This Week’s Beer-El Monstruo Lupulo

I’m not a big fan of beer of the month clubs.  The main reason is that I’m picky with the beers that I am buying for premium prices, and most beer clubs aren’t cheap and you don’t really have control over the styles or beers you are sent.  Some clubs allow you to skip beers or entire months if you know it is something you don’t want.  I do know that they are a good way to broaden your beer horizons.

A good friend of mine was given a membership to the Rare Beer Club as a birthday gift.  I had gotten excited for him when I saw that he was going to get a bottle of Cigar City’s El Monstruo Lupulo, a double IPA that they released exclusively for the Rare Beer Club.  I was even more excited when our families got together for dinner and he opened up the bottle to share.rbc

There was a lot of flavor in this beer.  Tons of hops, and a lot of flavor from the Spanish cedar and spruce that the beer aged on.  The Spanish cedar flavor was not as strong in this beer as is in Cigar City’s Humidor Series IPA.  The spruce gave it a very different taste, one that you don’t usually get in an IPA.  You get a good amount of fruity flavors from the hops to go with the wood flavors.  Throw in a malty back bone and this is a tasty beer.

If all beer of the month clubs sent beers out like this, I would sing up for a couple of them.


Beer Camp Across America Review-Part 2

I didn’t get through it as quick as I wanted to but I finally made it through the last 6 beers of the Beer Camp  Across America variety pack.can

I started the second half of the pack with was the Sierra Nevada and Oskar Blues collaboration, CANfusion Rye Bock.  Aroma has some nice hops and citrus.  Beer has a nice citrusy taste with a nice balance of spice and malt.  This is a beer I was impressed with.  Oskar Blues is a brewery that I’ve started to be exposed to more lately, so it was nice to see that this one came through.ray

Electric Ray IPL which was brewed with Ballast point was the next beer That I had.  This one was really good.  As a long time fan of both breweries this is one that I had been looking forward to from the first time I  read about this mix pack.  Being a lager this one is a lighter bodied beer and not to malty.  Hops come through nice in the aroma and the taste, more piney than fruity.  Very refreshing and easy to drink.illards

The Bell’s Brewing collaboration, Maillard’s Odyssey, was a beer that wasn’t one that stood out to me when I was reading about this variety pack.  After tasting it though I feel like this is one of the better beers in the pack.  Nice dark beer with lots of flavor.  Didn’t have much expectations on this one because the only beer I’ve had from Bell’s was Hopslam, which is an amazing beer, but not the same type of style.there and back

Another brewery that I wasn’t familiar with was New Glarus.  I didn’t know what to expect from their beer, There and Back: English Style Bitter.  Overall I think this beer was decent.  Didn’t find it to be spectacular or a stand out of the group.  I would not turn this beer down, but it wouldn’t be one that I seek out if it were to become available again.tater ridge

Tater Ridge: Scotch ale, brewed with members of the Asheville Brewers Alliance was another beer that was good, but not great.  The beer had a toasty flavor with hits of fruits and hops that gave it a dry finish.alt route

I closed out the Beer Camp Across America variety pack with the Victory collaboration, Alt Route: altbier.  Not a bad beer, but not one of the strongest.  Easy to drink, pretty well balanced, but not the typical style I’d go for.

After completing this Beer Camp Across America I think that the 12 pack was fun.  There was a lot of hype building this up and as a fan of craft beer I wasn’t let down, but I also didn’t get 12 amazing beers.  There were no bad beers in this pack, but for the price that you pay you do expect a little more.  I think that because the breweries involved with this project put out suck amazing beers the public may have expected a little more than was possible.  These were one off beers that a team of breweries came together to brew with a deadline to put out this variety pack.  The beers that we are used to from Sierra Nevada, Russian River, Ballast Point and all the other great breweries represented here are beers that they had time to fine tune and perfect before they put them out for us to purchase.

If a back like this comes out again I am sure I’ll seek it out for the experience of trying so many beers from breweries that I enjoy.


This Week’s Beer- Noche De Los Muertos

When it comes to picking a beer to drink I usually pick an IPA.  Lately I’ve been expanding my horizons and picking up more stouts.   This week I chose a beer based on the style and the label( I know the label isn’t the best way to pick a beer).


Aztec Brewery’s Noche De Los Muertos is an Imperial Stout that brewed with cinnamon.   Going into this beer my biggest concern was the amount of cinnamon that was in the beer.  There wasn’t too much cinnamon present in the aroma.  At first I thought that could have been due to the fact that the beer was pretty cold.  The first sip had just a hint of cinnamon.

