Flavors of Yeast

White-Labs from Dennis Stein on Vimeo.



San Diego Beer Week is coming up fast, and November 4-13 can't get here soon enough! Events are still being added to the calendar, and the one that we're most excited about is the "Flavors of Yeast" presentation by the Head of Laboratory Operations at White Labs, Neva Parker. It's certainly not going to be the run-of-the-mill drinkfest (NOT that there's anything wrong with that!) that will be taking place all over the county, rather a more science-y panel for serious beer lovers, home brewers, and just general nerds alike.

On Wednesday, November 9th from 6-9pm at Sea Rocket Bistro, $20 gets you into the talk (plus hors d’oeuvres) that will cover topics like cultivating yeast and the different properties that strains provide to beer styles. As a bonus (and learning experience of course), attendees will slosh down side-by-side a 'base beer' that was created identically in every way except yeast strains, so the individual flavor profiles can be explored and discussed as a group. Yeasts include:

WLP530 Abbey Ale Yeast
Used to produce Trappist style beers, distinct for their clovey, estery profile. Fruity and alcohol tolerant (up to 15% ABV). Excellent yeast for high gravity beers, Belgian ales, dubbels and trippels.

WLP810 San Francisco Lager Yeast
This yeast is used to produce the “California Common” style beer. A unique lager strain which has the ability to ferment up to 65 degrees while retaining lager characteristics. Can also be fermented down to 50 degrees for production of marzens, pilsners and other style lagers.

WLP655 Belgian Sour Mix 1
A unique blend perfect for Belgian style beers. Includes Brettanomyces, Saccharomyces, and the bacterial strains Lactobacillus and Pediococcus.
(info from the Sea Rocket event page)

So if you're a beer lover, science geek, or just someone who wants to know more about the weird little creatures that help the more popular hops + barley become beer, head on down! I'll be there with pocket protector and pint!

Yet-To-Be-Named-Beer Club Meeting #1



Ever taken a brewery tour alone? Do you drink $20 bottles of craft beer in your living room and describe its subtle nuances to your only companion- your cat? Ever be "that guy" sitting at the bar and drown your lonely sorrows into a tulip glass of a perfectly poured aromatic IPA? We have! Be lonely no more, the Yet-To-Be-Named-Beer Club was created for that very purpose- bringing together craft beer lovers who just want more friends to share it with. The inaugural meeting was held in our living room last night, and 12 beer enthusiasts from all walks of craft beerdom joined us with bottles of weird, wacky, and interesting bottles to share and discuss.

5 hours, 3 cheeses, 2 salsas, and 20 different beers later, the meeting was called to a close and the last attendees stumbled from our apartment into the night. The meeting had kicked off with a blind IPA tasting, and it proved to be more challenging than expected. However, member Stephanie took home the top prize with 3 out of 5 correct and brought home her prize bottle of the 2nd generation Life & Limb collaboration by Sierra Nevada and Dogfish Head- well done Stephanie!

By the end of the meeting most of us found ourselves too deep in the cups to properly set the schedule for the next meeting, but future plans include group brewery tours, blind tastings, homebrew collabs, bar outings, group BBQs, and more! Below is the list of the beers enjoyed (and completely drained) by all, including the IPA contestants:

1) Aecht Ochleaterla Rauchbier
2) Rogue: Hazelnut Brown Nectar
3) Russian River: Redemption blonde ale
4) Russian River: Damnation golden ale
5) Avery: The Reverend belgian-style quadrupel ale
6) Great Divide: 17th anniv. Wood Aged Double IPA
7) Bootlegger's: Black Phoenix ale with coffee and chipotle peppers
8) Lindemans: Cuvee Rene gueuze lambic
9) Hitachino Nest: White Ale
10) Ballast Point: Black Marlin porter
11) Magic Hat: #9
12) Lagunitas Hop Stoopid IPA
13) Sam Adams: Black Lager
14) Sierra Nevada: Torpedo Extra IPA
15) Brew Dog: Hardcore IPA
16) New Belgium: Ranger IPA
17) Russian River: Blind Pig
18) Wells: Banana Bread Beer
19) Wade and Dan's homebrew (honey wheat ale)
20) Ashton and Beth's homebrew (summer wheat)

Beers from all walks of life were represented, and with autumn quickly approaching the tentative theme for next meeting is Harvest/Oktoberfest beers. There's plenty of wiggle room and all beers are welcomed with open arms! Membership is open to all who
1) love beer and want to learn as much as you can about it
2) want more friends to drink it with
3) are willing to meet around once a month
4) occasionally host meetings (this means providing snacks and arranging games/events/prizes)
5) bring at least a bottle to share each meeting

That's it! Join us today- bonus points if you think of a good group name!

Eleven


Image from San Diego Beer Blog

If you're searching for a bar that really takes that extra push over the cliff, Eleven at 3519 El Cajon Blvd is the place you'll find it. The location has been home to more than a few bars in its day, but it seems that happy patrons have found a permanent home with Eleven's gritty feel and pleasantly surprising beer list, many nights with live music as well.

