SF Beer Week Recap – Part 2

The middle of the week saw a few more events for me and a few more great beers.  I found myself wishing I had taken a day or two off to really immerse myself in the fun, but as it worked out, I had a pretty busy work week and was somewhat limited in the events I could go to.

Rose and Crown IPA Day

Wednesday saw me attend the Rose and Crown event, which was labeled as an IPA Day, but in reality was a battle for the Pliny the Younger.  I headed over to the Rose and Crown around 10:55 and ended up being in line until 12:30 and missed the PTY by about 10 people.  My last post in this series will deal solely with the Pliny hunt/craze/shitshow so I will save that for now.

In the end, I did enjoy a Pliny the Elder as my consolation prize. I have not yet written a review on the Pliny the Elder, so will do an abridged one now. Personally, I have never been as impressed by Pliny the Elder as most people.  It is a solid beer, but the true genius in it may just be the intentional or unintentional marketing and limited availability.  There is a sense of accomplishment when you get one on draft or have a “friend” at a store who will save some for you or let you know when they are coming in.  The beer itself is very good, but the hunt is where people seem to lose sight. Elder pours a deep golden orange.  Limited head that tends to stick to the glass. pliny Nose is strong citrus, pine and pineapple notes.  Flavor mimics the nose with some substantial hoppy bitterness.  Fairly crisp, and the fresher the better it seems.  One fallback for me is it is fairly dry. It is a great beer, but it does not distinguish itself for me as some people suggest.  I actually may even prefer Blind Pig. 94/100

Firestone Tap Takeover at Steep Brew Potrero (Whole Foods)

Thursday was a tough call for me, Firestone Tap Takeover or Ballast Point Tap Takeover at Public House.  I opted for Firestone’s event as I had had many of the Ballast Point beers already.  In a perfect world, or if I did not have to work early the next morning, I would have hit both (cue the boos).

I had the Double Jack and a Sucaba at the Firestone Event.  There was an option to do three samples and a cheese pairing, but I was only interested in one of the beers offered for the pairing.

I have had every iteration in the “Jack” Series (Union Jack, Easy Jack, Wookey Jack, Double Jack) and am thoroughly impressed with all of them.

Double Jack rings in at 9.5% ABV and 85 IBUs. Pour is a nice fairly clear orange with a decent frothy head. jack Nose fills of grapefruit and oranges with a ton of hops. The flavor is piney with full frontal hops, but still balanced and smooth.  Nice sticky mouthfeel with some minimal malty sweetness.

A really quality DIPA. 93/100

http://www.firestonebeer.com/beers/products/double-jack

I also tried the §ucaba, which is a monster Barleywine.  Heavy on the bourbon and boozyness, this is a sipper for sure.

Other Events, Stand Outs

I had intended to cheat on IPA and go to the Almanac and Friends Sourfest at Public House on Friday night, however at 3:30 the line was already 40 deep, and I was in a suit and did not want to wait in the sun for a non-IPA event.  When I went back at 5, there was still a significant line, so headed across the street to Lucky Strike for some Lagunitas.  In two hours at Lucky Strike, the line at Public House never really diminished, so I never made.

I was able to enjoy a few beers at StrEAT Food SOMA the next day, including the Bear Republic Hop Shovel.  Nice, floral beer, and was pretty solid on the hot day that Saturday was.  This event was just “OK”, especially considering a few of the beers sold out pretty quick.  I was hoping to try 101 North’s Heroine IPA but they were sold out by 12:45.

I also tried the Money Paw/Drake’s Special SF Beer Week collabo at Public House, which was decent.  It was very smooth, but also fairly run of the mill.  Nothing that particularly stood out about that one, but it is always cool to see breweries work together.

monkey

A mentioned, to really embrace all Beer Week offers, you have to take a day or two off.  Wednesday in particular was chock-full of events, and would have loved to have Wednesday and Thursday off to enjoy and recover…next year.

I will have one more blog on SF Beer Week soon, with a focus on the unicorn of West Coast craft beer.

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SF Beer Week Recap – Part 1

Sf Beer Week has lived up to all my expectations.  A ton of great events, and a realization that I may need to take some vacation time next year to get more in.  That being said, I garnered enough fodder for three fairly hearty posts.

