2014 ~ The Year’s Beers

2014 ~ The Year in Beer

If my statistics from Untappd are to be believed, I tasted no less than 606 unique beers in 2014. This annihilates my number from last year, which was a paltry 207 unique brews. I began using Untappd midway through 2014 because it was utilitarian and allows me to catalogue my alcoholic explorations with a greater degree of detail and efficiency. I also joined Beer Advocate and began to do some trading and also some tourism, visiting breweries in New York City, Tampa, and Orange County. Midway through the year I began a biweekly beer night with a number of friends in San Diego. Now it has essentially has become a glorious bottle share that happens twice a month. On the horizon? Hopefully hosting a beer podcast. I just need to buckle down and DO IT.

Stone Calm Before the Storm 2014
Tasters of a few of Stone’s Vertical Epics at the Calm Before the Storm 2014, held at the Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens in Escondido, CA in February.
Iron Fist Tulip Glass
My Iron Fist keeper glass at Plan 9 Alehouse in Escondido, CA
Beer Brewing Company
Yes, kick yourself, because the Beer Brewing Company is real and it’s in Oceanside, CA
Grey Monday
The Bruery’s monstrous barrel-aged Grey Monday, in uh, a “taster” at Urge Gastropub in Rancho Bernardo
Tasters of some local brews at Pasture in Richmond, VA
Brooklyn Brewery Tour
On a brewery tour at Brooklyn Brewery in (where else?) Brooklyn, NYC

Since listing them all here would be a fool’s errand, resulting in a very long post, I will simply break down some of my favorite brews from the most popular categories I imbibed.

India Pale Ales (IPAs) – tasted 76 unique

  1. Treehouse Green
  2. Russian River Blind Pig
  3. Alpine Nelson
  4. Noble Ale Works Waimea Showers
  5. Kern River Just Outstanding
  6. Alpine Duet
  7. Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin
  8. Societe The Pupil
  9. Alpine Bine & Vine 3rd Anniversary
  10. Acoustic Ales Back N The GSSR
  11. Rip Current Lupulin Lust
  12. Bells Two Hearted
  13. Culture Mosaic IPA
  14. Modern Times Aurora
  15. Cigar City Experimental Hop #291
  16. Modern Times Phalanx
  17. Cigar City Jai Alai
  18. Fat Heads Head Hunter
  19. Mother Earth Sinister Prime Minister
  20. Cismontane Coulter IPA

Imperial India Pale Ales (IIPAs, DIPAs, TIPAs) – tasted 71 unique

  1. Belching Beaver Poundtown
  2. Columbus Bodhi
  3. Brick Wall Brewing Pliny the Tagger (PtE recipe home-brew)
  4. Russian River Pliny the Elder
  5. Alpine Pure Hoppiness
  6. Stone Enjoy By 4.20.14
  7. Alpine / New Belgium Super IPA
  8. Lagunitas Sucks
  9. Knee Deep Hoparillo
  10. Pizza Port 5th Gear Pinned
  11. Founders Double Trouble
  12. Bells Hopslam
  13. Lagunitas Waldo’s Special (Waldo’s 420)
  14. 3 Floyds Dreadnaught
  15. Green Flash West Coast IPA
  16. 3 Floyds Arctic Panzer Wolf
  17. Fat Head’s Hop JuJu

Imperial Stouts / Double Stouts / Russian Imperial Stouts – tasted 44 unique

  1. Modern Times Monsters Park 2014 – 12%
  2. The Lost Abbey Serpents Stout 2014 – 11%
  3. The Bruery So Happens It’s Tuesday (with Coconut) – 11.5%
  4. Southern Tier Mokah – 10%
  5. Port Santa’s Little Helper – 12%
  6. Avery The Czar – 8.5%
  7. Stone Stochasticity Master of Disguise – 9.7%
  8. Prairie Bomb! – 14%

Barrel-Aged Imperial Stouts (subset)

  1. The Bruery Black Tuesday 2014 – 19.2%
  2. The Lost Abbey Track #10 Bat Out of Hell – 13.5%
  3. Against the Grain Bo & Luke – 13%
  4. Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS) – 11.2%
  5. Avery Tweak – 16%
  6. Avery Mephistopheles Stout – 16.8%
  7. Hanger 24 Barrel Roll No. 3 – Pugachev’s Cobra 2013 – 13.8%
  8. Stone W00tstout 2.0 – 13.5%
  9. Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout 2013 – 15%
  10. Praire Pirate Bomb! – 14%
  11. The Bruery Grey Monday – 18%
  12. Port Older Viscosity – 12%
  13. Great Divide Chocolate Oak-Aged Yeti – 9.5%

