A Few Reasons I Love San Diego

Posted by Shawn | Category: Craft Beer, Just For Fun | On 11-16-2012

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San Diego harbors everything I love in this world. Here are a few reasons why I am in a love affair with this city.

1. Beer Everywhere

 

Brandon Hernandez of San Diego Reader keeps his fingers on the pulse of everything beer in this town, and he just wrote about 3 new breweries on the way. As if we don’t have enough of them to cover the streets in 1 foot of beer, I welcome the addition of new players in the industry (if done right). I hate when businessmen looking to make buck take advantage of the burgeoning craft beer scene and produce shitty beer that’s not a result of love. I want people seriously committed to the craft.

That’s why I’m excited for these 3 new ones to hit San Diego soon. They all come from homebrewers or experienced brew masters who want to launch their own venture. Keep your eye out for Belching Beaver Brewery, Butcher’s Brewing and Saint Archer. Full article here.

Saint Archer Brewery

2. Beautiful Scenery in My Backyard

 

I live in Crown Point and every morning I pass over the bay on Ingraham St bridge to a beautiful sunrise over the mountains on my left and a clear blue sky / water scene to my right. Heading down the street I can ride my bike to small but crisp waves and enter an empty lineup looking back at the cliffs of Bird Rock.

Amplified Ale Works, located at the end of my street, took this picture here this morning and it sums up my love for my backyard.

Small Waves at Pacific Beach Drive

3. Gluttonous Food

 

I’m just going to quickly say I obviously love the food scene in San Diego. Here is an example that you can get your hands on today from 5pm to close at The Linkery. Deep…fried…bacon. Need I say more?

Deep Fried Bacon

 

 

Coffee and Tea Collective – My Morning Fix

Posted by Shawn | Category: Coffee & Tea | On 08-05-2012

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Coffee and Tea Collective Bike in North Park

Coffee and Tea Collective on El Cajon Blvd in North Park is my newest addiction and I get my fix pretty often. Opened just months ago, Daniel Holcomb has added one more great cafe to the neighborhood but it shines when it comes to a great cup. I love working in the area and being able to walk to any of the 3 cafes immediately surrounding me but I’ll make the short drive to them when I’m really needing flavor with my caffeine fix.

Coffee in North Park San Diego

With great attention to detail, Daniel and team are using only specific beans from certain regions that they know will taste great and they’re handling them with care. They roast the beans on site and then offer the coffee in a limited menu of espresso and pour-over styles. I personally am not a coffee snob (people who know me say differently) but I really love their coffee and prefer it over some close competition.

Espresso at Coffee and Tea Collective

Look for their iced coffee if you want a kick that carries a lot of flavor or go for a regular pour-over. They also “secretly” offer slightly more complex beverages like an Iced Coconut Latte and others off the espresso machine.

Pour-Over Coffee Gif at Coffee and Tea Collective

Pour-over coffee here tastes amazing.

Cafe Interior in North Park

Conversations at Coffee and Tea Collective.

Espresso at Coffee and Tea Collective

Multi-tasking required.

Coffee Mug

Merchandise at C&TC.

Crowd at Coffee and Tea Collective

Plenty to do while you wait for your coffee.

Now Open

Coffee and Tea Collective is open for your morning fix!

 

Good Memories at Port Brewing / The Lost Abbey

Posted by Shawn | Category: Bar / Brewery, Craft Beer | On 07-09-2012

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Lost Abbey Brewery

It’s funny how some places take you back. Whether that’s back to home or just good memories, there’s something about the familiar that makes me enjoy a place more. The Lost Abbey is one of those places and it reminds me of when I first turned 21 – a great time in life for someone who enjoys beer. I was like many other 21 year olds and I only knew mixed drinks but I had made a trip to Four Peaks, my favorite brewery in Arizona and it changed the game for me completely. When I saw those big tanks and hoses on the ground right next to my table, I felt a part of the process that went into the beer I was drinking.

$1 Tasters at Lost Abbey

The Lost Abbey brings me back to that day with their barrels, tanks and whole operation right next to the bar. In fact, it’s a part of the bar since the whole area is basically the brewery with no chairs or tables. It’s part of the charm to this place because you get what you see – no frills, good beer and honest people. Every person behind that bar or in the back knows their stuff and is happy to answer questions. Sure some places like Stone Brewery are nice with tons of established beer and a huge (expensive) food menu, but this place doesn’t serve food and doesn’t even have seating. Plus, the beers on draft are all $5 or less!

Menu at Lost Abbey

Take a trip up to San Marcos and sample some of their brews like we did: with $1 tasters. This way you can work down the menu (just make sure you have a driver!). Operating in the same space, Port Brewing and Lost Abbey share a facility and are both owned by Port Brewing Company. What does this mean for you? Double the craft beer selection! And for us, this meant a lot of dollar tasters and a great afternoon with friends. If you like barrel aged beer or just a good atmosphere, give these guys a visit. Cheers!

 Shawn Massie and Ro EspinosaRo and I enjoying some quality beer.

Barrel Aged Beer at Lost AbbeyBarrel aging in process at Lost Abbey. Some of these were marked 2008.

Carnevale at Lost AbbeyCarnevale – Best of Show at San Diego International Beer Festival 2012.

$1 Tasters on Barrels$1 Tasters are the way to go.

