Enjoyed on 3/22/2011
Brewery: Alpine Beer Company
Location: Alpine, CA
Beer: Pure Hoppiness
Presentation: 22 oz. Brown Glass Bottle, Capped.
Style: American Style Double India Pale Ale
A West Coast Double IPA
So mega-hopped it will take you to hop heaven. We’ve used hops in the boil, more hops in the giant hopback, and added to that, an incredible amount of dry-hopping for that cutting-edge “hop bite.” Once you’ve tasted this unique beer, all others pale in comparison. 1.072 OG Classified IBU 8%ABV
Beer Advocate: A (4.33)
Rate Beer: 100 (3.94)
Jess & DSR got to go to San Diego Beer Week late last year. They wanted me to join them. A bb.com trip. I couldn’t swing it. I may forever regret it.
Yes, there will come a day. I will one day make it to America’s true hop haven. In the mean time, tonight, I (finally) enjoy my Christmas gift from the better 2/3 of your blotter. Can’t fucking wait!
Pure Hoppiness is pure gorgeousness in the glass. The color is a bright, polished bronze topped with an impressive, rocky head of pure white. The clarity is very strong but if you look closely you will see tiny little bits of hop, most likely from a generous dry-hopping after fermentation.
The crown begins proud and tall, then settles a bit around the edges. This provokes the “rocky” moniker, creating a plateau like mound of foam that sits like a dollop of whipped cream on top. After several minutes most of the bubbles have deflated and a very thin froth is all that remains on the surface. The sides of the glass…riddled with sticky lace. A constant reminder of what once was.
The carbonation appears strong to me, but considering that most PNW beers are horribly lacking in this area, maybe it’s average.
If I were to describe the appearance of my perfect IPA, this would be it to the t. Perfect score.
This beer definitely solicits a verbal “oh my god!” when brought to the nose. If one could see odor, like cartoon characters can (picture a ravenously hungry wolf following the scent trails of a baking pie right up to the window of a warm, forest cottage), this would be absolutely steaming with perfume. It’s dense and sappy. I feel like I’m wearing a hop flower as a mask. My cilia is crowded with lupulin. I could sneeze in a pilsner right now and it would instantly become an IPA.
The hops are well conceived and expertly blended. Pine and flowers may be said to dominate, but pretty much every standard hop scent is present. Admittedly, I’d be hard pressed to place tropical fruits amongst the cornucopia, but would you call that standard? I don’t think that I would. I digress. Pine, flowers, citrus, bitter rind…fantastic!
The malts are able to make their presence known with only the slightest bit of warming. They come across a bit nondescript, but they’re there. It’s mostly a sweetness that can’t conceivably come from the other 3 ingredients in beer. I must say that, after that initial inhale, I’m fully flabbergasted that there is any balance to this beer. Absolutely a perfect score.
This beer feels like it should feel across the tongue for a double IPA. It has density. The sugars are dissolved into solution and create a syrup without being too cloying or heavy. Perfect in viscosity.
The carbonation calms with time, like almost every beer, and there’s not many bubbles that could penetrate the massive body anyway, but I’d still prefer there to be more of an effort. I’d be happier with more prickle on my tongue when I swish it around a little in my mouth. Carbonation always enhances the experience.
The thing here is that, after everything that has preceded this section, it almost seems unfathomable that the flavor could compete. I can sadly say that it really doesn’t, but I feel ever so strongly about offering the disclaimer. This IPA may just have the best nose in the world. A well thought out usage of hopback and dry-hopping has the potential to do that. The flavor simply can’t compare.
BUT…if I approach it with an open mind, all IPAs created equal, it’s remarkably drinkable. The balance is sound and the bitterness is minimal. The hops taste earthy and highly floral, the malts taste pale with a soft caramel undertone.
Sweetness and bitterness seem to converge together in a moonlit dance. The mouthfeel, again, allows for it all to be experienced in upstanding class. We are living in a world of hop usage nobility right now and I feel under-dressed.