As the beer warmed up the cinnamon presented itself a little more, but was never overpowering.  Roasted malts were the dominate flavor.  This beer is 10.2% ABV and did get a little boozy tasting as it sat, but never to the point where it was too much.

Overall this is a pretty solid Imperial Stout.

Aztec Brewery’s Noche De Los Muertos
Purchased at: Total Wine in Tustin , CA
Price: $7.99 for a 22oz Bottle

Stone 18th Anniversary Celebration

For my birthday my wife took me down to San Marcos so we could go to Stone’s 18th Anniversary Celebration.  This was my second time attending one of these anniversary events.  Its about 45 bucks a person for admission to the event, $10 for designated drivers.  The price is totally worth it because the beer selection is awesome and the event is done as a fundraiser for local San Diego charities.  Admission gets you a commemorative glass and 15 3oz pours.  With over 60 breweries and 100 beers it wasn’t easy to pick out the 15 beers that I wanted.  Stone put out a map and list of beers before the event so I had it planned out in advance.anniversary glass

My wife doesn’t drink beer so she was the designated driver.  We don’t get out too much without the kids so it was nice to be outside and be able to hang out.  It was also nice being there with a non drinker because I was able to seek out any brewery or beer that I wanted at my own pace.

I won’t break down every each beer that I tried, but I will go over a few.

The first beer I tried was Grapefruit Sculpin from Ballast Point.  I am a huge fan of Sculpin and this grapefruit version is only being sold in the San Diego Area.  I was very satisfied with this beer.  If we didn’t have to get home to the kids I would have had my wife drive me down to Ballast Point to pick up some more to take home.

I drank two beers from Beachwood Brewing Company, Alpha Master, and Hop Ninja.  Both were amazing beers, very crisp and hoppy. Haven’t had too many beers from Beachwood even though they aren’t too far from me, but from what I’ve had so far, these guys are awesome.

Here is the list of the beers I had.  I tried to get beers that I don’t have easy access to, or that may have been out of my normal price range:

1 )Ballast Point’s Grapefruit Sculpin
2) Coronado Brewing Co’s 18th Anniversary Double IPA
3) The Bruery’s Tart of Darkness
4) Surly Brewing Co’s Coffee Bender
5) Chris Banker/Stone/ Insurgente’s Xocoveza Mocha Stout
6) Elysian Brewing’s Space Dust IPA
7) Stone Enjoy By 08.16.14 IPA W/ Citra Hops
8) AleSmith Brewing Co’s Pale Ale 394
9) Beachwood Brewing’s Hop Ninja
10) Beachwood Brewing’s Alpha Master
11) Kern River Brewing Co’s Class V Stout
12) Smog City Brewing’s Hoptonic IPA
13) Mike Hess Brewing’s Deceptio
14) Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens-Liberty Station’s The Lupulin Loop: Topaz
15) Avery Brewing Co’s Out of Sight





This Week’s Beer-Stone IPA

This weeks beer, was a beer I enjoyed last Thursday.  Stone  Brewing Company’s IPA.  Through posts on social media I learned that I shared a birthday with Stone IPA.stone

I figured sharing a birthday with a beer was a good reason to enjoy that beer as my first birthday beer,  so after working, training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and doing a few chores in the yard I cracked open a 22oz  bomber of Stone IPA and started the celebration.

This beer is a classic West Coast IPA.  Tons of hops but still very well balanced.  You can pick up hits of citrus up front and it finishes with a nice piney dryness.  At 6.9% ABV its packs a nice kick, but isn’t too strong.

Stone IPA is a great priced beer, 22oz bombers are usually available under 5 bucks, and you can usually go to Costco and find a 24 pack for under $30.

There are so many big double IPAs and limited release beers on the market that sometimes you forget about the classics that paved the way in the craft beer movement.  Stone IPA still stands out above most of these harder to find beers out there.  Reliable, enjoyable, and affordable.  If you want something a little hopper from Stone there is always their Enjoy By IPAs, which will cost a little extra, and will be a little harder to find, but will be super hoppy.  Or if you want a great IPA from stone that is on the lighter side you can go with their Go To IPA which is full of flavor and has a low ABV of 4.5%.

I picked up this bottle of Stone IPA at Costco as part of their 22oz bottle mix pack.


This Week’s Beer-Hop Zombie

When it comes to craft beer I definitely have a West Coast bias.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy good craft beer from all over the map, but with the selection of local beers I have in Southern California I usually reach for a beer from out here. This week’s beer, however, is from a brewery far from California, Hop Zombie from Epic Brewing Company in New Zealand.

hop zombieThis double IPA is one that is not constantly available in Southern California, and seems to sell out at my local bottle shops pretty fast.  Recently I was able to get a bottle for my self.  This isn’t a cheap bottle, but it is a beer I had been waiting to try.

