Gose – American: Westbrook Gose

This week, a beer that nearly went extinct. Tracing it’s roots back to Germany, we have Westbrook Gose. A salty beer with Coriander seeds added, designed to drink during the summer. We’ve never had a Gose on here before, so I thought it would be rude not to! (Gose is apparently pronounced Gose-uh, the more you know!) It’s currently seen a revival with American Breweries producing it and German breweries and pubs producing and selling it again.

Let’s start with Westbrook’s description of the brew:

This is our interpretation of Gose (pronounced “Gose-uh”), a traditional German-style sour wheat beer brewed with coriander and salt. Once nearly extinct, this very refreshing style is making a comeback.

I like this description, it’s to the point, has a little bit of information about the style and lets you take it from there. I like how this beer is making a comeback, because to be honest there’s nothing quite like it. Sure, you have Berliner Weiss that is similar but, this one is salty and slightly citrusy and I’ve introduced it to people that wouldn’t usually be into beer. The type of people that put half the pot of salt on their chips and citrus freaks. Usually they’ve absolutely loved it.

Let’s get on to the recipe, the malts are 2-Row, Sauermalz and Malted Wheat. This is inoculated with Lactobacillus and left for three days. After this, the small amount of CTZ hops are added along with Sea Salt and Coriander during the boil and Fermentation. It seems like a simple recipe, but it’s not! The Sour Mash method is notoriously difficult. It’s definitely an interesting one to try, though.

When you pour this beer, it’s a pale straw colour with a big, fizzy white head. Eventually this dissipates and leaves no lacing and no trace of the head. It looks a bit like Apple Fanta but paler. On the nose there’s Tart Citrus, a touch of Coriander and Wheat. On the palate, it’s so complex for a sour, first is the extremely Tart Citrus, then it moves on to a Salty Flavour with a Wheat Backbone but after this, surprisingly it goes sweet with flavours reminiscent of Apple Cider. What a great brew! It’s Medium to Thin Bodied, but by no means watery. It finishes Sweet and Sour, which is very refreshing and perfect for Hot and Humid weather.

You can purchase Westbrook Gose from Brewdog’s Online Shop at the moment! Their lines are always changing, so grab one whilst you can!

EST. CALORIES: 120   ABV: 4%

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Anniversary Post! Double IPA – Firestone Walker Double Jack

Just to start this post off, it’s our 1st Birthday today! The response we’ve got from this blog over the last year has been incredible. We’ve got to try some amazing beers, go to some amazing events and meet some great people! Thanks for coming along for the ride, it doesn’t stop here so thanks for your support and lets carry on spreading the word of good beer! Speaking of beer…

(PS. Apologies for the cheesy edit, I couldn’t resist)

What better way to celebrate a First Birthday than a Triple Dry Hopped, Double IPA from Firestone Walker?! This week’s beer is Double Jack, and if you’re living in the UK there’s going to be a link at the end on where to buy this beer! It also arrived very fresh, I’m not sure how it happened but the fact is I can have a beer I’ve admired for a long time without going all the way to California and smuggling back a few bottles!

Let’s start with Firestone Walker‘s description of the brew:

A dangerously drinkable Double IPA.  Double Jack opens up with bright grapefruit and tangerine American hop aromas. Beautifully crafted undertones of stone fruit are revealed upon first sip, followed by the essence of blue basil and pine. A sturdy pale and crystal malt backbone brings balance to high hop intensity. Complex and aggressively hopped, and flawlessly balanced.

A to the point description with this one, almost like a wine description with the amount of flavours suggested in the brew! However, Firestone Walker are from the Wine region of California so it’s understandable.

Let’s get on to the recipe, as this is a Double IPA lets start with the Hops. In this one, the bittering Hops are Warrior and Columbus, the late Hops Cascade and Centennial. After this is the crazy Triple Dry Hopping with Amarillo, Cascade, Centennial and Simcoe for 3 days. As for the Malts, from the recipe it seems to pack a good Malt bill with 2-Row, Munich and Light Crystal. It’s fermented with a pretty Standard California Yeast.

