Time To Get Back On It!

Hey Everybody!

It’s been over a year since I’ve posted, and it’s time to get back to work. I’m going to tweak the layout of the page a bit, and start including a variety on new content. I plan on chronicling my homebrewing, reviews of homebrew equipment (I’ve got some pretty nifty gadgets in the last year or so),  cooking recipes we make at home that have craft beer as an ingredient, and of course plenty of beer reviews, both commercial and homebrew! If there is anything else you’d like to see included beer related, let me know in the comments and I’ll see what I can do.

A big thank you to all of my followers, and I hope you enjoy the fresh content (finally) about to come!


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Taking a Break

Hey faithful followers!

I’ve been slowing down quite a bit in the beer review game, as you may have noticed. I’ve lost some of the enthusiasm that I started out with (in regards to actually reviewing beer). Don’t get me wrong, I still absolutely love craft beer, and won’t stop tasting and trying new things. I just am currently feeling burned out with the tedium of dissecting every beer I drink. I’ve found myself hoarding beer just to review, and then putting off drinking them because I didn’t feel like taking notes and typing them up. I review beer for the enjoyment of it, and to help out a few friends and WordPress followers who regularly read. I’m sure I’ll get back into writing occasional reviews, or maybe just writing about really great/terrible beers now and again, but for now a hiatus is due. Please add me on Untappd, follow me on Twitter, or like Toby’s Beer Reviews on Facebook, as you’ll find content coming much more frequently via those channels.


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21st Amendment: Bitter American

From the Brewery: IMG_3263

“If you’d been rocketed into space against your will, you might be a little bitter too. Bitter American is our long-overdue tribute to unsung, unwitting heroes everywhere. This American session ale packs a lot of hop and malt flavor into a refreshingly lower-alcohol brew, making it the perfect beer to have on hand when you have a little history to make.

Bitter American is available year-round, in six pack cans and on draft. This extra pale session ale has lower alcohol but all the flavor and hop aroma you expect from a much bigger beer. Give one, or three, a try.” 4.4% ABV American Pale Ale

Purchased from BevMo in Clovis, California.

The Pour: IMG_3264

Poured from a 12 oz can into my Libbey “Craft Beer” glass. The beer is a little hazy, honey-golden in color. An ample off-white head is poured, partly buy a super-aggressive pour to fill the 20 oz glass. Good lacing is left on the glass, and light carbonation is visible.

The Nose: IMG_3265

A blend of hop aromas are the upfront scents; tropical fruit citrus, floral notes, and a bit of grass are all present. Some light caramel sweetness from the malt base is also given.

The Mouth: IMG_3266

Bitter American is medium-thin bodied, with moderate carbonation and medium-light bitterness. The flavors are basically an exact carry over from the nose, maybe a little more floral hop-forward in the taste. It certainly drinks like a session pale ale, offering a crisp and dry finish, with just light lingering hop flavor and bitterness.

Final Thoughts: IMG_3267

Bitter American offers a pretty decent amount of flavor for being a 4.4% ABV pale ale. Having been around for a while, it seems like a forerunner to the current wave of sessionable hop-forward ales. It is very drinkable, and is everything it claims to be. It’s not an amazing beer, but it’s pretty solid. 7.5/10

21st Amendment Brewery – San Francisco, California

Posted in Beer Reviews, Light/Pale Ales | 1 Comment

Ballast Point: Big Eye India Pale Ale

From the Brewery: IMG_3247

The beer that helped put San Diego IPA’s on the map.
Our Big Eye IPA is a big hoppy brew, thanks to the abundance of American Columbus and Centennial varieties we use to flavor and dry hop. While the English originally added extra hops to preserve their beers for sea travel, we do it for the love of all that bold, intense flavor that makes India Pale Ale one of our favorite styles.” 7.0% ABV American IPA

Purchased from BevMo in Clovis, California.

