Top Thirst-Quenching Hot-Weather Beers in San Diego

Image by Shutterstock.

The heat wave rolls on in San Diego, and I want (read: need) my craft beer to be two things: light-bodied and refreshing.

Besides a cold lager, no other beer is better for quenching your thirst after exercise, grilling out and hanging with friends on sunny days, or starting out a perfectly balmy evening in SoCal. (Sours are fantastic but upset some people’s tummies.)

Here in weather paradise, we are blessed with craft breweries producing some of the best wheat beers in the nation, including award-winning and top-rated classics and new favorites. So put down that Blue Moon and Shock Top and try some of San Diego’s most loved and respected wheats, made in the styles of Belgian witbiers, German hefeweizens and beyond.

Acoustic Ales, Witte Snake, 4.5 percent alcohol by volume: As a fan who had a Whitesnake poster on my wall as a young girl, the title alone won me over. Thankfully, it’s delicious too, with a clever addition of lemongrass and ginger, alongside the classic wit ingredients of coriander and orange peel. 

Ballast Point Wahoo White, 4.5 percent: Formerly titled Wahoo Wheat, this classic was my first San Diego wheat beer. Made in the Belgian wit style, I love how they cleverly paired Wahoo on their website with white fish ceviche, cantaloupe, and my favorite, cupcakes!

Coronado Orange Avenue Wit, 5.2 percent: One of the most well-known veterans on the list comes the classic brew named after the brewpub location. With the extra addition of orange blossom honey, Orange Avenue has garnered awards around the globe including in Chile, Japan and at the world beer championship.

Helm’s Brewing O.G. Wheat, 5.7 percent: This unusual offering is based on the German gose, a naturally fermented wheat beer brewed with salt and coriander. The "sour mash"gives the beer a tartness while the salt balances the sweet malt. Both tart and refreshing, it’s definitely a must-try to expand your craft beer palate.

Karl Strauss Windansea Wheat, 5.1 percent: Another San Diego classic, this Bavarian hefeweizen style brew hits the taps every summer and quenches the thirst of many a surfer, cyclist and craft beer drinker, novice and expert alike. Also brilliantly pairing their beers with dishes, the Karl gang recommends shrimp and watermelon ceviche, strawberry ice cream beer float, lemon bars and raspberry cheesecake. 

Lightning Thunderweizen, 5.5 percent: Purity. Quality. Integrity. The motto of Lightning and the place to learn about beer science, homebrew tips, and appreciate German beer. Try the Thunderweizen, which adheres to the German purity law for beer of 1516, using only the four traditional ingredients, water, yeast, grain, and hops. Be sure to follow these great tips: “Serve at 50 degrees F in a larger flute with a bulge on the top to better capture this beer’s true hefeweizen characters. A tall glass or large red wine glass suffices as well.” 

Modern Times Fortunate Islands, 5 percent: What a fantastic hybrid! This brew, classified as an American pale wheat, combines the IPA with citra and amarillo hops with a wheat beer. In other words, you have a refreshing low alcohol mild wheatiness with a burst of tropical fruit (think mango and passionfruit) And it comes in a can? Score!

Saint Archer White, 5 percent: Capturing gold at 2014 GABF (Great American Beer Festival) above 64 other entries in the Belgian witbier style, this award-winner is a perfect end to the list, and the prime brew for lunch, post-sports, aperitifs, dinner and pretty much any SoCal adventure. Great website, too, chock full of videos, ambassador profiles and merchandise.


Posted on September 14, 2015 .

Interview with a Brewmaster: Green Flash's Chuck Silva

Photo: Rick Nocon, DiscoverSD

Chuck Silva, the kind mastermind of Green Flash Brewing, is one of my favorite people in craft beer. Soft-spoken but radiating with creativity and brewing experience, he creates legendary liquids at the San Diego institution. Previously working at Karl Strauss, he met owner Mike Hinkley and started at Green Flash in 2004. “I saw a great opportunity to do my own thing, as they were doing mostly session beers at the time.”

