Heyyyy, happy 4th of July, folks! Low Commander here to dust off the old Beer Barrel and hopefully wet your whistles for the incredible day of BBQing, blowing shit up and straight up shameless DRANKIN’. 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays, (mostly because I am not a pet or a PTSD suffering veteran,) and am looking forward to spending the day going to a few local breweries starting right around when this baby goes live at 11 West Coast time, BBQing the hell out of some ribs and then enjoying fireworks right from my balcony. It really doesn’t get much better than that, and if you factor in a strategic 5-day weekend, well, you can probably see why I’m in a good mood.
Today is also a perfect time to catalog my now second annual review of the San Diego International Beer Festival, which took place last month at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. You may remember last year’s post better than I remember going to the event, and my memory of this one is really hazy after a certain point. All I’m saying is I am really glad that I took notes and had some good friends there with me to make sure that I didn’t make more of an ass of myself than usual.
What follows are said notes from the event. I certainly didn’t have the ability to write about every beer I tried, but when something caught my attention, I took it down. For those keeping score at home, here is the full Beer List from the ‘Fest, and if you have any questions on things I didn’t list, I would be happy to see if I can recall what I thought of them in the comments. Shall we begin?
San Fernando Brewing Co. Imperial Death Star Stout (San Fernando, CA) – Boozy, maple nose. Pure bitter chocolate taste. Literally like drinking a handful of melted, bitter chocolate chips.
Track 7 Brewing Co. Nukin’ Futz Imperial Peanut Butter Chocolate Cream Porter (Sacramento, CA) – Peanut butter, sweet and coffee. Perfect combo and surprisingly light in feel. That’s drinkable on a cold day and even on a pretty warm one. Hey, it’s only 7.3% after all!
Kern River Brewing Company Think Tank Rotating Hop Build IPA (Kernville, CA) – Little more bitter than I like up front, but kinda sweet and great pine after that fades. Solid choice.
New English Brewing Co. Barrel Aged Imperial Stout Zumber (San Diego, CA) – The original, non-barrel aged version has become a pretty standout staple around here. This is everything I loved about the original, but twice the power. More chocolate, kinda bitter and a little nutty.
Ninkasi Brewing Co. Ground Control Imperial Stout (Eugene, OR) – YASSSS. You may remember this from a past Beer Barrel that I wrote, and found this beer, brewed with yeast sent into SPACE, a little disappointing. I attribute that to me aging this beer much longer than I should have, and was really happy to be able to try it relatively fresh. Sweet as fuck, but complex and amazing. Most of my other friend’s didn’t like it, but what the fuck do they know?
Humble Farmer Brewing Company 80 Acre Carrot Ale (Holtville, CA) – This beer is carrot cake in a glass. I usually hate carrot cake, but this was damn good. NUTMEEGGGG, cinnamon, somehow creamy and with a sweet carrot taste. Recommended for the holidays.
The Bruery Girl Grey Belgian Strong Golden Ale (Placentia, CA) – Smells like a cup of Earl Grey. Tastes like a sweet cup of tea. Has lactose and almonds in it. I don’t like black tea, but this is good. Not bitter at all. I want to have this with a plate of bacon pancakes. STOP MAKING ME WANT TO DRINK IN THE MORNING!
King Harbor Brewing Company Swirly Special American Brown Ale (Redondo Beach, CA) – This was hands down the most unique beer I had at the ‘Fest. Mouth feel of soft serve ice cream. Coffee, vanilla and chocolate. Weird, not a full pint worthy but good. I can feel SonOfSpam’s yearning for a pint from here though.
Silva Brewing Paso Pale and Hop Maniac IPA (Paso Robles, CA) – I have mad respect for Chuck Silva, former Brewmaster of Green Flash, who left when the owner started tinkering with his award winning recopies. I’ve heard that they are old school Green Flash, and I heard right. These were bitter as all fuck. Not my thing, but I definitely glad someone is still making these types of beer. Old school West Coast, IPAs that Papa Commander is a massive fan of.
The Bruery So Happens it’s Tuesday (Placentia, CA) – Love this beer. Just pure POWER. So much going on. I don’t know much else, but it’s incredibly smooth and delicious. I don’t know how the Buruery does it but they do!
Enegren Brewing Co THE BIG MEAT (Moorpark, CA) – I tried this beer last year, and still absolutely love it. It’s like drinking a smoked pork chop in a glass. Drink this while BBQing and it’s everything. Yeah, I’m weird and love smoked beers.
North Park Beer Co. Pierpont’s Reserve Porter (San Diego, CA) – I’m a porter whore, and this beer screams to me. It starts like a porter and ends like a chocolatey stout. Fuck yes, give me all of it.
