Posts Tagged ‘ballast point’

san diego beer tour (ballast point, hess, alesmith)

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

with family in carlsbad, my trips to san diego are usually limited to stops at north county heavy hitters including pizza port, lost abbey/port, and stone (not that there’s anything wrong with that lineup).  however, last weekend AP and I decided to venture a little further south to check out a few more of san diego’s numerous brew locales.

  • our trip started with a brewery tour of ballast point’s old grove facility and distillery.  their distillery was especially impressive in that it was technically separate from the brewery (it was fenced off from the rest of the brewery and had its own entrance and exit to the street).  word got out that in addition to their gin and rum, a young (3-year) bourbon-style whiskey was in the works…
  • after our tour, we enjoyed tasters of fresh sculpin, even keel, piper down, and sextant.  the tasting room was packed at one in the afternoon, with tour buses full of visitors and locals filling growlers.
  • we managed to avoid the crowds at out next stop – hess brewing (although I did spy a beer tour van leaving the parking lot as we arrived).  hess had a very relaxed vibe and a great bartender to match.
  • with AP tagged as the designated driver, I ran through a flight of tasters, including grazias, jucundus, intrepidus, trinitas, brunus induresco, brunus robustus, and ex umbris, while chatting up some locals.  all of their offerings were very well made, and a high level of attention was evident in their 1.5 barrel “nanobrewery” batches.  hess was definitely my favorite stop of the trip, and I’m bummed to be missing out on their first anniversary celebration this upcoming weekend.
  • our third stop of the day was alesmith, which was a quick five-minute drive from hess (ballast point is only a few minutes away as well).  a spartan tasting room with a lineup including classics such as speedway stout, grand cru, horny devil, X, and wee heavy had me ready for an afternoon nap in no time.
  • other trip highlights included newport pizza and olive tree marketplace in ocean beach, and the super jr. market downtown, which had an absolutely amazing temp-controlled beer selection.
  • despite running through a half dozen beer spots in SD, only a fraction of my list was checked off.  it will take at least a few more trips south to cover all my bases down there…

second annual IPA festival at naja’s place

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

naja’s place just had their second annual IPA festival, and it was pretty epic.

  • I was impressed not only by the beer selection, but also by the organization of the event and the friendliness of everyone involved.
  • AP and I rolled up early (4:15ish) to find a line to the door about 15 people long.  I think we hit the wait apex, however, since the line dissolved in about five minutes (thank god) and never reappeared from what I could see.
  • in general, the whole LA beer scene feels pretty relaxed when compared to the capacity crowd events happening in SF these days.  case in point – my buddy ML stopped by a few hours into the event and was still able to snag a pour of coveted pliny the younger.  in fact, I don’t think any keg kicked before I left at around 7.
  • this keg longevity was facilitated by the fact that festival glasses held only a few ounces.  this turned out to be a great idea, as it allowed for tastings of a wide variety of beers, instead of getting burned out on a full pour of some 10% hop bomb.
  • between AP, AP, ML, and myself, we managed to try a pretty wide variety of beers: avery’s maharaja ’08, ballast point’s tongue buckler and dry-hopped sculpin cask, bootlegger’s knuckle sandwich, firestone walker’s double jack, flying dog’s double dog and raging bitch, marin’s brass knuckle, russian river’s pliny the younger, tustin’s death by hops, and strand brewing’s double dry hopped 24th st. pale.  phew!
  • standouts for me were the cask sculpin, which had a great aroma and finish, even after half a dozen pours; and marin’s brass knuckle, which had a unique finish that I can only compare to instant iced tea.  weird, but good.  bootlegger’s knuckle sandwich was pretty intense, with a strong malt back that was refreshingly different.
  • yeah, younger was good too, and was well-balanced, but I expected a little less alcohol heat on the finish.  maybe a fresher sample would have enough hop aroma to tackle that.
  • overall, this was one of the best beer events I have been to.  I don’t think I waited longer than a minute to get any of my pours, there was plenty of water available, and the bathroom line was nonexistent.  we got a table with zero effort, and had pretzels and other snacks on constant refill.  I felt like I had won the beer lottery.

ballast point sculpin

Monday, January 25th, 2010

sculpin IPA

during one of CB’s past brew sessions, he whipped out a bottle of ballast point‘s sculpin to sample during the sparge.

  • sculpin is a limited-release IPA with a reputation for great drinkability and balance.
  • after having it on draft and in the bottle, I would have to agree – the beer is a great example of an IPA, with a great citrusy hop aroma and bitter finish that is strong but not overwhelming.
  • I’m not sure why this is a limited release, but if ballast point made this a mainstay (and charged a little less for a bomber), it could be their pliny the elder.  I don’t know why a kickass IPA has to be a “limited release” (unless there’s some fresh hop action going on that I am unaware of).
  • FYI – check out the info on the sculpin namesake.

sculpin IPA

naja’s place

Monday, October 5th, 2009

sculpin and the view at naja's

if you don’t know, now you know.

  • naja’s place in redondo beach is my favorite bar on the planet, and is one of the most overlooked spots to grab a brew in california.
  • it’s located right on the water, and has 88 beers on tap (tap list doesn’t look current), a great bottle selection, good food and live music.
  • best of all, the staff is always friendly, laid back, and knowledgeable about their brews.
  • AP and I went there multiple times over the weekend, and over the course of our visits we sampled numerous brews.  one of my favorites was sculpin IPA from ballast point.  it had an intense, fresh hop aroma and was surprisingly sessionable.
  • I also got a chance to try  sierra nevada’s estate harvest ale, a good APA with a great story behind it.
  • next in line was port brewing’s old viscosity – a blended strong ale that tastes like a smooth, strong imperial stout.
  • I also managed to grab an old blarney barleywine from moylan’s – it was malty and smooth, a good example of the style.
  • I even managed a taster of the bruery’s autumn maple, but I don’t think I could finish a whole glass of the stuff – toss me a punkin ale instead.
  • AP was feeling the spirit of the season and stuck with spaten’s oktoberfest.
  • note: LA beer week is coming up in a couple weeks, and naja’s is going all out for it.  martin was talling me about a stone brewing night, a new belgium specialty night, a belgian import night, and other events.
  • thanks again to martin, darren, and the rest of the crew over at naja’s!  we’ll be back soon!

part of the tap lineup at naja's

old viscosity and spaten oktoberfest

bottle fridges at naja's

the grill at naja's

sculpin IPA at naja's

the band at naja's

two happy customers at naja's