Written by Jess R.
Week 41 of 52- still behind
3416 Adams Ave.
San Diego, CA 92116
Type of Establishment: Ultimate Beer Bar, First stop of many during San Diego Beer Week
Visit: A whirlwind trip from Seattle to San Diego, we have been anticipating this trip for months. San Diego Beer Week was nearing its end, and we were there as it went out with a bang.
Saturday morning: With the sun shining, we arrived at Blind Lady 15 minutes before it opened at 11:30AM in the highest of spirits. What awaited us?
Beers on Tap (at time of visit):
Flights of New Belgium beers including,
Biere de Mars
Alpine Brewing Co. beers,
Bad Boy Double IPA
and Green Flash Beers such as,
’09 Grand Cru
Firestone Walker Union Jack Double Jack
There are so many that I am missing. All were top-notch beers. This list was to die for.
Couldn’t get past the tap-list.
Since we were on a time crunch with so many places to visit and so many beers to drink, we did indeed skip the delicious looking menu options. The main fare is pizza with mainly fresh, local, organic ingredients. With ingredients from local markets to near by farmers, the Blind Lady Alehouse cares about the quality of their food and the community they serve.
As I mentioned, we were anxiously waiting outside The Blind Lady Ale House, peering in the sun-reflected windows. As we waited we read the poster displaying all of the San Diego Beer Week events that had taken place inside these very walls. Mind-blowing stuff. We could only hope that remnants of these events were still on tap.
11:30AM on the dot and we walk in the front door. The space is open with sunlight streaming in, illuminating the wooden picnic tables. Third in line, I gaze up at the chalk board, enamored with the selection. As the guy in front of us took his sweet ass time, I looked around. A wall of old bottles and cans behind a glass casing, exposed brick walls and a ceiling displaying piping and shafts. I am loving the raw look of this place.
Our turn? Sweet! The wonderful and accommodating bartender was nice enough to let us mix up a flight with some Alpine beers and Green Flash beers. Of the Alpine beers we had Nelson Rye IPA, Duet IPA (made with Simcoe and Amarillo hops), Bad Boy Double IPA and Captain Stout.
My personal favorite of these brews was the Nelson IPA which is brewed with Nelson Sauvin hops. This beer is very light in color but upon first sip, the taste is powerful with a profile of citrus, pine and some funk. The hoppiness is balanced by this slight tartness. Even at the brewery, Nelson stole my heart.
This moment was the moment I fell in love with Green Flash Brewing Co. Of course prior to this trip I appreciated their beers, but not like this. The last two of the flight were Green Flash’s Silva Stout and Grand Mantis. Later on this trip, a bottle of Silva Stout was procured and safely returned to Seattle via cargo.
Silva Stout smells like the sweetest milk chocolate but the taste lends to more bitterness. This beer is well-rounded and the word “calm” came to mind. Perhaps its because when you drink this delicious, thick stout, all of your worries just melt away as the sting of liquor sends the flavors down your throat.
Grand Mantis is a Merlot barrel aged Grand Cru. After reading the description, I had to get this beer. There is a tartness of cranberries with a date or fig-like flavor to follow. A complex beer is an understatement.
Also, a side note, the Blind Lady cares about beer, like really, deeply, truly cares. They use the 20oz honest pint and the Direct Draw System. From their blog:
Our Direct Draw System. Direct-draw is a term used to describe a draft system that places the kegs in direct contact to the faucets so they kegs are cooled by the same refrigeration source that cools the beer-line and the faucets. This means that the beer-line is not very long, and that the beer arriving in your glass has only recently left the keg.
We only had time for a flight and a Firestone Walker Double Jack – so good, so fresh. But during our experience, we drank amazing beer, chatted up the bartender who explained why she moved to San Diego and why she loves the area. We even came to own some free swag ( lovin’ the free stuff).
I parted The Blind Lady Ale House with hopes of another visit and with the intention to find a better beer bar in San Diego.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Brouwer’s is the best beer bar that I have ever been to in America, and believe me, I’ve been to quite a few good ones. There is a lot of reasons for my confidence in that stance, but one of the larger ones is the fests that they host. Yes, there is a decent number of bars in the country that host barleywine fests, and probably even more that organize IPA fests. It seems pretty doubtful that there would be many that put on sour beer festivals or stout festivals, but I’m sure there are a hand full out there. But, the question is, how many bars in America do all of those, and do them so well that beer nerds like myself take off of work to attend them? I’d say that the answer is probably very, very few. I love pretty much everything about Brouwer’s and HopFest is surely no exception.
