Top 5 Beers of San Diego Beer Week: Barrel-Aged Brews, Political Beers + Pasadena Sours
A wise San Diego brewer once said, "Every week in San Diego is beer week," an undeniable truth for a county with more than 60 breweries and two decades of beer culture to its fame.
And still, the ten-day festival officially known as San Diego Beer Week continues to amaze palettes, concluding its 4th annual run yesterday after more than 500 craft beer-centric events took place across San Diego County (and we thought L.A. Beer Week's calendar was daunting!).
After trudging through the thick of SDBW opening-weekend madness and making several more jaunts down for special events, we've sifted through all the specialty stouts, spicy lagers and insanely bitter interpretations of European styles and came up with a list of five releases that debuted in the last week-and-a-half that we thought you ought to know about. Most of them won bonus points for being already in L.A. or making their way over (and just for fun, not one is a West Coast IPA!), so turn the page to get our picks.
5. Automatic Brewing Vote For Obama Beer:
It seemed only appropriate that a heated election night landing during San Diego Beer Week would elicit red and blue-themed beers espousing brewers' views. And not that we are choosing any one over the other based on political preference, but Automatic Brewing's Vote For Obama beer was interesting for the fact that it was based off of Obama's own White House homebrew recipe, which was released a few months ago after an online petition pressured the kitchen staff to divulge. The White House Honey Ale is a light golden ale made with honey from the First Lady's Beehive, but the nanobrewery's interpretation uses agave for sweetness and heaps of rye malt to make a well-balanced, but decidedly heavier beer. Renamed "Obama Wins" as results came in Tuesday night, the beer was unfortunately only served in San Diego at a few specialty taphouses and wont be making its way to L.A.
4. Firestone Walker XVI:
Firestone Walker Brewing Company
Last year, Los Angeles Beer Week was host to an unprecedented evening-long deconstruction of Firestone XV, last year's ultra-rare anniversary beer blend from Central California's award-winning mid-size brewery. This year, however, the first place to tap XVI (the latest annual release) outside of Firestone's Paso Robles brewery was Stone Brewing Company's World Bistro and Gardens in Escondido during--you guessed it--San Diego Beer Week. An always impressive combination of eight barrel-aged beers blended with the assistance of local winemakers, the 13%ABV dark horse is now L.A.-available in bottles at select spots (we spied some this weekend at Blue Palms). Keep an eye out for local keg release parties that are sure to come soon.
3. Iron Fist Brewing 2nd Anniversary Imperial Rebellion:
Okay, so Iron Fist's 2nd Anniversary party was back in mid-October, but their Imperial Rebellion--a hoppy-and-boozy 9.7%ABV Belgian-style farmhouse ale--still remained a main offering from the young Vista brewery during San Diego Beer Week. Not only was it on tap at several seminal SD bars, but it was also featured during Stone Brewing Company's Brewmaster's Lunch event, which created a five-course meal paired with Iron Fist and Stone brews. As of this weekend, however, Imperial Rebellion has made its Orange and L.A. County debut with a single keg at The Factory in Long Beach, the city where Assistant Brewer Chris Klein lives.
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