This beer pours a lovely Golden colour with a Medium White head with great retention. Rings of lacing line the glass as you drink, making for a really attractive looking brew! On the nose there’s lots of Grapefruit, Orange, Pine, Caramel and that signature Firestone Walker Vanilla. On the Palate you’ve got a big initial hit of Tangerine, Mango, Citrus and bitter resinous Pine. This is all backed up by a fantastic Chewy Caramel backbone throughout which really carries the beer and makes it insanely drinkable for a 9.5% brew! This beer is very well bodied with medium carbonation and finishes quite dry.

This is one of my favourite beers, it’s been really hard not to fanboy during this one! As promised, you UK Visitors can grab this beer from: Bier Deluxe and grab a few other hard to get beers there too!

Now we’re off to Celebrate our First Birthday in style!

EST. CALORIES: 285   ABV: 9.5%

Triple IPA – English: Beavertown, American: Boneyard Brewery Power Of The Voodoo

This Friday’s beer is claimed to be the UK’s First Triple IPA, which means Triple the hops and Triple the Malt making a beast of a beer. It’s a Collaboration between Tottenham, London’s Beavertown and Bend, Oregon’s Boneyard Brewery. It’s always tricky to make one because the Malt bill cannot be too heavy to create a smooth mouthfeel but generally Triple IPA’s are 10% ABV and over.

I first met Tony, Clay and Melodee, the trio behind the awesome Boneyard Brewing from Bend, Oregon in 2014 at the Brewers dinner after Mikkeller’s CBC. We sat next to each other after an amazing two days of serving our beers in Copenhagen. By this point we had hit some amazing wine and laughed and talked a lot about life and beer. A friendship was formed and good times planned! Roll on 11 months and Tony the Boneyard brewmaster was coming to the UK on his way into Europe. “Let’s brew!?!” Oh yes!! So I asked Tony if he had any dreams of what to brew. Tony said “I like hops!” Well, so do we! Tony and I got chewing over the malts and hops…a lot of hops!!! And how we attain a kick ass, smooth, dry, sessionable 10% triple IPA?!? Easy right! DIPA and TIPA are really tough brews to nail. To create that ultimate high ABV monster that drinks with easy and finesse is a true art form. Take Vinnie’s ’Pliny’s’ and Tony’s ’Notorious TIPA’ as examples. Such well considered and brilliantly executed beers. So it’s our pleasure to give you ’Power of the Voodoo’ Triple IPA. As Tony explained about Boneyard’s Notorious TIPA “Wherever that beer goes, it takes names!” We feel that at 10% ABV, ’Voodoo’ is up there and taking them too. Watch out, Voodoo’s about!

Quite a long description, but it’s got a story in which I’m always fond of. No hints at how it should taste, which is good, with a Triple IPA so many people taste so many different things. I like how they’ve listed Pliny the Younger and Notorious March of the Pigs as influences which are both very well renowned Triple IPA’s. I’m excited for this one, so let’s move on!

As this is a Triple IPA, let’s start with the Hops! Judging by the flavours and influences stated in the description, I think the Hops in this one are Columbus, Simcoe, Centennial, Zeus, Amarillo and Cascade. There’s also a lot of Dry-Hopping with most of the Hops used, just to get as much Hop flavour in there as possible. As for the Malts, I think Carapils, 2-Row, Vienna, a small amount of Vienna and a small amount of Caramalt are used. This is then fermented with a very clean yeast that can stand up to the eventual high alcohol percentage.

When you pour this beer, it pours a Caramel colour with a Medium white head. The retention is quite good, but it eventually fades and ends up as a Thin head on the beer for the rest of the time you’re drinking. On the nose, there’s Grapefruit, Passionfruit, Citrus, Pine, Pineapple and Orange. Underneath this there’s some Biscuity and Vanilla notes to break up the Hop bomb on the senses. When you taste this beer, you get a big initial hit of Passionfruit and Grapefruit, then there’s a wave of Orange and Pineapple followed by the Pine and Resinous Hop flavours. Again, the Vanilla/Biscuit backbone carries through while drinking. The Mouthfeel is surprisingly Crisp and Smooth with good Carbonation. It finishes quite dry with an extremely subtle Alcohol kick. This is such a dangerous brew at 10%, but still so sessionable! But I really do recommend trying this, it’s one of the best I’ve had so far this year!