He began by reformulating several of the production beers, including the Ruby Red, an American-Irish red, to a Dusseldorf alt, along with the extra pale ale and the nut brown, and ended up with awards at GABF 2005 and World Beer Cup 2006. To date, the most winning beer in Silva’s arsenal is the deliciously beloved Hop Head Red, while my longstanding love, Double Stout, is running close behind. Shockingly, the iconic West Coast IPA, Green Flash’s most famous and largest production beer has yet to win at GABF or World Beer Cup. Hello, judges?

Now a staple in every craft beer bar in San Diego and beyond, West Coast IPA was first released in March 2005 (Other local beers of that time were Stone IPA, Port Wipeout, Ballast Point Big Eye and Alesmith IPA). By August of that year, it was the brewery’s most popular, and is now classified as a double IPA at 8.1 percent ABV and 95 IBUs. For a single IPA, Green Flash now brews the Soul Style at 6.5 percent ABV and 75 IBUs, which positively bursts out of the glass with orange and citrus hoppiness. Made with Simcoe, Citra, and Cascade, it is my favorite new addition to the Green Flash lineup.

With 10 Green Flash years under his belt, what has been most exciting about the city’s beer evolution? “For us at Green Flash and for San Diego, watching the city turn from a Coors Light town to a craft beer town, offering a diversity of beer flavor, and not just hoppy beers. What San Diego did was transcend all of that, by tweaking IPAs, pushing hop limits, and making different styles of craft beer.”

What’s next on the calendar for Silva and Green Flash? In just a few months, a collaboration beer with Alpine called Handshake will be brewed up at Alpine, as a small batch, then scaled and brewed at Green Flash for a 22-ounce release. You heard it here folks. I can’t wait.

Q: How old were you when you took your first drink?

My dad drove for Coors, so around 12.

Q: When did you brew your first beer?

I started home brewing in 1994 at 27.

Q: What would you be doing if you weren’t doing this?

Home brewing. (chuckles). Hmm, engineering.

Q: If you could have one superpower?

To heal people.

Q: What is your idea of happiness?

To live with love and freedom.

Q: What makes you laugh?

Having a good sense of the ridiculous.

Q: One wish?

Free flowing Champagne and world peace.

Q: Favorite vacation spot?

The Big Island of Hawaii.

Q: Desert island music?

Rolling Stones.

Q: How would you like to be remembered?

I would be proud to be remembered as a San Diego brewer, but as kind person as well.

Q: What is your personal mantra?

I don’t have one.

Q: If you could invite three people living or dead to dinner, who would they be?

Colby Chandler, Paul Segura and Erik Jensen.

Q: If it’s not a beer, what are you reaching for?

Red wine and Champagne.

Q: Your last meal on earth?

Opakapaka in Hawaii, with Mary Jo and the Swedish bikini team.



Posted on August 25, 2015 .

The Flavor Project

I am excited to announce a new collaboration between myself and THE Craft beer expert, "Dr. Bill" Sysak! Join us every week asThe Flavor Project tests the genius of Mr. Masterpairings by presenting a variety of foods for a specialized Craft beer pairing. Tune in to see everything from organic farm-to table gourmet to guilty pleasure junk food, from breakfast delights to late night munchies, with "Dr. Bill" in the hot seat to give us the best beer pairings out there.  Who knows, we might even throw in a few wine and cigar pairings too...In short, you get to use an expert's mind to kick all of your eating adventures up a notch with the perfect pairing!

AND, you can test "Dr. Bill" too! Is there a food out there you have always wondered how to pair? Send your photos and questions into us at, subject line "The Flavor Project" for a special featured posting on The Promiscuous Palate and Instagram or post & describe your picture on Instagram, follow & tag "sandiegobeer" and "masterpairings", AND hashtag #flavorproject. 



Ready? Check Instagram at "sandiegobeer", Facebook, & Twitter @100beers30days & @masterpairings for today's first food challenge! LetThe Flavor Project begin. 

Bon Appetit & Cheers!

Posted on February 4, 2014 .

