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Posts Tagged craftbeer

Beer of the Week: New English Two Legit Double IPA

Aug 28
New English Two Legit Double IPA

New English Two Legit Double IPA

From the Beer Writer: Since meeting New English Brewing Co. owner Simon Lacey, I’ve admired his devotion to crafting high quality versions of the beers of his homeland. In a day and age where most locally produced versions of U.K. beer styles are given West Coast or imperial treatment, for the most part, New English’s beers are brewed to style. Early on, Lacey stuck exclusively to a line-up that included a brown ale, extra special bitter (ESB) and decidedly British India pale ale (IPA). He’s since expanded his repertoire to include West Coast IPAs, and they’ve turned out fantastic. When we talked about the type of beer he’d produce for my lupus fundraising campaign, Beer to the Rescue, he grinned and said he thought we should play off the word lupus’ resemblance to Humulus lupulus, the compound in hops that brings so much bitterness to beers. For him, that meant brewing New English’s first-ever double IPA. I’m glad he decided to go outside the IBU and ABV box, and honored he did so in conjunction with this passion project.

From the Brewer: “After brewing two American IPAs—a West Coast-style rye IPA called Humbly Legit, and an IPA heavily dry-hopped with Citra and Mosaic called Pure and Simple—we decided that a double IPA might fit into our balanced beer philosophy after all. One Saturday I was drinking a Drake’s Brewing Co. flight at Blind Lady Ale House, when I came to the Hopocalypse IIPA. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it as much as the other beers in the flight, but it turned out to be a revelation! Beautifully bitter but bright and balanced, I decided right there that we would also make a double IPA. We started working on the recipe immediately and, soon after, we produced Two Legit IIPA. It’s not a double version of Humbly Legit. It’s a completely new recipe with no rye malt, but we liked the name. It’s based on U.S. two-row base malt with some German Munich plus wheat malt for body and head retention. Hopped with copious quantities of CTZ, Nugget and Summit in the kettle, and Summit and Centennial dry hops, the alcohol content is 9.2% and the IBUs register a solid 90-plus.”—Simon Lacey, Owner & Brewmaster, New English Brewing Co.

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Beer Touring: Home Brewing Co.

Aug 11

hbc_beersDelightfully small and understated, it’d be easy to walk right by The Homebrewer without taking notice. Unless, of course, you’re a homebrewer. In three years, George and Molly Thornton’s brew-it-yourself biz has amassed a stellar reputation as one of the most beloved retail outlets of its kind in one of the most homebrewer-centric counties in the world. There’s even more to love about the North Park spot, which now sports a tasting room for its on-site beer-making operation, Home Brewing Co. (2911 El Cajon Boulevard, North Park).

hbc_barLike most undertakings of the hobbyists The Homebrewer serves, HBC is a work in progress. But even with thrown together furniture, a bar waiting for a custom-designed top and a bar-back missing its future mirror focal point, the whole thing works. The space mirrors the DIY spirit of recreational brewers, making it feel cozily appropriate versus unfinished. Guests can belly up to the tasting bar, hunker down on an Ikea couch or table with a wood palette top, or rest their elbows on numerous belly bars as they work their way through a regularly changing line-up of beers produced on a seven-barrel brewhouse directly behind the bar.

The day I visited, 13 beers were on tap. Several were split into dual offerings, as is one of Thornton’s purposeful differentiators. Because part of the mission of HBC is to showcase the ingredients available at The Homebrewer, he enjoys brewing a batch of beer, then splitting it and treating one different than the other by dry-hopping it differently, adding adjuncts, fermenting it with a different yeast strain, serving it on nitro, etc. It’s similar to how White Labs ferments base beers with a variety of diverse yeast strains to illustrate the vast flavor and aroma differences each imparts, but HBC’s approach is wider reaching.

hbc_georgeThornton says there is no style of beer he doesn’t appreciate, and his HBC brews prove it. While he’s currently gravitating toward iterations of American pale ales, they share beer list space with a brown ale, Belgian amber, hefeweizen, Schwarzbier, India pale ale and more. While highly varied, these beers share similarities in that they are highly drinkable and mostly very dry in the finish. Hop flavors and aromas tend to dominate without being obscured by bracing bitterness. This is particularly true of SMASH (single malt and single hop) offerings, something that’s becoming quite en vogue among craft enthusiasts. All in all, the beers are impressive and enjoyable, whether one’s aim is to taste across the board or meander over a pint or two of a single offering.

