San Diego Beer Week 2015 #8 Division 23

So, what do you do if you want a second career because you’d like to branch out from the world of construction and engineering? If you live in San Diego, you start a brewery and hire people who have worked with some of the best California craft beer houses, of course! We LOVED this place.

Kellen Smith, Allen Hampton, and Kevin Dougherty have the praise of their regulars, who proudly told us the backstory of Division 23 Brewing. Some of these brew-flies are practically employees said our bar guide, and bona fide employee Alicia. She knows these beers and walked me through the flight of six small tastes. To paraphrase good ol’ Bill, “They may be small, but they are mighty.” (holy cow, that was a LOT of beer!).

IMG_9207Morrisch Meister German Pilsner- if mass market American beers tasted good, this is how they would taste. It’s flavorful.

Barrel Aged Berlinerweisse- amazingly different. Sour. Tastes like an orange grove, no lie- the musty citrus smell. One guy described it like a Chardonnay.

Sour Superintendent Berlinerweisse- it’s the above beer, not barrel aged. And it’s just weird. Whatever happened in the barrel, that’s what put the finishing touch on this beer.

Night Shift Imperial Stout- smell this, it’s coffee. Taste it, heavy coffee. Really full and heavy. Really toasty and sweet.

Change Order Porter- drinking a porter after a stout is like Cabernet and merlot. Cab makes Merlot taste like water to me. Tasting The Husband’s IPA in between helped. I like it.

Bitter Foreman IPA with Fire Roasted Chiles- holy cow you can smell the pepper. Mamacita, this is gooood!!! No bite from the pepper, it’s all flavor and aroma. And it’s an IPA that I like! I know, right?!? 

The group that was schooling me about the brews.
The group that was schooling me about the brews.

Division 23 Brewing is at the top of our list to come back to where we can share beer talk and brew stories with devoted regulars and Alicia. What a great group of people brought together by quality drinks! They really have done it right, here.

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Shuffleboard, anyone?
Shuffleboard, anyone?
Check out these light fixtures, slick!
Check out these light fixtures, slick!
SDBW 2015 passport stamping
SDBW 2015 passport stamping. Had we known about this White Labs Tshirt scavenger hunt last week, we would have played, too. Boo.

San Diego Beer Week #7 Rough Draft Brewing

Tough day in this ol’ world of ours. And yes, I know that this is a gross understatement.

Having visited Paris and other parts of France (I was a French and Spanish teacher before staying home with my children), I spent a lot of time glued to the Twitter feeds and news channels today. Like the rest of the sane world, I am horrified.

I pulled myself away this evening to visit a new brewery tonight like I have been able to do every night for the past week. I enjoyed sitting with my husband at the bar in the tasting room of Rough Draft Brewing Company, drinking a stout while he enjoyed his IPA. The universe inside this brewery was normal, right down to me not liking his IPA at all, and me finding a stout that was full of flavor with very subtle hints of coffee and vanilla. All was well, all was normal.

Please join me and offer prayers and work for peace and answers for the world outside this little brewery in San Diego.

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Play Corn Hole with the brewing tanks in the tasting room at Rough Draft Brewing.
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Closing time is 9:00, people are finishing up their last call.
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A pint of Southern Triangle IPA, left and a 4 oz (more like 8 oz!) pour of the Stout Stout Baby, brewed with whole vanilla beans for a very subtile spice flavor.

San Diego Beer Week #6 Duck Foot Brewing Company

IMG_9184In Beer-amar Miramar, Duck Foot Brewing Company is tucked into a small strip mall amongst office buildings and warehouses. I bet the people who work in the offices nearby are oh, so happy to wait out an evening’s rush hour in Duck Foot’s tasting room playing with the assortment of games, beer in hand (Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots or Apples to Apples, anyone?). One of the most unique things about  the brewery is that the beers are gluten free. Yes, gluten free. One of Duck Foot’s co-founders with Celiac disease came up with a way of removing the gluten from beer. Got gluten issues? This is your place.

