Is winter really over? We all know Spring is here; the weather has been mild, and our rainy season seems to have quickly departed. Oddly, our craving for imperial stouts and porters seems to diminish with the warmer days and the IPA and session beer’s will begin to dominate the local tap lists. Here’s whats on my mind as March comes to a close.
- Oskar Blue’s has released a little bit of ‘Gubna’ DIPA to us. One of my all time favorites, Gubna is a modestly balanced Double IPA, grassy and piney, with a citrusy and long lasting bitter finish. I see a good amount of variance in Oskar Blue’s beers, as this years Dale’s Pale seemed far less bitter than in years past (it almost drank like an IPA). So, it’s always interesting to compare each new keg we get of theirs for this perceived variance, whether it’s just in-my-head or not.
Monkey Paw Brewpub, which I’ve mentioned on the blog before, is one of my favorite little hideaways in the less-touristy east downtown area. Located on 16th and F, Monkey Paw serves simple satisfying pub food, brews on premises, and is a great place to watch a game and wind down the day. Monkey Paw brewed us one of our second anniversary beers this past year—Waypoint 730, a crisp and dry American Pale Ale with lemongrass—and we were fortunate for their inspiration. Since opening, Derek Freese has cranked out every keg of beer with his small 5-barrel system and serves as brewmaster and bar manager. I was lucky enough to join him this morning for the beginning of a new brewing session. I wanted to tidy up my own knowledge of brewing because too often, we drink too much on brew tours…too much to remember the specific workflow. So, I woke up early and ventured to Monkey Paw completely clearheaded and ready to take some notes. Derek was already at work on his Howler IPA. He let me look at his recipe, pour 2-row malted barley in his mill, stir the mash, and add the initial Meridian hops to the boil for bittering. Along the two-hour process, we talked about the local beer community, symptoms of a more-intelligent beer-drinking demographic, and the learning curve that is running even the smallest brewery.
Happy New Year, Urge faithful! What a start it was to 2013 at the restaurant. The near crushing crowd enveloped our restaurant as we sold over two thousands beers and had our most successful day ever. Thank you for your support and patience during our rowdy and unprecedented event. With the 2nd annual Black Out event on the horizon in just two weeks, we plan on crafting some of the most inventive events in town. From our beer dinners during beer week to our non-profit Stone dinner this past week, people are starting to recognize the quality and generosity of our dinners/events. Keep in touch!
A couple of mixed thoughts, ideas, shout outs for the moment:
- Did you get to try all ten V.E. beers? I was lucky enough to taste the 02.02.02 from the bottle. Vertical Epic. 04.04.04 ranked best from a very unscientific poll of drinkers in the bar. I loved the 10.10.10., forgoing the French Oak variation. Stone was visionary in this series of beers, what challenge/novelty comes next for the local craft beer world?
Beer week has come and gone in a flash and here is what we learned: Mother Earth Brewing continues to make delicious, approachable, and well-balanced beer for us here; Societe Brewing is the new darling of the SD craft beer world; long and generous beer dinners on the patio at Urge might be one of the top places to drink craft beer in all of SD; it is remarkably easy to have fifty sophisticated, diverse, and all-San Diego beers over the course of just one weekend. We learned more and are excited to improve upon one of the best weeks at Urge yet. It is wonderful to know things just keep getting better here; I assure you the best is yet to come!
Which brings me to Thursday, January 10th, 2013. Stone will be taking over our entire tap system for their much-heralded vertical epic series. First off, we will not be having a keg of the 2002 epic beer on tap. We will have 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 + variations on a theme (I’ve heard rumors of several barrel aged variations of the earlier vertical epic’s) Our event will be non-ticketed and we will do our absolute best to try and get you as much of this beer as possible. A lot of the beer will be coming in five-gallon kegs, so it will go fast. Come early and be patient as we share the visionary vertical epic series Stone has aged for all of you to share. To think, I was a Junior in High School (and had never had a beer in my life) while 2003 vertical epic was being kegged for this event. Where were you? Certainly most of us were not drinking the quality beer we do now.
December is a fantastic time at the restaurant and I can’t think of a better time to come sit on our newly remodeled patio and sip an imperial stout or a pumpkin ale with family and friends under the RB evening. Obviously, this post denotes the return of the beer blog. A lot of time and travel has passed since my last post and I am eager to return to writing. We are so very grateful for 2012. Onward to 2013!
After all the dust settled over Pliny the Younger, I am happy to announce that Urge will be tapping its own 15.5 gallon keg of the much-hyped, much-anticipated IIIPA. We received our keg a few weeks ago and thoughtfully let everyone else in town tap their kegs early in the month (although I assume we are not the last in town to have it). But we just don’t have Pliny the Younger! I encourge you devout and frantic hopheads to blind taste another IIIPA side-by-side with the Younger. We are taping the very first IIIPA keg from Mother Earth Breweing next Monday and Tuesday and after tasting the beer today, I can reasonably say this is a delicious if not comparable beer. “Big Mother” has intensely pungent and rich hops on the nose and finishes with thick grassy notes. The booze is marginal and I’m impressed how soft and drinkable this beer is.