American Strong Ales – tasted 25 unique

  1. Stone Double Bastard 2008 – 11.2%
  2. Stone Double Bastard 2009 – 11.2%
  3. The Lost Abbey Deliverance – 12.5%
  4. The Lost Abbey Angel’s Share Grand Cru – 12%
  5. Stone Double Bastard 2010 Aged in Bourbon Barrels – 11.2%
  6. Stone Lukcy Basartd – 8.5%
  7. Lagunitas Brown Shugga’ – 9.9%
  8. The Bruery Mélange No. 3 – 15.5%
  9. Stone Bastard in the Rye – 10%
  10. Lagunitas Undercover Investigation Shut-Down – 9.7%

American Pale Ales (APAs) – tasted 25 unique

  1. AleSmith Pale Ale .394 – 6%
  2. Alpine Ale – 5.5%
  3. Mike Hess Hartley – 6.3%
  4. New Glarus Moon Man – 5%
  5. Modern Times Oneida – 5.8%
  6. Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale – 6.5%
  7. Brooklyn Scorcher #366 – 4.5%
  8. 3 Floyds Man-O-Awe – 6%
  9. 3 Floyds Zombie Dust – 6.4%

So, what do you think I should set as a goal for 2015? Is it cool to have a goal of tasting a butt-load of beers? Should I stick to hunting down everything on the Top 250 from Beer Advocate? Yes to all? OK. See what’s on deck in my beer cellar.

2014 ~ The Year in Cuisine

2014 ~ The Year in Food

I never published this. Back at the beginning of 2015. 

2014 now stands as the year in which I did the most prodigious amount of traveling in my entire lifetime. Traveling on business took me to Richmond, San Jose, New York City, and Toronto. Traveling for pleasure landed me in Toledo, Columbus, Tampa and Dallas.

Along the way, I was forced into the unenviable position of exploring new gastronomic horizons. What follows is a summation of the most memorable food-related experiences I had in 2014. Listed by location in alphabetical order, of course. Because, why not?

Razor Burger
The Razor Burger at The Forge in historic Ben Wheeler, TX

Ben Wheeler, TX

Razor Burger @ The Forge (cheese-stuffed jalapeños, bacon, lettuce, tomato, red onion on a toasted, buttered bun)

– Columbus, OH
– Sauerkraut Balls & Mac’n’Cheese @ Hey Hey Bar & Grill
– Pork Bratwurst, Smoked Bahama Mama, Garlic Knockwurst, German Potato Salad @ Schmidt’s Restaurant und Sausage Haus
– The Village Addiction @ Brown Bag Deli (smoked turkey, havarti, cranberry mayonnaise, served on grilled sour dough)
– Sriracha Slaw Dog @ Dirty Frank’s Hot Dog Palace (Sriracha slaw (coleslaw with a touch of sun-ripened chile garlic sauce), mustard, & fresh onion)
– Sunfish Tacos @ The Sycamore (arbol chili rub, sazon yogurt sauce, mizzuna sprouts)
– Beer @ 16-Bit Bar + Arcade

Cortado @ Café Grumpy in Manhattan
Cortado @ Café Grumpy in Manhattan

– New York City, NY
– Cortado @ Café Grumpy in Manhattan
– Wurst and beer @ The Standard Biergarten in The Standard Hotel High Line, Meat Packing District, Manhattan
– The Famous Original Pizza @ Roberta’s in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn (tomato, mozzarella, Caciocavallo, oregano, chili)

Brunch with my good friend Andrew @ the Iris Café in Brooklyn
Brunch with my good friend Andrew @ the Iris Café in Brooklyn

– Cortado & Shakshuka @ Iris Cafe in Brooklyn (roasted tomato, tahini, toast, sesame seeds, poached egg)