Laurie's Halloween Beer Picks 2013

Halloween+Craft beer=delicious creative mayhem. With names like Vampire Slayer and Evil Dead Red, these beers are sure to please your inner spook fanatic and your beer glasses with the floating eyeballs. 

Here are my top picks for this year: 

Alesmith Evil Dead Red, 6.66% ABV: I wait like a blood-thirsty zombie every year for this beer to be released. One of my all-time favorites from Peter and Alesmith, this is the epitome of the perfectly proportioned hoppy red.  Caramel & toffee mingle seamlessly with vibrant citrus & spice. Get it while it's out there friends.

 Clown Shoes Vampire Slayer, 10% ABV: I'm just gonna let the Clown Shoes guys take this one: "In a world full of uncertainty, hardship, and people trying to hold us back, do we need Vampires, too? Clown Shoes says "No! Die, monsters, die!"

Our second anniversary ale incorporates signature dark malts, holy water, and malt smoked locally with hickory, ash, and vampire killing stakes."

Ok, then! This daunting beer scores a 99 on RateBeer & an Outstanding on Beer Advocate, so smoking with vampire stakes must be working for them. It is a delicious beer, you imperial stout lovers like me will enjoy. Dark chocolate, coffee, tobacco, with smoke and a definite dry bitterness on the finish. Liquid courage for fighting off the bloodsuckers.

Rogue Dead Guy Ale, 6.6% ABV: You can't get much more classic for Halloween than this Rogue beer. A German-style Maibock, the Dead Guy has been in Craft beer land since the 1990's and remains an old favorite for many veterans. In fact, I remember back in the day when I thought, "Whoa this is bitter!" Ahh, before the days of SoCal IPA's! Look for a nice amber color with bready malt, caramel and citrus notes. Very drinkable, and a lower-alcohol option if you've already hit the Vampire Slayer.

A few pumpkin selections:

You've heard me say it time and again, I don't like pumpkin beers. Primarily because they are heavy-handed, I don't fancy the prospect of drinking a pumpkin pie in alcohol form, no more than I would want a Pumpkin Latte or milkshake. Oh, my stomach-ache. However there are a few as of late that I think are quite tasty and make my list this year:

 Dogfish Head Punkin' Ale, 7% ABV: Let me start out with my annual favorite in the category. I don't need to review it again, just see my Beer Minute from 2012! It's perfectly balanced and sets the bar for all other pumpkin brews.

 Rogue Farms Pumpkin Patch Ale, 5.6% ABV: On the lighter, fresher side of pumpkin, and I like it. The orange globes are harvested just 77 miles from the brewery, where upon arrival, they are promptly roasted and pitched into the brew. Those of you who like farm to table, this is literally your farm to glass equivalent. Mild pumpkin notes with baking spice, ginger, & vanilla, but not in the least overpowering or rich. Definitely a must-try for those who have sworn off pumpkin beers for the same misgivings as me!

 Coronado Punk'n'Drublic: A play on the phrase Drunk in Public, this Coronado brew walks the line into the heavier style of pumpkin beers without teetering off into the guardrail of good taste. Deeper color, more intense aromas of pumpkin, spices like cinnamon, cloves, and ginger. Tried and true lovers of this style will enjoy and dream of gourd gastronomy.


Until next year folks, Happy Halloween & as always, Please Drink Craft Beer.


Posted on October 30, 2013 .

Masterpairings Guest Spot: Blanche de Chambly & Bleu Cheese??

In case you missed earlier postings of this, here is my guest spot on Masterpairings! Always proud and honored to be on the legendary Dr. Bill's show, this time we taste one of my favorite Belgian-style Wits, Blanche de Chambly,  with a somewhat unlikely, yet delicious pairing of Saint Agur cheese. (Although I was a bit skeptical, frankly, I'll take bleu cheese, any day, any time. The stinkier the better.) Enjoy the always entertaining New Brew Thursday and their tasting of the renowned Fin du Monde.

As always, Drink Craft Beer. 


Posted on August 5, 2013 .

Brews + Eats: Allagash Brewing

I get excited pretty easily...I admit. You may hear me use the words amazing, fantastic, and favorite perhaps a bit too much. Guilty.