I usually don’t spend all my days off hanging out at breweries and pubs drinking what I serve all week. Maybe you understand: it’s just too much beer-centric thought for one week. But as of late, I’ve found myself really enjoying Scot Blair’s newest bar, “Monkey Paw,” on slow Sunday nights. If you haven’t heard, Monkey Paw is tucked away near the I-5 freeway in the mostly unincorporated, sleepy East Downtown area. After Monkey Paw’s successful late summer opening, Scott hired David Freese, a seasoned home brewer and started nano-brewing operations. George (one of our managers) and I had the pleasure of talking to David as he was prepping his first batch of “Mighty Joe Young” several months ago. He told us that, quite honestly, he wasn’t sure how his first batch would turn out.
Beer week came with instant fervor and now I am beginning to feel that a good majority of open-minded diners are realizing what a great city San Diego is becoming in the beer world. With events starting at 7AM on Friday and ending in every corner of the city at 2am, it is no surprise what a great boost it is for local commerce. We love serving the craft-masses (if there is such a seemingly contradictory title) and we had a fantastic week at the restaurant. There is no one to thank but you loyal patrons and friends who made it out. I knew several regulars who came every single night of our beer week agenda; Hess, Mother Earth, Alesmith, Sierra Nevada, Bear Republic, Maui, Ballast Point, and Stone all brought out memorable ales I will always keep in my back pocket. Special shout out to Bear Republic and Sierra Nevada who reinvigorated my love of fresh/wet hopped IPA’s.
Couldn’t we all use a little extra beer after that sideways Chargers game on Monday? Lucky for you, we have a lot of beer on the way to ease the (unsurprising) pain of another theatric Chargers loss. We will have little gems like Racer X (Bear Republic), Grazias Vienna Cream Ale (Hess), Imperial Coconut Porter (Maui), and our own potentially delicious Mother Earth commissioned beer release of “Mother’s Milk.” Starting this Friday, we’ll have a special event every day until the 11th featuring limited brews, pint glasses, and discount pour prices. If last year is any indication, it’s going to be a fun and busy week down at Urge. While we love the nature of busy and fast night, us bartenders are very jealous of these tap lists you get to consume and enjoy in front of our eyes. I hope you all have a great time supporting the local breweries and restaurants that make this city more exciting, social, and economically robust. Why not drag an old friend who only drinks wheat beers and pale lagers and introduce him or her to the underrated and underappreciated community of craft breweries?
Details asides, be safe this next week!!! Get your DD, take care of business, and enjoy yourself. I’ll see you on the rail at Urge.
Friday the 11th will feature two events. Starting at 12pm, we’ll have a cask of ‘Peach Love,’ New Belgium’s very limited sour ale with some food pairings. This is a private, small event, so make a point of grabbing a seat if you can. That same day, we’ll start our Stone Brewing event with a remarkable line-up of aged ales and new releases. This will be very pleasing to the obedient and loyal fans of Stone.
San Diegian’s generally feel a little too sorry for themselves when Summer ends. To me, San Diego has a lot to offer this time of year. The weather cools and somehow we’re all forced inside the pub to enjoy good drink, company, and food. If you’re a lover of beer, for instance, you’re able to hit the town and drink some of the absolute best in beer in the world during November. How could you deny that October baseball, NFL football, and the road to Beer Week can harness the best of plans? There is still time to build the alcohol tolerance — it’s going to be a loooong week.
We have some new, delicious, and seasonal offerings down at the restaurant starting today. A lot of the new options are market-driven, using produce and protein from San Diego County. This local sourcing always excites me and we’d like to hear your feedback as we refine things over the next few weeks.
My favorite offering is a light, fresh, and very simple dish of heirlooms tomatoes, balsamic reduction, basil, and buffalo mozzarella. The acidity of the tomatoes and balsamic would pair nicely with a brown ale or one of my favorite summer session beers, Anderson Valley Cream Ale (trying to get a few kegs of this before it goes away). The weather has been much more pleasant inland this summer and I can’t think of anything nicer than a local heirloom tomato salad and a summer solstice ale on the patio as the day winds down in Rancho Bernardo.
“It is only irritating to think one would like to be somewhere else. Here we are now.” -John Cage
After one year of supplying craft beer and gastro-centric pub fare to the Rancho Bernardo community, we will be celebrating our successful One Year Anniversary. Last July, when the tap system was still being built, when the paint was still drying, and when we were frantically organizing staff, none of us could have predicted the amount of faithful followers our establishment now has. Restaurants, bars, cafés and the like are always representations of the community they surround and it has been a pleasure to serve you all throughout this first year. As abstract as it sounds, the guests of our establishment make much of the rhythm of restaurant and we are happy with how Urge has changed and become that much more enjoyable.
One in a while, a certain bottle of beer will come along and completely floor you; it will change your understanding of traditional beer styles and the potential of a well-aged, well-brewed beer. You’ll realize that craft beer can be as special and rare as anything you’ve ever consumed. For me, it was a small, 12oz. bottle of Dogfish 120 Minute IPA – the 2005 vintage. It proved a lot.
