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Posts Tagged beer of the week

Beer of the Week: Eppig Natural Bridge Festbier

Feb 17

Natural Bridge Festbier from North Park’s Eppig Brewing Co.

From the Beer Writer: Of the most recent entrants to the San Diego brewing industry, few have been so impressive from the get-go as Eppig Brewing. The first interest to open in North Park’s Craft by Brewery Igniter complex, it has a lot to offer. There are currently well over a dozen beers on-tap, but even when they had less than half of that available early on, that handful included some real winners. Tops among those first drafts was Eppig Natural Bridge Festbier. Much like Christmas ales or Lent beers, most brewers only produce this lager-style during a certain period, in this case Germany’s Oktoberfest season. But not at Eppig, where they smartly realize their Festbier’s quality is such that it should be a year-round offering. Bready yet light with bristly mineral notes, it’s a study in balance and elegance that comes in at 6% alcohol-by-volume. Behind this and the other members of Eppig’s Natural Bridge family of lagers (Baltic porter, hoppy Pilsner, schwarzbier, zwickelbier and, soon, a lightly oak-smoked Vienna lager), this young brewery belongs among the small number of breweries brewing top-notch lagers in ale-heavy San Diego.

From the Brewer: “At Eppig, lager-beer is a major part of our history. The original Eppig brewery in Brooklyn, New York, brewed nothing but lagers when it opened in 1866. The name ‘Natural Bridge’ applies to our family of lagers for a variety of reasons. The word ‘bridge’, itself, is both the symbolic and physical embodiment of connecting two points. Symbolically, we are bridging both geographic distance and a journey of over 150 years in the making. Joseph and Leonard Eppig both emigrated from Bavaria in the 1860s to establish breweries on the east coast of the ‘New World’. Post prohibition, the breweries were lost. Now, in San Diego, we have brought Eppig Brewing back to life. Natural Bridge is a reminder to keep traditions alive by making a commitment to brewing great lager-beer! Furthermore, New York City and San Diego are both, in part, defined by iconic bridges. Neither city’s skyline would be complete without the Brooklyn or Coronado Bridge respectively presiding over their waterfronts. This beer is one of the reasons we were drawn to brewing as a profession. We wanted to create beers that put you in a time and place. For us, when we are enjoying a pint of Festbier, in our minds we are transported to a sunny, Bavarian beer garden. For those who have experienced it, they know there are few better places to be than riding a bike through Munich’s English Garden and stopping by the lake for a stein or two. When a customer drinks our beer, there is nothing more satisfying than when we can tap into these kinds of emotions. Our Natural Bridge Festbier falls somewhere between a Pilsner and a Märzen. It’s slightly maltier than a Pilsner, leading to a more complex, interesting aroma and flavor profile. It’s less sweet with a drier finish than a Märzen. The clean fermentation profile and overall balance of the beer make it a great choice for any season, and that is why we have chosen to brew it year round.”Nathan Stephens, Principal Brewer, Eppig Brewing

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Beer of the Week: Culture Amarillo SIPA

Feb 10

Amarillo SIPA photographed at Culture’s Ocean Beach tasting room

From the Beer Writer: While I understand their purpose and appreciate their existence, higher-alcohol beer-styles crafted at “session” strengths (generally regarded as lower than 5% alcohol-by-volume) don’t usually do much for me. I tend to prefer styles brewed to their traditional ABVs, especially when it comes to India pale ales. Many session IPAs lack the body to complement the big hops San Diego brewers pack into such creations. It’s a tall order, delivering our region’s hallmark hoppiness in a low-ABV package, and I’d say the success-rate of local breweries is like that of a great baseball player…somewhere in the high-20 to low-30 percentile. But stellar session IPAs are out there, and that contingent includes  Culture Amarillo SIPA. One of the session IPAs focused on high-profile hops by Solana Beach-based Culture Brewing Company, this centers on its namesake component, delivering assertive pine-cone and resin notes. Recently, I had the opportunity to try this beer alongside its El Dorado counterpart and, despite not being as fresh, Amarillo won out. Not only was it richer in flavor, but it felt more like a balanced, standard-ABV IPA. It had all the hop-punch I wanted at just 4.8% ABV with zero trace of dilution. A fresh batch of this beer will be on-tap with a whopping 30-plus others brewed for Culture’s fourth anniversary celebration, taking place on Saturday, February 18 from 12 to 6 p.m. at its Solana Beach headquarters.

