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/

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

Green Flash West Coast IPA

gree flash

Where – Dos Pinas Taqueria

How – On Tap

Green Flash West Coast IPA on-tap is always a welcome sight.  The local taqueria tends to have it on tap, and it is an easy pick for me.

It is actually a Double IPA, so the ABV is 8.1%, and you can taste it with the 95 IBUs.

Creamy head, with tropical and grapefruit zest.  Amber orange pour and intensely hoppy.  Fairly carbonated.

IMG_4387

Overall, if I am in the mood for a bigger IPA, this is a good choice.  To me, it comes off hoppier than some of the others DIPAs like Enjoy By, and not quite as smooth.  There is some caramel sweetness and pineyness.  Aptly named, as to me, this is what a California, especially San Diego, IPA is.

My score: 86/100.

http://www.greenflashbrew.com/our-beers/west-coast-ipa/

Figueora Mountain Lizard’s Mouth

Figueroa-Mountain-Lizards-Mouth-Imperial-IPA-e1398881125832-200x200

Where – Figueroa Mountain Brewery, Santa Barbara

How – On Tap

After a visit over two years ago to Santa Barbara, we stopped at the Figueroa Mountain Brewery in  Buelton on our way home.  I was impressed by the beers, but when we recently went back down to SB and tried some more of the beers in the new brewery in the “Funk Zone” near the pier, it was a whole new experience.

Not only is the new brewery a great place to hang out, listen to music and soak up the sun, the beers are killer.

My personal favorite was the Lizard’s Mouth Double IPA. Another strong one, with an ABV of 9.2% and 100 IBUs.

The pour is golden with a light, white head.  The aroma is citrusy.  Balanced hop flavor, with some citrus flavors and a slight hint of caramel on the finish.

Overall, an incredibly smooth DIPA.  Unfortunately, when we were in town, the SB brewery was all sold out of bottles of this one, as was the Buelton brewery.  Hopefully it will makes its way up north soon…

93/100

http://www.figmtnbrew.com/our-beers/#lizards-mouth