Monthly Archives: August 2008

Street Scene to have good beer after all?

So yesterday morning I complained that I’d be stuck drinking crap beers at Street Scene while others were enjoying great beers at the San Diego Festival of Beer.

The Street Scene organizers must’ve been reading, because they announced yesterday afternoon that Street Scene will feature a “MicroBrewery Festival” with 12 local, regional and national breweries pouring samples of their beers. The MicroBrewery Festival apparently will look like the photo above, as it was included with the announcement.

I guess that means Street Scene wasn’t able to land a corporate beer sponsor, and that’s good news for people who like good beer.

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Blind devotion

You know what it’s like when you get a new CD and love it so much you can’t stop listening to it even though you know that if you listen too much you’ll just get sick of it? That’s kind of what’s happening for me with Blind Pig IPA right now.

Before I say more about how great Blind Pig India Pale Ale is, let’s go over the beer’s history. It originally was brewed at the now-defunct Blind Pig Brewing Co. in Temecula. The legend goes that in 1994, brewer Vinnie Cilurzo accidentally put 50 percent too much malt in a batch of beer and decided to compensate for that by adding 100 percent more hopes. That mistake turned out to be a glorious one, as the resulting IPA had a killer hop aroma and taste that went on to inspire many other west coast IPAs and continues to do so to this day.

Blind Pig now is made by Russian River in Santa Rosa, and Cilurzo has been the brewmaster since Russian River opened in 1997. It has been available at the Russian River brew pub for years but was only available around San Diego on rare occasions. That is, until recently. Russian River has boosted production of Blind Pig and now you can get it regularly on tap at O’Brien’s, and occasionally at other places, including Newport Pizza in Ocean Beach. Just keep your eyes out for the tap handle that looks like a blind man’s cane.

Even better, Russian River has started bottling Blind Pig, and you can find it at some of the better bottle shops around San Diego, including the Olive Tree in Ocean Beach. You won’t find it at BevMo, though, supposedly because Cilurzo requires that stores keep Blind Pig cold and BevMo doesn’t have the cooler space to commit to that. If you read the label on a Blind Pig bottle, you’ll see that it says about 20 times that you shouldn’t age the beer but instead drink it while it’s fresh. Each bottle even has a “brewed on” date.

Now that you know where to get it, be warned that once you try it, you might not want to drink anything else. I usually am all about variety and won’t get two pints of the same thing on a night out, but more than once I’ve found myself ordering a second or even third round of Blind Pig. Mrs. Beer & Burritos is even worse — she’ll drink it all night if she can. Blind Pig has a fresh, crisp taste that’s heavy on the hops, especially citrus hops. Delicous!

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Good beer vs good music

For those who like to plan more than a few days ahead, Sept. 19 is going to bring a tough decision. That’s the night that the San Diego Festival of Beer will be held, and based on last year, it will be a fun time. It’s less expensive than the Stone festival, much more convenient for San Diegans and far less crowded. There were some great beers there last year.

The problem is, Sept. 19 also is the first night of this year’s Street Scene festival. Yeah, the festival has struggled the last couple of years, but it’s got a great lineup this year. I’m opting to go to Street Scene because of the lineup. I’ll be thinking of those who go to the beer fest and are enjoying things like Pizza Port Hop Suey and Ballast Point Schooner while I’m stuck drinking whatever crap beer they have at Street Scene.

By the way, if you are going to the beer fest, you can save $5 if you buy your tickets in advance.

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Slow ride

The other night Mrs. Beer & Burritos and I popped in to The Linkery in North Park and found one of the more unusual beer lists around, along with perhaps the highest beer prices I’ve ever seen.

The Linkery is a different kind of place. It does the whole slow food thing, for one. It also has an unusual tipping policy where they automatically add 18 percent to your bill whether you want them to or not, and if you want to tip more than that, it goes to charity.