It is important to note that I’m not an ecstatic and loyal dogfish head beer drinker. The brewery certainly has its dedicated following and they’ll certainly be OK without my warm bartender embrace. But lately I’ve warmed up significantly to several beers they produce. This list includes Red & White, Squall IPA, and now the infamous 120 Minute IPA.
An underrated offering on our menu is the Hopper Burger. When I originally tried this item last August, I thought the meat quality was high but the aftertaste was considerably gamy. While some people like a little gaminess in their meat, I can’t stomach it. After a small reinvention earlier this year, the rabbit burger is now my favorite item at Urge.
Contradictory to most burger philosophy, the hopper tastes lovely cooked medium well to well done. Our hopper patties are handmade in house. They’re seasoned with thyme, rosemary, and some panko bread crumbs. Like I said, I prefer it cooked a little more than most people do. You don’t lose any moisture and because rabbit meat is white meat, you can also avoid having another portion of red meat.
Alas, the beer blog is back! After a several month hiatus and some business on my end, I’m ready to revisit all things beer, food, culture and most importantly, all things Urge. Since I last wrote, things have ebbed and flowed here at the restaurant and we’ve been having a great time serving some of the best craft beer possible—in our Rancho Bernardo home-away-from-home.
As of yesterday, our patio expansion has finished and we are getting ready for a great summer outside (San Diego on a warm evening is the most remarkable thing, no?) It seems like we are running more frequent specials in the kitchen and having a few additional pairings for our beer events. Right now we are less than a week away from our Firestone Walker event featuring both Parabola 2010 and the 2011 release. Firestone Walker became a ubiquitous offering several years ago when even big restaurants started offering their pale ale (think New Belgium and ‘Fat Tire’ status). Stigma aside, I think Firestone offers some beautiful tasting beers and we are happy to offer showcase some of their more rare and special selections. I’ve had a chance to taste the 2010 Parabola and this should be a good way to size up both beers and their differing complexities, side by side.
Wednesday, March 9th, 2011 @ 3pm!
If you’ve been into Urge over the past month, I hope you’ve heard that Wednesday is our very special “Total Tap Takeover” event with Ballast Point and Green Flash. Since we have 51 taps, this is going to be a high spirited and very local beer drinking event. We will have around 31 Ballast Point and 20 Green Flash beer selections to choose from. Rumor has it we’ll even have around four variations of Sculpin IPA and three variations of Victory at Sea. From Green Flash, I hear we’ll be getting Silva Stout and Palate Wrecker. Hopefully, BP is putting together something on cask for us, too.
For a bartender, day two started early. We had conversed late into the evening and 9AM came early. There was something very quiet and focused, however, when I woke up in the estate house and could see the light blue of the bay and columns of vines that make up Buena Vista’s land from my window. It helped that I had a great nights sleep after a long first day of travel.
The rumors mounted the days leading to our trip to Russian River Brewing. We had heard all sorts of stories about what kind of lines we might face at the brewpub for the release of Pliny the Younger. Being that it was the Monday after the Super Bowl, Grant and I figured the line really couldn’t be that bad. I know we’re still technically in a recession, but who camps out and drinks on a Monday morning?
Like any vacation one takes, there are always plans and expectations to be fulfilled. Our Northern California tour of brewpubs and wineries this past week fulfilled, disappointed and confused these expectations; moreover, like any little journey, it left us with some keen and good memories.
After nearly missing our flight, Grant, Bob, and I landed in San Francisco International Airport last Super Bowl Sunday. It was warm, bright, and sunny when we drove into sleepy downtown San Francisco. Our only goal in SF was to see the original Toronado, a solid pub known for exceptional tap lists (i.e., Toronado in North Park). To our surprise, the pub was closed ’til 2PM, so in the meantime, we ate several sausages at Rosamunde’s next door. If you ever get the chance to eat in the Lower Haight district, visit this simple sausage shop. It is a perfect representation of the unique and neighborly establishments San Francisco is covered with.
I recently reread a quick write-up in GQ magazine about the top fifty beers one should drink ‘immediately.’ Like other GQ’s food and wine pieces, this one was well researched and vast but ultimately strayed away from the really small finds—the tiny microbreweries throughout the country that also do very good work (which makes sense from an audiences standpoint–as they don’t want to list off a ton of beers you couldn’t find at your local BevMo) If you haven’t looked through it yet, you can find it here: “I’d Tap That! 50 Beers to Try Right Now” … There are a lot of solid choices but a few choices I’d ignore.
After New Years, I spent five days in Salt Lake City, Utah visiting some close family members. It was cold outside so I spent a lot of time indoors playing scrabble, watching films and drinking beer with my Dad and Uncle. It was a nice little time away until I realized that any beer purchased from a grocery store in the state of Utah requires that beer only have any ABV of 3.2% or lower. I didn’t mind until everything suddenly tasted of thin malt and vague hops. The taste was nearly non-existent. Don’t get me wrong, I love session beers and I don’t’ think