HBC is for sure one to watch among the county’s newer brewery debuts, especially considering Thornton has several barrels of blonde ale souring away in a closed-off space behind his two-in-one business. He hasn’t quite figured out the specifics of how to offer it up to prospective buyers, but wants to explore bottling. That may require the help of industry friends, but Thornton has many. His reputation among local brewers is as good as that of his store among the amateur sect.

hbc_breweryHe recently collaborated on a beer with brewers from Intergalactic Brewing Co. and Kilowatt Brewing Co., seeks recipe formulation advice from Ray Astamendi at Fall Brewing Co., and has enjoyed Q&A and collaboration brew sessions with Lee Chase of Automatic Brewing Co. That beer, Tiger! Piss! (a name playing off Chase’s Tiger! Tiger! Tavern), is a 6.4% SMASH IPA brewed with Chinook hops and Golden Promise malt emitting massive citrus scents that carry through to the taste buds. Look for that to reappear in the future along with a Berliner weisse, myriad lagers and beers brewed using a hefeweizen yeast strain.

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Beer of the Week: Benchmark Table Beer

Aug 7
Benchmark Brewing Co.'s Table Beer

Benchmark Brewing Co.’s Table Beer

From the Beer Writer: There are sexy beer styles, and then there are ales and lagers that come across like Plain Jane dressed in sweatpants and a ratty baseball cap. Sure, at her core, she’s beautiful, but you have to work harder to see it and lean on your appreciation of her more basic attributes rather than rely on the glitz of high ABV, barrel character, big hops, adjuncts or buggy funk. Such is the case with the Belgian singel. The lightest-bodied and lowest-alcohol of the beers produced by Trappist monks and breweries who pay homage to their monastic ales, singels—or table beers, as they are also referred to—aren’t usually sold, but instead brewed to be consumed by monks. Over the past few years, this style has been experimented with in the U.S. They don’t get much play by craft beer enthusiasts who focus in on IPAs, sour ales, imperial stouts and other more complex, robust offerings, but when done right, a singel is a thing of beauty. In my humble opinion, the best one in San Diego County is being produced by Benchmark Brewing Co. (6190 Fairmount Avenue, Grantville), a session-centric operation that believes in its Table Beer enough to make it a core brew and one of the first beers to make its way through the company’s new canning line. There may be no better locally brewed, aluminum-housed beer better suited for the hot summer months. It’s simple, but pretty damn sexy.

From the Brewer: “I’ve been searching out the best of table beers for over a decade. These small Belgian beers have always interested to me and my wife Rachael. We find the tradition of the style interesting in that it’s one of the last holdovers from a time when beer was part of the meal. Trappist monks still make them, but don’t really label them for sale. The beer is generally a small version of the flagship beer from a brewery, designed to utilize ingredients that are available regularly. The key here is that they are not ‘second runnings,’ but thoughtfully crafted recipes using what’s on hand; sort of an Iron Chef beer, if you will. Table Beer was a late addition to our core line. It was initially brewed as part of a special-release duo alongside our Dubbel for Thanksgiving, the idea being that you’d have Table Beer to go along with the Turkey and then Dubbel for the pie. I took the first pour from the tap and said, ‘man, now I’m going to have to make this year-round.’ Our Table Beer’s fermentation offers citrus, pear and pepper notes, and has a bit of an acid bite in the finish. It is the perfect accompaniment to so many meals and really sings when served with oysters or fresh Mexican food.”—Matt Akin, Owner & Brewmaster, Benchmark Brewing Co.