So you know that I love Brouwer’s, you know that I love HopFest, you know that I will be there at the moment the doors open, and you know that I will imbibe many an IBU packed brew, but one more question need be answered: what will I be drinking? That’s where the guide comes in.
First, check out the full list that we posted on the 1st. After much consideration, I have developed a game plan. Granted, there is going to be a few additions and most likely, a few exciting surprises come Friday. If these surprises include Russian River Pliny the Younger or Firestone Walker Double Jack, you are going to want to forget the entire remainder of this article and just drink those until the kegs kick.
Top 10 beers to try:
10.) Russian River Blind Pig – I hear more and more people say “Pliny isn’t even their best IPA” in reference to Blind Pig. I personally don’t agree, but everything that Russian River makes is good…damn good. Blind Pig shows up in Seattle from time to time but I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a decent contingent of folks out there that haven’t gotten a hold of it yet. Here is your chance.
9.) Black Raven Dry Hopped Trickster – My boss at Lazy Boy always gives me shit for my blog claiming that Black Raven is the best brewery in WA. I’m sure he will also give me shit for not putting our Imperial IPA on this list (sorry boss, I feel a little weird self promoting. It is a damn good beer though.) Well, we stand by our claim about BRB. The people spoke over at The Bev when they voted it in as the house IPA. This brew is super solid in it’s regular form, I can only guess that the dry hopped version will be even better. If you have cheated and looked down at number 1 already, you have seen another reason why we are confident in our claim.
8.) Elysian Idiot Sauvin – I honestly don’t know what this beer is. That is precisely why I want to try it. Elysian and experimentation go hand in hand, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this one had some peculiar adjuncts added. No matter what, Elysian makes great beer and this will likely be worth your money.
7.) Midnight Sun XXX Black Double – When Cascadian Dark Ales, or CDAs took over the craft beer world a little while back, we all knew that it was just a matter of time before the Imperial black IPAs would show up. Well here it is, and I must say, I’m intrigued. I’m even more intrigued knowing that Midnight Sun is behind it.
6.) Boundary Bay Imperial – There are two Imperial IPAs produced in WA that are head and shoulders above all the rest. This is one of them. This is a beer that, if it were distributed with greater reach, would bring some much needed respect to Washington state in the beer war for state supremacy. This is one of the very few beers that, if I hear that it is on tap somewhere close by, I will do all in my power to make it there immediately to get a pint.
5.)Hub Ace of Spades – I have only had this beer once before and it was at last year’s HopFest. I can’t believe that that was a year ago, I remember it so well. It was probably my favorite “new” beer (new to me) of the event. As it turns out, it was voted the second best beer of the fest behind Pliny the Younger. Now that Hub is distributing bottles in WA it may be easier to acquire this one, but I will still be ordering one and bathing in it’s brilliance.
4.) Mikkeller Single Hop – This is actually three beers in one (Cascade, Centennial, and Chinook), sorry to cheat. You probably don’t have to try all three, but it sure would make a fun experiment. I absolutely love the concept of single hop beers and I love Mikkeller for making this series happen. As a fledgling brewer I feel that spending time with these brews will help me gain a better understanding and appreciation for various hop varietals and their impact on scent and flavor. You can sometimes find these brews in 12oz bottles around town , but they are often over $6 a piece. I don’t think I have ever seen them on draft – this is pretty special and definitely a good opportunity to taste them for, potential, a little bit less dough.
3.) Moylans Wet Hopsickle – Hopsickle is a triple IPA and it’s huge. When you add the word “wet” before it, it means that fresh hops were used. I’m getting emotional just thinking about the potential that this beer has to be mind-blowing. God damn, I can’t believe it’s fresh hop season already! Yet another reason why living in the Northwest is spectacular.
2.) Green Flash Palate Wrecker – Green Flash is masterful when it comes to hops. Their West Coast IPA and Imperial IPA are both among the best made in America. Like the Elysian above, I don’t really know what this beer is, but I know I need to have it.
1.) Black Raven Wisdom Seeker – This beer walks around town with a hype attached to it that is so massive and heavy that I’m amazed it can even stand on it’s own two feet, but boy does it ever. When this beer hits a handle in the Seattle area, there is an instant buzz, and 20 minutes later (or less) she is out the door…gone…kicked. Black Raven has clearly taken cues from other perennial buzz junkies (like Pliny the Younger) in seemingly stunting production and causing such a skewed supply and demand curve that on the rare occasion that is it available, people freak out to get a taste. It would be silly of me to suggest that anything different will happen at HopFest. This should go very fast so get there early and order 2 at once.