Duck Foot's head brewer Derek Wasak (right) and The Husband
Duck Foot’s head brewer Derek Wasak (right) and The Husband

Sitting next to The Husband, and ready to go home as soon as I stopped asking him questions, was Duck Foot’s head brewer, Derek Wasak. I asked Derek how he was able to make the Chocolate Hazelnut Porter a lighter stout. It had the nice chocolatey, malty, deep flavor of the stouts I have been tasting this week, but it wasn’t so big and heavy. He said that was the secret. Phooey. Who cares if he won’t answer, it was great!

Chocolate Hazelnut Stout and Double White IPA
Chocolate Hazelnut Stout and Double White IPA

I was surprised that I liked The Husband’s beers, his Double White IPA in particular wasn’t a stabby assault to my mouth. Derek explained why- for an IPA, the Double White is malty, and brewed with wheat giving it a more balanced flavor than our usual San Diego style IPAs.

IMG_9177We have several friends ready to come back here with us. The Husband has already said that he thinks this is his favorite spot we have visited. Duck Foot’s tasting room is large, with lots of stools and tables. Tonight a couple of scientists- grad students from UCSD and the Fleet Science Museum, were hanging out, a sign between them announcing they were there to answer your general science questions. How’s that for a great idea to make science approachable? A counter full of various games is available to share with old friends or new people you just met, and a food truck is often out front serving up snacks. Duck Foot Brewing is the place to sit and enjoy the beers and the people.

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San Diego Beer Week #5 New English Brewing Company

It was only a short time ago someone suggested that I try a pint of Ballast Point’s Sextant Oatmeal Stout (on nitro!). Beer? I was skeptical, to say the least. I’ve had sips of The Husband’s brews for nearly three decades, why would I want to try yet another sip of what I used to describe as carbonated soy sauce (the dark ones) or a bitter cross between pine needles and lemon peel (the San Diego IPAs)?

IMG_9164I tried it. Whammo! A stout fan is born.

Here I am, a few years later, and I find a second beer that I like as much as my favorite oatmeal stout- New English Brewing Company’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Brown Ale. Holy Cow and a Heeeeey Macarena we have another one! I know that coffee pairs well with malty, heavy, dark beers, but put it in a barrel that was once home to bourbon? What a great flavor combination.

IMG_9166Liquor can taste about as smooth as rocket fuel- you should always follow my father’s advice: “Don’t drink cheap booze.” Even a good scotch tastes like an old campfire to me. New English’s brown ale aged in old bourbon barrels gives the rich, full ale all the fabulous flavors of the liquor with none of the chest hair singeing fume-like punch in the throat quality of your Old Man’s drink.

IMG_9156To top it off, I didn’t hate The Husband’s IPA- the Humbly Legit West Coast Style IPA. This is a sure sign of the Apocalypse, you know. Look it up. I kid you not.

And I haven’t even mentioned their Zumbar Chocolate Coffee Imperial Stout. This is the same Zumbar, our ultra-favorite coffee shop, which you can walk to from the New English tasting room. I already know that brew is good- we just happened to be getting coffee at Zumbar one weekend morning when New English was offering tastes of this stout at the coffee shop. Talk about being in the right place at the right time.

Pull up a barstool in the big main room with the taps, sit in the smaller room with squishy seats, but get down here to Sorrento Vally Road, kind of between La Jolla, Del Mar and Sorrento Valley. Eat something first, buy a bag of Doritos at the bar, or double check the website to see if a food truck will be at the brewery when you visit, but do visit.

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A great write up on New English Brewing Company can be found here, San Diego Magazine’s article “San Diego’s Best Brewery That You Never Heard Of: New English Brewing Co.

San Diego Beer Week #4 32 North Brewing Company

IMG_9151Tucked back in the middle of a bunch of industrial warehouses and a really neat RC car speedway (we found that on accident, it was so cool!) is a new brewery- 32 North Brewing Company.