After cooking up a nice medium-rare tri tip I decided to enjoy my dinner with Hop Zombie.  I poured the beer into my IPA glass and got tons of citrusy hop aroma.  First thing I get from the taste is lots of bitterness but it mellows out to the malty backbone of this beer.  Great balanced flavor, and very easy to drink.

This is a beer I’m torn on.  There is no question that it is an awesome beer and that I enjoyed it very much, but I don’t know if it is one that I am going to pick up too many more times.  I think it was worth the price of the bottle, but just not sure if the price agrees with my budget.  And with so many great double IPAs on the market it is easier to pick a beer based on the price since the quality and taste may be close.  This beer will stand out if you try it so I suggest picking it up at least once, and if your budget allows it, enjoy it as often as you can find it.

Epic Brewing Company’s(NZ) Hop Zombie
Purchased at: Mr. K’s Mini Mart in Placentia, CA
Price: $12.99for a 16.9 ounce Bottle


Beer Camp Across America Review-Part One

I’ve made it half way though the Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Across America Pack.  I had originally bought the 24 pack at Costco but ended up splitting the pack with a friend.  This made the mix pack much cheaper(just under 20 bucks), and I was left with 1 of each beer instead of 2.

I picked the first 6 beers at random:

beer camp 1The first beer I tried was Double Latte.  This is the beer the was brewed in collaboration with Ninkasi Brewing Company.   Lots of coffee in the aroma of this beer.  The coffee is upfront in the taste with lots of milk chocolate following it.  This beer is a great start to the Beer Camp mix pack.  I’m a big fan of both Sierra Nevada and Ninkasi so I was glad that this beer was as good as it was.  I just wish this is one that wasn’t just a one off beer.  I think this would be a good seller if they brewed it camp 2

I paired Torpedo Pilsner, the Firestone Walker collaboration beer, with some mahi mahi and bacon wrapped asparagus.  This hoppy pilsner  went well with the meal.  Torpedo Pilsner was a good combo of pilsner malts and just a touch of extra hops.  Good beer, nothing too fancy, would drink it again, but not one I’d seek out on its own.

beer camp 3The next beer I tried was Myron’s Walk, brewed with Allagash Brewing Company.  This is a Belgian Pale Ale.  I’m not a big fan of Belgian beers, but this one was refreshing.  Extra hops helped with the flavor.  I picked up a hint of the coriander, but its nothing that is extremely noticeable.  I don’t know if I would have know it was in there if it hadn’t said it on the label.  Not a bad beer, but again, not really  a style I’d seek out  normally.

beer camp 4The fourth beer from the pack that I tried is the beer I was looking forward to the most, Chico King, a pale ale brewed with 3 Floyds.  I hate to say this, but I was very disappointed in this beer.  It could have been from having such high expectations, but something was missing in t his beer.    Much more malt in the flavor than hops.  A Sierra Nevada Pale Ale would be my choice over this beer, both in flavor and cost.  The beer is drinkable, but when you are expecting something big it falls short.  Only being 4 beers into the 12 different beers I was getting a little disappointed, but still looking forward to trying the rest.

beer camp 5The next beer I tried was the Russian River collaboration, Yvan the Great.  This one is a Belgian Style Blonde.  Belgian yeasts and spices coming through on this one.  Not really my thing, but not a bad beer.  Might have appreciated it more if I was into Belgian styles.  Would have liked a big double IPA from Sierra Nevada and Russian River, but I know there is more to these two breweries than just putting out great hoppy beers.

beer camp 6The 6th beer I tried was the Cigar City collaboration beer, Yonder Bock, a tropical maibock.  So far this is my favorite Beer Camp Across America beer.  The aromas of this beer are filled with fruity hops.  These aromas come through in the taste as well.  Nice medium bodied beer that is not too malty.  This is one that I would buy on a regular basis if it were available.  This beer is close to the quality you would expect from Cigar City or Sierra Nevada.  And as you would expect from Cigar City, this one came canned.

Based on the 6 beers that I’ve had so far I think the Beer Camp Across America pack is slightly over priced, but is enjoyable if you are a fan of craft beer.  You are paying a bit for the novelty of these collaborations, but I can only assume that the cost of producing and packaging a mix pack with 12 different one off beers is a lot higher than most variety packs.  I should be through the final 6 beers of the pack by next week and will put a  review of those 6 beers and my final overall thoughts of the mix pack.


Father Of Two, Enjoying Craft Beer On A Budget


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