Well folks, I have discovered a wonderful new place for my beer-lovin' heart. May I introduce you to the Blind Lady Ale Housein Normal Heights, San Diego.
I am what you call an instant sizer-upper. Not a real term I realize, but ask my sister, I have always been one to modify the English language at will. What that means is that I can pretty much size a place up, i.e. decide if I want to stay and hang out, in the first 30 seconds after walking through a door. (I am also one that will happily turn off a movie or put down a book if I am not enjoying it. I don't NEED to see things to the end. Life's too short!)
I have a few criteria: good beer list (well, that's a given), divey or comfortable feel, no red lights, house music, velvet rope, or door guy in a suit(hello Gaslamp San Diego), no obvious customer profile of douchebags, and most importantly, no pretentious attitudes from the staff (there is nothing worse than being made to feel like an idiot when you ask a question).
If these simple, yet effectively telling criteria are not met, I am the first one to turn on my heel and walk out. You know the saying "Life's too short to drink cheap beer?" Well life's also too short to be somewhere you don't feel good!
The moment I walked into Blind Lady off the sunny streets of Adams Avenue, I said "I love this place." I felt an instant comfort with its dark wood, picnic-style seating, and relaxed vibe. The menu, a delight of pizzas and appetizers, perfectly fit the rumbly in my tumbly. And then there is the beer list....A HUGE smile spread across my face when I saw the delectable and mouth-watering choices of liquid pleasure above the heads of the bartenders. I am smitten.
So in true family style, I along with my comrades order a lineup of beers to all share together. And boy, did we make good choices:
Avery Out of Bounds Stout: 5.1% ABV: A nice, easy going stout. Notes of cocoa powder, coffee, charred wood, with hints of dried tobacco. Creamy mouthfeel. Precisely what I expected from an Irish Dry Stout. Unfortunately, it got a bit lost amongst the others. Would like to try again.
Blind Lady Ale House Chocolate Rain: 5.6% ABV: The house offering of the Blind Lady, I have to order anything with a name like Chocolate Rain. Tons of coffee and sweet chocolate. While there is a nice bitter malt finish, it is not enough, in my opinion. It's a bit heavy-handed, and needs more balance. It would be difficult to drink alot of this beer.
Brouwerj Bockor Cuvee des Jacobins: 6.8% ABV: Oh my. Yes. Yes. Yes. From the moment I dive my nose in, I am in love. Wonderfully balanced. Nose of grape and cherry skins fermenting. If you've been in the wine business, around wineries, or even taken a tour of a winery, you know this smell. Perfectly sour on the nose and palate. One of the favorites of the day, this one got drained quickly and was promptly refilled, much to the delight of everyone!
Oskar Blues Ten Fidy: 9.5% ABV: I have been WAITING to try this beer since I first heard tale of it during my 100 beers 30 days Stouts vs. Porters challenge last fall. Unfortunately, I was unable to acquire it in New Orleans, so it got placed at the top of my Stout waiting list! So when I saw it on the board, I did a little Woo Hoo! and promptly ordered it.
This fella is the color of motor oil and has an insanely dark head. The color of espresso with just a drop or two of milk, and good retention. Sweet nose of cane sugar, dark fruit, dried fig. What you would call an almost brooding nose. Dense and intense. Big, full mouthfeel, but not too much.
When I initially eyed the color, and smelled the aromas, I thought it was going to lay on me the black hole weight I had experienced with another Imperial,Haand Bryggeriet's Dark Force, one of the heaviest stouts I have ever experienced. I was pleasantly surprised at the drinkability of this one. I will happily drink Ten Fidy again, and am interested to sample it from the can.
Avery Salvation: 9% ABV: Mmmm. Everyone likes this one. Great, drinkable ale. Smells of a freshly shaved face, i.e. clean and slightly herbal. Definite wine aromatics, like a chenin blanc. There is a definite minerality there. Or a well-made Sauvignon Blanc. Nelson Sauvin hops used? Wait, there is a note of Muscat/Moscato there! Ever had that delightful effervescent dessert wine from Italy? One of its highest notes is apricot. That's in this beer. And sure enough, Avery calls for you to cellar this brew for up to 3 years. It truly is a wine-like experience!
Vernhaeghe Echte Kriek: 6.8% ABV: This Flanders Red Ale has a beeeautiful, clear amber-red color with highlights. Think Grand Marnier but WAY better and a touch more red. Gentle, lovely nose. Floral notes of rose and orange blossom, and cherry (of course!). Refined and subdued palate. Beside the Jacobins, a much more restrained Flanders.
Alesmith Lil' Devil: 5.5% ABV: Lots of Belgian yeasty fruitness. Citrus, banana, candied fruit, some orange peel, and light spiciness. Think nutmeg, white pepper, and clove. The baby brother to another great Alesmith offering, the Horny Devil, which even at a whopping 11%, I think I prefer. Do I see a side-by-side in my future? I think so.
If you have not made your way over to Normal Heights recently, make a special trip and visit the Blind Lady Ale House. You are gonna thank me...and you might just see me there....