Open Seating at Lost AbbeyOpen seating!

 

Foodie Events This Week: Craft Beer, Local Small Plates and Sausage

Posted by Shawn | Category: Craft Beer, Just For Fun | On 06-18-2012

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San Diego will be host to 3 great events this week that should please anyone calling themselves a foodie or beer geek.

A Taste of Summer

Hosted in Liberty Station this Friday, June 22nd, 10 of San Diego’s best chefs will be in attendance serving some of their best small plates and hors d’oeuvres. Chefs from Sea Rochet Bistro, Carnitas Snack Shack and Alchemy among others will be serving tasty bites using local and organic ingredients. Click the image for more details.

A Taste of Summer at Liberty Station

San Diego International Beer Festival

The San Diego County Fair has been drawing people all week to Del Mar (which you’ve probably noticed if you’ve drove on the 5 North last weekend). This weekend is sure to bring even more though when they host the 6th Annual Beer Festival showcasing more than 300 beers from almost 140 breweries. Friday and Saturday both have great sessions lined up but Sunday will have a San Diego beer focus. Visit San Diego Beer Festival for more details.

SausageFest

13 chefs will compete this Wednesday, June 20th for best sausage in town at LOUNGEsix in Downtown San Diego. Featuring a contest alongside Lost Abbey’s “Road to Helles” beer release, a golden German lager, this event will definitely be one I’ll be attending. If you wind up going, be sure to find me and help me take good photos of sausage and beer! Click image for more details.

SausageFest in Downtown San Diego

Beer of the Week #4 – Cuvee des Jacobins

Posted by Shawn | Category: Beer of the Week | On 06-07-2012

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Cuvee des Jacobins… I love just saying the name. Unfortunately I don’t know the proper pronunciation so I’ll sometimes get a strange look from the bartender when I’m lucky enough to find it on tap. “Jack – Oh – Bins please!” or “Jacque-Oh-Bean!” if I’m feeling particularly Belgian that day. However it’s pronounced, it’s delicious in so many ways.

To fall in love with this beer as I have, you need to understand what sets it apart from other beers apart from taste. Sure it leaves a tart, sour taste in your mouth like a pinot noir mixed with grapefruit but what’s really going on in this beer? Let me take you through the process of making Cuvee des Jacobins so you can appreciate what you’re drinking to its full extent.

Cuvee des Jacobins Rouge

Brewing Process

Your everyday Budweiser and Coors Light is not too far off of your favorite premium lager or strong ale that you may get at a craft brewery around San Diego in terms of time and steps. Before San Diego beer lovers (every resident) get mad at me for making that comparison let me explain. A common pale lager, brown ale or even IPA can be ready to drink within 3-4 weeks of brewing. Sure a lot of ingredients differ and that’s a large part of what makes the beer, but the main steps are the same.
Mash > Lauter > Boil > Cool > Ferment > Bottle or Keg.

Cuvee des Jacobins Red Color

Where a lot of brewers start to have fun with this is in the fermentation stage by trying wild yeasts floating around in the ambient air or aging their beers in a oak barrel. Bockor Brouwerij, brewers of Cuvee des Jacobins, do both of these but with a specific strain of yeast that sours their beers and has been floating around their breweries for hundreds of years. They also do not force this yeast into their tanks by simply adding it when their beer has cooled as do most beers. They spontaneously ferment by putting the beer in “coolships” or shallow containers only about 18-25″ deep that are exposed to the air.

Anchor Steam in San Francisco was one of the first breweries in North America to use coolships which basically helped cool the beer quickly before mechanical refrigeration was around. Ocean breezes off the Pacific would cool the shallow beer that Anchor Steam would put on top of its brewery.

Coolship used at Anchor Steam

Coolship from Anchor Steam

Well Bockor uses these coolships to expose the beer to the wild yeast and waits until the beer starts to ferment. They then put it in oak barrels and age it for 18 months! Only then will they know if the beer turned out which is pretty crazy to think about when it comes to patience. In that time it spends in the barrel, the yeast is settling down but leaving a nice tart character and the wood is imparting some of its flavors to the beer as well.

Finished Product

After its 18 month soak in the barrel its bottled or kegged and ready for our consumption. Cuvee comes out in a deep cherry red color that smells like cherries, currants, cranberries and a sweet red wine. This is when you think about all that went into this product and take your first sip. Now that I’ve built up this beer so much you’ll probably be expecting something wonderfully pleasant. WRONG. This beer easily makes 50% of the people who try it put on their worst sour candy face. Lips purse and eyes narrow. I’ve had people who I didn’t warn tell me “This beer’s gone bad!”. I just laugh and enjoy another.

Cuvee des Jacobins Bottle and Glass

The Specs
Style: Flanders Red Ale (or Flemish Sour Ale)
ABV: 5.5%
Color: Dark Cherry Red

Aroma: Cherries, cranberries and sour fruit. It smells more like a sparkling wine than it does a beer, with a little oak in it too.

Taste: Instant puckering from the sourness on your first sip but then it subsides. Medium carbonation in bottle and on tap with a sparkling wine feeling. It has vanilla, cherry and grape in the middle with an acidic burn on the way down.

Overall: 4/5 – I have a lot of respect for this beer (if you haven’t guessed already) but the taste alone is something unique and fun. I love drinking this beer any time of year and any time of day.