This weekend two San Diego breweries will host anniversary parties benefiting local charities.
The Seasoned Veteran
Green Flash Brewing Co.
Mira Mesa’s biggest brewery is kicking off 10th anniversary celebrations with their largest event of the year tomorrow. Rare and specialty beers will be poured from 12 – 4 p.m., including Silva Stout (bourbon barrel-aged Double Stout), Sleepin’ with Shaggy brandy barrel-aged barley wine, Treasure Chest Belgian blonde ale, Goddess Coffee Double Stout (a collaboration with Caffe Calabria), Little Freak, Super Freak, Vintage Le Freak, Highway 78 Scotch Ale (Green Flash / Pizza Port Carlsbad / Stone collaboration), and casks will be tapped on the hour. Other highlights include a fleet of classic cars, pin-up gals in swimwear by local designers and more than 15 vendors and food trucks. 100% of the proceeds from this event will go to Susan G. Komen for the Cure San Diego in the fight against breast cancer. Tickets are $30 pre-sale at greenflashbrew.com, or $35 at the door; tickets include 10 tasters and a souvenir glass.
The Up-And-Coming Pro
Aztec Brewing Company
Vista has become a beacon for the beer scene recently and Aztec Brewing Company is a big part of it, mixing the ideals of a historic local brand with unique events and interesting beers. Tomorrow (noon – 10 p.m.) and Sunday (noon – 7 p.m.) they’ll be celebrating one year of business with the release of a spicy limited-edition anniversary beer brewed with chipotle and ancho chiles, organic cacao nibs, cinnamon, nutmeg and grains of paradise. Tickets to the party are $30 each day, and a 22 oz. bomber of the new beer is included for the first 100 partakers. Admission also includes five tasters of Aztec beer, beer mac & cheese, dishes served from a whole pig plus more munchies. A portion of the proceeds benefits Paws’itive Teams, a local non-profit that provides service dogs and therapy pets for persons with disabilities. Purchase tickets at the door or over the phone by calling 1-800-706-6324 ext 1.
Tiger!Tiger!‘s “Belated-Ultra-Grand Opening” began last night with a barrel-aged beer showcase and continued this morning with a visit from Mayor Jerry Sanders, who performed the ribbon-cutting ceremony with owner Lee Chase. Mayor Sanders, who just a few days ago held his staff holiday party at Blind Lady Ale House, Tiger!Tiger!’s sister bar a mile away, commented to Chase that he wasn’t able to find the new El Cajon Boulevard tavern because there was no sign. Chase responded that a sign would be going up on Friday as part of their grand opening weekend, and Mayor Sanders needed no further invitation to stop by and take a tour of the premises. Ironically, Chase also received the beer and wine serving license for the establishment just this morning (they had been working on a temporary license transferred from the previous owners). Next week, Chase and company will apply for a new license that would allow beer and wine to be consumed in the back patio area.
The festivities continue through the weekend. Tonight, if you dress festive enough, $2 Green Flash Winter Warmers are available at the Holiday El Ca-Ho-Ho-Ho-n Happy Hour from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. or until supplies run out. Tomorrow from 11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. an event with local non-profit dog rescue The Barking Lot and Lagunitas Brewing will see a big raffle and some goodies on tap. At 9 p.m. the highly-coveted Firestone Walker 14th and 15th Anniversary beers will be tapped side-by-side, and for quite the deal: $10 for both or one for $7. Sunday morning (11:30 a.m.) starts off with Coffee, Beer & Doughnuts, featuring Mission Dark Seas Imperial Stout blended with goodness from local roasters Cafe Calabria and house-made doughnuts. New “late morning” menu items will also be debuted. Then at noon you’re invited to embark on a bicycle beer run to Pizza Port OB to pick up their new Pilsner, the first from head brewer Yiga Miyashiro. For $30 you get a very limited first edition Tiger!Tiger! cycling cap, a beer and doughnuts before the ride, a beer at Pizza Port, and then the PP Pilsner back at Tiger!Tiger!. More info on these events can be found here.