From the Brewer: “Personally, I have always liked coming up with wacky and clever names for beer, but I do believe that keeping our beers nameless has the benefit of making a visit to our tasting rooms very simple and straightforward. Having said that, the Amarillo SIPA literally speaks for itself. Since all of our session IPAs are single-hopped with whichever hop sounds best for that brew-day, the Amarillo SIPA–you guessed it–is single-hopped from start-to-finish with Amarillo hops. The great part about using the same hop for bittering, finishing and dry-hopping, is that it allows the beer enthusiast to really gain an understanding and appreciation for that one specific hop; in this case, Amarillo. You’ll notice an orange bouquet greeting your nose followed by slightly spicy and lemon-like notes even before taking that first sip. Utilizing only Amarillo hops makes this SIPA more aromatic and refreshing, yet less bitter than most other session beers. Munich and caramel malts, traditionally used for more robust and darker ales, add pleasant biscuity and malty flavor to the body while providing a clean finish and beautiful golden hue. What I’m trying to get across is that this seemingly simple SIPA is actually full of character and very well balanced…not to mention it has a low alcohol-content so you can have as much as your heart desires.”–Aleks Kostka, Head Brewer, Culture Brewing Company

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Beer of the Week: Nickel Larry’s Place IPA

Jan 27

Larry’s Place IPA, a tribute brewed by Nickel Beer Company

From the Beer Writer: When beloved individuals pass on, people pay their respects in a variety of ways ranging from heartfelt eulogies, lasting dedications and artistic gestures. In the brewing industry, the tribute-beer is a popular way to say good-bye and thank-you to our friends and colleagues. Enter Larry’s Place IPA. Originally brewed last year at Julian’s Nickel Beer Company as a companion quaff for La Mesa restaurant West Coast Barbecue & Brews‘ four-year anniversary, this 7% alcohol-by-volume India pale ale is dry-hopped with Cascade and Zythos, resulting in a pronounced piney, resinous bitterness. Veteran San Diego brewer Tom Nickel owns both business as well as O’Brien’s Pub in Kearny Mesa. It’s there that he befriended Koger, a Luthern pastor with such an affinity for beer that he approached Nickel about opening a similar beer-centric venue together. This, despite him having no hospitality industry experience. Though an unlikely scenario, the two partnered and West Coast opened its doors in 2012. Though the business aspect of the venue was foreign to him, Koger was a natural when it came to engaging patrons, staff and employees of the breweries whose beers he showcased via West Coast’s impressive tap-list. He loved and appreciated them all, and the feeling was mutual. That was abundantly apparent last month when Koger passed away unexpectedly due to complications from an undiagnosed heart condition. Shortly after news of his passing surfaced, droves of people he’d touched gathered at West Coast and O’Brien’s to share their grief and toast his memory. Rebrewing Larry’s Place is one way Nickel is paying homage to his fallen friend and, in doing so, allowing others to say their good-byes with a final tip of the glass to someone who, speaking from experience, really was one of the sweetest people you could hope to meet. The beer is currently on-tap at West Coast, O’Brien’s and Nickel Beer. As part West Coast’s month-long fifth anniversary celebration, February 9-12, the beer will again be tapped along with a variety of rare, dark, strong and barrel-aged beers. They were Koger’s favorite types of beer and he’d saved these particular kegs for a special occasion. An event celebrating a fine man and a lasting piece of what he was all about is about as special they come.

From the Brewer: “Ask folks who the nicest person in the local beer scene was and anyone who knew him would say Larry Koger. Larry was a man of god, a Lutheran pastor who found a passion for craft beer. I met Larry as a customer at O’Brien’s. He quickly became a regular and formed many friendships there. After years of enjoying our pub as a patron, Larry wanted to try his hand at owning his own place. When he approached me and my wife about partnering up on a new pub, we knew that Larry would be the most honest and trustworthy person that we could go into business with. He exuded a child like enthusiasm for new beers and sharing them with customers. He loved West Coast, its patrons and its employees. Larry left us too soon at the age of 56 but he leaves behind a legacy of good beer and, more importantly, a legacy of kindness and optimism that is all too rare.”Tom Nickel, Owner & Brewmaster, Nickel Beer Company

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Beer of the Week: Little Miss Hoperation Overlord

