Draft beer almost always tastes better than bottled or canned beer.* It’s fresher and hasn’t been exposed to heat, light, or oxygen—elements that can have a major negative impact on the beer’s taste and aroma. Despite the superiority of draft, we don’t always feel like going out for a pint. As a self-proclaimed introvert, I’m a prime example of a beer enthusiast who sometimes just wants to chill at home and watch a movie. Or read. Or drink a few beers while I cook dinner. This is when growlers come in handy. Typically 64 fluid ounces (the equivalent to 4 pints) or 32 fluid ounces (2 pints) breweries and taprooms will happily fill growler jugs with fresh, tasty, draft beer and allow patrons to grab quality beer to go.
ABV: 6.9% | IBU: 77
I have become something of a fresh IPA snob. With so many amazing hoppy ales to choose from these days, once you’ve tasted a super fresh IPA, it becomes difficult to stomach a dust-covered bottle that says India Pale Ale, but doesn’t include a bottled on date. Have you had a Stone Ruination bottled the same month you bought it? WOW. The difference is palpable.
Under normal circumstances, i.e.: Living in America, this is typically a non-issue – as many of the best beers have date codes. But moving to Switzerland, which is outrageous, and not living in a major city means access to true American-style IPAs have become limited. Cue the violin and tears.
ABV: 10% | IBU: 75
Imagine yourself in San Diego 20 years ago. The craft beer scene was in its infancy, in fact there were only five craft breweries in all of San Diego! Flash forward to today and there are over 115. As San Diego has grown over the years, so too have the number of craft beer breweries. One of the originals, Coronado Brewing Company is still producing fantastic beer. Started by brothers Ron and Rick Chapman, they are part of the OG original five! Their award winning beers are currently distributed in 19 states and 10 countries. Coronado was crowned as the 2014 World Beer Cup Champs for mid-sized brewery. They created an amazing 20th Anniversary Imperial IPA that is sure to grab your attention.
When Fieldwork opened in Berkeley a year ago, I was stoked, and not just because it was a 10 minute walk from my old apartment. I had read that the co-founder and head brewer, Alex Tweet, had done stints at Ballast Point and Modern Times, where he came up with beers like the Indra Kunindra, Booming Rollers, and yes, the Grapefruit Sculpin. When Fieldwork first opened, however, the beer was great, but I can’t say the taproom was exactly packed.
ABV: 6.7% | IBU: 75
In my first article for PorchDrinking.com, it only makes sense for me to write about a San Francisco IPA, more specifically Go West! IPA. Although the options are somewhat endless, with new breweries opening seemingly every week, I had to start with San Francisco’s oldest brewery. It just so happens, Anchor Brewing Company is located just a few blocks away from my home.
I love a little quirkiness with my beer, because with so many craft breweries in Seattle, a unique character is really what sets each establishment, and brew, apart. The Holy Basil Pale Ale by Outlander Brewery fits this measure well—it strikes just the right balance of eccentric and uniquely delicious.
Ah, summer is here. Can you smell it? If you’re like me and the sprouting weeds and blossoming trees have wreaked havoc on your once empty sinus cavities, probably not. Summer means many things to many people. To me, aside from the whole allergy thing, it means the pinnacle of outdoor hangout season is officially upon us. Don’t get me wrong winter can be nice for a bonfire, but as soon as Memorial Day has passed and the mercury has risen, the seasons for cookouts, barbecues (no, they’re not the same thing, more on that later,) pool parties, and tailgates are officially here! So, set aside those last few stouts in your beer fridge until the next snowfall and hope time treats them well. Grab yourself some summertime brews, gas up the lawn mower, pop some Claratin, and get ready for the best year of outdoor entertainment yet.
4th of July has arrived, my friends. We’ve got a long few days of PorchDrinking and sparkler-waving ahead of us, so stock up on your favorite summer brews and get ready to celebrate. Here are a few of our favorites. Break out the koozies and red solo cups… this weekend, we drink to Amurica! *clink*
Walking into The Pike Brewing Company isn’t like walking into a brew pub. It’s like walking into a beer museum.
The walls of Pike are lined – floor to ceiling, and in every nook and cranny – with antique posters, …
Some folks of cider make a rout
And cider’s well enough no doubt
When better liquors fail;
But wine, that’s richer, better still,
Ev’n wine itself (deny’t who will)
Must yield to nappy ale.
-John Gay (1685-1732), “Ballad on Ale” from Songs and Ballads
I couldn’t let Northern California have all the fun. Check out my California Summer Sixer list with the best of what Southern California breweries have to offer this summer season. All beers listed are currently available with an ABV of 5.5% or lower. The average ABV for this sixer is also 4.7% – perfect planning, if we say so ourselves.
Fill with mingled cream and amber,
I will drain that glass again.
Such hilarious visions clamber
Through the chamber of my brain.
Quaintest thoughts, queerest fancies
Come to life and fade away.
What care I how time advances;
I am drinking ale today.
