Thursday, January 19, 2012

MAXED OUT: Brewery Tour!


Well, well, well. Looky who's back? Max with his first installment of MAXED OUT for 2012...

Well, HEELLLOOOOO there my faithful friends of the froth, how have you all been? I've been great, thanks for asking, and I'm back for more debauchery in this new and fantastic year. This is my first time writing in 2012 for Beers with Demo and I am pleased to bring you a wrap on what was one of the better beer tours that we've taken, which was just this past Saturday.

As some of you know and some have even attended, every six months or so I put together a tour of breweries that starts and ends at my bar, Hoffer's in lovely downtown La Mesa. In the past we have checked out such places as Green Flash, Alesmith, Stone, Ballast Point, and Port/Lost Abbey, which we added to the list again this time around. We also checked out Ironfist and a brand new nano-brewery called Aztec, both of which reside in.... errr... lovely? Vista, California.

So we loaded a 50 person stretch-limo bus complete with two stripper poles and a bathroom (BOOM!) with 45 drunkards and set off at noon this past Saturday. First stop: Ironfist. So, Ironfist has a pretty cool story behind it. When they first opened, some 2 almost 3 years ago, their head brewer was a ripe young 20 years old. Since it is illegal to brew at such an age his older brother took the credit for the beer for the first year that they were open. Kinda funny. Ironfist specializes in Belgian style beers with a West Coast angle. More than the angle, it's the accessibility that makes Ironfist a pretty damn good brewery. By accessibility, I really mean that they aren't crazy, over the top recipes like The Bruery in Orange County and Lost Abbey, who both take a pretty batty take on Belgian style brews. If you haven't had the opportunity to try any Ironfist delights, may I recommend the Velvet Glove Imperial Oatmeal Stout, Spice of Life Belgian Pale, or the Hired H nd Saison.

Somehow we got all 45 people back on the bus and headed to Aztec Brewery. One of the people on the bus, my friend Matt Wilson, is classmates with one of the owners and recommended we try them out. Thanks, Matty, great suggestion. While they are a young brewery that only self-distributes, I was shocked at the size of their brewery (pretty darn big.) Not only were the beers and size a pleasant surprise but they also had a Jamaican dude slingin' Jamaican food in front. They had a few really nice bourbon and tequila (ya, tequila) aged beers that were very interesting and not overly aggressive. But the highlight for myself, and several other people that I talked to, was their Chipotle IPA. Very interesting and like the barrel aged beers, was refreshingly unaggressive. Great job Aztec, keep up the good work. Oh, and if you want to try the Chipotle IPA, Hoffer's will be getting a couple kegs of it by next week. You're welcome in advance.

Our last stop on this here brew tour was the ever reliable Port/Lost Abbey located in... errr... lovely? San Marcos, California. My main man Andy surprised us all and had a tour lined up and waiting for us when we stepped off of the bus. THANKS ANDY!!! So we took a quick 20 minute tour of their facilities, complete with a brief history of the place and a concise yet educational description of how they make their beers, and split time making it between Port and Lost Abbey. Even I learned a thing or 2. I know, and you thought that I knew it all. Port/Lost Abbey is my personal favorite brewery I've ever been to, and if you haven't checked it out, I implore you. As for beers to check out if you get the chance? ALL OF THEM!!!

All in all, I had a great time and I think that most of the other people on the tour did as well. Stay tuned for the date of the next tour, which I'm thinking will be some time in mid-July. If you want a spot let me know in advance and I'll save a seat for ya.

Oh, and since I've already told you all my top 10 favorite beers of all time, a new addition to this new year will be a little segment I call THE BEST BEER I EVER HAD THIS LAST WEEK!!! So...


Until next time my beer loving brethren, have a beer for me.

(ed. note: Familial obligations prevented us from attending what was this favorably received brewery tour.... We are not into Belgians but we are way into Iron Fist, if that is any indication regarding the quality of their beers.... If we can make a pairing recommendation: grab some sushi to go along with Spice of Life.... And Max wasn't lying about the brother combo. Our first exposure to Iron Fist was about 2-1/2 years ago and big brother Adrian was indeed passing himself off as the head brewer.... Reason #28 as to why San Diego is the craft beer capitol of the world: cheap real estate in which to set up shop in these charming little industrial parks in places like Vista and San Marcos)



SarahB said...

Yah, can be a challenge to find the charms of inland North County. But there are a few places to get some grub between tastings.

The next time you hazzard into San Marcos, stop at Pizza Nova off the nearby (to Abby) Twin Oaks exit...I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Can't recommend much in Vista...other than the very unique (but probably brew-free) Yellow Deli, run by the hippie-Christian church of the Twelve Tribes.

Welcome back!

Dean said...

Sarah, thanks for the foodie heads up for the InNoCo.

Matt Steele said...

Thankfully we weren't there to admire the scenery, just booze. Aztec was phenomenal. Love their take on the (duh) Azteca flair--tons of peppers and Mexican-type flavors without being gimmicky. Can't wait for them to blow up.

B-Daddy said...

Max, I love my hometown brewery The Bruery, but I Ironfist is great too. Spice of Life is my favorite to date.

BTW, Mrs. Daddy has a new fave Shipyard XXXX, imagine that.

Dean said...

Steele, almost regretting that I missed out but totally gratified that we have yet ANOTHER great SD brewery coming up through the farm system and poised to go big time. We are indeed blessed.

B-Daddy, glad you caught the Iron Fist bug. And, yeah, it's pretty cool Placentia has its own brewery and one that is as well-respected.

mike atkinson said...

Velvet Glove is now in my Nectar of the Gods category.

Hope you get Chipotle by tomorrow afternoon...