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Meet Burning Beard Brewing

Aug 6

The Burning Beard Brewing team (from left-to-right): Mike Maass, Jeff Wiederkehr and Chris Brown

A name that’s stood out on my list of work-in-progress breweries for some time is Promethean Brewing. It was interesting that the business was slated to touch down in El Cajon, but what really grabbed my attention was the name. Referencing a titan from Greek mythology, I thought it sounded cool. Turns out, when that business opens later this year, it will go by a decidedly less badass, but rather fun name—Burning Beard Brewing.

The product of two homebrewers, Mike Maass and Jeff Wiederkehr, the brewery will be located in the northwest portion of El Cajon, joining that community’s sole beermaking entity, URBN St. Brewing Co. Maass was introduced to brewing on his first visit to Home Brew Mart the year it opened. Wiederkehr came to the science of fermentation in 2012, but his immersion has since been deep and constant. Shortly after falling in love with brewing, he and Maass had a life-changing conversation over beers at Small Bar that led them to try to be productive members of San Diego County’s proud brewing scene.

From the beginning, being an asset rather than a liability has been tops on their list of pro brewing ambitions. The duo say they realize the lofty reputation local brewers have built for the region and want to respect it by meeting established quality standards. They know it won’t be easy, but will be helped out in that area by director of brewing operations Chris Brown. He has spent the past five years working as a brewing consultant for Urban Construction Management Group and brewing at Iron Fist Brewing Co., Rough Draft Brewing Co. and Butcher’s Brewing Co., where he served as head brewer.

Brown and company cite a deep passion for San Diego’s highly-hopped pale ales and IPAs, and plan on brewing those along with various other beers that figure to benefit from the hoppy, flavorful influence of the local brewhouse terroir. The projected opening day line-up includes a hoppy IPA, Belgian-style abbey ale, imperial stout, coffee milk stout and either a Helles or Dortmunder lager. Those will be produced on a 15-barrel system matched with 30-barrel fermenters, but Burning Beard is also equipped with foudres and plans to establish a wild ale program.

The Burning Beard team expects the brewery to be open and serving beer come mid-December, but says that could happen as early as November. Once open, beers will be available in the tasting room (and available to-go via can-growlers) and kegged for off-site accounts, with some sours eventually making their way into 750-milliliter bottles. Burning Beard’s annual capacity will be 2,700 barrels per year, but if they sell half that much in Year One, they’ll count that as a big win.

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Bolt Brewery nearing open of Little Italy space

Aug 5

LittleItalyFrontWhen they opened La Mesa’s first brewery, the partners behind Bolt Brewery declared it “the hoppiest comeback ever.” Less than a year since going into business, they are just three-to-four weeks away from opening the doors to their second location, making for what qualifies as the fastest expansion ever…or at least in recent memory.

Located at 1971 India Street in downtown San Diego’s Little Italy community, Bolt’s satellite location is located in the 1,800-square-foot space Little Italy Side Viewformerly occupied by North End Lounge. The Bolt crew inherited a kitchen with the property, and will use it to provide visitors with food options. At first, that will be limited to a small menu of salads and pizzas. Those items will be washed down with 20 taps offering a line-up of Bolt beers similar to what’s available at the La Mesa brewery, plus a variety of guest beers and wines.

The space, which will be decorated to bring the laidback industrial vibe of the La Mesa space, is the handiwork of co-owner Tony Calafato, who spent the past seven months building the satellite location. Calafato spent much of his youth in Little Italy and wanted to go the extra mile to ensure the community got the best Bolt has to offer. He and his partners hope to help along the positive transformation the neighborhood has undergone over the past several years.

Once open, Bolt’s Little Italy space will be open Sunday through Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Seating will be available indoors at a long bar and high tables, or on an outdoor patio. All in all, the venue will seat roughly 100 patrons.

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