It seems like only yesterday that I wrote my original post on the new Brewers Association style guidelines last year that recognized the new style of American-Style India Black Ale, and how with the decision, we could sarcastically claim that the formerly common name of Black IPA for the style was dead. Well, now we can say the same for American-Style India Black Ale! That was quick. The dropping of the “India” designation is one that I welcome. There’s nothing about this beer that has anything do with India, unless brewers are willing to claim a connection to the porters that were exported to India from England in the 17-1800s, and would have been heavily hopped, much like these modern beers and just like the eventual “Pale Ale prepared for the India market” that turned in to the more familiar India Pale Ale that we recognize today. I don’t know of anyone making this claim, and it seems to go against the motivations for the genesis of the current style, which were about dark color with the flavor of a regular IPA.
At the Great American Beer Festival this past fall, the first awards were given out for this new style with the gold going to Turmoil from Barley Brown’s Brew Pub in Baker City, Oregon. I haven’t had Turmoil, but I did have their Chaos stout this past summer, which is basically a Black IPA with a regular American stout malt bill, so a hoppy American stout, so, um, now I’m just confusing myself. Anyway it was a very nice hoppy stout and I can see that given less roasted malt flavor it could be the perfect Black IPA. The bronze metal went to Stone’s Sublimely Self Righteous Ale, which was the first Black IPA that I ever had (on my 21st birthday no less, back when it was called 12th Anniversary Ale) and arguably the beer that brought the style to commercial prominence.
Moving on to this year’s GABF, the beers will likely be the same, but the category will go by a different name. I’m actually fine with American-Style Black Ale, even though it’s very vague and will leave the style open to a lot more interpretation than it every started out with the basic gimmick of a black beer that tasted almost just like a regular IPA. Maybe that’s just the way the style is going. Maybe people want roasty flavor, but just not as much as a stout. If that’s the way that things are going, then I think we should just call a spade a spade and possibly modify the Robust Porter category to account for more hop aroma and flavor.
The other possibility is that Black IPA really is dead and the gimmick was never meant to live on. The beers become roastier and instead of calling them hoppy porters (which is what they are) we make up a completely new name. They’re black (well, usually dark red-brown) and undoubtedly American in style (we do love our hops more that any other brewing country), so there are worse things that you could call them. I was never a fan of Cascadian Dark Ale, as it implied that all the beers were from the Cascade region, which is not the case. Beers going by that name, with Deschutes’ Hop in the Dark being the most prominent example, were often roastier in flavor than I thought was proper for a black IPA. If that is the new paradigm of the style and we are going to agree on calling it American-Style Black Ale, I’m fine with Black IPA becoming a more obscure out-of-style creation that stays true to the original idea of fooling the drinker by presenting a black beer that you would think was a regular IPA if you had your eyes closed.
As a final note I want to address the claims that Black IPA is a stupid name because calling a beer both “black” and “pale” is contradictory. Yes, it is, but I’d like to point out that the Germans call their dark wheat beers “dunkelweisse” which means “dark white”–certainly a contradiction of terms, right?. They understand that a weisse (white) is a wheat beer and not literally a white beer, just as we know that an IPA (nobody even says “India pale ale” anymore) is a hoppy beer that isn’t too dark. Black IPA most effectively communicates to the consumer what it is that they are getting. Such is the essence of naming a style in the first place. Outside of competitions, which consumers couldn’t give a rat’s ass about the vast majority of the time, it’s the only reason that we really need style names.
Here’s the new style guidelines from the Brewers Association in case you are interested:
American-Style Black Ale
“American-style Black Ale is perceived to have medium high to high hop bitterness, flavor and aroma with medium-high alcohol content, balanced with a medium body. Fruity, floral and herbal character from hops of all origins may contribute character. The style is further characterized by a moderate degree of caramel malt character and dark roasted malt flavor and aroma. High astringency and high degree of burnt roast malt character should be absent.
Original Gravity (oPlato) 1.056-1.075 (14-18.2 oPlato) ● Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (oPlato) 1.012-1.018 (3-4.5 oPlato) ●
Alcohol by Weight (Volume) 5-6% (6 -7.5%) ● Bitterness (IBU) 50-70 ● Color SRM (EBC) 35+ (70+ EBC)”