Karl Strauss Off The Rails Review

Karl Strauss Brewing Company Off The Rails

Doubling beer recipes is becoming a real trend in the craft beer world but in the case of Karl Strauss’s Off The Rails (a double version of Red Trolley), it’s a welcome addition to an already stellar lineup of beers. Off the Rails is an Imperial Red by style, which means a lot of malt (more malt = more sugar for the yeast = more alcohol) and a double IPA’s worth of hops.

Originally meant to be a one-off seasonal release last May, they’ve since begun bottling it again and it can usually be found at their restaurants or at a good bottle shop. This specific bottle was from that release but I didn’t drink until about two months after it was bottled so that’s something to keep in mind while reading the review (hoppy beers tend to lose their bitterness over time).

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The Official San Diego Beer Week 2011 Survival Guide

San Diego Beer Week 2011

San Diego Beer Week is officially under way and anyone who has attended before knows that drinking craft beer for 10 days is no easy feet. That’s why, we decided to ask three SDBW veterans, Kevin Spindt, Paul Estrada, and Abby Vacula for their best advice on making it through the week unscathed.

1. With over 400 events to choose from, how do you go about deciding which ones to attend?

Kevin: I honestly just go to the SDBW.org website and try to pick events that are close to one another so I can hit as many as possible.

Paul: I normally go through the events page and look at what beers are being offered at different places. I would rather go to an event that is offering 2-3 beers that I have never had before and will have a hard time ever seeing again versus a huge event that has dozens and dozens of beers that are more common.

Abby: Being that this is my third beer week, I find myself trying to attend the events at the newer establishments around town, or the ones that I haven’t been to yet. I’m really excited to check out both Tiger! Tiger! and Monkey Paw since I have yet to visit either establishment since they opened.

2. As many events as possible for a short amount of time each or fewer full events?

Kevin: I love the BIG events but I also like to hit some of the breweries with tasting rooms before each event. If there is a drink-about, I like to stop by a place like Ballast Point in Linda Vista and taste all of the specialty beers.

Paul: I like seeing lots of events jammed together and seeing which places really step up their game and have some really unique events.

Abby: For me, having to balance both industry events (working at AleSmith) and personal interests, I’ve learned that Beer Week is an endurance test, it’s not about attending the most events. It’s about drinking a lot of water and planning out the best week possible that satisfies what I’m looking to get out of Beer Week. Beer Week is great because every person can tailor their week to their own individual beer/event wish lists. I really enjoy attending as many AleSmith events as possible because it’s a great way to connect with a lot of our fans that don’t get a chance to make it into our tasting room.

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Deconstructing Firestone Walker XV

The last time I was at the Avalon in Hollywood wasn’t for a beer tasting event, but that’s a story for another day. On November 12th of LA Beer Week, we arrived at the usually bustling nightclub to a long line of eager attendees anxiously anticipating what’s to come, Firestone Walker Deconstructed. Once inside the venue however, there was no world renowned DJ or high tempo club music, just really good beer and really great food from world renowned Firestone Walker and Homebrew Chef, Sean Paxton. I use the word “just” loosely because there was nothing minimal about an event that featured 8 food courses paired with a selection of 11 different beers.

The real star of the night was the highly anticipated Firestone Walker XV, their annual blend of barrel aged beers. Hailing from the wine country of Paso Robles, blending is nothing new to the region however it wasn’t until Matt Brynildson, head brewer at Firestone Walker, had a “eureka moment” to bring the technique over to the craft beer world. We had the pleasure of asking Matt some questions as the night went on and got more insight into the blending process.

The Bruery Tasting Room

The Bruery Tasting Room Orange County

Since moving back to Orange County from San Diego a couple of months ago, I found myself craving the experience of drinking beer in the place it was made. That is until, I took the twenty minute trip north to The Bruery in Placentia.

Like many of the great breweries in California, the entrance is through a warehouse sized door in an industrial business center, however once inside, it’s easy to forget where you are entirely. The first thing you’ll noticed are the stacks and stacks of barrels all of which, full with amazing aging beer. During my first visit, Black Tuesday was aging and since then those barrels were replaced by Oude Tart (complete with a “critters added list” including brettanomyces, lactobacillus, and more).

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LA Craft Beer Crawl

LA Craft Beer Festival

Los Angelenos, put on your walking shoes and bring an empty belly because this Saturday, August 13th is the annual Los Angeles Craft Beer Crawl. This event will feature over 50 different taps at 7 different bars, all walking distance from each other. There will also be local food trucks in between the bars, oh and one more thing… UNLIMITED TASTERS!

Event organizers, The Beer Chicks and 213 Nightlife have also decided to graciously donate a portion of the events proceeds to Heal The Bay. General Admission tickets are $49, and something I’m a huge fan of, Designated Driver tickets are only $10. Tickets are being sold until the event sells out so don’t miss out on a great afternoon of beer tasting.

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Ballast Point Sculpin IPA Review

Ballast Point Brewing Co Sculpin IPA

The day before IPA Day, I walked into Total Wine in hopes of finding something special. I went straight to the back walk-in fridge, a spot a kind employee once showed that frequently has delicious and hard to find beers. This is where I came upon an unopened case from Ballast Point Brewing Company. I carefully lifted one of the cases flaps, grabbed the top of a 22oz bottle and pulled out the one and only, Sculpin IPA.

Sculpin has a perfectly gold color and its head stays consistent until the very end. It smells of really fresh hops which gives it a bitter nose but in a really pleasing way, similar to the aroma of a good coffee. There are also lots of fruity flavors like peach, apricot, melon, and pineapple that really jump out of the glass.

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Baird / Ishii / Stone Japanese Green Tea IPA Review

Baird Ishii Stone Japanese Green Tea IPA

As part of their 2011 Collaboration Series, Stone’s head brewer Mitch Steel got together with Toshi Ishii of Ishii Brewing Co and Bryan Baird of Baird Brewing, to make a Japanese Green Tea IPA. Together they brewed a huge beer to benefit the Tsunami Relief effort. This IPA features five different hop varieties: Warrior, Crystal, Pacifica, then dry hopped with Aramis and Sorachi Ace.

To put the icing on the cake, they also dry hopped it with Sencha, a whole-leaf green tea from Japan. And, in typical Stone fashion, they made it big, brewed at 9.2% to commemorate the 9.2 magnitude earthquake. The five hop varieties and addition of green tea makes this not your everyday IPA.

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International #IPA Day – A Social Celebration

International IPA Day - Hop Plant

The folks over at Drink With The Wench have taken it into their own hands to create International #IPA Day. It’s being described as a grassroots social media-based celebration of craft beer featuring one of its most popular styles, the India Pale Ale. Here’s a an excerpt from the creators themselves.

Attention all craft beer evangelists, brewers, bloggers, and suds-savvy citizens! On Thursday, August 4th 2011, you are cordially invited to participate in the largest international craft beer celebration and virtual conversation the world has ever seen.

International #IPADay is a grassroots movement to unite the voices of craft beer enthusiasts, bloggers, and brewers worldwide through social media. OnThursday August 4th, craft beer drinkers across the social sphere and across the globe will raise pints in a collective toast to one of craft beer’s most iconic styles: the India Pale Ale. This celebrated style represents the pinnacle of brewing innovation with its broad spectrum of diverse brands, subcategories, and regional flavor variations – making it the perfect style to galvanize craft beer’s social voice.

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