The Burger @ Pasture in RVA
The Burger @ Pasture in RVA

– Richmond, VA
– Burger @ Pasture (special sauce, house dill pickles, lettuce, onion, American cheese, fries)
– Bavarian Pretzels, Garlic-Herb Mussels, Fish and Chips @ Capital Ale House (Pale ale battered cod fried crisp and served with fries, brown ale Tarter sauce and cilantro lime slaw)
– Top Sirloin @ Comfort
– Chicken Tenders, Catfish, Candied Yams, Peach Cobbler @ Mama J’s

Sizzling Shark
Sizzling Shark @ Churchill’s Pub & Grille in San Marcos, CA (Mako shark filet rubbed in Caribbean green seasoning then breaded and fried. Served on a ciabatta bun and topped with scotch bonnet slaw, red onion, heirloom tomato, and pepper sauce)

San Diego, CA

  • Lobster mac & cheese burger @ Churchill’s Pub & Grille (1/2lb Kobe beef patty on a beer battered lobster mac and cheese bun topped with truffle cheese and heirloom tomato)
  • Ceviche flight and Chronic Roll @ Wrench & Rodent Seabasstropub (crab, spicy tuna and avocado wrapped in rice and nori, deep fried and finished off with spicy aioli and sweet and spicy citrus sauce)
  • Triple Stuffed Popper and Sizzling Fried Shark @ Churchill’s Pub & Grille (Anaheim chili stuffed with diced jalapeño, habañero, serrano peppers, and pepper jack cheese. Then beer battered, fried and topped with chipotle mole. — Mako shark filet rubbed in Caribbean green seasoning then breaded and fried. Served on a ciabatta bun and topped with scotch bonnet slaw, red onion, heirloom tomato, and pepper sauce.)
  • 50 Alarm Burger @ Slater’s 50/50 (carne asada fire beef, ghost pepper jack cheese, bacon habanero spread, fresh jalapeño, beer battered habanero poppers, brioche
  • (waiver required; gloves provided))
  • El Fútbol Taco @ Tacos Perla (Smoked Albacore, green chile, pippin, jack cheese & red onion)
  • Shack Burger @ Carnitas Snack Shack (lettuce/ tomato/ bacon jam/ white cheddar/ shack aioli)
  • San Diego Restaurant Week @ Puesto La Jolla (Lobster taco [Black beans,‏ crispy onions, avocado, crema de cilantro, jalapeño pico], Rajas Veg taco [Crispy melted cheese, rajas mix (chile poblano, sweet corn, oyster mushrooms), avocado, tomatillo fresca], Zucchini & Cactus Veg taco [Crispy melted cheese, calabasitas (zucchini, corn, tomato), cactus, avocado, cilantro-tomatillo], Pork Chilaquiles, Calabasitas [Fresh zucchini, corn, tomato, queso, crema], ice cream cookie dessert)
  • Battered Fish Tacos @ Oscar’s Mexican Seafood (served with Cabbage – Onion – Tomato – Cilantro)
  • Bomb Burrito @ Karina’s Taco Shop (carne asada, shredded cheese, guacamole, taquitos, sour cream)
  • Ribeye Steak @ The Steakhouse at Jalapeño Grill & Cantina (Ribeye flavored with Signature House Seasoning and grilled over a Mesquite flame, fresh bread, Mexican caesar salad, Jalapeño Cheddar Mashed Redskins)

Little Gems

Salad @ The Farmer’s Union in San Jose, CA (Little Gems, Avocado Green Goddess, Candy Bacon, Ricotta Salata, Pickled Onion)

San Jose, CA

  • Burger @ The Farmer’s Union (Farmers Union Grass Fed Burger, Brioche Bun, White Cheddar, Pickles, All the Fixins)
  • Salad @ The Farmer’s Union (Little Gems, Avocado Green Goddess, Candy Bacon, Ricotta Salata, Pickled Onion)
  • Shiitake Jack @ Konjoe Burger Bar in San Pedro Square Market (beef, lettuce, pickled jalapenos, shiitake mushrooms, jack cheese, r.g.s.t aioli)
  • Sausage & Kale Stuffed Pork Tenderlion @ SP2 Communal Bar + Restaurant (Parmesan Polenta, Baby Carrots and Chasseur Sauce)
Florida Pompano at Ulële in Tampa, FL
Florida Pompano at Ulële in Tampa, FL