In my ripe old age of 26, I consider my self a bit beyond the dive-bar-excursion-for-dive-bars-sake, but Eleven is a bright anomaly in the dive bar beer business. I'm a huge fan of their 25 oz. Eleven Lager Big Beer Mug for $4 during Happy Hour ($5 regularly)- it's a standard lager brewed nearby and for the amount of suds you get it's by far the best deal in the place. Not to say that their beer list is anything but appropriately priced- for the selection it's well within range of really-cheap-to-still-pretty-cheap for anything available.

The thing that really gets my blood boiling (merrily) is their food truck parked outside. It's not so much of a food truck as just a mobile kitchen that I've never actually seen anywhere but outside the bar (I could be wrong, just my observation), but for the late-nite patron who craves something more than just the regular fried bar fare, in this foodie's humble opinion, the Eleven Food Truck boasts a small but solid menu. You can choose from two cheesesteaks or three burgers, and either regular or sweet potato fries (that's it), but once you've had the Fuego you'll realize you don't need anything else.

The Fuego is a stomach churning conglomeration of jalapenos, serranos, and Anaheim chiles on a slimy mess of steak (or chicken if you fly that way) topped with a heaping amount of pepperjack cheese and chipotle aioli crowned with toasted jalapeno bread and served with a side of their surprisingly tasty shoestring fries. I understand that the mere minion might not be able to handle this gut-wrenching, brain-puckering sandwich of ballsy greatness, but if you fancy yourself a crazed spice addict then this is most certainly the sandwich for you. Wash it down with one of the Eleven lagers and I fail to see how you are headed for anything but bliss (and maybe the shitter).

For $9.50, this sandwich easily feeds two late-nite munchers or one hungry daredevil, but my advice to you is don't forget the beer for a tsunami of relief. Eleven has a cheap and abundant selection, so when your eyes start to tear and your nose drips with sweat from the fiery goodness that is Fuego, point to the nearest tap and enjoy the ride.

MIHO Gastrotuck @ Ballast Point Home Brew Mart

I could make excuses as to my abysmal lack of updates, but I won't. I could tell you about the insanity of going live with a new system at work, plus planning a wedding on the opposite coast, along with inexcusable preoccupation, but it won't do any good. I'll just avoid the whole thing.

The perfect thing to take my mind off of my lack of foodshare was of course to eat and drink. Citybeat always alerts me to the choicest tidbits of activities around San Diego, and my eye was caught by the ad containing both the phrases "MIHO gastrotruck" and "Ballast Point & the Home Brew Mart". As regulars to the Home Brew Mart off Morena for Ashton's alcoholic adventures and as wannabe food truck groupies, we, along with about a hundred other people with the same idea, flocked to the quickly-overrun space to sample specially brewed editions of some of Ballast Point's finest paired with the culinary stylings of the celebrated gastrotruck.

The food menu was small (3 entree options, a salad, and fries were the only advertised items), but with hellish concoctions like Serrano Yellowtail Pale Ale and Dried Habanero Piper Down Scottish Ale to wash down the trashy-chic fusion, we were game. My selection was the Short Rib Sandwich, braised with the Chipotle-Cocoa New Black Marlin Porter, all natural Brandt beef short rib, local arugula, organic firehouse cheddar, and balsamic red onion. The meat was wonderfully tender and lent itself more to a savory, buttery mouthfeel than anything you'd expect from the back of a vehicle. I washed it down with the Chipotle Cocoa and Coriander Tongue Buckler Imperial Red Ale, which I found to be much too aggressive for anything beyond shock value and a mouthful to boot. Unless you like the smell and lingering taste of an overaddition of liquid smoke and an unrecognizable allusion to "hot cocoa beer", stay away. Second up was the Chipotle-Cocoa New Black Marlin Porter, which despite a danger of repetition actually revealed itself to move past the kitschy small batch collaboration of heat for heat rather than flavors' sake. Still very much a sipping beer, I found this of all the beers created for the evening to be the most creative and well balanced.

Ashton enjoyed the Burger of the night, made with grass fed beef, all natural cheddar, grilled balsamic, red onion (far superior to the limply half-cooked onion on the short rib sandwich), hand made French dressing, and local brioche. I felt that the brioche stood out as the simplest yet masterful ingredient of the entire plate (paper as it was), but all in all the burger could stand proudly next to any stationary restaurant's with pride. We split the side of Belgian-style fries with chipotle ketchup, which at the low price of $3.25 established itself as a crowd favorite. These certainly weren't bargains with the sandwich weighing in at $8.25 and the burger at $7.75, but the quality, experience, and fresh air appropriately complimented the cost.



The beers ultimately enjoyed with the burger were the Dried Habanero Piper Down Scottish Ale, which I found to be unexpectedly smooth for such an intensely flavored pepper. Ditto for his next beer, the Serrano Yelllowtail Pale Ale, in which the heat completely dominated the hop for a complete blindside upset. The beers would have paired better with a much higher Asian cuisine influence, but the Americana feel reminiscent of a Fourth of July cookout (despite being January) washed over the crowd and spun the night air into a raucous feeling of friendly camaraderie and most certainly a desire to judiciously follow the Gastrotruck's weekly revolving exploits and menu. I most certainly plan to stop more often at its normal service stop near the Whistle Stop on Friday evenings. Recommended for those who care about what they eat, and don't mind paying a bit more to eat curbside!