A Better Uber

Imagine Anchor Steam Beer or Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, an iconic beer. Then barrel it.

That is what Bell’s Brewery has done with Uberon, their twist on Oberon. “Uberon is a bourbon barrel-aged version of our iconic American Wheat Ale. It’s strong, spicy, warming… Uberon tastes like our classic American Wheat Ale with a shot of bourbon dropped into it.”

HopSlam a Robot

If you look for the mini-kegs of Hopslam from Bell’s, you will need to look for flying saucers and robots because the packaging has been sent out of this world…

… one of the classic craft beers.

Ring the Bell 35 Times

Bell’s is bringing out an extra special Russian Imperial Stout for their 35th year and this is the type of beer that you should get one for now and one for later because they really do some complex dark beers that you will want to test again in a year or so.

Q-Falls

Thanks to a windfall of breweries distributing in L.A., instead of bemoaning when a new beer was released (but nowhere near me), I now get to buy it. Which means that I can pick up a can of Bell’s Brewery newest addition, Quinannan Falls Special Lager Beer when it arrives in June.

Here is part of the backstory- “Quinannan Falls” pronounced “҆Kwi-ni-naan,” or Q-Falls as it affectionately known at Bell’s pub, has been an Eccentric Café favorite since 2009.”

And the beer description – “The end result is a dry-hopped lager that possesses a crisp, dry bitterness you would expect from a German pilsner, but the use of highly aromatic Simcoe hops from the Pacific Northwest, evoke the fragrant pine forests that inspired this beer.”
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Featured Review – Christmas Ale from Bell’s

Well, if you brew a beer called Christmas Ale, it might as well be vivid red in color. That is what Bell’s has accomplished as you can see….
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Their Midwestern take on the holiday seasonal almost smells like fruitcake as well. Their is a definitive fruit note here that evokes the better aspect of the oft neglected cake. The jelly note and sweetness is here as is a tang of metallic swirling with the soft malts. There is a tiny touch of bitterness as well but it doesn’t linger for long. A lighter take that I would like to see bulked a little bit with some roastier malt but is an interesting viewpoint on what Santa might drink.

Featured Review – Best Brown Ale from Bell’s

In addition to reviewing a pair of San Diego beers that were new to me, I will also talk about two Bell’s beers. One is their 30th Anniversary, but first is the 16oz can of Best Brown Ale.
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Best Brown is one of those beers that touches all the bases for the style without really exploding. It is a plain amber/brown color. It is a little thin tasting but there are multiple flavors that are encountered with each taste. There is an untoasty malt flavor that is augmented by a touch of sweetness and a little bit of peppery-ness.

Past that, is not much else. It is the type of beer that is gone before you know it and you have to reach back in the memory banks to remember what it was like.

Review – Bell’s Beer Dinner @ Bourbon Steak

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I have driven by and walked past the Bourbon Steak restaurant at the Americana at Brand quite a few times now and always wondered what it was like inside.  And on Friday night, I was presented with the perfect opportunity to find out.  (Full disclosure and tease of an opinion piece coming tomorrow, I had a media pass for the dinner)

Beer pairing dinners, for me, always have that item that you don’t like (for me it was the raw fish), an item that you don’t think will pair well with beer (Pad Thai) and an item that you know will be a home run (peaches, ricotta and Oarsman ale).

This was the 1st such beer pairing dinner for Bourbon Steak and partnering with Bell’s Brewing is a strong head start.  They have a wide variety of beers and aren’t loaded down with IPA’s which are notoriously hard to work with.

As expected the first course with the quasi/neo/sorta Berliner Weisse Oarsman was an excellent opening salvo to the night.  The cream and especially the cheese and the fruit were in marked contrast to the slight tartness of the beer.

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Skipping over the raw fish course though, let’s go straight to the beer for that course, Oberon.  I learned the proper pouring technique from the Bell’s crew.  Pour the beer into your glass, swirl the bottle (or can) and get some of that yeasty sediment going.  That way you get a nice cloudy Oberon filled glass.

Course three was a trio of pork with (2!) beers to compare and contrast.  Amber Ale and the famous Two-Hearted Ale.  The pork was delicious any way Bourbon Steak presented it.  So much so that the food overpowered the beer.  I thought the sausage with the Two-Hearted worked the best because it was a battle of spice on hop.  The gentle amber with some tea notes was better as an after the course beer.

Then it was on to the steak and I really loved it.  Yes, it was oversalted but it melted on the tongue brilliantly.  Pure luxury.  And it came from a family farm that has been in business for a long time.  The Pad Thai noodles were also a bit on the salt side but paired so well with the licorice tinged Kalamazoo Stout.  A pairing that I thought would clash like boxers in a ring.  The stout dulled the salt and added that licorice bitter note that pulled the whole thing together.

I was dead full by this point.  Beer is a much more varied and interesting pairing partner for food but the downside is that it fills you up.  I so wanted to polish off the S’mores dessert which was excellent but I just couldn’t.  The Double Cream Stout played well with the chocolate which brought out more coffee ground flavors from the beer but it wasn’t a Wow pairing.  With each bite, I rotated through other Bell’s beers to see what would bring out more.

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The verdict? – The sommelier at Bourbon Steak is a beer fan and if the Flat Iron is any indication, you will get a seriously good steak here and have some solid if not horribly exciting beer choices.  With $4 happy hour beers.  They also have a monthly “Down the Hatch” series which focuses on a tasting of different types of drinks.  August covered Digestifs and maybe a beer-centric tasting will be happening in future months.  But if Bourbon Steak puts on another beer dinner, buy it.  $55 plus tip is a steal for the amount of food and beer that you get.