Just wrapping up a nice family vacation from the West Coast.  We spent a fair amount of days laying on the beach soaking up the sun (and I have the burns on my formerly pale Minnesota skin to prove it), and of course soaking up the local beer offerings.

So I will start with a local that is nationally known an can be found here. Now this is one of those beers I have had before, but this time I could say I was drinking it “local”.  It’s the legendary Anchor Steam.  Anchor Steam is still one of my favorite beers.  Smooth, noticable, but not overwhelming hops, and overall a well balanced beer.  I can’t say for certain that it tasted “fresher” because I was closer to the source.  But it still hit the mark!  Rating 4 out of 3 Stars (Favorite)

Next our stop at BJ’s Brewhouse.  For food I ordered their California Burger, and I had an Oasis Amber for a beer.  Now their beer was solid, refreshing, and tasted well.  But at the end of the day, it wasn’t all that memorable.  Where I felt the shined was on the food.  Their fries were well cooked and seasoned, my medium rare burger was cooked to perfection, and the topping were fresh and added to the flavor of the burger.  It’s really hard to judge a Brewpub on just one beer, but they definatly caught my interest and I look forward to going again.  Great food, and solid beers.

The first  new beer for our review is Bear Republic’s Black Race IPA.  This inky black beer didn’t let any light escape it.  It had a thick foamy dark head.  It head a thick warm mouth-feel.  There was a heavy cascade hops flavor and a fiery aftertaste (the abv is 8.1%).  There was a touch of smoke in the after taste.  A very different take on Black IPAs then what is available in Minnesota.  It was heavier, darker, and packed a punch.  Rating: 1 1/2 out of 3 stars (Good).

Ballast Point Amber Ale Calico:  This hazy dark red beer had a nice thick foamy head.  The aroma was a white grape followed by a citrusy aroma.  It hit you first with a shock of bitterness.  It was a muddled mixture of cascade hoppiness, but there were others hops noticeably at play in this beer.  It had an almost lavender flavor to it, especially in the after taste.  Nice and bold, a definite drink for the hoppy people in your life.  Rating 1 1/2 Stars out of 3 (Good).

Hanger 24 Amarillo Pale Ale:  This hazy orange beer with white foamy head gives off a faint citrus aroma.  It had ample, but soft, carbonation.  Mild bitterness, it had a nice lingering maltiness to it.  It was a good hearty beer perfect for summer time.  Rating 2 Stars out of 3 (Very Good).

Last and definitely not least is what I’m calling the star of our trip:  Fireman’s Brew Blonde Pilsner.  This beer was light golden in color with a slight orange tint.  Head of fine bubbles, nice fresh saaz hops aroma.  The taste reminded me of one of my favorite German Pilsners, Hohenfelder.  Nice crisp bitterness, pleasant nutty maltiness.  It was smooth, crisp, and very good.  I found that you could drink this beer chilled, or just under room temperature and you still had a fine beer.   Overall this was my favorite beer of the trip.  Rating:  3 Stars out of 3 Stars (Excellent).

Overall I has very happy with my beer experience in California.  This state is known for having some of the best beers in this country, and I tend to agree.  Mixed with a fine food culture this is a definite trip to take when you are looking for a new Beer Adventure.

Until next time.  Keep those mugs full!