Right off the bat, I must admit that i am pretty mad at myself for not making the Opening Gala.  Forgot to buy tickets before it was too late, then when I had an opportunity to get tickets, I could not get back to SF from Palo Alto in time to make it (that darn work thing and traffic).  Next year this will not happen again.  Luckily I had some good beers that night away from the Gala, including a Moylan’s Hop Craic IIIIPA.

Opening Weekend

Drakes – I kicked off my SF Beer Week Saturday morning by doing a quick East Bay run to Drake’s and Faction.  Neither had a Beer Week event, but I had been wanting to try the Hopocalypse series so made the trek.

Hopocalypse Black Label was a IIIPA beast.

12.5% and 100+ IBUs.

Pours dark, almost amber.  Minimal head.

hop blackTropical fruits abound in the nose with some citrus.  Hops are fairly muted.

Taste is in line with the nose, juicy tropical fruits and some citrusy hints.  Hops are present but balanced by the tropical fruit as well as the lingering sweetness.  Almost a brown sugar sweetness.  Slightly oily and smooth.  Super drinkable, although I could not drink too many of them due to the sweet tones.

Fun beer and look forward to next year’s.

94/100

http://drinkdrakes.com/beer/hopocalypse-black-label/

Hopocalypse Green Label (also heard it called White Label) was a more traditional, west coast DIPA.

9.3% and 100+ IBUs.

Pours a copper/orange hue with some lingering head.

hop greenNose is grapefruity and hoppy and slightly floral, how an IPA should come off.

Good bitterness and hoppy taste from the get go.  Grapefruit comes through throughout.  Hint of sweetness but nothing compared to the Black Label.

Overall, a very enjoyable and drinkable DIPA.

96/100

http://drinkdrakes.com/beer/drakes-hopocalypse/

Drake’s is in a somewhat odd location, behind a Walmart in San Leandro, but worth the trek.  I enjoy all of their beers (wife really enjoyed the sour she had as well), there were snacks and some heavier food options, and most importantly, outdoor seating to bring the pup.  It was raining and we were able to sit in a covered area, but on a sunny day there are other outdoor tables, along with plenty inside seating.  Will be back for sure.

The Willows – IPAs v. Sours

Sunday evening included a visit to the Willows for their IPA v. Sours event.  Unsurprisingly, I went for some IPAs.  The bar was pretty packed but I was able to get a Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA, an Evil Twin Molotov Cocktail, and my favorite, Almanac “Don’t Call it Frisco” DIPA.

willow

Evil Twin Molotov Cocktail, Almanac Don’t Call it Frisco, Dogfish 120 Minute

Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA

18% (yes, 18%) and 120 IBUs.

How this beer is 18% is beyond me.  Nothing like a barleywine, but instead a sweet, malty, IPA.  Barely any boozy flavor or heat.  Some hops in the nose but piney sap, hops and tropical notes.  Pretty well balanced and thoroughly enjoyable.  I cannot imagine drinking more than one or two, but it was a great experience.

94/100

http://www.dogfish.com/brews-spirits/the-brews/occassional-rarities/120-minute-ipa.htm

Almanac Don’t Call it Frisco

This was my winner for the night.  This one was apparently brewed only for SF Beer Week, and (According to tweets from Almanac) was a one time deal.  That is a shame.

Poured a cloudy, golden/orange.  Piney and citrus nose.  Big citrus and hop flavors.  Bitterness is crisp but balanced. Very smooth, very drinkable, very fresh.  All in all a damn good DIPA. Hope to see it again one day.

98/100

Evil Twin Molotov Cocktail

Evil Twin’s was my least favorite of the night.  13%, unsure on IBUs.

Unfortunately, it was somewhat like 120 Minute’s little brother.  Similar flavor, however sweeter and more boozy.  Fun, but not as good as 120 Minute.  Maybe having alongside the 120 Minute was unfair.

85/100

http://eviltwin.dk/Molotov-Cocktail

One of the many benefits of SF Beer Week is trying placed you have been wanting to try but have found an excuse not too.  The Willows and this event was a perfect example.  I will for sure be going back to the Willows because of going for this event.

The first few days of Beer Week saw some other events and good beers, but these were the highlights.  However, the week was young and there was much fun to be had, and blogs to be posted in the near future.