But one word I don’t use alot is complex, because frankly, in both the Craft beer & wine world, most offerings just aren’t. Many can be wonderfully drinkable, enjoyable, and full of flavor, but complexity is a descriptor I reserve for only certain cream of the crop liquid pleasures.

Allagash Brewing regularly meets this criteria for me, with their incredibly layered (and admittedly, expensive) brews. But one thing I have learned, from clothes to food to drinks to boyfriends, you get what you pay for. And Allagash, my friends, is worth it.

It was, therefore, my great and long-awaited pleasure to pair this lineup of transcendent (yes, I used that word) brews with delicious food yummies.

Confluence 2012, 7.5% ABV:  Refreshing and bone dry with hay, perceptible Brett notes (for you bug lovers out there), citrus, light spice & pepper. Like a beautiful dry white wine, this one has enough complexity and interest to keep your nose in the glass time and time again.

Paired with a Tilapia Ceviche, with cilantro, cucumber, jalapenos, tomato, red onion and mandarin oranges, this combo was unstoppable over the weekend.


White, 5.2% ABV: Undoubtedly our best selling craft beer, Allagash White rules the Wit category at the restaurant. My proudest Craft beer moment here was when the White outsold Coors Light at the mobbed Encinitas Street Fair. Go Craft! Expertly crafted & highly drinkable, White has notes of citrus, hay, and light white pepper. Crossover beer extraordinare.

Paired with a Ruby Red Grapefruit Salad with goat cheese, candied walnuts, & peppery arugula. Tossed with an Allagash White dressing (delish!), this is a perfect summer picnic pairing.

Fluxus 2012, 7.7% ABV: I was beyond excited to tap this, as I had been most impatiently waiting since last year! Made with green & pink peppercorns, this beer was my fave of the bunch. The pepper note is perfectly integrated, alongside tropical fruit, spice, and gentle malt.

Appropriately paired with Peppercorn-crusted Ahi Tuna with mango salsa, this was a match made in beer-foodie heaven.


Curieux, 11% ABV: I’m just gonna go ahead and pilfer from my earlier description during my 100 Barrel-Aged Beer challenge from 2012. No need to reinvent the wheel. #64 of my quest:

Beautifully complex with layered notes of vanilla, oak, yeast, white grape skin, toasted malt, coconut, and spice. This classic beer reminds me of a fine wine, so grab one for that next special occasion, sit back, and enjoy the fruits of Allagash’s labor.
— me

This beer moved like gangbusters, and it’s not difficult to see why. Paired with an old New Orleans favorite of mine, Bread Pudding with Bourbon-caramel sauce and vanilla bean ice cream, this combo was like a happy, fat dream.



Posted on June 16, 2013 .

Brews + Eats: New Belgium

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New Belgium may be known nationwide as the makers of Fat Tire, but those in love with the Craft beer world know the depth of the New Belgium repertoire, including their collaborations with breweries like Alpine, Allagash & today's Canadian star, Dieu du Ciel. One of the most creative Craft breweries from our neighbors to the north, I was thrilled to tap this beer at the Lumberyard, and plan out an equally delicious pairing. With a pleasant range of flavor profiles, this tasting was a treat for every beer drinker's palate...

Shift Lager, 5% ABV: Blazing a trail in can sales, Shift has become what I like to call, a favorite fishing beer. Along with brews Oskar Blues Mama's Little Pils and Ballast Point Pale Ale, these canned beers make me want to jump in a boat. Crisp & refreshing, Shift is a summertime, friends over, grilling out thirst quencher.

Paired with a whopping plate of Beer-battered Shoestring Onions. The Shift lasers through the salt, pepper, spice, and fat. Outdoor sports, anyone?

Ranger IPA, 6.5% ABV: This classic IPA from New Belgium  is hopped with Cascade, Chinook, & Simcoe. A combination of citrus, herbs, pine, & grassiness along a malty backbone, Ranger is a solid IPA that is good for introducing newbies to IPA's before you blast them out with a Double. I would say this is one of the more easy-drinking IPA's on the market, and with a reasonable 6.5% ABV, it won't knock you out flat.

