From the Beer Writer: You know that feeling when you arrive at a bar or a friend’s house and, before you can even say a word, you’re handed a beverage that you hastily take a sip of and instantly find yourself completely blown away by? Of course you do. It’s one of those magic moments beer-lovers live for: the exciting discovery of something brand new and exquisite. That happened to me last weekend at Dos Desperados Brewery. I arrived at that San Marcos establishment to help staff one of my Beer to the Rescue fundraising events and was greeted by a full pour of a lovely golden beer with a fluffy white head, Dos Desperados Nelson Lager. Happy to be there and off State Route 78, I dove right in…and fell in love. It was the perfect beer for the sunny day I was in the midst of—light in body yet big on hop and lager-yeast character in the nose and on the palate. The limestone and floral notes from the yeast dovetailed beautifully with vinous flavors from the Nelson Sauvin making up the beer’s entire hop-bill. It was simple yet special, so much that I could have spent hours drinking pint after pint, something that wouldn’t have been too tough given the beer’s 4.9% alcohol-by-volume stat. The recipe for this all-day pleaser (which, as good as it was, is only in its R&D phase) was developed with fellow San Marcos operation, Prodigy Brewing Company, with assistance from a noted lager expert at Mission Valley’s Gordon Biersch brewpub. I’m glad to report it will be on-tap and helping Beer to the Rescue tomorrow, and soon become a staple in Dos Desperados’ year-round portfolio.
From the Brewer: “Our Nelson Lager is a Prodigy Brewing, Gordon Biersch and Dos Desperados Brewery collaboration for Beer to the Rescue that benefits the Lupus Foundation of Southern California. A special thanks goes out to Dean Rouleau and Doug Hasker for this Czech-style lager with rich, crisp maltiness and freshly crushed gooseberry flavor—think Sauvignon Blanc grapes from New Zealand, which come care of the Nelson Sauvin hops we used.”—Steve Munson, Owner & Brewmaster, Dos Desperados Brewery
In less than two years, The Cork and Craft has established itself as one of inland North County’s best restaurants. The food and ambience are enough that it would be a draw even without its onsite winery and brewery. Those amenities—particularly Abnormal Beer Company—are tremendous value-addeds, particularly when their wares are incorporated into special pairing dinners featuring guest chefs, vintners and breweries.
C&C opened with adventurous chef Phillip Esteban at the helm. He made such a name for himself, both in RB and at the many offsite events he participated in—that he was hired away by powerhouse bar-and-restaurant entity Consortium Holdings to serve as its culinary research-and-development mastermind. His departure left big clogs to fill at C&C, but current executive chef Scott Cannon has been on the job for three months and is turning out solid cuisine that might even be better suited for the tastes of RB denizens.
Dishes remain intelligent, but are a bit easier for the average diner to get their head around. They’re less fussy but just as flavorful. And in some cases, even more flavorful. A prime example is a seemingly simple salad of raw and grilled endive. It’s the only first-course greenery I’ve felt deserving of must-try status, but it’s perfection on a plate. Spiced pecans bring in a gingerbread-like flavor segueing beautifully with the sweetness of cider-like vanilla-poached pears complement and Moody Blue goat cheese contrasts. On the opposite end of the spectrum is a breakfast-for-dinner starter, seared foie gras over French toast with a fried quail egg and nasturtium. The toast is golden and not the least bit soggy while the edible flowers serve a purpose by lending a touch of balancing bitterness.
A Colorado lamb entrée features nicely cooked chops, but the star of the plate are tender agnolotti stuffed with tender braised shoulder-meat. It’s an edible education in what al dente pasta should feel like. Other dishes like a Hamachi crudo appetizer served with a shishito pepper relish as well as scallops with meaty king trumpet mushrooms (and, oddly, more shishito peppers) lack the wow-factor of the previously mentioned recipes in Cannon’s current canon, but they’re in keeping with fare offered at C&C from day one.
Back on the beer-front, Abnormal is set to release its first two canned beers at a release-party this Saturday, March 18 starting at 11 a.m. at C&C. Both of those aluminum-clad brews are hazy (AKA: New England-style or Vermont-style) India pale ales. The first is New Money IPA, a juicy, 7% alcohol-by-volume (ABV) offering massively dry-hopped with Amarillo and Simcoe, followed by its industrial-strength cousin, Turbidity, an 8.5% ABV double IPA brewed with Mosaic and Idaho 7, that pours thicker than the average hop-bomb. Both beers will be sold in four-packs and dishes from the restaurant’s bar-menu will be available.
From the Beer Writer: If you ask the team at Booze Brothers Brewing Company what their most popular beer is, the clear-cut front-runner is their Ol’ Grandaddy’s double IPA. Given its popularity, one might wonder why the family-forged Vista interest would sink time into developing another India pale ale, and a single at that. But one whiff of citrusy new addition, Buena Vista IPA, brilliantly communicates its raison d’être. Big tangerine aromas—the product of generous dry-hopping with New World hops—bombard one’s olfactory senses. That’s followed by matching citrusiness on the taste-buds plus a touch of pineapple-like tang that’s in no way impeded by overbearing bitterness or belligerent booze (the beer registers 6.8% alcohol-by-volume). Brand new and pouring super-fresh at present, it’s a welcomed addition to the Brothers’ portfolio that will be packaged in the near future.
From the Brewer: “To those who know us over at Booze Brothers, they know that we like to drink beer. We don’t sip and taste, then spit out our beer. We sit at the bar with our friends, co-workers and customers, and drink pints. But once in awhile, we feel like drinking something different than our typical line-up. Buena Vista is one of those brews, a strongly aromatic IPA with loads of tropical, citrus, pear and pine, exactly what we felt like drinking. We named it Buena Vista, which means ‘good view’, not only because it’s a beautiful beer to look at, but also after the beautiful city we call home…Vista, California. Buena Vista IPA has a low-medium body, and is lightly golden in color, with a grain-bill built specifically to allow the hops to shine. We dry-hop each batch with a generous amount of Eureka, Citra and El Dorado hops. In fact, it is our hoppiest beer to-date.”—Donny Firth, Co-owner & Brewmaster, Booze Brothers Brewing 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
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.
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