You can buy Power Of The Voodoo at the Brewery, Mother Kelly‘s in Bethnal Green and various shops and bars around London. Get it before it’s gone! If you don’t live in the UK, try to get your friends to send you this. It’s a must try.

EST. CALORIES: 300   ABV: 10%

Barrel Aged Sour Brown Ale – American: Russian River Supplication

The beer for this slightly later posted article this Wednesday is quite special. Supplication by Russian River. I’ve always heard that Sours from Russian River are always Saught after, and Moe from Craft Beer Kings/Plaza Market in El Monte, California was kind enough to hook me up with some Supplication!

Let’ start with Russian River’s description of the brew:

Brown Ale aged in used Pinot Noir barrels from local Sonoma County wineries. It is aged for about 12 months with sour cherries, brettanomyces, lactobacillus, and pediococcus added to each barrel. Flavors from the cherries, Pinot Noir and oak balance each other nicely with a little funk from the brett.

Already this sounds like a very interesting beer, I like the brief description of the flavour. A beer like this should never have a detailed description of how it should taste. I’m liking how local barrels are used from the prolific California Wine scene and as soon as I saw this I was interested. I’m a huge fan of Red Wine and Cherries, and wondered how it would work in a Sour.

The recipe for this one was semi-easy to find out. I had the honour of talking to Vinnie Cilurzo (The Head Brewer and Owner) when I asked him what temperature to drink this one at. After telling me, we were conversing about the recipe for a little while which I really appreciated. The Malts in this one are 2-Row, Vienna, Crystal 40L and Carafa III Malts. I think there’s possibly a little bit of Wheat because the head on this one is crazy, more on that soon! As for the Hops, this is a Sour Brown Ale so they aren’t that prominent. I think Saaz and Hallertau are used. This is then aged in Oak Pinot Noir barrels and Sour Cherries are added to it with Brettanomyces Yeast for 12 Months. After this, it’s re-fermented in the bottle with Belgian Yeast.

This beer pours an Amber/Ruby colour with impressive carbonation and big head! The head doesn’t really recede as you drink, until you’ve nearly finished the bottle and leaves foamy lacing on the sides of the glass. It has one of the best head retentions I’ve seen in a while. On the nose there’s Tart Cherry, a touch of Wine notes, Oaky Tannins with some Belgian style funky notes and a touch of Bretty sourness. When you taste this beer, it truely is complex, up front there’s Pinot Noir and Tart Cherry notes with a big, bready and Oaky backbone. You really can taste the Oak Barrels in this beer in the backbone, which was a huge surprise. There’s also some sweeter Cherry notes in the background, some Belgian funk and a little bit of Nutty undertone towards the finish creating a salty feel. The beer is very well bodied for a Sour and very well carbonated. It finishes dry.

If you can get your hands on this, trading, going to California or asking a friend there to get you one I really recommend it! I’ve posted this article today as Russian River have just released a new batch of Supplication! If you’re visiting in the very near future or you have friends there, I definitely recommend getting a bottle of this.

EST. CALORIES: 210   ABV: 7%

IPA – American: Lumberyard Flagstaff IPA

This week’s mid-week beer is one I got in America during my visit to Lumberyard Brewery in Arizona. I really enjoyed my visit to the brewery and decided to grab their 4 pack can sampler as I left. This is the last one I had left, as I wanted to include it on here.

Let’s start with Lumberyard‘s description of the beer:

Silver Medal Winner at the 2009 Great American Beer Festival. Bronze Medal Winner at the 2010 World Beer Cup. This ale is medium bodied with higher bitterness. The blend of English and American hops make this copper colored ale especially pleasing for pale ale lovers.