IMG_9149In this warehouse we found a few guys who were an animated explosion of youth and friendliness. They loved their beer and were excited to talk about the brewing here, how certain beers were made, and life and experiences in general. We have to return just to hang with these people. The corn hole game is set up and ready for play, and there is plenty of room to stand around to chat.

IMG_9150I’ve never heard of a “milk stout,” but since it had the word “stout” next to the name, AND the word “nitro,” I was on it. Yum. 32 North makes a less heavy stout but it still has the deep, dark, malty flavors of the brews I know I like better. I wish I had asked about what exactly is a “milk stout?” The Husband’s Best Coast and Nautical Mile IPAs were definitely not for me. Nice citrus punch, but too sharp for my tastes.

“Beeramar” is living up to its nickname.  The Husband is very willing to try all the Miramar breweries and find drinks for me to taste for my new adventures. Lucky me!

The top photo came from the 32 North Brewing Co web site, check it out for all their details- beer, events, and local restaurants carrying their brews.

San Diego Beer Week #3 Alesmith Brewing Company

In the crosshairs today: Alesmith Brewing Company in their brand new Miramar tasting room. The Husband is quite fond of The Alesmith.

IMG_9120Not only did I really like my Beer Geek Speedway Stout, but I surprised The Husband by OK-ing of his drink, too- the Anvil ESB. I remember going to tastings at Seattle’s Redhook Brewery years ago. On their tour the guide would pass around jars of toasted malt, all of varying depths of roastiness. I loved the toasty, coffee-like aromas of that grain, and thought it was too bad that all those hops were added to ruin their ESB. Hops have been an acquired taste, that’s for sure, 20 years in the making.

Heavy on the alcohol is this 4 oz. pour of Beer Geek Speedway Stout
Heavy on the alcohol is this 4 oz. pour of Beer Geek Speedway Stout

These two selections from Alesmith are great choices- one full of heavy, roasted goodness, the other toasty, malty and light in comparison. Two more beers for me in this Triple and Quadruple-Hopped market.

With a food truck outside on the patio and a spacious interior, a person could quickly get used to killing quite a bit of time here… This facility is so new that the building looks to be only half furnished. But what is here is comfortable.

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San Diego Beer Week #2 Ballast Point Kitchen at Miramar

IMG_9088 (1)One of the first beer discoveries that I made (“Hey, I actually like this!) was Ballast Point’s Sextant Oatmeal Stout on nitro, even, so it was extra-creamy good… mmmm. Beer Stop #2 is their new restaurant and meeting place in Miramar.

IMG_9083I like how the menu organizes the drinks for the less beer-savvy people like me. New to me is the Commodore American Stout- a good, strong drink like a punch in the tastebuds strong. It hits your nose with a huge toasted malty aroma that delivers straight into the flavor. Roasty, coffee-like flavor.

He likes my beer... uh oh.
He likes my beer… uh oh.

We both loved it. I wish I liked The Husband’s choice of some super-hoppy brew… citrusy, floral beers smell great but I never like the taste. Boo.

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I liked my beer… a lot. But then the two appetizers we ordered to split arrived and really stole the show. Holy cow, whoever made this menu deserves a raise and a half- the menu just changed this weekend and these items should stick around for the next six months.

Do NOT miss the mac and cheese with pork belly! The crispy, fatty pork strip may be only a couple of bites worth of meat but what it lacks in quantity it more than makes up in quality. We also split the duck nachos. More deliciousness! The pickled onions were just the right little tang to go with the bleu cheese sauce and duck.

Great brews, delicious snacks, spacious seating and outdoor area for games and fire pit fun. Thank you Ballast Point people, for getting this sit-down spot to join up with the rest of San Diego’s beer and food fans!

Fall and Winter Menu?
Fall and Winter Menu?
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Bloody Mary and Mai Tai mixes are available!
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Beautiful copper stills for the newer line of spirits.
Might I resume typing, cat?
Might I resume typing, cat?

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