I feel that the lion’s share of the flavors burn brightest at the very end of the sip. I struggle to pinpoint the specifics of the hop and malt components as the fluid dances about my taste buds, but just moments after the swallow, a hearty smack of grapefruit strikes me. Then, just following, I get a mouthful of dry, grainy biscuit. At no other point in the journey does the word “dry” seem appropriate, save for the very end. Just in time for another quenching gulp.
Have you noticed that the opening track of almost every album that has been released over the past 10 years, if not for much longer before that, is one of the best songs on the album? It’s important from a marketing standpoint. You need to entice the listener immediately or they will move along. That’s the kind of world we live in. There is just so much out there that artists have to wow you early and often to stand out. far too often, what follows is a bunch of filler. One or two good singles and then a bunch of crap. Yet another digression. My disdain for overproduced pop music could easily lead me astray.
Let me be clear, this beer is absolutely not a one hit wonder, but it kind of reminds me of a good album that has a flawless opener and then…a bevy of solid songs that never quite live up to the standard that was set at the beginning. At first smell, this beer is hop heaven. The moment the beer enters the mouth, it pops with sappy hop burn. Then, it plods along as a good double IPA with impressive balance. Will I give this beer a bad score? Fuck no! It’s god damn excellent. But…it does pain me a little that it failed to sustain the early high. Ever so close to perfection. Perhaps they had to leave room for Exponential Hoppiness. Need!
Color/Head/Retention [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 1.00
Odor [maximum of 2.00 points possible]: 2.00
Carbonation/Mouthfeel [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 0.92
Hop Flavor [maximum of 3.00 points possible]: 2.61
Malt Flavor/Balance [maximum of 2.00 points possible]: 1.86
Finish/Aftertaste [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 0.96
Total [maximum of 10.00 points possible]: 9.35
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.
Week 35 of 52:
Type of Establishment:
Classic English pub, basking in soccer action. Focus of this place: really good local beer.
A Monday morning around 11:00 AM, on a hot summer day. This was our first stop on an epic 1-day cruise through San Diego’s beer scene. Luckily, I was stone sober and able to faithfully review the place.
BEERS ON TAP (at time of visit):
This is one of the greatest tap lists that I have ever seen. However, this is because they were sporting an unprecedented 8 beers from Alpine Beer Company – my favorite US brewer. The shock factor alone was hard to manage.
The tap list is online here. Its updated frequently and actually looks more attractive right now then when I was there (shocking!). Here is what was pouring during my visit:
Alpine Nelson Rye IPA
Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA
Alpine Duet IPA
Green Flash West Coast IPA
Coronado Idiot IPA
Bear Republic Tribute Brown
Alpine Good Barleywine
Port Brewing Mongo IPA
Alpine Red Card
Alpine Pure Hoppiness
Lagunitas Olde Gnarleywine
Alpine Ned Flanders Red Sour Ale
…..and a few others.
You know what – I did not do my homework. After being forced into a coma over the Alpine tap selection, I failed to get a glimpse of the bottle selection.
However, O’Brien’s knows how to run a beer bar. They have a full list of their bottles on their website, which you can view by visiting this link. Check out the offerings from Alesmith, Ballast Point (Sculpin!), Jolly Pumpkin, De Molen, and other amazing European brewers.
If you cannot find something on tap – you are unconscious. But, do not fret. The bottle list is out of this world.
Once again, O’Brien’s does not disappoint. From fried stuff to leafy stuff – O’Brien’s has something for you. Check out their amazing selection of soups, or their fish tacos.
We grabbed a special platter of amazing house sausage. If memory serves me, it was a collection of beer broiled bratwurst, amongst a bounty of cheeses. Really good way to start off your day of beer drinking.
O’Brien’s Pub is a pub – bar none. There are no two ways about it. They do two things: watch soccer and drink great beer.
O’Brien’s sports a dark and deep bar area. Nothing fancy, nothing dreary. The walls are covered in beer shwag and soccer garb. Soccer is played on the bar’s several screens, including a large projection screen for the big game. We visited during the World Cup; you could feel the fanfare thick in the air.