A few awards, which are always nice to mention when trying to get people to try your beer. I also like how they don’t hide the fact they’ve mixed British and American hops, which sometimes people don’t like. The recipe however, is pretty secret and I had to guess the entire thing! More on that shortly. I like how they don’t say “IPA Lovers” or “Hop Heads” and concentrate on the fact that it’s an India Pale Ale!

Right, the recipe in this one. It’s shrouded in secrecy it seems! I’ve had to guess on flavour alone. So, seeing as there’s a blend of English and American hops I’m going to go for Fuggles, Cluster, Challenger, Centennial and Cascade. As for the Malts, I’m going to go for 2-Row, Caramel Malt and Carapils. I’m not sure what type of Yeast Lumberyard ferment with, but it’s quite different from the usual American yeasts that are clean. I have a feeling it’s an English Ale Yeast.

When you pour this beer, it’s a Amber/Copper colour and has a Medium white head. It dissipates slowly leaving a thin white ring around the edge of the glass as you drink. On the nose there’s some Citrus, Pine and Floral Aromas with no Malts detectable. There’s a touch of Tropical Fruit in the background but it’s very mellow. When you taste this beer, you get an initial hit of Spicy Hops and Pine, then comes the wave of Citrus and Floral notes followed by a touch of Cracker from the Malts used in the brew. It’s quite a Mellow IPA, but it makes a change from a lot of the IPA’s at the moment which can be refreshing. The beer is quite full bodied for the style, however and ends Medium-Dry with Medium to Low carbonation.

Unfortunately you can’t get Lumberyard IPA in the UK. But, if Americans are interested in trying this brew as it is quite close to an English IPA then give it a go! If anyone is visiting Arizona, I 100% recommend a visit to Lumberyard as it’s a great brewery with some fantastic beer and food.

IPA – American: Sierra Nevada Hop Hunter IPA

This week’s beer is one of Sierra Nevada’s latest offerings – Hop Hunter IPA. I was lucky enough to try this beer whilst in California, and knew I had to feature it on here. Hop Hunter is apprently coming to the UK soon, and I’m personally looking forward to it a lot.

Let’s start with Sierra Nevada’s Description of the brew:

Hop Hunter IPA harnesses the complex flavors of just-picked hops through an all-new method of steam distilling wet hops before they even leave the fields. This revolutionary technique captures and intensifies the natural flavors, creating a unique and intensely aromatic beer. Our custom process gathers pure hop oil which, when combined with traditional whole-cone hops in the brew kettle, makes for an incredible IPA experience.

I like how this description focuses on the process, as far as I know another brewery haven’t attempted this feat yet. The hops are grown in Sierra Nevada’s farms, which is a nice touch. I think the description really understates the process utilised to get the Oil out of the Hops and distilled. The brewery use a piece of machinery previously used to extract oil from Mint leaves, the Hops are put into huge trailers and the machine steams them, collecting the vapour, cools it and distills it. The process captures the pure Hop Oil. Five Thousand Pounds of Hops go into just 100 litres of Hop oil. Impressive!

So, with that lets get onto which Hops are used. In the kettle we have Bravo, Cascade, Crystal and Simcoe. The Hops used to make the Hop Oil are Cascade, Centennial and CTZ. The Malts and Fermentables in this brew are interesting, I haven’t seen Flaked Oats used in an IPA in a while but they are in this one as well as 2-Row and Caramel Malts. This is then fermented with Sierra Nevada’s house Ale yeast.

When you pour this beer, the first thing you notice is the Golden colour of the brew and the excellent Clarity it has in the glass. A nice Medium White head forms and sticks around for most of the time you drink this one. The lacing drips down the sides of the glass whilst you drink and does not stick. The nose of this beer is incredible, Floral notes combined with big juicy Citrus and Tropical notes with Pine lingering in the background. On the Palate, you get an initial hit of bitter Pine coupled with nice Bready malts, there’s also some big Citrus notes in there. The Malt backbone carries this IPA well throughout, but the Hop notes are definitely not understated. Seeing as there is Flaked Oats in this one, the mouthfeel is quite light for an IPA. It finishes Crisp, Bitter and Dry.

I can’t wait until this one is available in the UK. Until then, ask your American friends to send as many to you as possible!