We didn’t eat there so I can’t comment on the food, but we did drink. The place has six taps and when we were there, two were devoted to Ballast Point Sea Monster Stout — one regular, one cask-conditioned. The other taps featured Alesmith Nautical Nut Brown, Trumer Pils, Green Flash Trippel and another Belgian-style brew. No pale ales were available, Indian or otherwise. The draft beers are sold in 5-, 10- and 15-ounce glasses, with the large glass going for about $7.50 for most brews. That’s at least $3 more than you’d pay for 16 ounces of the same thing at most beer bars around town.

Then there was their bottle list, which had some nice selections at amazingly high prices. A bottle of Alesmith IPA, which goes for about $4 at your average bottle shop, was available for $13.50. A bottle of Alesmith Speedway Stout, which costs $10 at a store, was available for $23. A bottle of barrel-aged Speedway Stout, admittedly a rarity, could be had for $38. A relative bargain was the excellent and pretty hard to find 2006 Alesmith Winter Yulesmith, which was available for $12.50. Why a bottle of two-year-old, limited-edition beer costs $1 less than a bottle of brand new, commonly available Alesmith IPA makes no sense to me.

We had a couple draft beers and a bottle of the 2006 Yulesmith and they all were good. One problem, though, was that the service was very slow. With each round we sat with empty glasses for several minutes before we were able to catch a bartender’s attention. I understand slow food, but slow beer? Getting the check took a bit of time and effort as well. I have to wonder if the poor service is a result of the automatic tipping policy.

It’s cool that The Linkery is trying to do something different, but I won’t go back unless I have a lot of extra time (and money) to spend.

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Sculpin to resurface!

OK, so I don’t usually have exclamation points in headlines here, but then again, I don’t usually get to say that one of my favorite beers is on its way back.

Ballast Point recently announced on its MySpace blog that it is fixing to brew some more Sculpin IPA. This is great news because Sculpin is a great beer. The fish it’s named after might sting you, but the beer will treat you just fine.

Ballast Point bottled the Sculpin IPA for the first time ever earlier this year, and it was a treat to be able to drink it at home. It sold out fast, though, so if you see it on any store shelves in the coming months, I’d recommend snapping some up.

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Stone 12th Anniversary = kinda disappointing

OK, so I mentioned the other day that I was pretty excited about going to the Stone 12th Anniversary Celebration that was held last weekend. But you know, it ended up being rather disappointing.

First, it was too crowded. It seemed like every one of the 40-plus beer lines was either long or super long. Getting from one line to another meant pushing through throngs of people, too.

Second, the breweries didn’t post their offerings anywhere, so you had to either wait in a long line or push your way through the crowd and go up to the front of the line to find out what they had.

Third, with few exceptions (notably the Bruery, which had some great offerings), the breweries didn’t bring very interesting beers. You’d find more special brews at O’Brien’s or the Tap Room almost any night of the week. Case in point: Ballast Point, which makes a lot of specialty beers, had only their widely available Yellowtail Pale Ale and Big Eye IPA on hand.

Add to all this that the taster glasses have shrunk down from 6 ounces in the past to 4 ounces this year, that every tent was vigilant about taking your taster ticket (meaning there were no bonus pours) and that they no longer sell extra tasting tickets and it adds up to a rather unsatisfying beer experience.

And we won’t even complain about the things we knew going in — that the fest was in San Marcos, which is a haul, and that it was very hot in the sun.

Stone Brewing CEO Greg Koch has said that they will make some changes for next year and possibly sell fewer tickets. Here’s hoping he follows through on that.

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Are you excited about the return of old, cheap beers?

Neither is Michael Stetz at the Union-Tribune.

I’m no beer snob, believe me. It’s just that drinking this stuff reminds me of 1977, when I drank to forget . . . my acne problem.

Of course I’d probably cave and try to recapture my youth if they brought back Schaefer (“The one beer to have when you’re having more than one”), especially if they brought back this amazingly awesome commercial with a Moog version of their jingle.

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