perfect. They call this a "living" abbey ale that is great for aging. The secondary fermentation gives it a soft texture with a nice creaminess and fruity flavor. And they also say its great with sausage, game meat, steaks and other grilled meats. I think the final point I agree with most. I'm just imagining a pile of delicious sizzling animal carcass round back with every sip. I wish I could eat a second dinner now. All in all, this is a nice smooth dubbel belgian ale with a light sweetness and a slight malt profile. The color is much darker than one would expect from the tate of it. This is way better than the Piraat, the last beer from Van Steenberge.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Indian Wells Raspberry Ale

Type: ale, flavored beer
Origin: Inyokern, California
Price: $7.99 per 6 pack

The woman and I bought this 6 pack a few weeks back, I think the day after an overly oppressive San Diego IPA evening. I remember actually craving this, and we did pound out all but 1 of these that night, and I've just now gotten around to drinking the final one. The beer itself is not too bad. The raspberry flavor is pretty artificial and overpowering. The website says that this beer starts as the Desert Pale Ale, and then it is flavored with fresh raspberries, which I completely see. There is an underlying quality bitterness that you would never expect from a flavored beer.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Lightning Thunderweizen Hefeweizen: Sambo's Take

Type: Unfiltered Hefeweizen
Origin: Poway, CA
Price: $5 pint Regal Beagle
5.5% ABV

Just look at that pint, I mean just fucking LOOK at it! Now that is a true work of art. It looks like an orange banana smoothie, and tastes very close to one too. This beer is in the same style as Craftsman Heavenly Hefe, except that it successfully accomplishes everything the brewers set out to achieve, and I really stress EVERYTHING. Perfect fluffy lacey white head? CHECK. Appetizing color? CHECK. Smells sooooo good you wanna wet yourself? CHECK. Tastes soooooo goooooooood I can drink 10 a day for the rest of my life? CHECK!! Perfect blend of wheat, banana, clove, citrus zest, and yeast? CHECK. Not overly sweet? CHECK. If you live in sunny San Diego, this beer needs to be in your fridge, ALWAYS. Never ever ever run out of this beer. This WILL get you laid. Its magical, truly Disneyland magic. I'm so happy I discovered this beer, and you should drop what you're doing and find it and drink it and feel merry and love life. TITS.

Great Divide Hercules

type: double IPA
origin: Denver, CO
price: 7.99/22oz
abv: 10

I was gonna claim this didn't deserve the medals it supposedly has, until it registered in my brain this was ten mutha effin percent, yet still delightfully hoppy with minimally intruding alcoholic face-punch. It is certainly a hop pummeling though. Hoppiness from start to finish, with not much else going on. If this registered at 6 or 7 % I'd say pass, but after a 22 of this I was sitting nice and toasted. I see this as more utilitarian: If you must have high proof hoppiness, you should be drinking this constantly.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Left Coast Asylum Ale

Type: Belgian Tripel style ale
Origin: San Clemente, CA
Price $6.49 22oz
11% ABV

I was shocked to see a beer in this category at such a low price. I thought to myself, "there has gotta be something wrong with the beer". Turns out the beer tastes just fine, just slightly above average. This equates to middle of the road in my book. It has a nice golden color with a light bubbly head. It's not spiced at all, just a straight Belgian style that balances its high alcohol content well. Smells like what you'd expect for a Tripel, wheat with some esters in the background. It had a good yeasty flavor profile with some Wit qualities in the mix. Nothing mind blowing, but nothing bad either. What this beer lacks in creativity it makes up for in quality and price. Worth a purchase for those who like standard Tripels. Oh and make sure to compare what the pour from the 1st half looks like compared to the 2nd half. It goes from slightly hazy to absolutely cloudy. Jesus that's a lot of yeast.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Nogne O Imperial Stout

type: Imperial Stout
origin: Grimstad, Norway
price: $7.95 for 500 ml
abv: 9

I think the O is Nogne is for a perfect balance beer. This stout is great, not to much alcohol and great coffee aftertaste. It's not their best beer as I think their Pale Ale and IPA really stand out, but still worth the price. Apparently these guys make sake too, that's it I'm contacting them. I forsee a nonsnob brewery tour in the future.

By the way I don't have much to say about this beer as far as taste because at the time both Andy, Samer, and I already had to many beers including scuplin on cask, Franziskaner, and others I can't remember.