Paired with the 101 Sausage Sampler, a trio of sliders: Italian sausage with onions & red peppers, Bratwurst with onion & sauerkraut, and Kielbasa with jalapenos, onion, & tomato. IPA's and sausage are a delicious combo, with the citrus & hops playing off of the spice of the jalapeños, as well as the meat & fat of the sausages. Note for NFL season: This is game day food!

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Hop Kitchen Hoppy Bock, 6.9% ABV: I really enjoyed this one. The crispness & refreshing nature of a lager with a perfectly balanced hop kick. What set this apart was a wonderful tropical (mango, pineapple) hop note which greeted both the nose and palate with an unexpected treat. Easy drinking, but interesting enough to hold your attention.

Paired wonderfully with Grilled Tilapia with mango-papaya salsa & herbed rice pilaf. The combination of both fruity and herbal hoppiness resonated with the elements of the dish, while the light sweetness of the fish was perfect with mild maltiness of the lager.

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Lips of Faith Heavenly Feijoa Tripel, 9.4% ABV: As I have noted, I love Dieu du Ciel, and as I rarely get to have their beers, I was beyond excited when my fantastic NB rep told me this beer was coming down the pipes. The surprise here? A bit of tartness, coming from the Feijoa fruit, which apparently is something like a papaya. (I had never heard of it either, friends.)

Paired with a juicy 16 oz. Porterhouse Porkchop (yes,it's a big boy), with caramelized apples, scalloped potatoes & honey glazed carrots. The natural sweetness of the meat is a lovely match to the tripel, while the tartness from the feijoa fruit provide a refreshing compliment.

Until next time,

Please drink  & support Craft beer!


Happy Moments: My Locale Magazine Feature

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Laurie Delk talks the San Diego Beer Scene and Shows us How to Taste Beer

By: Jennifer Hood San Diego | April 4th, 2013

Laurie Delk at Lumberyard Tavern & Grill. Photo by Andrew Abajian for Locale MagazineLaurie Delk at Lumberyard Tavern & Grill. Photo by Andrew Abajian for Locale Magazine
This is a segment from Locale Magazine’s Guide to Cerveza San Diego 2013 – an ode to beer and the holy city of all things brew-worthy.

First, let us introduce you to our beer expert, Laurie Delk, a blogger, author, taster, and a member of the fabulous team over at Lumberyard Tavern & Grill in Encinitas. We sat down with her to talk the in’s and out’s of the local San Diego craft beer culture, and to get some pointers on how to taste beer like a true connoisseur.

Q: Let’s be honest, you’re the ultimate: A beautiful woman with a bewitching Southern accent who knows her beer. You are a beer connoisseur at Happy Hour magazine; you’ve graced the cover of Westcoaster and Happy Hour magazines; you star in three web video series; you run a hugely popular beer blog (; and recently, you co-judged a homebrew contest with Peter Zien of AleSmith, Greg Koch of Stone Brewing and Cicerone Dave Adams of Green Flash – all while running sold-out beer tastings at Lumberyard Tavern & Grill. You are a beer sage. A brew whisperer. An ale savant. What’s it like to have everyone’s dream career?

Laurie Delk: I am blushing so red I could be a beacon for incoming planes at San Diego International Airport! It’s a lot more work than people might think! I hear so often, “Must be nice to be you.” And yes, it is! But it takes years of practice, study and passionate dedication. I have 15 years of background experience in the wine and spirits industry, which helped tremendously in the evolution of my beer palate. One of my mantras is “The more you taste, the more you know.”

Q: What’s it like being a beer lover in America’s capital of craft beer – San Diego?

LD: I couldn’t imagine a better place in the world to enjoy the fruits of the Craft beer movement. We have sunshine, beaches, the kindest and most open-minded beer geeks and some of the most creative and groundbreaking brewer minds on the planet.

Q: What is so alluring about San Diego? It seems like no matter how many breweries, the market here could never be oversaturated with the amount of beer enthusiasts, college students and everyday drinkers that are living here.