 

Sierra Nevada – Round 2

I recently was in Chico celebrating the brother-in-law’s birthday (who claims to be “Oregon IPA” but is yet to make that happen), and so naturally, we went to Sierra Nevada on night one.  This trip allowed me to try 3 IPAs that I have not yet had a chance to review, so here goes.

Hop Hunter IPA

I was most excited to try the Hop Hunter, as the much-hyped new and innovative method of vaporizing wet hops to allow for a year-round wet hop experience was intriguing.  In addition, the recent spat between Lagunitas and Sierra over the bottle added to the fun.

ABV – 6.2%

IBUs – 60

The aroma gets you right off the bat on this one.  It is probably the most redeeming and exciting part of this beer.  Big, dank grapefruit nose.  Some floral and citrus notes.

Nice golden-amber color, light carbonation, and minimal head.

hunter

Not overly hoppy, with a nice, oily mouthfeel.  Finish was OK, not as smooth as Torpedo.  Overall, I was expecting (or hoping) to be blown away but was not.  It was good, but after having some wet hop beers last season (including Sierra’s Wet Hop), it did not seem to meet up.  It is a great concept to be able to have a wet hop beer in late-January, but I was not blown away.

I by no means did not dislike this one, I just think my expectations were a little overboard.

88/100

Golden IPA

Golden IPA was basically the opposite situation than the Hop Hunter.  I had low expectations for this one, but ended up being pleasantly surprised.

ABV – 5.9%

IBUs – 55

The Golden IPA certain holds up to its name, golden.

golden

Nose is a light citrus, nothing overwhelming.

Flavor was crisp and refreshing.  Although I sucked down a few on a January night, I could see myself sitting in the sun having several of these.  Light bodied, citrusy notes.  Minimal pine.  Smooth with a hint of a lingering aftertaste.

There is nothing particularly memorable about this beer, but it is very well balanced and drinkable.  I think by the end of the night I actually had more of these than the Hop Hunter.

86/100

Bindfold Black IPA

Last beer I had was the Blindfold Black.  I will admit, I had this right at the end of the night after having several of the above-reviewed beers.  As my picture depicts, things were starting to get fuzzy at this point…

ABV – 7.7%

IBUs – 70

Dark blackish-brown pour with decent, frothy head.  Strong lacing.

black

Nose fills of roasted malt and quite smoky.  Initial taste is roasty with some chocalately coffee hints.  As it goes down, you start to get the piney hops.  Almost velvety.

Overall, it had a lot going on and it was enjoyable, although I could not see myself drinking more than one or two in a sitting.

85/100

All in all, another great trip to the brewery.  Dinner was also fantastic, spent with good friends and some solid fish and chips.  One of my favorite breweries to go to as there are always plenty of interesting beers and solid food and service.

You can learn more about Sierra Nevada’s IPAs on their website.

Knee Deep Simtra

Where – Whole Foods Steep Brew Potrero Hill

How – On Tap

ABV – 11.25%

IBUs – 131

I have been hearing good things about Knee Deep Brewing for a while, and was finally able to run into some on tap.  I agree with the hype.

Whole Foods had Simtra on tap.  I had one in a flight, and then had to get it on its own as it was great.

knee

Pours with limited head, a dark orangey-gold color.  A bit cloudy.

knee 2

Nose has earthy hoppiness and citrusy.  Little bit of tropical fruit.  Not boozy as one would expect.

First sip and I was shocked with how smooth it was.  Not what one would expect from a beer with 131 IBUs.  There obviously was some bitterness, but it was a nice smooth bitterness and by no means overwhelming.  Little bit of caramel, with a clean aftertaste with some tropical fruitiness.

All in all, I was pretty blown away by this one.  For an 11.25%-er, I could get in trouble if I was at the brewery or had more time on this particular night.  Highly recommended, and hoping to get up to the source sometime soon.