Lagunitas Little Sumpin' Sumpin' Ale

Type: strong pale ale
Origin: Petaluma, CA
Price: $10 6-pack
7.5% ABV

This beer is absolutely refreshing for its higher alcohol content. I like to think of it as the Grenache of beers. It has a very light mouthfeel, and is silky smooth to boot. Nice lacy white head with light hop aromas are well balanced with a tinge of wheaty maltiness. I was surprised to see it claimed as 64 IBU, considering that my tasting notes mention just a hint of citrusy bitterness. What I love so much about this beer is that it straddles that fine line of perfect balance between dry and malty. In my mind it's both. Add to that just the right amount of hop flavorings and you end up with a middleweight champion of the world who is amazingly light on his feet. Job well done.

Anderson Valley Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout

type: oatmeal stout
origin: Boonville, CA (Mendocino county)
price: ~25/24-pack at Costco
abv: 5.7

So Anderson Valley is officially tits in my book. Done: Hop Ottin IPA, Winter Solstice, and now this. This is just, simply, a well made oatmeal stout. Roasted barley and flaked oatmeal make for "da' bomb" drank. As my previous reviews mention, their labels are spot-on; this is no exception. But to simplify things, here's a formula for you nerds: Classic flavors = Classic beer. I just wonder what this tastes like out of a nitro tap.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Ballast Point Sea Monster

type: Imperial Stout
origin: San Diego, CA
price: $8/22 oz
abv: 8

Well as most of you know I am partial to Ballast Point beers, partially because my buddy works there and hooks me up, but also because they produce strong flavored delicious goodness. Sea Monster is no exception and is very popular stout. The alcohol content is low compared to the massive coffee and vanilla flavor. The pour is dark black with a slight red, just a great all around stout. Not the best stout ever but def top 20 and worth checking out. Try to get a hold of one of these that is aged in a bourbon barrel, yum.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Lost Abbey Red Barn Ale

Type: belgian ale
Origin: San Marcos, California
Price: $7.99 per 750 mL

I haven't ventured too much into Lost Abbey's repertoire since the price point is close to belgian ales from Belgium, but I have reached the point at BevMo! where there is nothing much left under $10, so I decided to give this a shot. Theres an interesting flavor on this I can't quite figure out. It is very fizzy and bubbly to the extent that it starts to hurt my teeth. There is a bit of sourness, not like red ales or lambics, but more like pure lemon juice. There is a bit of spiciness, almost like a strong coriander. Nothing about this screams San Diego, and thats in a bad way. I am a little disappointed in this one, but at least its not overly sweet or wheaty. The ABV is also cause for concern, coming in at only 6.9%.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Lightning Elemental Pilsner

Type: pilsner
Origin: Poway, California
Price: $4.50 per 22 oz

Andy put up a Lightning review a few days ago, so I decided to crack this baby that has been in the fridge for a few weeks. And let me tell you something: this is the best pilsner I've had outside of the Czech Republic. It has the basic characteristics of a good pilsner: golden color, soft head, light hops, nice sweetness, smooth taste. There is one amazing difference that I cannot figure out. My first thought was "this tastes like a mother fucking lightning bolt", but then had to reassure myself that lighting has no taste. The best way to describe it is a light fruit undertone. Just. Fucking. Good.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Victory Helios

type: ale
origin: Downington, PA
price: 5.49/22oz
abv: 7.5

Victory is a old-timer in the craft brew scene. I'm surprised their God-awful labeling practices haven't derailed their enterprise:
a) Who drew the crappy sun-emerging-from-a-glass image on the front? I understand the Sun/Helios connection, but this might be the worst image I've ever seen.
b) What kind of cryptic hogwash have they written on the back? Here's a fun little example: "radiant energy of the sun gives life to all that we enjoy". OK, maybe that's technically true, but if you're gonna blow the Sun, at least capitalize its name while you're doing it.

Alright, enough about how much the label pisses me off. On to the ale... This is damn fine, but I'm afraid mis-branded. I wrote that it's "nice and sharp" with some light wheaty qualities and a bit of citrus tart. This is not simply an ale. Their site is calling it a re-branding of the V-saison, which I think is fitting. Why did they change it?

So in summary, they've got a very nice beer with a terrible marketing scheme. I guess what they need to do is hire a real graphic designer and re-re-brand take #2.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Russian River Pliny The Elder

type: Double IPA
origin: Santa Rosa, CA
price: $5/16 oz
abv: 8

Uhhhhh shame on us, shame, shame for not reviewing this beer yet! I know we have all drank a shit ton of this. Pliny the Elder, god what can I say about this beer, if you haven't drank it shame on you! It's a super hoppy party in your mouth perfect IIPA. Yes I said perfect. If you are having a shitty day, sit down, pour a Pliny, take a sip, and you will think to yourself why was I pissed off, oh well. Pliny is one of the most sought after beers in California if not the entire US. This beer basically put Russian River (def a flagship Andy) on the map although their Pliny the Younger is even harder to find. The brewery also has a lot of sours and other specialty beers you should check out like Consecration, Supplication, Damnation.