Stone Brewing 2013 Old Guardian Oak-Smoked Barely Wine (Escondido, CA) – Fuck. Me! For how light this beer looks, it’s all flavor. It’s like sticking a cigar in the original version, in all the best ways. More bitter, but so great. So glad to see smoked beers making a comeback this year. Did I mention that I love them?
It’s only been an hour? FUUUUUCK!
El Segundo Brewing Co. Sietes de la Suertes Double IPA (El Segundo, CA) – Well El Segundo is amazing and have easily become one of my favorite breweries. It’s funky as fuck for a DIPA, but I dig it. I have never been led astray by them. And the Hammerland IPA is right THERE TOO.. Stupid smooth. These guys continue to always amaze.
Founders Brewing Company Kentucky Breakfast Stout (Grand Rapids, MI) – Coffee and Bourbon? What’s not to love?!
Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co Zero to Sexy Golden Mocha Ale (Buellton, CA) – Love the name. Can’t taste it though, because the Stout from before is still in my glass after rinsing it.
Nickel Beer Company Bruce Banner Grade Double IPA (Julian, CA) – Makes sense because it’s powerful as fuck. Strong DIPA, with sweet but sensual flavor. Kinda funky, but it gets me. Look out for those stupid, sexy Hulk pecs.
Fremont Brewing Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Star with Coffee (Seattle, WA) – When I approached this booth, I asked the ‘tender what they got. “We have light, fruity light and Guinnessy.” I think you know what I chose. Oh, it’s not on nitro, but it’s smooth and good. Quickly fading chocolate, but solid. This is definitely pintable.
Six years ago, the Big Bay Boom fireworks show in San Diego had a malfunction where all of the fireworks went off in a 30 second span and gives us one of my favorite clips. Unconfirmed reports indicate that a masked, yellow foam headed man was seen tampering with the equipment right before, but those reporters went mysteriously missing right afterwards, so I’m just going to chalk it up to a glitch in the system.
***RETURN TO BEER***
At this point, I was challenged to a race by the Manager of Burning Beard, one of my favorite breweries in the area (and was named after a song by one of my favorite bands), for a koozie. “I play competitive rugby, mother fucker!” She wasn’t fooling around. I thought we were gonna run, but it was to drink 10 oz of their Normcore Pilsner. My ass was kicked, but she sold one to me for $3. Best money spent. Also love their beer, period.
Pizza Port Brewing Company Strong Ale Blend 2017 Barrel Aged (Carlsbad, CA) – That’s an ager. Really good, It’s boozy, and there goes my legs are little bit. Fucking a.
Beachwood Brewing System of a Stout (Long Beach, CA) I HAAATE System of a Down. Like, literally my least favorite band ever. But this beer is fucking great. It’s got all the vanilla, mixed with perfect barrel aged and Bourbon. Had this aged before and it’s amazing. Always buy this beer if you see it.
And this is where things start to go sideways, as the next beer I review I’m pretty sure I made up. I can’t find the name to exist on the list, and through online search yields no results. I’ll leave my notes in their original format from where on out.
Things aren’t seeming to impress me anymore. But Pizza Port doing Happily Ever After is quality. There’s…. And I’m swinging. It’s good. Stop talking to me, lama man!
I keep hearing things about Novo Brazil, and I am constantly underwhelmed. I had a hazy that was average, and it just didn’t do much for me. Do better, guys
I have questions about the Sam Adams ’76. I’ve seen the commercials, and that’s not how I wanna find out about my beer, but this isn’t bad. It’s definitely trying make a name for itself, but it’s nothing amazing. Lager heavy is my best way to describe it. But not bad. A six pack or a pint will tell you plenty. Their hazy though… Nawwwww.
Barrel aged Blue Dream. This is Xmas in a glass. Nutmeg, all the spices, this is everything for Winter.
Nickle Brewing Jalapeno Gold: For Senior. It’s got great kick and that’s most of what I taste. It’s good though and I’d definitely drink more. Nickel knows what’s up.
Low Commander of the Super Soldiers was ALL THE BEER, probably drinking close to 80 different kinds during this 4 hour span and should not have been trusted to make decisions. This led to him ordering a “Falafel Waffle” as his post Beerfest meal at the fair for the second time in five years and being horribly disappointed for the second time. He threw up some of said “Waffle” in front of everyone while on the phone with an already pissed off Roommate Commander, then come home, drank copious amounts of water and woke up the next day amazingly refreshed. He now hopes you enjoy one of his favorite DFO Radio playlists, which he was unable to contribute to due to flying up to San Jose for the weekend 2 years ago.