97/100

More info can be found on Knee Deep’s IPA at their website.

http://kneedeepbrewing.com/year-round-beers/simtra-3x-ipa/

Lagunitas Hop Stoopid

Where – Dogpatch Saloon

How – On Tap (and in bombers)

ABV- 8.00%

IBUs – 102

Hop Stoopid is a nice hop bomb from Lagunitas.  Pours a clean, golden amber.

lGGY

Nose has strong grapefruit notes.  Slight caramel and boozyness.  The pup agrees.

hop

Bitter and hoppy right as it hits the lips.  Some malty sweetness and slightly earthy.  Hops come through at all points.

It is never overwhelming, and always tastes fresh and well balanced.  A great beer when you want to get hit with some strong hops, but not a massive ABV.

Overall, a solid beer, especially for the price.  Tends to be right around $4 for a bomber which feels like a steal.

88/100

http://lagunitas.com/beers/hop-stoopid/

Firestone Union Jack IPA

Where – Paso Robles Brewery and more recently at home

How – On Draft and more recently in bottle

ABV – 7.5%

IBUs – 70

Firestone Union Jack IPA calls itself an “aggressively hopped West Coast-style IPA.”  It certainly is a West Coast-style IPA, but is not one of the bigger hop bombs out there.

It pours a nice golden color, with average white head.

IMG_4416

Fairly aromatic, with citrus and tropical notes, and a hint of maltyness.

Flavor is well balanced.  The hops are there, but not overwhelming.  Very smooth, and not much bitterness.  Tropical notes and grapefruit carry through from the nose.

Overall, I consider Union Jack a great mid-week beer.  Nice and smooth, easy to drink, not overpowering.  Does not taste like a 7.5%er, hence I do not feel bad having one or two on a Tuesday evening.  Always a solid option.

92/100

On another note, drinking at the Paso Robles Brewery is great.  The patio allows dogs which is always a welcome sight (see below).  The interior is just as great, with TVs for sports, a packed bar, and a cool chic barnhouse feel.  There is also a small gift shop with some quality items.  All in all, a must stop when driving through Paso, and borderline reason enough to spend the night.

IMG_3485

http://www.firestonebeer.com/beers/products/union-jack

Figueroa Mountain Hurricane Deck DIPA

Where – Home and Santa Barbara Brewery

How – On Tap and in 22 oz.

ABV- 8.00%

IBUs – 82

Hurricane Deck pours an amber/caramely color, with a strong, foamy head.

IMG_4170

Nose has light citrus and pine hops, but not overly hoppy.

Bitterness up front.  The Figueroa website hits it right on the head when it says the taste is “woodsy, herbal and pine-like hop flavor.”  However, it is not as hoppy as I was expecting (and hoping?).

Of all the IPAs from Figueroa Mountain I have had, this is my least favorite.  I do not dislike it, I just enjoy the Hoppy Poppy, and especially the Lizard’s Mouth, more.

86/100

http://www.figmtnbrew.com/our-beers/#hurricane-deck-double-ipa

Golden Road Brewing – Wolf Among Weeds, Heal the Bay IPA

I recently bought some cans of Golden Road Brewing’s Wolf Among Weeds and Heal the Bay IPA.  They were both fairly expensive for a four pack of 16 oz. cans, so I had high expectations.

Wolf Among Weeds

Where – Home

How – 16 Oz. Can, poured into glass

ABV – 8.0%

IBUs – 80

Wolf Among Weeds pours a slightly cloudy and very golden blonde.  Decent head.

wolf

Nose is very tropical and fragrant.  Pineapple/tropical fruit present right away.  Some citrus and earthiness as well.

Taste is similarly fruity, with good hop balance and piney-ness.  The taste is fairly unique and unlike the typical West Coast IPA, although the hoppyness is still there.

Overall, it was very enjoyable.  Biggest issue, quite frankly, was the price.

87/100

http://www.goldenroad.la/wolf-among-weeds-ipa/

Heal the Bay IPA

Where – Home

How – 16 Oz. Can

ABV – 6.8%

IBUs – 65

I only got a single can of this one, and drank it on the roof straight from the can,so my review will be limited for now.

heal

I had this immediately after I drank a Wolf, and immediately determined I preferred the Wolf.

Piney nose, hops seemed restrained.  Good mouthfeel, slightly creamy, with some citrus in the finish.

There was nothing bad about it, but there was also nothing memorable.