Lightning Electrostatic Ale

type: farmhouse-style ale
origin: Poway, CA
price: 6.99/22oz
abv: 10.0

"Why the shit haven't I reviewed any Lightning yet?!" I realized yesterday. Brendan has though.

Let me start by saying I'm not sure (yet) where Lightning fits in among the SD giants. Yes, they are always at beer festivals 'round town but hardly ever have I seen their beer in a bar. What's going on here? Marketing? Taste?

Marketing, maybe: Some people are put off by the simplistic, flashy (chrome-ish) label. I would argue there's a slightly mysterious nature to their beer simply because of the labels, but WFC right?

Taste, definitely not the problem: The Electrostatic Ale is spot-on unique. The beer is pours completely opaque, with some squash-like flavors going on. It's smooth, with a twangy, spicy kick. This is a pretty damn fine ale, so it's even more mysterious why they remain SD underdogs.

Note: WFC = who fucking cares

Monday, February 14, 2011


Type: lager pilsner
Origin: Auckland, New Zealand
Price: $2.99 per 750 mL (seriously)

What a fucking price. I was perusing the aisles of BevMo! tonight and saw that Steinlager was $2.99. I was curious, and thought it was a 16 oz bottle, but to my amazement, found that this was a god damned wine bottle of Steinlager. That would be $4.75 a 40 oz, just slightly above Colt 45 in our area (I tried to find online prices, but Binnys and BevMo are too good for it). That being said, this is a pretty boring pale lager. Slightly more flavor than Bud, but not by a whole lot. Its pretty crisp and refreshing, and about all one can expect from a macrobrew.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Stone Cali-Belgique IPA

Type: belgian IPA
Origin: Escondido, California
Price: $14 per 2 L growler

This is honestly one of my favorite Stone beers and you non-San Diegans should be demanding this in your stores. Stone is pretty renowned for making overly hoppy IPAs, but this one is pretty nice due to the nice belgian style wheaty sweetness. I seriously drink way too much of this stuff and you should too. Its just damn good. It only took me 2 days to drink that whole growler.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Manzanita Brewing IPA and pale ale

Type: IPA and pale ale
origin: Santee, CA
cost: $4.49 for 22oz

This is a review from our friend Alex on two of Manzanita's beers. Having been there when the beers were consumed, I can attest to the "nice" nose on these ones:

After popping the pale ale, the first thing I noticed was the smell of wet dog over the glass, which made me wonder whether their water source had dogs swimming in it, but I gave them the benefit of the doubt and carried on with my beverage. The flavor was a bit malty for me and not as crisp as I've come to expect in my ale. I should disclaim that I generally prefer a crisp hop and yeast dominant beer over maltiness, but even if I liked a thick malty ale, the wet dog fragrance still would kill this one for me. The IPA had a stronger wet dog smell, so I'm guessing that maybe someone sold them a gag bag of hops which was really dessicated dog ball sacks. Save the gag next time, and this beer might turn into a nice heavy malt liquor.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Hermitage Maltopia Double Scotch Ale

Type: scotch ale
Origin: San Jose, California
Price: $3.49 per 22 oz

Most of what I have had from Hermitage has been from their "double" collection. Most scotch ales tend to be a bit overpowering but this one is light and airy. Even more surprising at the 9% ABV. The smell is a really nice sweet cherry/berry mixed with lightly malted rye. The color is a nice reddish brown that is much lighter than other scotch ales. The taste is a light berry with almost no maltiness and a syrupy texture. Its probably one of the better scotch ales I've had, but I don't know if I would classify like this. Its almost like a maltier doppelbock or dortmunder. And the price is not too shabby also.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Ballast Point Big Eye

type: IPA
origin: San Diego, CA
price: $4/22oz
abv: 7%

In the name of value, I've made an executive decision to add ABV to the credentials (if available). We really should add dollars per ounce of pure alcohol: This would be about $2.60/oz compared to a hyper-inflated beer like Curieux, at $5.74/oz. Sucks to your asthmar, Allagash.

So, here we have Ballast's "flagship IPA" with its hoppy wonderfulness at full-mast. This is essentially their San Diego craft brew university beer diploma -- further credibility for their Sculpin masterpiece. It has a beautiful color and a nice light head, and Big* but not-too-overpowering bitterness and green** flavors. This is classic SD-style India pale ale. A hard decision: You're at Costco and you can choose between a case of Stone IPA and Ballast Big Eye (at the same price)... which do you pick?

* Big Eye = Big I-PA
** Note: If I ever use descriptors along the lines of "fresh cut grass" like in every bullshit Advocate review you are all welcome to chop my balls off.