LD: Honestly, I do have a fear that oversaturation is around the corner. I fear it, because I don’t want these smaller breweries to fail, but there is only so many beers a bar can carry, only so many taps, only so much room in the cooler; and the stalwart classics like Stone, Ballast Point, Lost Abbey, Green Flash and others are going to keep their places. I am excited and thrilled when I taste new breweries, and I am so proud to live in a community with such creativity and ambition. I do all I can to bring those breweries in, and I know publicans around the city do the same. So San Diegans, keep supporting local breweries!

Q: What do you say to people who worry that the craft beer movement is being considered by some as a fad?

LD: Stop worrying. The glass is more than half-full, and it’s bubbling over with Craft beer. We live in the Mecca of the movement, and there is a dedication here to quality and preservation that I have never witnessed before in the drink world. So lower those cynical eyebrows, and enjoy a pint.

Q: Any new breweries you’re excited for in 2013?

LD: There are so many I can’t keep up! I love that veteran guys like Lee Chase, Scott Blair and Tom Nickel have opened up their own breweries, and I can’t wait to taste more of their beers. And I’m waiting, like everyone, to see what Jeff Bagby, formerly of Pizza Port, does this year.

Q: A new beer you’re most looking forward to trying?

LD: Anything that isn’t bourbon-barrel aged. I’m over it.

How to Taste Beer

Q: For us plebes who don’t know the art of beer tasting, can you give us some pointers? Is it the same “sniff and swirl” routine as with wine tasting?

LD: Basically, yes. After years of wine tasting, I judge aromatics the same; although it’s a completely different set of identifiers, especially in blind tasting. An important addition to the “sniff and swirl” as you out it, would be this: Take 3 sips of a beer before you determine whether you like it or plan to grade it for a review. • The first sip cleanses the palate (think of the carbonation like little scrubbing bubbles). • By the second sip, you start to convert your palate to the beer at hand. • By the third sip, you can get a full assessment of flavor, including malt and hop profiles, bitterness, body and finish. • Always stick to the same type of glass for tasting consistency. I sample and review almost every beer in a tulip glass. It’s perfect for focusing aromas, and puts every beer on a level playing field, especially when you’re tasting multiple beers of the same style.

Lumberyard Tavern & Grill 967 S Coast Highway 101 Encinitas, CA 92024 760-479-1657

Posted on April 24, 2013 and filed under Media, Press.

Brews + Eats: Ballast Point


Ballast Point, the brewery producing one of the most beloved IPA's on the west coast, Sculpin, is the highlight of my latest Beer & Food Pairing! Anyone who has put their lips to a hoppy beer in San Diego knows all too well the incredible draw of Sculpin, with it's amazing freshness and citrus & tropical fruit hoppiness, making it the perfect sunny day IPA. Joining this stalwart classic this week are a few other delicious selections, so let's get started!

photo-82Sculpin IPA, 7% ABV: Paired with Tilapia Ceviche, a mouthwatering & spicy combination of fresh Tilapia, cilantro, cucumber, jalapeños, tomato, red onion, mandarin oranges, & lime juice. The tropical & citrus notes of the hops resonate with the oranges & sweetness of the fish, while the herbs & spiciness of the jalapeños make every sip of Sculpin that much better.

Fathom IPL (India Pale Lager),7% ABV : I fell in love with this easy drinking, yet characterful lager when I was at the brewery recently. Bright and refreshing, Fathom  has notes of grass, citrus, freshly cut herbs, with a crispness only found in a perfectly crafted lager. Be careful friends, that 7% drinks like about 5%!

photo-83I paired this with a Prosciutto Pizza, with sun-dried tomato, fresh arugula & Parmigiano, & olive oil drizzle. A variety of taste tinglers fell into place with this brew. The saltiness of the prosciutto & cheese, and the fat of the olive oil were sliced through by the crispness of the lager, while the peppery notes of the arugula were enhanced by the bitter, herbal character of the hops. That's what you call a summer meal!

