Category Archives: beer

Blogging and San Diego

I haven’t been blogging much here, but I’ve been doing a ton of blogging over at BeerNBikes.com Durango, CO (and the surrounding Four Corners area) is an awesome place for both craft beer fans and cyclists.

I still read up on things happening in San Diego every once in a while, especially all the wonderful beer being made.

I saw this post on Draft Mag’s blog about the SDCityBeat Festival Of Beer coming up in May, and their summary of San Diego pretty much sums things up for me:

Occasionally, we consider moving to San Diego. It’s warm. All the time. It’s beautiful. All the time. The people are attractive. All the time. Honestly, what’s not to like? Then you visit, however, and realize it’s essentially a city devoid of culture, unless you consider being a stop on the way to Tijuana an important cultural experience. We don’t.

They do have good things to say about the CityBeat Festival of Beers though.

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Beernbikes.com

I started a new blog yesterday. Beernbikes.com

I’m hoping that it will be less of a personal blog than this one and more about news and things going on relating to beer and bikes. It’ll probably be focused on the Durango, CO area but I’m sure there will be a lot of info about San Diego and other beer and bike regions and news.

The other reason I set it up is because I recently bought some web hosting and wanted to get my feet wet with hosting my own stuff. It seemed too daunting of a task to move this blog (and something I might screw up the first time) so I decided to come up with a new blog. Craft beer and bicycles are two of my biggest hobbies so it’s a perfect fit. I’m hoping to play around with all sorts of things you can do when you host a blog yourself rather than host it with wordpress.com (like this blog is).

So go on over to beernbikes.com and check it out. I’ll be cross posting personal stuff relating to beer and bikes to both blogs every once in a while. But go check it out and tell me what you think.

Welcome to Colorado!

If you haven’t heard, Kinsee and I moved to Bayfield, Colorado! Kinsee grew up here and I’ve been anxious to get out of California for a while now. I don’t know when I fell in love with the Four Corners Region (probably around the time I discovered Edward Abbey) but Durango (the “big” city nearby) seems like the perfect place for me. Four breweries in Durango, one with a location in Bayfield, lots of cyclists and plenty of other outdoor enthusiasts, Durango seems like a good place.

I’m just getting settled in, but Kinsee’s already been blogging about what’s going on in Durango at her new blog, Durango Dirt.

The weather has been beautiful ever since we got here, I’ve heard that we’ll get more days of sun per year than San Diego (330 vs 300).

We went to Ska Brewing for the release of their new IPA Modus Hoperandi, not quite a West Coast IPA but not bad at all. Kinsee wrote about it here. One of my new favorite blogs, Beer at 6512 (the elevation in Durango) also was there. Turns out Durango has quite the blogger community because Hank at Songs From the Wood was there also.

I just got back from my first Colorado bike ride. I rode from our house in Bayfield to Ignacio and back. It was about 19 miles, mostly flat, but my sea-level-lungs need some adjustment to the altitude up here (we live at 6900 feet). When I left it was about 22F, I averaged 17.5mph and it had warmed up to almost 40F by the time I got back. And I did that on my fixed gear because my road bike is still in the shop getting assembled and tuned.

We’ve been here less than a week but so far so good. Once I get a little more settled in expect a lot more blog posts from me.

La Mesa Bar Bike Adventure

There are all sorts of bars in La Mesa, the city I grew up in, that I’ve never been to. Places that I wondered about when underage, but just didn’t seem cool enough once I could get into bars. Last night Kinsee, Derrik and I rode our bikes to five of those La Mesa watering holes.

First up was Centifonti’s, I’ve walked past it a few times before and always assumed it was a restaurant or bakery, I was shocked when I saw a coupon in the Citybeat advertising their “Boot of Beer”.  Why a place like this serves a boot of beer is beyond me, but we weren’t concerned with that, we just wanted our 112oz of cold, foamy Stella Artois. I felt a little out of place at first, most of the patrons were older than the three of us combined, but as we drank the boot I stopped worrying about La Mesa folks and started having a good time.