One of the most impressive elements of the O’Brien’s experience is their relationship with San Diego heavyweight, Alpine Beer Co. O’Briens plays host to several of Alpine’s beer releases and almost always pours 2 or 3 of their beers at any given time. In fact, Alpine brewed a collaboration ale for the bar to sell, in-house.
During our visit, the bar was on day 2 of a hefty Alpine taplist. We got to sample Alpine’s barleywine, flemish red and massive IPAs. Not one of these beers disappointed. Nothing stopped our hearts like Alpine’s Ned. A Flemish Red with a mouth puckering sourness, this beer had a dark, rich maltiness that perfectly matched its tart flavor. Champion of our day.
In addition to the Alpine taps, we saw great choices from other locals, Port Brewing, Green Flash Brewing and Coronado
Brewing. Each of these breweries produce a line of incredible West Coast IPAs. You can be sure to see a heavy percentage of IPAs on their tap list, at all times. Check out the current list by following this link.
Now that I have informed you that its nearly impossible to have just one beer, you probably want to know if they have something to soak up all that booze. Luckily for you, O’Briens has some damn good food.
If I can recommend something: get the sausage. I really don’t care which type, just buy some sausage. Its all delicious. O’Briens serves up hot links in the brewers plate, beer braised brats and some spicy italian hot sausage. The sandwich list is rather extensive and with nothing over $7.00 – how can you lose!? Remember, this is Southern California and nothing comes cheap.
O’Briens loves happy hour. Each night, they offer something different. Check out the list, but we suggest you make a Monday trip and take advantage of $10.00 craft pitchers! They also pour $3.50 (or cheaper) pints three days a week. I’m thinking Satuday from 12-4, might be your ticket to excellent visit.
This pub has the most impressive of events for San Diego Beer Week – believe us. Check out their offerings by following this link. Try not to miss Day of the Belgians on November 6, Alpine Brewers Night on November 8, or Attack of the Barrels on November 12.
We will get another shot at O’Briens during San Diego Beer Week. With little to dislike about this pub, I’m sure we will have a blast.
Well, I just so happen to be headed down to Southern California in 9 days (oh yeah!) and in my initial research of the scene, I stumbled upon some nice news that might be helpful for our California readers:
Did you know that San Diego Beer Week is doing a preview event June 10-13? Pretty awesome, I know.
San Diego Beer Week is a 10 day event that goes down from November 6-15, 2010. The event is widely regarded as one of the greatest beer celebrations across America. Like Seattle Beer Week, San Francisco Beer Week, and Philadelphia Beer Week (which begins this Friday, June 4!) the event not only celebrates the region’s brewers, but brewers across the country and globe.
Well, this year beer fans in San Diego decided that they could not wait until November and incorporated a 6 month San Diego Beer Week’Nd in to the schedule. Breweries like Ballast Point Brewing and pubs like Hamilton’s Tavern have already announced events spanning the whole weekend.
The events page is actually frighteningly empty at the current time. But, we would expect to see others like Lost Abbey, Stone Brewing, San Diego Brewing, Green Flash Brewing and Alesmith Brewing announce similar events.
***DONT MISS: PHILLY BEER WEEK STARTS THIS WEEK***
We would be remiss to not mention that Philadelphia’s Beer Week begins this weekend.
The Philly Beer Week events page says that there are 1000 events at 195 venues. Thats intimidating. I hope that you East Coast beer lovers make it out to some of these events and report back.
One really cool feature for Philly Beer Week – they have an iPhone Application to follow the events. Download it here.
One recommended beer event? Zythos America on June 13, 2010. Wow, this is an abbreviated version of the epic Belgian Beer Fest that goes down every March. If you are in Philly, do not miss this chance to meet over a dozen of Belgium’s finest brewers.
Fresh off a trip to Washington DC, a month back from Tampa, FL and just two months back from our epic adventure to Belgium – Beer Blotter hits the road once again.
