Blondes on Beers:
OK, quick change of plans. We know last month we said we were going to a brewery in Point Loma , but with the launch of San Diego Beer Week on Nov. 3 and Guild Fest, the Blondes of Beers couldn't resist and we attended the celebration in downtown San Diego.
Presented by the San Diego Brewers Guild, the fest featured 60 breweries from across San Diego — including several from Point Loma and Ocean Beach — who offered signature and specialty beers for the event. Attendees (for those of you interested in next year's fest) are granted unlimited two-ounce samples of brewers' wares. But as a word of caution, high ABV beers can catch up to you, so drink lots of water, eat whenever possible, have a plan and, in the name of all that is good, pace yourself.
While we decided to focus this column on the showings from Point Loma and OB breweries (some of which will be made available at their 92106 and 92107 tasting rooms) there were several others that stood out and are worth checking out.
Point Loma's Eppig (Zwickelbier): Simple, crisp lager with a well-balanced, dry hopped flavor. This beer denotes an earthy, grassy aroma and I can taste a hint of lemon flavor. Fun fact: Zwickelbier is named for the sampling device used for retrieving fresh beer from a cellar tank.
Ocean Beach's Belching Beaver (Fall of Troy): Referred to as a milkshake style, this double IPA is sweet, creamy and perfectly citrusy: the adult version of a creamsicle. The hops flavor comes through as an aftertaste.
Ocean Beach's Mike Hess Brewing (Ficus fig saison): This dark fig saison is brewed with organic, locally grown brown turtle figs (10 pounds per barrel). It was light bodied, sweet and creamy. This was a dark beer easy to fall in love with and packs a punch at 9 percent alcohol by volume.
OB Brewery (B. Right On): We're both excited to see the award-winning beer offered today. It's light, crisp and hoppy. It's a simple lager but it's got a uniqueness to it, maybe the malts with a slight bitterness from the hops.
Ocean Beach's Pizza Port Brewing (Chronic Ale): I thought this amber ale was very light, almost airy; crisp and malty, with a lightly bitter aftertaste. I asked about the beer's name and the beertender tells me it's brewed with hemp seeds!
Ocean Beach's Kilowatt (Festbier): There seems to be a pattern here because this was another light, crisp fruity beer! It is a beer festival after all, held outdoors in the bright San Diego sun, so light and refreshing is a smart way to go. However, this pale ale stands out from the rest and we discover that's because it's made with white caramel malt!
Point Loma's Stone Brewing (Mojay IPA): Deep in color and flavor, this beer is hoppy and malty with an earthy aroma. This is a new recipe debuted in August as an East/West hazy hybrid brewed with a bit more bitterness than a typical New England-style IPA. Brewed with Citra and Mosaic hops, you get a lot of orange flavor and the origin of the name: Mosaic + OJ = Mojay!
Point Loma's Eppig Brewing (Hoppy Pils): This was the first beer I had, and true to form, was light clean and crisp. It served as a good place to start. It was dry hopped to round out the flavors, and uses a hop from New Zealand, which was a refreshing change.
Ocean Beach's Belching Beaver (Fall of Troy): This is a milkshake IPA marked with orange and vanilla flavors. Apparently, this beer is considered a "mistake" and is so-named for the brewer that messed up. (If you see any beers on tap in the OB tasting room that include a person's name, it's considered a mistake beer). I'm not really a fan of milkshake IPAs, but this one had a lot more orange than vanilla or lactose. If anything the lactose was more of a softening agent to the orange flavor.
Ocean Beach's Mike Hess Brewing Company (Hop Cloud Hazy IPA): The Hop Cloud is the first hazy to join the lineup, and our beertender said it is likely to join the core beers offered at the Ocean Beach tasting room. It is a good fit for Mike Hess, which prides itself on doing things a little bit differently. This hazy is loaded with tropical fruit flavors such as pineapple and mango.
OB Brewing (B. Right On): After this won a gold medal at this year's Great American Beer Fest, we finally got to try it. It did not disappoint. This Pale Ale uses a slightly sweeter malt than most, which I mistook for a fruited element. While I thought it was maybe strawberry or lemon, it was just subtle sweetness.
OB Brewery also featured its Apricot Wheat Ale, which was just sweet and fruity enough. Sometimes apricot beers can be too sweet, but this one properly tows the line for the flavor to come through, but not be overwhelming.
Point Loma's Stone Brewing Liberty Station (Wiser Moron imperial black witbeer): This was the great surprise, it's 10.9 percent alcohol and darker than what would normally appeal to me, but tastes sweet, surprisingly light with flavors of orange and coriander.
Out of the Peninsula
Pure Project: It was almost immediate upon trying the four offerings of this Miramar-area brewery that this would be the out-of-area standout. For Guild Fest, they served up the Here and Away double IPA, the Mango Magic sour double IPA, the New Fashioned bourbon-barrel aged sour red ale, and the Maplesaurus Rex imperial stout.
Ashley: The Here and Away had some complex flavors ranging from softly sweet to florally that evolves as you drink it. The Mango Magic tasted like sweet mango jam and was an absolute delight. The New Fashioned showed the finesse of balance, as the barrel aging took away the sharpness of the sour. The Maplesaurus Rex tasted every bit of the 14-percent alcohol it carried.
Crystal: There was something about Pure Project that had us back in line to try each of the four crafters they brought. The Maplesaurus Rex was a thick, sweet stout with the perfect vanilla accent. Here & Away (my new favorite) was super hoppy and flavorful. Floral and citrusy and not very bitter. I was nervous to try the New Fashioned as I'm not a huge fan of bourbon barrel-aged beers, but I love red ales. What I really liked about this mix was the added sour and orange flavor. Both the ahtanum and loral hops lend a peppery yet sweet-citrusy flavor profile. The Mango Magic was deliciously fruity and hoppy. The flavor was more tropical than it was strictly mango, which was nice because it didn't overpower the beer.
Coming next month: The Blondes on Beers look at who is tapping holiday brews.
• To contact the Blondes on Beer: E-mail Ashley Mackin-Solomon at firstname.lastname@example.org