Pouring the Boot

Pouring the Boot

Drinking the Boot

Drinking the Boot

Finishing the Boot

Finishing the Boot

Next up was Pete’s Place. Pete’s used to be one of two dive bars on La Mesa Blvd, but they both recently closed. Pete’s Place opened back up after some remodeling, Joe and Andy’s, the other dive hasn’t reopened yet. When tearing down the old walls they apparently found nice brick walls behind them, so Pete’s Place looks nice these days. Even though they got remodeled the bar tender said they still have the same people hanging out there and drink prices didn’t go up. $3.25 for a decently stiff whiskey and 7up was pretty good.

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Brick Walls

Brick Walls

After Pete’s Place we rode down the street, passing such places as Hoffer’s Cigar Bar and the Turquoise Room at the Riviera Supper Club for the tried and true Falcon’s Lure. They only serve beer and wine but we found some good local brews. We played the jukebox (I resisted putting on Alice’s Restaurant, three times), met a local who showed us a magic trick, he originally wanted us to buy him a beer before showing us the magic behind it. When we showed no interest whatsoever he decided to tell us free of charge.

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Bikes in the Bar

Bikes in the Bar

We sprinted down University Ave to The Dragon Room at Wong’s Golden Palace. This was the most divey, and least fun bar of the night. We walked in and it was almost silent, no music was playing, and nearly dark. No one was behind the bar so I asked a guy sitting there if he’d seen a bartender around recently. He looked at me and laughed and said “nah”. Then he started yelling “MEATLOAF! MEATLOAF!”, shortly after that the bartender started walking over. We didn’t feel comfortable ordering drinks from someone that responds to the name Meatloaf so we went into the restaurant and order our Flaming Volcano drink. We downed the drink and got out as quickly as we could.

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The Volcano

The Volcano

The Flaming Volcano

The Flaming Volcano

Last was Mr G’s Tavern. It was bright with loud but not too loud music and a decent crowd. One patron was apparently trying to make fun of us and our bikes but I didn’t let him get away with it.

Him: “So you guys ten-speeded in here huh?”

Me: “They’re single-speeds actually.”

We quickly became friends with him and another regular named Tim. By the time we left we’d earned his respect by riding around the hills of La Mesa with only one gear.

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A Few of the Regulars -- We met Tim

A Few of the Regulars -- We met Tim

A Couple of the Other Regulars

A Couple of the Other Regulars

Photos mostly by Derrik.

Dogfish Head Brewery

It seems like I’ve been blogging a lot about beer recently, not quite sure why that is, but there’s more to come…

I don’t read The New Yorker too often, when I do sit down to read it I find myself flipping through the pages, barely skimming the articles and unless an article really catches my eye I’m done about 20 minutes later. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy The New Yorker, its just really hit or miss for me. Every once in a while I come across an article that I really enjoy. Such is the case for the article, A Better Brew, The Rise of Extreme Beer by Burkhard Bilger in the November 24th 2008 issue.

The article talks mostly about the modern craft beer movement and focuses primarily on Dogfish Head Brewery in Delaware. They do delve into beer history a little bit, explaining the Reinheitsgebot (German Beer Purity Law) and the differences between German beers and Belgian beers (and where American beers fit in). I was amazed to learn that before prohibition and the industrialization of the 1950’s American beers were actually good.

In 1878, Maureen Ogle notes in her recent book “Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer,” Busch’s St. Louis Lager took on more than a hundred European beers at a competition in Paris. The lager came home with the gold, causing an “immense sensation,”.

The history part of the article was fun to read about, but I got really excited reading about Dogfish Head. I’d heard of them before, seen their beers at the liquor store, but never paid them much attention. They’re pretty pricey and with all the good quality local beer for lower prices I never got around to trying anything they make. But this article portrayed them as wildly experimental, exciting and from the sounds of things, making great beers.

It told the story of their Palo Santo Marron, a 12% brown ale aged in Palo Santo wood containers. This wood is some of the hardest in the world and has been used to make wine before, but never beer. The brewery liked it so much they made the largest wooden brewing containers out of it in American since prohibition. They also talked about the Midas Touch Golden Elixir, made of barley, grapes, honey and saffron they claim it is the oldest known fermented beverage recipe in the world. The beer sounded so good I had to go out and try some.