-Lines on Ale (1848), by Edgar Allen Poe (1809-1849)
There’s a lot going on this week friends. Of course, it’s Shark Week! Olympic trials in swimming, track and field and gymnastics have started. And my favorite holiday is less than a week away. That’s right, Independence Day is my favorite holiday! I look forward to it each and every year. To me, the Fourth of July signifies everything that makes summer amazing. Yes, it’s a day to celebrate our Independence and the birth of Democracy. But it’s also a day to soak up those special moments spent with friends and family into the wee hours of the evening, enjoying cold brew after cold brew as you kick back, relax and take in all that is summertime. (The Fourth of July also kicks off what I call my “birthday week” which culminates on 7-11. Gifts of craft beer are always appreciated! )
You have finally reached your campsite after hiking 20 miles over rugged terrain with all of your gear on your back. A heavy band of sweat clings to your head as you finally drop your pack and begin to set up your shelter. Once you’ve eaten and settled in for the night, you reach into your pack and pull out a beer. Beer might not be as essential as food, water, shelter or clothing, but, in your modest camp, it’s nothing short of a luxury.
Since the most important criterion of a backpacking beer is portability, every beer on this list will be canned. Cans are much lighter than glass and don’t require you to pack a bottle-opener. You also do not run the risk of a can breaking and leaving dangerous shards all over the campsite. Last but not least, aluminum conducts heat faster than glass, which means they’ll get cold faster when you stick them in a creek. There are many to choose from, but, if you ask me, these are the best summer backpacking beers.
Two words in the beer world that are instantly recognizable: Grapefruit Sculpin. Alex Tweet, head brewer and co-founder of Fieldwork Brewing Co in Berkeley, CA, decided to “take that idea in a different, but complementary direction” then the original Grapefruit Sculpin he created for Ballast Point. The different, but complementary direction resulted in Fieldwork’s Sea Farmer Sea Salt Grapefruit IPA (say that 10 times fast!). This grapefruit IPA is absolutely delicious and refreshing, making Sea Farmer the quintessential summertime fruit IPA.
Golden Road Brewery is named as a tribute to the Grateful Dead’s song The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion.” If they had a motto, I believe they would take inspiration from a quote by the great Jerry Garcia said: “our strong suit is what we do…” Golden Road opened their newest tasting location in the wonderfully eclectic and diverse Grand Central Market. Join them for a pint and a pierogi, and you will certainly know that their strong suit is everything they do.
I found myself in Los Angeles on a rainy Friday afternoon and I was lucky enough to experience the sights, sounds and experience of Golden Road and their newest location in the Grand Central Market.
Fieldwork Brewing is a Berkeley-based brewery committed to quality and freshness, that has taken the Bay Area by storm. Their beers are some of the most aromatic and balanced hoppy beers that you will ever have. The vast beer array of beers Fieldwork offers are truly unique and forever changing. The draft list may be completely different a week later.
Having been open for a year and exponentially growing in popularity, Fieldwork Brewing has reason to celebrate for three days. Co-founder and head brewer Alex Tweet stated, “in my eyes the anniversary is to celebrate our customers. We honest to god have the best customers I have ever seen in this industry, and the anniversary is hopefully going to be a fun weekend for them to celebrate what they helped build. If it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t be in business.”
Last summer was my introduction to the gose style, and my first one was Anderson Valley’s Blood Orange Gose (also a beer I highly recommend). I immediately became a fan, and started seeking out others in the gose style. That soon led me to another from Anderson Valley, the Briney Melon Gose. At the time, it was only available in bombers, but this year they started distributing it in six-pack cans… and we’re all better off because of it. With a fun, easy-drinking summer beer like this, cans that you can throw in a cooler and take to a barbecue to share with friends are the only way to go.
Tucked away in a historic part of Oakland, Ale Industries carefully crafts their wonderfully fun and inventive beers. The brewery, which happens to be the oldest and largest Oakland has to offer, has a taproom named: the Jingletown Jazz Room. If the Jazz Room had a day job, it would obviously be a brewery, but it does have another occupation. On the second Friday of every month, the Jingletown Jazz Room really lets its hair down and hosts local artists and musicians.
Seattle, one of the fastest growing US cities, is a mixture of business, wilderness, food, music, coffee, and – of course – beer. Its tenants include everyone from your pink-haired neighbor that works at a boutique featuring solely local arts and crafts, to the posh fashionista that is able to strut her stuff at Nordstrom corporate, to the plaid-donning Amazonian, who types code all week with the goal of treating himself to a trip into the mountains come the weekend. There is something here for everyone, which is why so many people, cut from so many cloths, have found their way to the Emerald City. Seattle, at its core, is an explosion of culture, curiosity and adventure that has encouraged locals to continue sink their roots in deeper. It’s also encouraged transplants to plant new ones.
Bison Brewing’s Organic Chocolate is one of my favorite stouts, and has been for the last few years or so. It is rich in flavor without being heavy in the body, and low enough in alcohol to be sessionable. This is definitely NOT a sweet stout. (If sweet is your thing, check out Samuel Smith’s Organic Chocolate stout.) Brewed with Peruvian cocoa and roasted barley, this beer boasts big coffee and dark chocolate flavors.