The Pour: IMG_3248

Poured from a 22 oz bomber into my Spiegelau IPA glass. The body is moderately hazy (as expected for an ample dry-hopped IPA), coppery-orange in color. A large, fluffy off-white head is poured, which leaves good lacing and has solid retention. Plenty of carbonation is visible climbing up the glass.

The Nose: IMG_3249

Big grapefruit citrus hops dominate the aromas. Similar tropical fruits and a bit of piney resin hop character are also present, as well as some sweetness from the base malt. My bottle is just a few weeks old, and the huge dry hop aromas are mouthwatering.

The Mouth: IMG_3250

Big Eye is medium-bodied with a moderately light/soft mouthfeel, finishing with decent carbonation harshness and a good bit of tongue-biting bitterness. The flavors abound in the big grapefruit hops from the nose, but the malt base becomes a bit more pronounced as the beer warms. It finishes a bit dry, with a touch a caramel malt being introduced in the aftertaste of lingering hop flavor and bitterness.

Final Thoughts: IMG_3251

Coming in just as described, this is the epitome of a West Coast/San Diego IPA. Great aromas and great flavors blend together beautifully. It is one of the best “regular” (ie-not imperial/double) IPA’s I’ve had to date. I’m very happy I picked up a bottle. 9/10!

Ballast Point Brewing and Spirits – San Diego, California

Posted in Beer Reviews, IPA | 1 Comment

Firestone Walker: Easy Jack

From the Brewery: IMG_3241

“Brewmaster Matt Brynildson went to the mountain and returned with a vision for a different kind of Session IPA, one that would be brewed and dry hopped with a globetrotting selection of new hop varieties from Europe, New Zealand and North America. He foresaw a beer that would deliver massive hop aromas, a signature malt balance and an empty glass before you knew what hit you. And so the newest member of our Jack IPA family was born.” 4.5% ABV American IPA

Purchased from BevMo in Clovis, California.

The Pour: IMG_3242

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a Spiegelau IPA glass. The body is light yellow-golden with a touch of an orange hue, showing light haziness. The foamy head is almost pure white, which has decent retention and leaves good lacing. Ample carbonation can be seen in the glass.

The Nose: IMG_3243

It definitely smells like a Firestone Walker IPA, amply dry-hopped to give off grapefruit, tangerine, lemon, and even some pomegranate aromas. English pale malts come through at the back end of the hop forward profile.

The Mouth: IMG_3244

Easy Jack is thin bodied, as expected for a beer of only 4.5% ABV, and is softer in the mouth than the big hop aromas would suggest. The carbonation is moderate, and the hop bitterness is subdued. There isn’t a whole lot of flavor initially in the mouth; most of the flavor comes through in the aftertaste. The aftertaste offers some grapefruit and lemony zest, with a touch of the sweet base malts. It finishes a little wet/watery, so it doesn’t standout as being particularly refreshing.

Final Thoughts: IMG_3245

Firestone Walker offers a solid entry into the session IPA craze going on this Spring/Summer with Easy Jack, but given a choice I would go for a regular Union Jack probably every time. But with nearly all of the other big West Coast craft breweries making session IPA’s, Firestone Walker couldn’t be left behind. Maybe a few more IBU’s or a little more carbonation would make this one seem a little more palate cleansing and refreshing, which would bump it up to Union Jack levels for me. Perhaps I just don’t particularly get the point of a toned-down IPA. Whatever the case may be, it’s a good-not-great beer worth trying. 7.5/10

Firestone Walker Brewery – Paso Robles, California

Posted in Beer Reviews, IPA | 1 Comment

Kona: Fire Rock Pale Ale

From the Brewery: IMG_3236

“Fire Rock Pale Ale is crisp, refreshing “Hawaiian-style” pale ale. Its signature copper color results from the unique blend of specialty roasted malts. The pronounced citrus-floral hop aroma comes from the liberal amount of hops added to each brew.” 6.0% ABV American Pale Ale

Purchased from Das Bierhaus in Fresno, California.