I got lucky at the liquor store, they had both of the beers I just mentioned, what wasn’t so lucky was the price. A four-pack weighed in around $13, less than $4 a beer after tax and CRV, its cheaper than drinking at a bar, but still pricey for bottled beer. I decided to go with the Palo Santo Marron, they had less of it. I got home, chilled it and gave it a try. I poured it into a pint glass and immediately noticed how thick and dark it was. It poured slow and heavy like a viscous dirty motor oil. It left almost no head at all in the glass. Luckily when I tasted it the taste was anything but motor oil. It was still thick and heavy but good. It tasted like most brown ales, a little nutty, maybe a little vanilla, only stronger, much stronger. After one 12oz bottle I could feel a buzz, it was a good thing I wasn’t drinking this at a bar because I wouldn’t have been able to drive for a while.

As with most “extreme beers” this isn’t something I’m going to drink all the time. Even if I could afford to, I don’t think it would be as good if drank everyday, but every once in a while this beer is quite the treat. I’m looking forward to trying plenty of other beers from this brewery.

TJ Beer – Cerveza Tijuana: The Video

You already read the story, now you can watch the video:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

TJ Beer – Cerveza Tijuana

It’s pretty obvious that Craft brewing is a big deal in San Diego, with plenty of microbreweries in town you can find quality non-mainstream beer at nearly every liquor and grocery store. Despite how close geographically San Diego and Tijuana are, the craft beer craze hasn’t caught on south of the border, Tecate still owns this town. When I got to a bar I’m happy if they have Bohemia Obscura. I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen a beer tap down here, everywhere you go its bottles or cans. But that’s not to say that Tijuana is totally devoid of craft breweries.

Yesterday we stopped by La Cervecería Tijuana, the only Microbrewery in the city. Located just a few miles south of the famous Avenida Revolucion, Cerveza Tijuana brews six lagers and has Tavern attached with views of the brewery. We went hoping to get a tour of the brewery and see a bit of the brewing process in addition to sampling beer, but were told that they were shut down for the holidays, so we grabbed a seat and got down to sampling.

We were immediately offered a sample platter of all six beers for $5 US. When they came out the server identified each for us and arranged them in lightest to darkest sampling order.

  • Tijuana Light
  • Bronca
  • Guera
  • Brava
  • Morena
  • Bufadora

I typically don’t like lagers as much as stronger more hoppy ales, but I was excited to give these a try. Tijuana Light was far too light for me, better than Tecate but nothing I’d drink again. Bronca is the unfiltered version of Guera. I liked the Bronca a bit better, but neither really impressed me. Brava was a bit better, but still lacking a lot of hops. It was very malty, almost like eating a slice of bread. Morena was the one TJ Beer I’d tasted before, I found a six pack at the grocery store and gave it a shot, it is a darker lager, but has a sweet aftertaste which I didn’t like too much. Bufadora the last, is the heaviest of the lot, it had an amber color with quite a bit of head. It is the newest beer, not even on their promo material yet. It was also my favorite. It had a bit more flavor to it.

To compare TJ Beer to all my favorites in San Diego is unfair. Sure I’ll take most SD beers over TJ Beer every time, but when compared to the rest of the beers I can buy down here, Tecate, Bohemia, Sol and imports such as Miller and Coors Lite, I’ll take Tijuana Brewery every time. And just because they’re not my favorite, doesn’t mean they’re not good, they’ve won some awards.

As for the Tavern, I loved it. The food was typical pub fare, with a bit of a Mexican twist, and the space itself was perfect. Wood paneling everywhere, dark but not too dark, loud but not too loud. It wasn’t crowded, in fact we were one of only three couples in the place, but it was early, too late for lunch too early for dinner and TJ isn’t attracting a lot of tourists these days.

According to their website, you can find TJ Beers at a lot of liquor stores in San Diego as well as some Costco stores.

The Union-Tribune did a story on Mexican beers mentioning TJ Beer a few years ago. And here is Beeradvocate’s page on TJ Beer, where you can read reviews by some real beer snobs.

UPDATE: We made a movie of our trip to the brewery! You can see it here.