To celebrate the birthday of one of our writers, we are headed down the coast to Southern California to visit Orange County and San Diego County.
Now, we have enjoyed beer for quite some time. But, we have yet to experience beer the So Cal way! So we are very excited about this new trip down south, inevitably to sample some of the world’s greatest hoppy ales!
We are looking for some pointers on “not to miss” venues for our trip. Of course, we are expected to try and jam a lot into our 3 day trip. For starters:
Port Brewing/Lost Abbey Brewery – San Marcos, CA
Alesmith Brewing – San Diego, CA
Ballast Point Brewing – San Diego, CA
Hamilton’s Tavern – San Diego, CA (excited for their wings!)
Oggi’s/Left Coast – Huntington Beach, CA (i’m a sucker for Hop Juice)
Here are a few of the issues presented, please try and solve, if you can:
- I cannot find the time to make it out to Alpine Beer Company. While this stabs me in the heart, because they make the best IPAs on earth, Im wondering if anyone has a clue on where to go to get their beer on tap? I am thinking Hamilton’s is a good start?
- I will be staying on Orange County – but I am not finding too much other than brewpubs (Oggis, Karl Strauss, etc.) Does anyone know of any bar that should be visited in the Costa Mesa, Newport, Huntington area?
- We have a limited time, so I need to bunch places together. If you know of a nice cluster, let us know. This was the idea behind Ballast Point and Alesmith – who are right across from each other.
- Anyone have a nice bottle shop in Orange County to share?
That’s it. Of course, we really appreciate all the help! Please leave your comments below, or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
So……Friday is the day where we will be introducing the Taplist – an adventure into America’s top tap lists. Beer Blotter did a survey (no we didnt), and we tallied the votes (certainly did not) and we decided in unanimity (eh…maybe) that there are 8 epic beer cities in the U.S. of A.
Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Seattle, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, and Denver won out. Thus, they will be routinely displayed here every Friday (morning from now on) so that you know where to go to get a beer in your city, your vacation spot, the place where work stuck you with that guy, the place you got stuck on a layover, the place your in-laws live and you tentatively visit, and/or the place you bought that stuff from that dude that knew that chick.
We will try to get to all 8 cities each week…but this week we only get to 6.
And now for the list……
- The Map Room – Updated 12/11/09 – Founder’s Red Rye Ale is up and seriously lacking a response in the beer community. The reviews are spicy with a great caramel balance. Worth a look. Also, appearing are Cleveland’s Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald, Montreal’s McAuslan St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout (99 on RateBeer), Sierra Nevada/Dogfish Life & Limb (10.2% with maple syrup and birch) – best for last Three Floyds Alpha Klaus (beer of the month = $4)
- The Publican – Get the pig ears. order beer. Green’s Quest is brewed at Mikkeller’s De Proef Brouwerij (8.5% tripel); the list has Port Brewing’s Panzer Imperial Pilz and Older Viscosity (taste like hot pretzels – 2nd at Big Wood); you might want to save your cash and get a Matilda from Goose Island, a beer full of funky yet citrusy belgian flavor while adding a smooth but strong hoppy note.
- The Hopleaf – Updated 12/11/09 – they win for today’s list. The list includes localites Tyranena Rocky’s Revenge (Barrel Aged Brown), Bell’s Two Hearted Ale (quintessential IPA), Two Brothers Heavy Handed IPA (wet hop!), Metropolitan Generator Dopplebock (who makes these? – 8.2% is just right), Half Acre Magnus Schwartz and Point Brewing Cascade Pale Ale. But the show stoppers here are (a) Stone/Brewdog Bashah (8.6%, get this – Black. Belgian. Double IPA – i love these guys) and (b) Goose Island Pere Jacques (9% – banana monster that will turn you upside down)
- Ginger Man – Weyerbacher Quad. enough said. This went up today. Also going up are Abita Christmas Ale (New Orleans favorite), and Smuttynose Big A IPA; but the king has to be Harpoon’s Leviathan Imperial IPA – we sampled this down in New Orleans and were floored. This is an extremely well bittered IPA with perfect smooth sugars. The beer is comparable to Ruination.