78/100

http://www.goldenroad.la/heal-the-bay

Russian River Blind Pig IPA

Where – Public House SF

How – On Draft

ABV – 6.1%

IBUs – 70

I am in the minority.  I am not obsessed with Pliny the Elder like most.  It is good, but I am going to reserve my review on it until I have it on draft again.  I have only had it in bottles the last year or two, so I am going to give it a “fresh” look and see if my opinion changes.

That being said, I love Blind Pig.

Pours a nice copper color with medium carbonation.  The head quickly recedes.

pig

Good hop aroma, citrus and pines throughout.

The first thought tasting it is…smoooooth.  I have been drinking a great deal of IIPAs, so this one almost hits like a session beer.  Very well balanced and medium body.  Minimal carbonation.  Smooth mouthfeel.

Overall, this is about a perfect warm day IPA for me.

95/100

Sierra Nevada – Flipside, Hoptimum, Torpedo, Beer Camp

We have family and Chico and make it up there several times a year.  On those trips, it is pretty much a given that we grab lunch, and more importantly, several brews at the brewery.

The most recent trip allowed me to have 4 different IPAs.  Although I can get all of these IPAs in SF, it is always better to have them at the source.

Flipside Red IPA

First beer I tried was the Flipside Red IPA, mostly because I had not yet had it.

Flipside comes in at 6.2%, with 60 IBUs.

The pour is a dark, rusty red.  Decent carbonation, especially since it was served in an IPA glass.

flip

Fairly citrus forward nose, with some maltyness and limited hop.

Flavor was malty and citrusy, with hops coming in at the end.  You definitely get an amber flavor as well, borderline caramel-y.

I would have it again, but not my first choice of the 4 I had this visit.  Most likely would enjoy it after dinner sitting by the fire.  Uniqueness did make it stand out though, as it is a nice change of pace.

82/100

http://www.sierranevada.com/beer/seasonal/flipside-red-ipa

Hoptimum

Hoptimum was second, and my favorite for the day.

ABS is 10.2%, with 100 IBUs.

The SN website gives a great description:  “Hoptimum is a hurricane of whole-cone hop flavor. Hopped, dry hopped and torpedoed for incredible hop flavor and complexity, Hoptimum is the pinnacle of whole-cone hoppiness and the biggest Imperial IPA we have ever produced.”

The words “biggest Imperial IPA we have ever produced” are welcome words for me.

Nice copper color, and a big nose of hops, grapefruit and pine.

hopt

First taste is hope forward with some nice bitterness.  Pine and grapefruit flavors come through strong, with a hint of tropical fruit.  Only downside is you can tell it is a big, boozy beer.  Not overly so, but you can “feel” it.  It was a hot day but I still greatly enjoyed this beer.

94/100

http://www.sierranevada.com/beer/high-altitude/hoptimum-imperial-ipa

Beer Camp DIPA

The Beer Camp DIPA was third.  8.5% ABV, IBUs unknown but I would guess in the 90 range.

Fairly clear cold pour with limited head.  Fairly citrus forward nose, with some dankness.

camp

Bitter up front, with some balanced citrus flavor.  Nothing about it stands out and blows you away, but nothing about it is “great” either.  I enjoyed it, but it just did not stand up to the Hoptimum.

80/100

Torpedo Extra IPA

Finished up lunch with a Torpedo.  Obviously have had before, but always best to have it at the source.

Torpedo comes in at 7.2% with 65 IBUs.

Torpedo pours darker than most IPAs, as you can see from the picture.  Fairly creamy head that subsided relatively quickly.

torp

Aroma is a nice mix of citrus and pine.  Not overwhelming in any area.

Flavor can best be described as balanced.  You get the hops, you get some grapefruit and citrus, bitterness throughout, and the finish even has a touch of maltyness and caramel.  Just a great, clean beer.

One of the other huge bonuses with the Torpedo is you can get a 6er or 12er for a good price, and do not need to get a bomber.

I am really looking forward to trying this on cask, which apparently I can do over at the new Taproom in Berkeley.

92/100

http://www.sierranevada.com/beer/year-round/torpedo-extra-ipa

Overall, a very successful trip to the brewery.  The bro-in-law enjoyed the Session IPA they had on draft, so I will have to give that a whirl next time.

PS.  The food at the brewery is pretty good too.  The beer cheese and pretzels are a must have.