Dorado Double IPA, 9.6% ABV: This big boy hop monster is loaded with citrus, tropical fruit, pine, & herbs on a honey caramel malt backbone. Even at this ABV, we couldn't serve this beer fast enough for eager hopheads!

I paired with a 1/2 Herb-Roasted Free Range Chicken, with smoked gouda mashed potatoes and honey-glazed carrots. The honeyed character of the malt matched both the natural sweetness of the tender meat & the glaze, while the herbs were punctuated by the hoppy notes in the beer.

photo-81Navigator Doppelbock, 8.9% ABV: Those of you who follow my Beer Minute videos know how much I enjoy this beer! (CLICK HERE for that video) Rich, yet perfectly balanced with comforting notes of toasted bread, brown sugar, nuts, and dark caramel, & toasty malt. I paired this with our hearty Osso Buco with mushroom demi-glace and mashed potatoes. The roastiness and smooth malt character matched beautifully with the slow roast of the pork shank, and made this a spot-on meal for a chilly beach evening.

While this beer would also be lovely with dessert, I had something else in mind for everyone's sweet tooth...

Victory at Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter, 10% ABV: Without a doubt one of their cult beers, Victory at Sea is drooled after by craft beer geeks county wide and incites lines at their brewery at bottle release time! And yes, it's that good. Chocked full of dark chocolate, roasted malt, coffee, & vanilla, it's a beer you want to wrap up with in a blanket and not come out.

Paired with Double Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwiches with our house bakers' Lemoncats Double Chocolate brownies, vanilla bean ice cream, and drizzled with caramel and chocolate sauces. Now that's decadence.

Until next time,

CHEERS & Bon Appetit!

Posted on April 4, 2013 and filed under Beer & Food Pairings.

Brews + Eats: Hangar 24


Welcome to another Beer & Food Pairing! One of the most popular Craft breweries that we bring into the restaurant is Hangar 24, from Redlands, California. In a beer mecca where a new brewery pops up every week, I love Hangar for their unfailing quality level and consistency to everything they produce. Especially popular with customers is their Local Fields series, where they source local fruits & veggies, like apricots, grapes, & pumpkins for their delicious brews. On to the pairings!

This label makes me want to go fly a kite or something.

California Spring Beer, 4.8% ABV: A hoppy wheat ale with both citrus and tropical fruit singing the turn of the season. Rounded from the wheat, yet bright and refreshing from the hop punch, this is a highly drinkable, yet characterful beer. Porch swings and cookouts are calling.

I paired this delightful brew with a Grilled Shrimp Salad with mango, red pepper, avocado, and a lemon-citrus vinaigrette on what else, spring mix!

These brussels have no idea the bacon love they are about to receive...

Columbus IPA, 7% ABV: This beer is a great lesson in the juxtaposition of hop characteristics. On the nose, it is all fruit, with citrus and tropical goodness radiating through your happy schnoz. On the palate, piney and resiny, with a bitter hop punch. I wanted to address both sides of the hop coin, so I paired this one with Herb Crusted Pork Tenderloin with peach-apple jam over polenta & bacon-roasted Brussel sprouts.

Local Fields Vinaceous, 9% ABV: You don't see this type of beer around alot, the Old Ale. And admittedly, when most people read the words "old" and "ale" paired together, their expression is one of doubt. Craft beer nerds know how amazing Old Ale can be, like my favorites from Kuhnhenn Brewery in Michigan, and the famous Old Stock Ale from North Coast.

Vinaceous is produced with crushed Mourvedre grapes from Temecula, and is aged in French wine barrels. The result is a rich and complex beer, full of that expected grapiness and wine-like character alongside oak, vanilla, brown sugar, and dried cocoa. I paired this with a mouthwatering Balsamic Pot Roast with Syrah demi-glace and brown sugar-glazed baby carrots, over mashed taters.

photo-71Local Fields Polycot, 7.2% ABV: A wheat-wine style ale brewed with local apricots from High Desert, Polycot is more refreshing than expected, but still with a depth and richness not seen in lighter wheat beers. I paired this with a Peach Galette with apricot glaze lovingly made from our house bakers, Lemoncats.