Jan 20

Hoperation Overlord Imperial Oatmeal IPA from Little Miss Brewing in Miramar

From the Beer Writer: Having written about beer for as long as I have and during such an adventurous stretch in American brewing history, it’s rare to come across something completely new. Often, such first-of-their-kind creations incorporate exotic fruits or outlandish yeast strains, but a recent oddity was based off very traditional brewing ingredients. That creation is Little Miss Hoperation Overlord, a double India pale ale with flaked oats folded into its malt bill. Brewed by Miramar newcomer Little Miss Brewing, its an IPA that features added mouthfeel in a county known for going as light as possible where malt-body is concerned with this beer-style. Admittedly, it in no way resembles a “San Diego IPA”, but in a day and age of imitation, it’s refreshing to have something not only different, but darn good. A modern-hop bill bring delicious flavors of mango, peach and candied lemon to the party, while the malt bill gives this concoction a copper appearance, brown-sugar nose and burnt caramel undertones. The viscosity provided by the oats helps convey all of that character in a smooth and even fashion. And at 8.5% alcohol-by-volume, it comes in low for a double IPA, but that’s just fine, as this is a beer you’re likely going to want to enjoy two of, anyway. And soon it’ll be available at a pair of WIP Little Miss tasting rooms in Normal Heights and Ocean Beach, the latter of which will be the fifth such space to debut on Newport Avenue between Cable Street and Sunset Cliffs Boulevard.

The future home of Little Miss Brewing’s tasting room in OB (three doors down from Culture Brewing’s satellite)

From the Brewer: “We had been planning on making a double IPA and San Diego Beer Week seemed as good of a time as any to debut it. When formulating the recipe, we decided to use oatmeal, mostly because we couldn’t think of too many imperial IPAs that use it, and also because we thought the oatmeal would take a normally big, aggressive, hoppy beer and mellow it out a little bit, creating a deceptively smooth beer. For the hops, we used Citra, Mosaic and Nugget. We wanted to showcase the fruity, citrusy, floral qualities of those hops. It wasn’t necessarily a beer that we intended to have on full-time, but the reaction to it has been overwhelmingly positive and it has quickly become one of our best-sellers, so it will stay on as long as everyone wants it.”Joe Lisica, Head Brewer, Little Miss Brewing

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Beer of the Week: Pizza Port Shark Bite Red Ale

Jan 13

Pizza Port has canned its iconic Shark Bite Red Ale in celebration of the company’s upcoming 30th anniversary

From the Beer Writer: When I first heard Pizza Port was about to hit the big three-oh(-where-did-all-the-time-go?), I could hardly believe it. Though brewing operations began at the family-owned SoCal chain’s flagship Solana Beach brewpub in 1992, it’s been slinging pies and Beer Buddies since 1987. Through it all, the concept has stayed true to the humble vision of brother-and-sister team Vince and Gina Marsaglia: provide a dependably fun and inviting place for people to enjoy themselves over pizza and house-made beers. Simple pleasure is the theme of the organization, which has grown to include a formidable quintet of “Port Holes” reaching from Ocean Beach to San Clemente, including a large-scale, production facility-equipped brewpub in Carlsbad’s Bressi Ranch community. Along the way, a boatload of awards have been lavished on the multifaceted interest’s beers, and numerous members of its brewing team have gone on to starring roles at breweries across Southern California. Its an impressive evolution that, from a beer-perspective, all started with a hoppy offering that was far ahead of its time and helped define San Diego’s lupulin-driven brewing style: Pizza Port Shark Bite Red Ale. When it came time to can a beer in celebration of Pizza Port’s 30th anniversary, this mainstay of its extensive and impressive canon was a no-brainer. Piney in its hop profundity (especially for the time-frame in which it debuted) and nicely bolstered by a toffee-like yet dry malt-body, this beer is a piece of San Diego brewing history that has endured based on the tenets of good taste and craftsmanship. Each of the company’s brewpubs will hold release parties for Shark Bite on Tuesday, January 17, where six-packs of the beer will be available for purchase. Additionally, Pizza Port will hold festivities (details to be announced) to celebrate 30 years in business at its Solana Beach location the last weekend of March, shortly after its official anniversary on March 23.

From the Brewer: “Shark Bite Red was the first beer we made. I wanted to do a red instead of an amber, probably because I had a red ale at Callahan’s Pub and I liked it more than amber ales. It has more crystal-malt flavor. Before making that first batch, I was so excited about the our seven-barrel system, that I decided to go inside the brew-kettle and have a couple of beers. I ended up just sitting there and falling asleep, then waking up and not knowing where I was. We actually had to throw away the first batch of Shark Bite we brewed. Somebody hooked up the thermocouple backwards and we didn’t know, so it cooled the yeast down and the beer didn’t ferment. It tasted like motor oil. Other than that, there aren’t many weird or funny stories. I just made beer and people drank it. There were no guidelines, but even if there were, we didn’t read them. We were just making beer…beer we liked.”Vince Marsaglia, Co-owner/Brewmaster, Pizza Port

 

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