Tag Archives: Alesmith

Grand opening for Hess Brewing

While some people might think there are already more than enough breweries in the San Diego area, others think there is room for more. Among those others are the owners of Hess Brewing, a new operation at 7955 Silverton Ave., just off Miramar Road.

Hess has been open for a couple weeks and is having a “Grand Opening” event this weekend. The doors open at 12:30 on Saturday and there will be free T-shirts for the first 50 people, live music at 1:00, food from Tabe BBQ at 2:00 and beer (plus root beer for designated drivers) until 6:00.

Hess’s flagship beers are Claritas Kolsch, Grazias Vienna Cream Ale, Intrepidus IPA, Amplus “San Diego Pale Ale” (aka a double IPA), and the Ex Umbris Stout.

Hess offers tasters as well as growler fills, and the growlers are those cool, big-mouth, flip-top type that Beerandburritos really likes. They’re great for filling with homebrew and taking to parties or the beach (on the down-low of course) or elsewhere.

In addition to its main website, Hess also has a blog where the owners have posted a number of updates since their journey to opening day began more than a year ago. Check out the photos of the various steps along the way, as well as little tidbits about brewing in San Diego and elsewhere.

We haven’t tried any of Hess’s beers yet and don’t know how they’ll stack up against the formidable competition here in San Diego. But on the upside, if you go to their brewery and don’t like their beer, you’re only a couple blocks away from AleSmith, so you can stop there for beer you know will be good, and still go home happy.

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GABF judges like San Diego beers

The winners have been announced from this past weekend’s 2008 Great American Beer Festival in Denver, and congratulations are in order to a number of San Diego-area breweries. With Gold, Silver and Bronze winners in 75 categories, there are plenty of awards to go around, but local breweries nabbed more than their fair share.

Most notably, the Alesmith brewing team was named the Small Brewing Company and Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year. You’ll get no arguments here.

Alesmith also took home the Gold medal for its Wee Heavy in the “Strong Scotch Ale” category, the Gold for its Decadence Old Ale in the “Old Ale or Strong Ale” category, the Silver medal for its Vintage Speedway Stout in the “Aged Beer” category and the Silver for its Old Numbskull in the “Barley Wine-Style Ale” category.

The only other San Diego-area brewery to take home a Gold medal was beerandburritos favorite San Diego Brewing Co., which got the Gold for its wonderful Hopnotic in the “Imperial or Double India Pale Ale” category.

The local brewery with the most awards, if you lump all their locations together, is Pizza Port/Port Brewing

  • Pizza Port Carlsbad won the Silver for its Party Pants Pilsener in the “German-Style Pilsener” category, the Silver for Night Rider Imperial Stout in the “Imperial Stout” category, the Bronze for Port Truck Stout in the “Classic Irish-Style Dry Stout” category, the Bronze for Cow Stout in the “Sweet Stout” category and the Bronze for its State Beach Blonde in the “Herb and Spice or Chocolate Beer” category.
  • Pizza Port Solana Beach won the Bronze for its Big Wednesday in the “American-Belgo Style Ale” category.
  • Pizza Port San Clemente (OK, it’s Orange County and not San Diego, but it’s a local company) won Silver for Way Heavy in the “Strong Scotch Ale” category. (Now I wish I’d tried that when I was at PP San Clemente two weeks ago.)
  • Port Brewing and the Lost Abbey won Bronze for Hop 15 in the “Imperial or Double India Pale Ale” category.

Also, Rock Bottom in La Jolla got the Silver medal for its Ragtop Red in the “Irish-Style Red Ale” category.

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Barrel-icious

Those barrels might not look all that exciting, but some would say they have treasures inside. They’re whiskey barrels used to age beer at the Alesmith brewery.

You can get a bottle of beer from one of those barrels in a couple weeks if you’re willing to stand in line and pay $20. Of course, they might sell out before your turn comes, but them’s the breaks.

It’s a batch of barrel-aged 2007 Speedway Stout and the sale happens at noon on Sept. 26. Having recently attended a special Alesmith tasting that featured four different vintages of Speedway Stout, I can vouch for the fact that it gets better with age, and the barrel-aged versions are excellent.

Here’s the info from Alesmith:

We are releasing another batch of Barrel-Aged Speedway Stout this year!  On Friday, September 26th at noon we’ll be releasing our 2007 batch of Barrel-Aged Speedway Stout.  Maximum purchase will be two (2) bottles, for $20 each, and we will reserve the right to change the allotment during the sale.  Once again, we’ll be conducting the sale from the back of the brewery and Jessica will be in charge of the tickets, so look for her when you get there! 

The Alesmith special-release events typically are very popular and the beers sell out fast, so if you want in on the action, I recommend getting there early. Oh, and not to be a grandma about it, but wearing sunscreen would probably be a good idea.

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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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Summer Yulesmith

Alesmith makes some of my favorite beers, and they’ve got a special release coming up this week. It’s the 2008 Summer Yulesmith Holiday Ale and they’re selling it at their brewery on Thursday. (If you haven’t been to the brewery before, it’s a little tricky to find. It’s in an office park next to an Indian imports store.)

Here are the details from Alesmith:

Summer YuleSmith is back and will be available at the brewery on Thursday, July 3rd during our special open hours from 1-5pm. Summer YuleSmith is an Imperial/Double India Pale Ale designed to showcase the incredible flavor and aroma of American hops. A substantial maltiness provides a firm backdrop for the big hop profile that follows. Copper colored and full bodied with an alcohol content around 9% abv, Summer YuleSmith is a classic example of the modern Double IPA style. It will be sold in bottles only for $7 per bottle.

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The Aero Club

Every time I go to the Aero Club, I wonder why I don’t go more often.

It’s got a good draft beer selection. We’re talking Racer 5 and Red Rocket from Bear Republic; Stone Pale Ale, IPA, Levitation and Arrogant Bastard; the comfort food of San Diego beers, Alesmith X; and some boring stuff like Boddington’s, Amstel Light, Newcastle and Bass. The selection doesn’t really rotate like at some places, but there’s nothing wrong with consistency when something is consistently good. And not that I’d care, being a dedicated beer drinker, but it’s also got an extensive booze selection.

The Aero Club also has great servers. Every time I’ve been there the bartenders have been friendly and attentive, making sure I’m taken care of. It’s funny, but I get the feeling they appreciate someone who knows craft beers. When I was there last Saturday, the bartender who served me seemed to smile and nod in approval each time I made my order (Red Rocket, Stone IPA, Alesmith X, Racer 5). I thanked him when I paid my tab, and he thanked me for coming in. Good cheer all around.

Granted, you can get great beer and good service at a lot of places around San Diego. The thing that really makes the Aero Club stand out is the jukebox. It seems like most “beer bars” around here either music so quietly that it’s almost inaudible, which usually is a good thing because most of them play crap music. But the Aero Club has a good, if a little dated, jukebox, and the tunes play at a good volume that’s loud enough to be part of the atmosphere but not so loud that it’s dominant. There are lots of indie rock CDs that would’ve been hot about 10 years ago. Early Modest Mouse, Built to Spill, Shins, Pavement, etc., along with some decent classic rock like Queen and Steve Miller Band. There are enough good tunes that I can always play a couple dollars worth and find plenty of decent selections.

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