An amazing weekend of delicious food and delightful beers. Stay tuned for the next tap & food bonanza!



Posted on March 14, 2013 and filed under Beer & Food Pairings.

Brews + Eats: Coronado

Coronado Brewing and I have been on a journey together. When I first tasted their brews back in 2008, I admittedly wasn't their biggest fan. I couldn't attach myself to their year-round lineup, and I didn't see enough specialty brews out there to make an informed, defined opinion. So I held back. And even as recent as last year, when they came into Lumberyard Tavern for tap space, I resisted. That's when I re-tasted Idiot IPA, and my senses perked up. I agreed to put on the Idiot to see what happened, and the response was incredible. Going through kegs like gangbusters, I realized it was time for me to reevaluate Coronado Brewing. Most recently I visited their shiny new facility and tap room to select beers and discuss food pairings for a mini-tap event at the Lumberyard. After a tour and my getting giddy over casks of Idiot with Simcoe, we settled on the brews and their delicious culinary counterparts:

ImageMonk-in-tha-Trunk Belgian Blonde, 4.8% ABV: Smooth and highly drinkable, this Blonde is a spring-summer sunshine day beer, asking for a grill out with friends, an outdoor soccer game, or a shady porch. Light bodied with notes of melon, citrus, hay, & yeast. I paired this with a spring mix salad with shaved cantaloupe, goat cheese, candied walnuts, and a rice vinaigrette. Fresh & refreshing!

Idiot IPA dry-hopped with Simcoe, on cask, 8.5% ABV: Trademark tangerine and caramel take a back seat to Simcoe on this fantastic mutant of Idiot. Bright citrus and mmm piney goodness greet your nose and palate. Well developed and far too easy to enjoy at that ABV. Ultimately, it doesn't read like Idiot with the addition of Simcoe, but it is delicious all the same. I paired this beer with a BBQ Glazed Salmon, using our amazing sweet-n-spicy BBQ sauce at the restaurant.

ImageHoppy Daze Belgian IPA, 7.5% ABV: Nicely balanced and highly hopped IPA, with that wonderful Belgian twist I love. Hops include Centennial, Columbus, Simcoe, and CTZ. Big, feisty bursts of citrus (lemon & grapefruit), tropical fruit, pine, & freshly cut herbs. Belgian yeast gives a roundness to the beer without compromising the vibrancy. This might be my favorite pairing of the lot: Buttermilk Herb Fried Chicken with mashed potatoes & sauteed green beans. Oh yes.

Bada Bing Cherry Porter, 5.6% ABV: Loved this beer. And yes, it's the name of the strip club in The Sopranos. Delicious notes of milk and dark chocolate, coffee, roasted malt, and just a hint of cherry. (Believe me, I've had cherry porters that border on that nauseating cough syrup intensity, and this one was safe.) Great job, Coronado. I paired this yummy brew with our bakers' Lemoncats Double Chocolate Brownies with black cherry ice cream & chocolate sauce. Decadence deserved, yes?

Stay tuned for my next mini-tap takeover & food pairing event and review!


Posted on February 26, 2013 and filed under Beer & Food Pairings.

An Overlooked Classic: Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale

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We beer geeks often get gloriously entwined in the trailblazing new beer of the moment. Collaborations, one-off's, & the idiosyncratic liquids of our beloved brewers often keep our focus, and we blithely forget some of the classic beers that are the cornerstone of the Craft beer revolution. Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale, 7.2% ABV: One of the biggest arguments against browns is that they can be a bit humdrum. NOT the case here. Quite possibly one my favorite brown ales out there, and honestly, one that took me by surprise no less than two short weeks ago.  Full of fabulous notes of brown sugar, toast, dark caramel, and chocolate, perfectly mingled with the proper dose of grassy, citrus hops, this beer achieves a expert balance between the singular magic traits of malts and hops.

Even if you think browns have had their day, do yourself a favor and find this on draft. You will be oh-so pleased and I feel sure a smile will ensue.


Posted on November 13, 2012 and filed under Uncategorized.