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Posts Tagged #SDBeer

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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Council & Toolbox team on spontaneous-fermentation beers

Jan 19

(left-to-right): Liz Chism, Ehren Schmidt and Jeffrey Crane during Council and Toolbox’s spontaneous beer collaboration in Kearny Mesa

Kearny Mesa’s Council Brewing Company and Vista’s Toolbox Brewing Company share an affinity for tart and wild ales. The brewing minds from these outfits have wanted to collaborate on such a beer for a long time, but found their schedules unaccommodating until a confluence of seemingly unfortunate developments provided ideal teaming conditions. First, a shipment of bottles Council had ordered was delayed, forcing them to push back the packaging date for one of their beers. Then, news came of a week-long stretch of cold, stormy weather. Council owners Liz and Curtis Chism contacted Toolbox head brewer Ehren Schmidt to see if he was free to brew on their would-be bottling day. He accepted and they were off to the races—all they needed was something to brew. Fittingly, this spontaneous collaboration yielded a spontaneous beer…a spontaneous fermenting beer, that is.

Yesterday, Schmidt, the Chisms and Council’s wild-yeast aficionado, Jeff Crane, brewed the wort for a beer that will ferment based solely on the airborne microorganisms occurring within their Kearny Mesa business park. Doing so loosely follows the age-old Belgian tradition of brewing Lambic beers. In Europe (and a small number of breweries in the U.S. such as Allagash Brewing Company, Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project and Jester King Brewery), this is done by allowing wort (unfermented beer) to cool in open, shallow metal vessels called coolships, which allow wild yeast full access to the wort. Unlike domesticated yeast used to produce the vast majority of the world’s ales and lagers, wild yeast and bacteria such as Brettanomyces, Saccharomyces and Pediococcus, are extremely unpredictable and bring forth a host of tart, dry, earthy, funky flavors and aromas. These are desired traits by connoisseurs of these beers, but they are challenging to produce and the Council-Toolbox crew has no idea how their finished-product will turn out. It’s as much about experimentation as anything else, and they look forward to learning from this batch as well as a second, identical batch that they will brew tomorrow at Toolbox’s brewery.

Since neither company has a coolship, they are utilizing large plastic bins. The wort racked into them incorporates under-modified Pilsner malt, flaked and unmalted wheat, as well as Crystal hops Toolbox has been aging at its facility for nearly three years. Those matured pellets are nearly brown in appearance and have a scent similar to that of ripe blue cheese. After transferring the wort to the bin, that receptacle was transported across the business park to the suite the Chisms refer to as their “Magic Factory”, where they house their oak foudres and barrels. That is where it will ferment and age for at least a year. That spot is home to a host of “bugs” that will have their way with this beer. During warmer times of the year, there are typically too many undesirable microorganisms in the air for this process, which often leads to spoiled beer, making the upcoming week of cooler weather favorable for this project.

Because of it will ferment in a different environment, the Toolbox-brewed version of this beer is bound to taste different. The team plans to check in on both beers at the six-month and one-year marks but figures it likely won’t be finished for at least 18 months. At that point, they will coordinate release events at their tasting rooms where they will sell bottles of the individual beers as well as a blend of both. Additionally, provided the beer meets their standards, they will hold some back and continue brewing this recipe on an annual basis so they can produce a Gueuze, a term used to describe a blend of one-, two- and three-year-old Lambics. It’s a grand undertaking made entirely possible by a delayed delivery and the biggest series of storms to hit San Diego since 2010.

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San Diego Brewing’s satellite open for business

Jan 18

The opening-day beer-board at San Diego Brewing Co.’s North Park tasting room (Photo Credit: Kristina Blake)

They were the last to go into H.G. Fenton’s three-suite Brewery Igniter campus, but San Diego Brewing Company (3052 El Cajon Boulevard, North Park) became the second tenant to open last week. The veteran business’ 2,500-square-foot tasting room is open seven days a week and accepting all comers. The beer flowing from its 15 taps is a mix of longtime staples such as Blueberry Wheat, Old Town Nut Brown and Google-search darling San Diego IPA, as well as newer creations like Pale In Drop D session ale and Black Orchid imperial chocolate milk stout.

Head brewer Jeff Drum opened with one entirely new beer on-tap, a Scottish Ale called 80 Shilling (named for its alcohol-content per historic Scottish practices). He has another beer in development which he plans on debuting at the new space, an IPA called Shadow Fall. In addition to all that ale, San Diego Brewing’s satellite also serves house-made root beer and a pair of kombuchas, one of which is pumpkin pie-flavored and served on nitro.

The North Park facility is equipped with a 10-barrel brewing system Drum uses to double-batch into 20-barrel fermentation and conditioning tanks. The tasting room is open to the public from 4 to 9 p.m., Monday through Thursday, 3 to 10 p.m. on Fridays, noon to 10 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 9 p.m. An official grand-opening event will take place from 5 to 9 p.m., Saturday, January 28 and feature brewery tours, a raffle and food from various mobile vendors. The space is kid- and dog-friendly with a large-screen TV to occupy the former…and their parents.

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New look, spirits & ciders for Belching Beaver

Jan 17

North County’s Belching Beaver Brewery has spent much of the past two years focused on a multi-pronged expansion that’s seen it open a headquarters and production facility in Oceanside, brewpub in Vista and tasting room in Ocean Beach. Now that those pieces are in place, the company is ready to shift its attention to a new slate of rather large undertakings.

The first of those initiatives is a brand refresh. The company will roll-out its new logo in March, but West Coaster has been granted a sneak-peek at it as well as packaging and advertisements the new design will grace. The new mark represents a paring down of the original beaver. Now his head carries the day surrounded by arched typography. Together, these elements provide a circular visual that should work for the brand from a utilitarian placement standpoint.

As far as packaging goes, 22- and 12-ounce bottles, plus the cardboard holders for the latter, give the beaver back a bit of body. Each beer-style features graphic elements pertaining to the liquid inside. The refresh is the work of Belching Beaver artist Tyler Soule. Owner Tom Vogel brought him on specifically for this job and told him to “have some fun”. It would appear he did just that.

Also having fun will be Peter Perrecone, the brewer in charge of Belching Beaver’s barrel-aged sour-beer program. Vogel says the company is adding fermentation capacity by installing a pair of 60-barrel oak foudres at its original brewery on Park Center Drive in Vista. If all goes as planned, Belching Beaver will release new sour ales on a monthly basis.

But that’s far from all. The company is also taking steps to get into both the spirits and cider business. Vogel has been pushing for the former for years, while the head of his brewpub, Thomas Peters, has wanted to experiment with the latter. The decision was made to explore both last year. Vogel expects the spirits to come on first, with vodka as its introductory product, followed by whiskey.

Liquor and cider production will take place at the original Vista brewery, which will be gutted and reconfigured. Much of this was motivated by Belching Beaver acquiring the space next-door to that venue. In addition to mechanical and storage upgrades, expect a redesigned, upgraded tasting room.

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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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