It's heady times at headquarters. All those trades have come in, and I've got the best of Virginia, San Diego, and Atlanta in there along with my regulars. It's exciting, it's overwhelming, and I wonder if it's not raising the replacement level so high that it's ruining the ratings for all of them.
This ties into the discussion about bad beers. I wouldn't call any of these beers bad beers, but I probably wouldn't give any of them five stars either. The Sante Adairius Simple, maybe. The Kern River was really close.
I might have given those two beers five stars on another weekend?
Stone and Sierra NxS IPA
Almanac Truthful Statement Sour
If you like Cigar City's oak-aged Jai Alai, you might like the NxS. I'm hoping it's not an INXS reference, because I did like the crowler I got from Stone's Liberty Station outlet. You get a lot of wood and sweet and then it ends fresh and hoppy and fruity. The sweet was almost too much for me, but I'd get another pint of this, which is a good test of quality in the end.
The Truthful Sour? I liked it, but I needed more tart at the end. That's sort of an amazing thing to say of an Almanac sour, but they've changed things up. The beer did a really good job of remaining... ahem... true to the style. That style being an Old Fashioned cocktail. The cherries, the zested orange, the bourbon barrels, plus their house stout... it's very much like an Old Fashioned. If it was just a touch more sour, I think I might have fallen in love. I love love their dark sour, anyway. And this could have been an excellent bow on top.
Sante Adairius Simple: Mosaic Pale Ale
Sante Adairius Simpleton IPA
Sante Adairius Sarah Loves Brett Saison
Just south of Santa Cruz is a sleepy semi-surbuban beach town called Capitola. In Capitola is an excellent brewery, a world-class brewery worth targeting if you're coming to California. The Simple: Mosaic was so perfect -- fruity, grassy, fresh, bright, and juicy. All of the tropical with none of the cat piss, that beer was almost perfect. The Simpleton had a little more complexity but didn't hit the same high notes. They're known for their saisons, and Sarah Love Brett was -- for me, on this visit -- an amber saison with a little bit of fruit. An interesting combo of tastes, it fit right into a lineup of all of the saisons I've enjoyed from them before.
Afterwords, we saw a minor league basketball showcase and ate fried stuff and tried to pick on the one maybe major leaguer in the 40 players we saw. (The basketball wasn't that great tho.)
Center of the Universe Ray Ray's Pale Ale
Blue Mountain Full Nelson
Kern River Just Outstanding IPA
I didn't really read to closely on the Ray Ray's, and it didn't make that much of an impression. The Blue Mountain was also from Virginia, and it didn't give me as much fruit as I wanted from a Nelson beer, but I liked it better.
It's almost a beer one liner: My favorite beer from Knee Deep was made by Kern River. Lupulin River aside, every beer I've had from Kern River has been solid to spectacular. The Just Outstanding was aptly named -- tropical and sweet orange citrus up front with a brilliant bitter hoppy ending, it goes in the direction of those Knee Deep hop-bombs without going all the way there. Really really good ber.
Center of the Universe Chin Music Amber Lager
Council Brewing Beatitude Mosaic Dry-Hopped Saison
Noble Ale Works Simcoe Showers DIPA
Half Acre Lead Feather Black Ale
So I was having my second beer from Center of the Universe. Someone on twitter pointed out it was Chris Ray's beer. Chris Ray had 230 strikeouts in 280 innings for the Orioles and some other years. One year, he got 33 saves. I have no idea how that might have affected my feelings about the beer. Anyway, I don't really like Amber beers, but this one, by not bringing all that malt on the end, and being thinner... I kinda liked it. I suppose it was a little like Revolution's Fist City, also a decent beer for me. And the can art (from the header image) is well done. Plus, baseball.
I didn't love love the Beatitude I got, but I could see from the base beer that I really want to get my hands on some more of that the next time I'm in San Diego. This one was a tart juicy lemon peach saison that was all good by taste. There was a tiny bit of cat pee in the smell. Like, I don't normally get cat pee from mosaic but other people just smell it that way -- maybe like that cilantro / soap thing -- but this one, I sorta got it. Otherwise great beer. Want more Beatitude.
That Noble Ale Works beer was a great followup to the saison. It was big and juicy and fruity, but not real tropical, and way more complex in terms of hoppiness. And yet they both were single-hop beers. Simcoe can be really interesting in these, and Noble is a great brewery. I wonder if even a well-crafted single hop DIPA gets lost in San Diego. I see some people mention the surrounding beers in reviews, even.
I finished with Chicago and a black ale. I figured it was a black IPA, and it does have the hops, but I might call it a hoppy light porter if that makes sense. It had creamy mouthfeel paired with molasses and hints of coffee and chocolate, but it's not very sweet and finishes hoppy. If you're just having one on a winter night, you might want something deeper and darker. If you're having a few, though, have a few Lead Feathers?