Tampa, FL

  • Florida Pompano @ Ulële (Pan-seared pompano fillet, sundried tomato shallot cream, fried carrot ribbons)
  • Burrito Prenado Pescado (Grouper) with Guacamole @ Taco Bus (X-large flour tortilla stuffed with your choice of filling, Mexican rice, refried beans, taco veggies and cheese)
Cowboy Ribeye
Cowboy Ribeye and Lobster Tail at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in Mississauga, ON

Toronto, ON

2014 ~ The Year in Photos


I took some 1200-odd Photos with my phone in the year of 2014. In non-chronological order, find some of the highlights below:

2014 ~ The Year in Review Begins

2014 ~ The Year in ReviewAs this list coalesces from the sum of my temporal experiences in 2014, I realize that the amount of preparation involved is actually more than ever before… rendering the process a little less involved than past years. And so it feels half-hearted. But it’s not.

I live within striking distance of the second largest metropolitan area by population in the United States, and I have missed a number of things.

I missed seeing The Notwist in San Francisco in June – when I was actually in the city. My phone died, I had no means of transportation and it was dark. I should have gone anyway.

I missed seeing Whiplash, The Tale of Princess Kaguya, Birdman, The Book of Life, Calvary, Force Majeure, Wild, The Imitation Game, Godzilla, Selma, and Inherent Vice, despite the fact that they all played nearby.

I missed going to Peasant in New York City and trying Frank’s Steak, based upon a recipe born in the middle ages after a battle where there were hundreds of dead horses on the ground. Never let a good horse go to waste…

I missed visiting the Guggenheim and the Met, my car broke down en route to a Padres home game that I subsequently missed, I also missed going on Drinkabout in North Park, swimming with the seals in La Jolla Cove, and going to a vertical tasting of every vintage of 3 Floyds Dark Lord.

Those are things I missed. Sometimes, dwelling on missed opportunities can obscure all of the caught opportunities and adventures the year had in store. This is my review of 2014, and I shall break it into some bite-sized, pop-culture-centric pieces for rapid consumption.

2014 ~ month by month

January – our good friend Cat and her daughter Kyla visit us in San Diego, CA for some fun in the sun, on the beach, eating sushi and unwinding. While driving around La Jolla, we get hungry and stop at the nearest Mexican place we could find – and thus, discover Oscar’s Mexican Seafood. THE BEST FISH TACOS EVER.

February – The Stone Brewing Co. “Calm Before the Storm” event allows me the chance to try nearly every single, retired Vertical Epic brew in their archive. Bree and I go to Urge Gastropub for a special Valentine’s Day dinner date and had some house-made truffles that were literally amazeballs. Tania and Bree make home made sushi after we did some shopping at an Asian supermarket down in San Diego.

March – I join the Bruery’s Preservation Society in order to get my hands on some fancy beers and expand my brew-consciousness. Anthony comes back to visit and ponder whether or not to move again to the great state of California and I take him to Churchill’s Renaissance to drink expensive beer. Tania, Bree, myself and John decide to hike to the top of Mount Woodson, home of the famous “Tater Chip Rock.” My second cousin Kaarin also comes to visit and we take her to Oscar’s for the BEST FISH TACOS EVER… and she agreed.

April – I travel to Richmond, VA for business.

May –

June – I travel to San Jose, CA for business. We move into a house – huge upgrade from being in an apartment. Bree is thrilled to spend our anniversary in a new location for once.

July – We attend my cousin Caleb’s wedding in Sylvania, OH, also we attend the San Diego Comic Con, also I return to Ohio (Columbus, this time) to be a groomsman in Sam Shepard’s wedding. I visit a lot of people in July. It is glorious and very expensive. Benji and Megumi put me up in their charming new home near the German Village in Columbus.

August –

September – I travel to New York City for business, arriving in the Big Apple on my birthday.

October –

November – I travel to Toronto, ON for business and then take a flight from the great, white north down to Tampa, FL for another cousin’s wedding. Bree comes from San Diego, separately.

December – For the holidays, Bree and I travel to East Texas to visit her family. We arrive on Christmas Eve and return to San Diego, which had just received a rare dusting of SNOW(!), on New Year’s Eve. Bree’s family all got sick while we visited, and so I finally succumb to it on the day we return. We ring in the new year huddled under blankets, drinking soup and ginger tea.

2014 ~ The Year In: