What's great in wine, beer, fine dining,
places to stay, & places to visit
in California State

Thursday, 24 January 2013 21:27

January 25 Beer Pick of the Week

mongo1 Picmonkey



Producer: Port Brewing Co.

Location: San Marcos, California

Style: Double IPA

Alcohol: 8.5%

IBUs: Unknown

Serving type: 12 oz. bottles, draft

Availability: Year round in National Distribution


Appearance:  Golden/yellow

Aroma:  Hoppy

Taste:  Smooth in the mouth with a sharp finish. Reasonably hoppy without being overpowering.

Food Affinity:  Grilled swordfish.

General Background:  Though the product is available in bottle (see picture at right), this week's "Pick" was sampled from draft.

Michael Mallett Mug Pickmonkey


 --reviewed by Michael Mallett,

  a transpersonal astrologer in Sacramento.

Thursday, 17 January 2013 21:51

January 18, 2013 Beer Pick of the Week

Petrus Aged Pal Ale Picmonkey

Petrus Aged Pale Ale


Producer: Bavik

Location: Belgium

Style: Red/Brown Ale

Alcohol: 7.3%

IBUs: Unknown

Serving type: 11-oz. Bottles

Availability: National distribution in the U.S. through the year, but in limited quantities.


Appearance:  Very light amber

Aroma:  Apple cider, grapefruit

Taste:  Bright, lemony and very sour (that's a good thing!). This is a brew that invites reflection. Savor it. Contemplate your life and consider a trip to Flanders.

Food affinity:  Reviewer thought the crisp acidity would work as counterpoint to chicken prepared with a sticky citrus or apricot glaze or accompanied by a chutney-like fruit sauce. A friend who enjoys cooking and food/wine pairings believed something rich and fatty, like duck or goose, would be good. Website of the beer's U.S. importer recommended smoked or pickled fish, shellfish. Such diversity. But we think it will be fun to experiment in all these directions.

General background:  This product of a family-owned Flemish brewery is matured for 24-36 months in oak barrels.

mug of Dan  Picmonkey

 --Reviewed by Dan Clarke, who had enjoyed only one bottle labeled Petrus prior to this Belgian Ale. That was the fabled Chateau Petrus, a Merlot-based wine from the Pomerol. It was in an era when the current release cost a whole lot less than the $1,999.97 that Total Wines & More charges for it now.

Sunday, 13 January 2013 11:17

January 11, 2013 Beer Pick of the Week

Bonfire bottle shot Picmonkey



Producer: Napa Smith Brewery

Location: Napa, California

Style: Brewery defines as “Imperial Porter”

Alcohol: 8%

IBUs: 30

Serving type: 12 and 22-oz. bottles and draft

Availability: Winter season in all of California and about 15 other states.


Appearance:  Dark/Dark/Dark. Big beige head.

Aroma:  Hard to define.

Taste:  Winery suggests trying "our winter warmer--and set the night on fire!" Our bottle didn't trigger such excitement, but as an alternative to sitting in front of the fireplace with a glass of Port, it would be o.k. We enjoyed its warming, malty presence and the coffee and toasty aspects. Subtle bitter/spicy bite on the finish.

Food Affinity:  Chicken mole, chocolate brownies with walnuts, dark chocolate

General Background:  Napa Smith's Master Brewer, Don Barkley, began his career at New Albion Brewing Company in 1978 and was a founder of Mendocino Brewing Company, perhaps best known for its Red Tail Ale, before taking his current position.


mug of Dan  Picmonkey


--Bonfire was reviewed by Dan Clarke,

a writer and editor in Sacramento, California.

Sunday, 06 January 2013 01:00

February 10-19, 2017 SF Beer Week

Region: SF & Bay Area     City: San Francisco     Contact: www.sfbeerweek.com

Region: San Diego County     City:  San Diego     Contact: www.sandiegobrewfest.com


Friday, 04 January 2013 13:12

January 4, 2013 Beer Pick of the Week

Pale 31Firestone Pale 31 Picmonkey


Producer: Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Location: Paso Robles, California

Style: California Style Pale Ale

Alcohol: 4.9%

IBUs: 38

Serving type: 12 oz. bottles and draft

Availability: Widely distributed in the Far West, also in Colorado, Arizona and in the Chicago area.



Appearance: Deep golden amber. Not many bubbles.

Aroma: floral, malty.

Taste: Easy-drinking, malty, refreshing.

Food Affinity: Split pea soup, topped with some crispy crumbled bacon and a slice of brown bread.

General Background: Firestone produces an array of beer styles. The “Pale 31” name of this one relates to California being the 31st state admitted to the Union.


mug of Dan  Picmonkey


--Pale 31 reviewed by Dan Clarke, a writer and editor in Sacramento, California who has happy memories of pale ales experienced in Britain years ago.

Thursday, 27 December 2012 20:52

December 28, 2012 Beer Pick of the Week

Anchor Steam BeerAnchor Steam Beer bottle and glass Picmonkey


Producer: Anchor Brewing

Location: San Francisco, California

Style: A hybrid lager/ale*

Alcohol: 4.9%

IBUs: 32

Serving type: 12 oz. bottles and draft

Availability: Distributed year-round across the U.S.



Appearance: Light amber to medium copper color. Creamy white head.

Aroma: Won't show much if beer is too cold. At ideal temperature there's some nice citrus with a hint of spice.

Taste: Opens malty with some subdued bitterness in the background. There seems a brightness throughout. Finishes crisply.

Food Affinity: More food-friendly than most IPAs, it would complement many dishes. This time of year we'd suggest fresh cracked Dungeness crab and a loaf of sourdough French bread. There—three wonderful San Francisco traditions in one sitting! Though it's from Iowa, we'd also put some Maytag blue cheese on that table in honor of Fritz. During the summer, Anchor can be a fine accompaniment to barbecue (garlicky grilled chicken is a favorite pairing).

General Background: Anchor is a San Francisco tradition, brewed under that name since 1896. The “steam” in the name doesn't relate to vapors from boiling water, but to a brewing process once common in America's West, in which no refrigeration or ice was used. A better explanation of the process and the beer itself is available at www.anchorbrewing.com. In 1965 the Anchor Brewery was on the ropes and about to close when Fritz Maytag (of the cheese and washing machine family), a Stanford grad in his late 20s, bought in and saved it from extinction. Anchor was a micro-brewery and a craft brewery before those terms had been coined. They have trademarked the “Steam Beer” identity and others making similar products may use “California Common” as the brewing style's definition. However, in talking to Omar Kamal, a Tap Room manager at the Anchor facility in San Francisco, I find that the brewery is comfortable describing the style as a “lager/ale hybrid.”*


mug of Dan  Picmonkey

 --Anchor Steam Beer was reviewed by Dan Clarke, now a writer and editor in Sacramento, California, but a man who remembers having to wait outside in the Hudson while his grandfather and a pal visited a bar in San Mateo in the early 1950's. It was a little out of the way, but it served the Steam Beer that Grandpa Ed favored.

Friday, 21 December 2012 19:14

December 21, 2012 Beer Pick of the Week

Celebration Alecelebration ale Picmonkey


Producer: Sierra Nevada

Location: Chico, California

Style: American IPA

Alcohol: 6.8%

IBUs: 65

Serving type: 12 oz. bottles and draft

Availability: Distributed across the U.S. in fall and winter



Appearance:  "Amber/copper color below an off-white head."

Aroma:  "Floral, citrus and a bit resiny."

Taste:  "Full and malty at first, it fills the mouth. Hops soon take over, however. Long and satisfying finish." Editor's note: Unlike many breweries which which create a deliberately different winter brew each year, Sierra Nevada's Celebration Ale is brewed to the same style year in and year out.

Food Affinity:  "Cheeses: Smoked Gouda and especially nutty Swiss. Sauteed Crimini mushrooms. Thick pork chop rubbed with whole-grain mustard, then baked and served with Brussels sprouts sautéed in olive oil and garlic."


mug of Dan  Picmonkey


--Celebration Ale was reviewed by Dan Clarke,

a writer and editor in Sacramento, California.

Friday, 14 December 2012 18:05

December 14, 2012 Beer Pick of the Week



Jubelale Label 2012 PicmonkeyEach year Deschutes commissions a new label for Jubelale. Above is the 2012 edition, celebrating the brew's 25th AnniversarProducer: Deschutes Brewery

Location: Bend, Oregon

Style: Strong Ale

Alcohol: 6.7%

IBUs: 60

Serving type: 12 oz. bottles and draft

Availability: Seasonally distributed October – December in 17 states in the western US and in the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Alberta.


Appearance: “Poured into a large wine glass, the Jubelale exhibited a big oatmeal-colored head which dissipated fairly quickly. Remaining beer in the glass was fairly dark, but showed a brighter reddish-brown when held up to the light.”

Aroma: “Some spice and a little roasting coffee and bread dough.”

Taste: “Fills the mouth with big, round feeling. Malty. Creamy on entry, but shows bitter hoppiness in the mid-palate. Finish is long, yet light. Overall, a very pleasant experience.”

Food Affinity: “I used a bottle in making Carbonnade de Boeuf, a Flemish dish that calls for a large piece of beef (I used a Tri-Tip) and a lot of sliced onions covered in beer and baked in the oven. The results were excellent and the Jubelale filled in for the flavors missing when I forgot to bring home the cardamom and orange peel that I usually use. Later I visited the brewery's website and discovered instructions for Jubelale Pot Roast that was a similar concept. You can find that recipe and others at www.deschutesbrewery.com.

mug of Dan  Picmonkey


--Jubelale Reviewed by Dan Clarke,

a writer and editor in Sacramento, California.

Saturday, 10 November 2012 17:27

Beer San Diego County

Valley Center

Golden Coast Mead



Aztec Brewing Company


Back Street Brewery


Green Flash Brewing


Iron Fist Brewing Company


Latitude 33 Brewing Company


Mother Earth Brew Company


Prohbition Brewing Co.



Breakwater Brewing Company


Oceanside Ale Works



Carlsbad Pizza Port www.pizzaport.com

Karl Strauss Brewery www.karlstrauss.com

On The Tracks Brewery


Pizza Port


San Marcos

Churchill's Pub & Grille


Port Brewing/Lost Abbey


San Marcos Brewery & Grill


Stumblefoot Brewing Co


The Lost Abbey



Stone Brewing Co.



Julian Brewing Co.www.baileybbq.com


Encinitas Ale House


Oggi's Pizza and Brewing


Carmel Mountain Ranch

Oggi's Pizza and Brewing


Del Mar

Left Coast/Oggis Pizza and Brewing Company


Oggi's Pizza and Brewing



Lightning Brewery



Manzanita Brewing Company


Oggi's Pizza and Brewing



Alpine Beer Company


BJ's Restaurant and Brewery www.bjsbrewhouse.com

La Jolla

BJ's Brewery


Karl Strauss Brewery


La Jolla Brewhouse


Rock Bottom Brewery


Mission Valley

Oggi's Pizza and Brewing


El Cajon

El Cajon Brewing Company


Main Tap Tavern


La Mesa

BJ's Brewery


Hoffer's Cigar Bar


City of San Diego

5 Points Brewing Company,


AleSmith Brewing Company


Ballast Point Brewing Company


Blind Lady Alehouse


Butchers Brewing


Callahans Pub & Brewery


Downtown Johnny Brown's


Gordon Biersch Brewing www.gordonbiersch.com

Green Flash Brewing Co.


Hamilton's Tavern


Hess Brewing Companywww.hessbrewing.com

Hillcrest Brewing Company


Karl Strauss Brewing Company


Local Habit


Mission Brewery


Monkey Paw Pub & Brewery




New English Brewing Company


O'Brien's American Pub


Pacific Beach Ale House


Pizza Port (Ocean Beach)


Ritual Tavern


Rock Bottom Brewery


Rough Draft Brewing


San Diego Brewing Company


Slater's 50/50


Small Bar


Societe Brewing Company


Societe Brewing Company


The Beer Companywww.thebeerco.net

The Linkery


The Regal Beagle Ale House and Sausage


The Tap Room


Tiger! Tiger!




Urge Gastropub


Point Loma

Oggi's Pizza and Brewing



Coronado Brewing Company



Oggi's Pizza and Brewing


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