Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

The San Diego Real Ale Festival.

By William Brand
Tuesday, June 5th, 2007 at 11:27 pm in Uncategorized.


This site remains messed up. I hope our tekkies will fix it soon., ARE YOU LISTENING ???? Here’s the posting. But for links, etc. please go to my other blog:

The author of this post is a big-time, beer enthusiast from the Bay Area. Last Friday, with friends, he attended the Real Ale Festival in San Diego County. Here’s his report. (Note: I don’t agree with his assessment of Rogue. I really like Rogue.)

Howie, Scott, Doug, Steve and I all went to the San Diego Real Ale festival in Carlsbad. Last year we had gone on a Saturday and it was a mob scene. This year, despite the fact that some people couldn’t go because it was a Friday, we had a MUCH better time.

Ber GlassesAlpine Brewing Pure Hoppiness
I discovered this beer a few years ago out at the source–the Alpine Brewing Company. My Holy Grail of this brewery is the Exponential Hoppiness, their triple IPA, but like Pliny the Younger it tends to go very quickly. So I’ve never had it. Like pretty much all West Coast DIPAs Pure Hoppiness is dry hopped, but unlike many of them it’s not too sweet. Available in bottles in the San Diego area, this is a fine brew for hopheads. 4.5 stars.

Avery Brewing Company Piglet Purgatory. This was a pale ale. I don’t remember anything about it except I scribbled “2.5” on my note sheet. Must not have liked it.

Gordon Biersch Roggenbier. I’ve never seen this one despite living in the San Francisco area. I’m not a huge fan of rye ales as they tend to be really dry and somewhat tasteless compared to the usual overhopped and overyeasted fare that I drink. But I liked this one. I remember it being dry but very full bodied. At 5.8% ABV it was a nice change of pace from the 8-10% other stuff we were tasting. 3.8 stars

Drakes 1500 Pale Ale. We all really liked this beer. Despite the IPA, DIPA and TIPA company it was keeping, it held its own and we all thought, “Mmmm. Tasty.” 4 stars

Port Brewing Hop 15. It’s their double IPA, and I can’t remember anything about it except I wrote “4.2”

Rogue Brewing Brewer. When Doug and I were at the Horse Brass in Portland a few years ago we chatted up the Beer Guy about the various types of Christmas ales they had in bottles. Neither Doug nor I are huge Rogue fans and we mentioned this to the Beer Guy. He paused and said, “Yeah, well there are Rogue fans, and then there’s the rest of us.” That said, there have been a few Rogue beers I have liked. They have a particularly excellent Imperial Pilsner in a very cool bottle. Anyway, this beer the so called “Brewer” strong ale SUCKED. It was horrible. Awful. We dumped it. Zero stars.

Rock Bottom Espresso Stout. Rock Bottom is another one of those breweries I tend not to like. Our joke about Rock Bottom is “Yes it is.” That said, the espresso stout wasn’t bad. It had a very strong coffee flavor but it went down very easy and smooth with minimal aftertaste. 3.8 stars.

Stone Brewing Smoked Porter with Vanilla Beans. This is an outstanding beer that I didn’t really like. Doug liked it better than I did. It really is excellent, with good balance between the sweet malt and vanilla flavorings, but I’m just not a huge vanilla additive fan. But they did a good job with it. If you like vanilla you’ll like this beer. 3.8

Beer glassUnibroue 16. This brewery wins the title of strangest name. I’m sure there is a story behind it but I always think of some bushy faced guy with one eyebrow. Anyway, this Belgian style is excellent, and available in bottles wherever good beer is sold. 4.2

Victory Brewing V12. This is a 12% Quadrupel Belgian. Just too much there there. 2.8

And yes, that was just one day. I didn’t drink all of them _ I played it safe and poured some of the ones I didn’t like as well in the bin. But everything I mention I tried at least a few sips (except for the Rogue which I practically spit out).

The next day we went to the San Diego Zoo. To our surprise there is a restaurant buried deep within the zoo that sells very good food and beer. Doug had a Stone Pale Ale, and I had a Ballast Point Yellowtail Pale. This was a perfect beer for the zoo and a good balance from yesterday’s overhopped extravaganza. The Yellowtail is a Kolsh style ale. This has some wheat in it, which adds a little tanginess, and only 25 IBU. Perfect midafternoon beer. 3.5

After the zoo we went to the Ballast Point Brewing Company to get a really cool t-shirt. While we were there we had a taster of their Double IPA. We both sort of shrugged our shoulders and said, “Yeah, it’s okay.” but we didn’t get a bottle of it. 3 stars.

The next day we went to the Wild Animal Park and then to the Stone Brewing Company where we encountered God. Pliny the Younger is an over the top version of Pliny the Elder, (Russian River Brewing, Santa Rosa, CA) which is already over the top. It is a glorious witches brew of a beer where Vinnie, the brewer obviously was standing over the boiling kettle wide eyed thinking, “More, More MORE, BUAHAHAHAHAHAHA” This beer starts with the aroma, and you sit there for nearly two minutes just smelling the delicious hoppy fruitiness. It’s a sipping beer, where every taste is accompanied by a “mmmm” or an “ahhhh” or an “oooh.” I don’t know its IBU but it has got to be over 100. What a work of art. 5 stars. (I know I said 5.1 yesterday, but 5 is the highest)

We also tried Stone Xth Anniversery IPA on tap. You all know I love this beer and bought 3 cases of it. But compared to Pliny the Elder? Nope. I think I would have liked it better had I started with it.

And lastly we tasted the triple dry hopped Ruination IPA. I have already recommended Ruination to those of you who are major hopheads and have warned off the rest of you. The triple dryhopped is simply a more aromatic version of the regular Ruination. It’s excellent. 4.8

I drove home after a very very long wait. Doug continued sipping while I laid out on the grass in the garden in the back of the brewery warming myself in the sun. That evening my next door neighbor came over and brought over a six pack of Sierra Nevada Summerfest. This is a very good unoffensive summer ale. It’s had a very mild lemony taste and is a good hot sun summer beer.

And that is that. I’m not drinking anything tonight, to say the least. And no, I’m not going through withdrawal.

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