- Rattle N Hum – Updated 12/9/09 – Woo. Wow. 40 taps and 4 Dark Star (England) Casks. This list is incredible – we will just rattle them off: Allagash Burnham Road, Smuttynose Finest Kind Kind (2x IPA – no ratings – rare as hell), Captain Lawrence Freshchester Pale, Dogfish Head Burton Baton (2x IPA), Stone Sublimely Self Righteous, Southern Tier Old Man Winter, Brooklyn Back Breaker, and Sixpoint Otis – – but the champs are here Brooklyn Monster ’07 and Cigar City Hunaphu (got to love the NY and FL connection – thank NYC shitty taxes and FL no taxes) . Hunu is a RateBeer Top 50, aged in cigar box wood and severely limited in production. Get it now.
- Monk’s Cafe – East Coasters – they still have Port Brewing High Tide – go get it. Its your last amazing taste of fresh hops for the season. You want a Belgian – get the Nogne O Tiger Trippel.
- Eulogy – Austria’s favorite is Samichlaus (14%) Dopplebock, aged for 10 months and ready for the Holidays. Very rare on tap. The Belgians here are the fare; there are plenty you will like.
- Toronado – Updated 12/11/09 – Unlike the SF version, these guys maintain an ever changing tap list online. Holiday beers on parade. Today you can grab a Lost Abbey Gift of the Magi. This beer is biblical in theme and in effect. An incredible Biere De Garde that has been reviewed as having “hints of egg nog” – really? They also have Mikkeller’ Santa’s Little Helper 2009, Oggi’s- Freakin’ Awsome (SD brewer with some amazing IPAs), Port Brewing Santa’s Little Helper, and Santa Cruz Mountain’s Ginger’s Winter Warmer
- Stone Bistro – Stone Brewing’s own brewpub/bistro has probably the most consistently-impressive tap list in the city. Right now you can grab any of Stone’s brews, including Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale, as well as Avery duganA (one of the more impressive new 2x IPAs), a winter ale offering from Bootleggers of Fullerton, CA, and Mission Brewing’s Armada Imperial IPA (collaboration with San Diego Brewing @ 9.2%). We would love to try and get our hands on that Mission offering.
- Toronado – These guys do not keep an updated taplist. But, they do have a pleasant surprise for you – Speakeasy is holding an Old Godfather Release Party today at this pub. This beer is a tasty caramel barleywine (10.2%). But the versions on tap today will be Barrel-Aged and extra special.
- The Trappist – OK OK we know its in Oakland, but this bar is incredible. They are hold KerstBier Festival right now, with some amazing Belgians. De Struise Tsjeeses (10%), Mikkeller To From, and Brouwerij De Regenboog‘s Catherine the Great Stout.
- Latona – UPDATED 12/12/09 – They just put up their new tap list. Big Time Malaprop 8 is very intriguing. This abbey style ale (7.2%) has excellent reviews and an interesting spiced malt. Check this beer out.
- Naked City Taphouse – UPDATED all the time. Naked City’s use of Twitter has been an excellent tool for beer lovers. Now you can be sure to know what is running on their taps at all time. Its a must follow. Right now they are pouring Speakeasy Brewer’s Reserve Old Godfather, Snipes Diminished Returns Double IPA and Diamond Knot Industrial Ho Ho. We were especially impressed with Snipes’ 2x IPA. The beer is not too bitter, very floral and extremely smooth, while maintaining a high alcohol content (9%). Snipes has been getting a lot of attention for hoppy beers over the past year. Take a trip to Greenwood people!
- Brouwer’s Cafe – UPDATED 12/11/09 – Brouwers put some good beers on last night, notifying us via Twitter.
Let us know if we are missing something. Next week expect to see a post about all 8 cities!