The Pour: IMG_3238

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a shaker pint glass. The body has a slightly hazy appearance, which is amber in color. An off-white two finger head is poured, which retains well and leaves solid lacing. Light carbonation is visible.

The Nose: IMG_3237

Though not quite the strength of a typical West Coast IPA, the hops are on the forefront of the aromas. Grapefruit citrus, and to a lesser extent floral hop character, mix with a bit of sweet base malt. I also smell some faint dark roasted and caramel malt qualities, as well as light honey.

The Mouth: IMG_3239

Fire Rock is medium-bodied, offering a relatively soft mouthfeel with just faint carbonation effervescence and mild hop bitterness. The flavor is more malt-forward than the aroma, and is mild overall. Modest, sweet, bready/grainy malts are present, and the citrus hops from the aroma are faint. It finishes with a touch of said citrus, adding to a lightly lingering biscuity malt aftertaste.

Final Thoughts: IMG_3240

Fire Rock is an easy beer to drink, offering a decent nose and soft mouthfeel. Though too big at 6% ABV to really be considered sessionable, it has similar traits to some of the new session IPA’s that have popped up lately. It has a good balance between the malts and the hops, though neither are particularly noteworthy. 7/10.

Kona Brewing Co. – Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

Posted in Beer Reviews, Light/Pale Ales | 3 Comments

Anchor: Steam Beer

From the Brewery: IMG_3233

“Anchor Steam® Beer owes its deep amber color, thick, creamy head, and rich, distinctive flavor to a historic brewing process like none other.

It is a process that combines deep respect for craft brewing tradition with many decades of evolution to arrive at a unique approach: a blend of pale and caramel malts, fermentation with lager yeast at warmer ale temperatures in shallow open-air fermenters, and gentle carbonation in our cellars through an all-natural process called kräusening.

Anchor Steam® Beer derives its unusual name from the 19th century when “steam” was a nickname for beer brewed on the West Coast of America under primitive conditions and without ice. While the origin of the name remains shrouded in mystery, it likely relates to the original practice of fermenting the beer on San Francisco’s rooftops in a cool climate. In lieu of ice, the foggy night air naturally cooled the fermenting beer, creating steam off the warm open pans. Once a nickname for any Californian or West Coast beer brewed under these conditions, today the name “steam” is a trademark of Anchor Brewing and applies only to the singular process and taste of our flagship brand – San Francisco’s original Anchor Steam® Beer. The classic of American brewing tradition since 1896.” 4.9% ABV California Common/Steam Beer

Purchased from Das Bierhaus in Fresno, California.

The Pour: IMG_3234

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pilsner glass. The body is remarkably clear, with a nice amber/apple juice color. A large, slightly off-white head is poured (which was likely accentuated by an aggressive pour into the glass), which dissipates to a thin covering and leaves light lacing. Surprisingly little carbonation is visible for a lager-ish beer.

The Nose: IMG_3235

The aromas are light, smelling like a sessionable summer beer, sans the use of adjuncts used by most macro lagers. Present are bread/crackery notes from the base malts, as well as some lemon citrus and grassy tones.

The Mouth: DSC_0774

Anchor Steam has a medium-thin body, and has an easy mouthfeel that offers just light carbonation pep and faint hop bitterness. The flavors match the nose pretty spot on; slightly sweet cracker/grainy malts mixed with a bit of lemongrass citrus, which lingers lightly on the palate.

Final Thoughts: DSC_0776

While not an outstanding beer, it’s always nice to drink a lager-style beer that doesn’t use any cheap adjuncts (corn, rice syrups, etc.) to sweeten the beer or inflate the ABV. The result is a decent, malt-forward beer that is easy to drink and moderately refreshing. If this is the quintessential California beer, then my home state is doing okay. I prefer something a little more hearty, but pretty much any beer drinker can get behind this one.   7/10

Anchor Brewing Company – San Francisco, California

Posted in Beer Reviews, Lager/Pilsener | 2 Comments