EST. CALORIES: 186   ABV: 6.2%

Fruit IPA – American: Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin

This week’s beer is the legendary Grapefruit Sculpin, and although you can’t buy it in the UK it’s something I had to include on this blog. I’ve always wanted to try this beer and luckily got my fair share in California. Ballast Point is located in San Diego, they brew the legendary Sculpin IPA and decided one day they’d add Grapefruit to it to complement the already Citrusy flavours of the brew.

Let’s start with Ballast Point‘s description:

Our award-winning IPA, with a citrus twist.
Our Grapefruit Sculpin is the latest take on our signature IPA. Some may say there are few ways to improve Sculpin’s unique flavor, but the tart freshness of grapefruit perfectly complements our IPA’s citrusy hop character. Grapefruit’s a winter fruit, but this easy-drinking ale tastes like summer.

A brief description, but I guess if you’ve heard of Sculpin IPA it needs no introduction and Ballast Point have confidently capitalised on that fact. However, I didn’t know that Grapefruit was a Winter fruit. I guess you learn something new every day! No indication on flavour, which is nice but “Grapefruit” is a big hint anyway!

It was hard to determine and research the recipe for this one, but eventually I managed it. The hops in this brew are Amarillo, Warrior, Magnum, US Hallertau, Columbus, Crystal, Centennial and Simcoe. Quite an impressive Hop bill! It’s Dry-Hopped with Amarillo. The malts are 2-Row, Caramel, Carapils, Cara and Acidulated Malt. The Grapefruit Zest is added during the boil and then during Secondary fermentation to really get those Grapefruit flavours in there!

When you pour this beer, it’s Golden with a Medium White head, it eventually dissipates leaving very sticky dotty lacing and a thin White Head that lasts throughout. On the nose, there’s tonnes of Grapefruit, Orange Rind, Citrus and a little bit of Pine in the background. The Grapefruit really has taken hold of the Aroma on this one! When you taste this one, you’re immediately hit again by lots of Grapefruit notes, Citrus, Blood Orange and a touch of Pine. However, at the back of your Palate that impressive Malt Bill provides a nice Sweet, Caramel like backbone which is very welcoming. This is quite a complex IPA, but also so brash with the Hops and Grapefruit at the same time. It’s like an onslaught on your Palate. For an IPA the body is quite light with medium Carbonation. It finishes Medium-Dry. I can see why Ballast Point brew this one – it’s absolutely perfect for San Diego weather and Summer!

Unfortunately, this is another one you can’t get in the UK but if you can get your hands on it I really recommend. I’ll be back next Friday with something a little more available in the UK!

UPDATE: Bier Deluxe sells Grapefruit Sculpin and ships to the UK! Although I’m not sure of the freshness, click here for the page.

EST. CALORIES: 210   ABV: 7%

IPA – American: Bells Two Hearted Ale

This Mid-Week beer is one I enjoyed very much in America. The infamous Bell’s Two Hearted Ale. A very popular beer amongst the online beer community and I had to see what all the fuss was about! Also the fact that this beer comes from a place called Kalamazzoo appeals to me in a strange way. Anyway, back to beer!

Let’s start with Bell’s description of this brew:

Bell’s Two Hearted Ale is defined by its intense hop aroma and malt balance. Hopped exclusively with the Centennial hop varietal from the Pacific Northwest, massive additions in the kettle and again in the fermenter lend their characteristic grapefruit and pine resin aromas. A significant malt body balances this hop presence; together with the signature fruity aromas of Bell’s house yeast, this leads to a remarkably drinkable American-style India Pale Ale.

I like this description, very confident, lets you know a little about the recipe and it’s to the point. It also gives you a hint on flavour but doesn’t tell you how it should taste which is always good. I like how they’ve stuck to one Hop for this one, a bold statement for one of your flagship beers and something I respect. With so many good breweries in Michigan though, Bells were set to get noticed for brewing some great beers!

As you know already, this beer is hopped exclusively with Centennial. Luckily, I dove a little deeper and found out the method of hopping, and the malts! During the boil, after 1 minute with Leaf Hops, after 5 Pellet Hops, 20 Pellet Hops and 60 Pellet Hops. After this it’s Dry-Hopped for 7 Days with Leaf Hops. The Malts in this beer are 2-Row, Vienna, Caramel and Carapils. After this it’s Fermented with a fruity yeast, but I wouldn’t say use a Belgian Style one.

Now, on to the drinking! When you pour this beer, it pours Golden with a nice Medium White head with great retention. I also noticed the Lacing in this brew is crazy, big foam sticking to the sides of the glass. On the nose, lots of Grapefruit and Pine Needles with a Bready Malt smell in the background. What’s nice is often the Malt aromas don’t come though but in this beer they do. On the Palate, first you get a big rich Malt kick with Caramel, Bread and Biscuit. Following on from this, the hops come into play with an aggressive Pine and Grapefruit bite. It’s so well balanced, and even whilst it warms the Hops don’t come and really kick you in the face due to them having a solid Malt backbone. The beer is Medium bodied and finishes slightly dry. This one definitely lives up to expectation.

Unfortunately Two Hearted Ale is not distributed in the UK, but if you know someone in America or you’re visiting I really recommend this one!

EST. CALORIES: 210   ABV: 7%

Milk Stout With Chocolate and Peppermint – American: Twisted Manzanita Enlightenmint

This weeks beer is something I enjoyed thoroughly in San Diego, and was one of the highlights of the trip. Twisted Manzanita Enlightenmint – A Milk Stout with Chocolate and Peppermint. I enjoyed this beer in their Pacific Beach Taproom, a must visit and something I included in my post earlier in the week.

Let’s start with Twisted Manzanita‘s description of the beer:

– Memorable like your favorite holiday treats; Big chocolate with a peppermint burst.
– Flaked barley gives it a creamy, robust body that supports the delicate flavors to the finish.
– Full-bodied and dark as night for maximum enjoyment on a winter evening.

Short but sweet description, which I’m always a big fan of. There’s hints at the flavour, and even the recipe which is always good, but then the real tasting notes are left up to the drinker – which I always find enables you to enjoy the beer more. Although it’s suggested that it’s enjoyed in winter, I had this beer on a warm evening in San Diego and have no regrets!

As for the recipe, let’s start with the malts and fermantables. 2-Row, Crystal 60, Special B and Chocolate Malts are used, with Flaked Barley as a fermentable to add a little body and make it a bit creamier. The hops are Kent Goldings or Mt Hood, as they don’t take a front seat in the brew. Cocoa and Peppermint are added during the boil and Peppermint and Lactose (Milk Sugar) are added during Primary Fermentation. Essentially, this beer is Dry-Minted!

This beer pours Pitch Black with a good sized Tan Head that retains well, leaving a little bit of spotty lacing. On the nose there’s a huge hit of what I can describe as Mint Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Chocolate notes, even more Peppermint, Caramel and Cocoa Powder. When you taste this beer, it’s incredible how much the Mint has worked it’s way into the flavour, lots of Peppermint, Cocoa Powder, Chocolate Ice Cream, a little bit of Nut and finishes with some more Sweet Peppermint. This beer grows on you even more as you drink, you can’t tell it’s 8% at all. This beer has a good, creamy sticky body and finishes medium with a touch of bitterness. I’m definitely going to be bringing back more than one bottle of this next time I visit!

Currently, the best way to get this beer is by stocking up on a visit or if you have friends in California, ask them to send you some of this lovely stuff! I’ll definitely be trying to get my fair share!

EST. CALORIES: 240   ABV: 8%

Special – Travel: Beer and Food in Southern California Pt. 2

After trying more than my fair share of Beers at Stone the night before, it was time to go to Ballast Point Taproom and Kitchen at India Street, San Diego. Everyone told me that this is the best of the Ballast Point Taprooms, so I chose this to sample some of their beers and get some grub to line the stomach from the day before! The Taproom and Kitchen do fantastic food, we shared some Crispy Duck Nachos (Blue Cheese Sauce, Duck Confit, Pickled Onion, Arugula (Rocket) and Port Reduction) and as I was in San Diego, I went for the Fish Tacos. Both dishes were absolutely delicious, and very reasonable. As we had to drive back to LA (luckily I wasn’t doing the driving) later on in the day, I decided to try as many beers as possible before we had to go.

I started with a Sculpin IPA, the classic Ballast Point brew, which in my opinion is the IPA it’s hyped up to be and then moved on to a flight of Grapefruit Sculpin, Habanero Sculpin and the Black Marlin Porter. The Grapefruit Sculpin is coming up in my reviews next month but is a truly a World Class beer. The Habanero Sculpin was interesting, as I’m a self confessed Chilli Head I had to try it and I absolutely loved it. The nose is full of Citrus Fruit, Orange Peel and some resinous Pine in the background. On the Palate, there’s a nice initial Citrus and Pine from the hops with the Habanero building in the background. The Chilli isn’t for the weak hearted, but is a nice burn that builds as you drink. The Black Marlin was an equally good Porter, with Big Roasty notes on the nose with Raisins, Stone Fruits and a touch of Citrus on the finish. On the palate, a big Roasty Chocolatey note, with Caramel and Brown Sugar. Fantastic Mouthfeel on this one. Next up, I had a Ginger Big Eye IPA and the Sour Wench Berliner Weiss with Apricot and Peach. On the Nose the Sour Wench has a huge Apricot and Peach Aroma, with a little bit of woodiness from the stones of the Fruit and that familiar funky wheat and Lactobacillus Sour odor. This one is very tart to start off with, followed by the Sour Peach. Apricot lingers on the finish. As for the Ginger Big Eye – where do I start? Big Eye IPA is just as legendary as Sculpin. On the nose there was a big Ginger hit, with Grapefruit, Citrus and a little Soapiness. Although this has a huge hit from the Citrus, Grapefruit and Pine from the Hops, the Ginger is very prominent and compliments the Fruitiness from the Hops.

After this, we headed down to Pacific Beach to visit a smaller Brewerys Taproom – Twisted Manzanita. I got a flight here as time was running by and tried the Gillespie Brown (Brown Ale), Hot Chocolate (Chocolate Stout with Ancho and Habanaro Chillis), Rustic Horizon (Red Ale), Prospect Pale (Pale Ale) Iron Mountain (IPA), Enlightenmint (Milk Stout with Peppermint). I started with the Brown Ale, it pours with a Small Head but with great lacing. On the nose some Pine Nuts and Roasted Malts, when you taste it, it’s warm and boozy with Rasins, Piney Hops and a touch of Chocolate. Apart from the Enlightenmint, which I’ll be posting about on Friday, the Hot Chocolate was my favourite. It’s black as night with a tan coloured ring around the glass. On the nose you get big Chocolate and Coffee aromas and the Chilli is hidden very well, very sweet. On the Palate is where the Chilli comes into play, first a nice smooth Chocolate note that carries all the way through, then the Chilli kick, lots of Citrusy and Hot Spicy notes. Finishes smooth and spicy. The Rustic Horizon was a standard, well balanced Red Ale with Big Pine Notes and a nice Caramel Malt Backbone, The Prospect Pale was very well balanced also, with big Citrus aromas and a bready Malt Backbone. I’ll be Posting about the Enlightenmint on Friday, as it was probably my favourite of the entire San Diego trip!

I really liked Twisted Manzanita Taproom’s vibe, the staff were very friendly and knowledgeable and the decor was quite industrial and basic. The music in this place, and Ballast Point were the best of the entire trip. Although it was a short visit, it was time to leave San Diego.

The next day we made the long drive up to the Central Coast to Visit Firestone Walker’s Barrelworks in Buellton. Unfortunately due to the famous California Traffic, we missed our tour which was a shame. Luckily, Firestone Walker have a Taproom and Restaurant attached and we thought we’d take full advantage. By this time we were really hungry, and there was a table free for us straight away. I dived straight in with the Spicy Chicken Drumettes as an appertizer and a small measure of Velvet Merkin – a barrel aged version of their Velvet Merlin stout. Though I’d had it before when they came to visit in London, it really is a great beer and I wanted to try it fresh.  It’s Jet Black, and the Aroma was a little different. Lots of chocolate, vanilla, brown sugar, and toasted bread. The Palate had big brown Brown Sugar, Vanilla, Cocoa, Coffee, and Fig notes. There’s a distinct woody finish on this one. 

It was time to order the main course, and I went for the Sirloin Coulotte Steak with Shallot Butter, Fried Fingerling Potatoes and Chili-Lemon Broccolini and an Union Jack IPA. I must say again, that the food is truely delicious in this place and I really recommend having some if you visit. As for the Union Jack IPA, it was just as good as I remember. On the nose there was lots of Earthy Pine, Grapefruit, Citrus and a touch of sweet malt. The taste really is what makes this beer, some Pine Sap, Citrus, Grapefruit, Tropical Fruits with a great Malt Backbone riding throughout. What an IPA. I decided to skip dessert and go for an Unfiltered Double Barrel Ale and a Velvet Merlin on Nitro next.

The Unfiltered Double Barrel Ale was interesting, the fact it’s unfiltered really changes the aroma of this. Loads of Oak on the nose with Nutty Malt and a little bit of Vanilla Spice coming through. It tastes a little different too with big hits of Vanilla and Oak as well as the lovely Pale Malt backbone and fresh Bread Dough notes. What a great, simple beer! Next up was the Velvet Merlin on Nitro, I’ll start unusually by commenting on the Mouthfeel. The Nitro really improves this beer! The mouthfeel was like a Guiness, but this has way more flavour and aroma. On the nose there’s Roasty Coffee, Chocolate and a Milky Sweetness. The Palate is a tiny bit tart and dry, but with big hits of Milk Sweetness, Coffee and Chocolate. What a great way to end. After this I popped into the Barrelworks shop and picked up a bottle of the well known Parabola, which I’ll be reviewing in the future after it ages a little while!

Last, but definitely not least, we visited the Libertine Brewpub in Morro Bay which was Excellent. Unfortunately I was driving, but still managed to taste one of their Sours along with two other very good beers. I started with the Libertine Framboise, a beer I’d wanted to try for a long time. The Sours Libertine make are famous, if not notorious with people that have tried them! On the Nose a lot of Belgian funk and Sour Strawberry, the taste was great. If you haven’t tried a Sour, I wouldn’t recommend this as the first one, but it is delicious. Lots of Sour Strawberry and Funky Lacto notes with a great Wheaty backbone throughout. A great beer, I witnessed someone else try it and pucker. The Barman pointed at the sign above the Bar – “Ya, We Know It’s Sour.”

Next up, we decided to share a small measure of the Lost Abbey 10 Commandments – As you can see above, it’s got Honey, Raisins and Rosemary. Lost Abbey make Belgian inspired beers, and this one is a 12% Dark Strong Ale. It pours Jet Black, on the nose Chocolate, Molasses, Ginger, Honey, Coriander, Light Coffee and Nutmeg. The Flavour on this one is so complex, Raisin, Caramel, Gingerbread, Thyme, Molasses, Pink Peppercorn, some toasted Rosemary notes and a touch of Anise.

Finally, we shared a Firestone Walker Wookey Jack, a Black IPA I’ve been wanting to try for a while. Partly because of the name, and partly because Firestone’s IPA’s and Maltier offerings are great and I was interested on how they’d do a Black IPA. It pours Jet Black with a Tan Head, on the Nose plenty of Roasty Notes with Pine and Citrus coming from the Hops. They must’ve put a lot of Hops in this one, because they really cut through! There’s also some traces of dark fruits. The Palate on this one is lovely, it starts with a big Roasted Malt kick and as it fades into the background the Clean Citrus tones from the Hops come through, building up to a Roasty, Bitter finish. What a great beer!

That’s it for California. I had a great time. The vibe in all the beer-centric places I went were amazing, the food’s great even if you’re trying to eat healthily and great Beer is everywhere. Join me next week for my adventures in Arizona. Sorry this post was late, we had some Computer trouble!