Back to the old school: my starter brews

Tonight, I’m having a Red Trolley Ale from Karl Strauss brewery, the first of the several dozen breweries now populating the San Diego area.  Takes me back….this was one of the first craft beers that caught my attention back in the mid-’90s.  Here are the initial culprits behind my beer fandom:

1. Karl Strauss Red Trolley Ale (nice caramel finish, a medium-bodied red ale that’s been around a long time now but just starting to win some big-time awards).

2. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (once and always, a consistently great beer and a standard-bearer for all American pale ales.  I expect to hear a lot of people give a shout out to this classic from Chico, CA).

3. Firestone Walker Double Barrel Ale (another medium-bodied ale, British style, the initial flagship offering from the Firestone guys back when they were still quasi-affiliated with their dad’s winery in Santa Barbara County.  I  think they’ve now moved the entire operation to Paso Robles).                          

Anyway….there ya go.  Don’t blame me, blame these guys for packing some actual flavor and depth into something I used to think was just carbonated bottlings from the urinalysis lab!  I try all kinds of beers nowadays, and I’ve kind of gravitated toward West Coast IPAs heavy on the IBUs (International Bitterness Units), and slowly getting into the Belgian and Cali-Belgian stuff. 

But the question I have for my fellow quality beer drinking enthusiasts, hopheads, and pint glass collecting nerds is this: 

I wanna know what craft beers (or even imports) got you interested in beer in the first place?


Posted on July 12, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I remember when Samuel Adams came out even before Karl Strauss landed in San Diego. The original Sam Adams lager isn’t that great, in my opinion. Also, it’s important to note that Karl Strauss was one of the first restaurants that helped improve the downtown area.

  2. That’s very true. I started trying Samuel Adams around the same time as Karl Strauss and others…while I found it quite drinkable, it never hit me as a really outstanding beer. I remember when KS owner also had his namesake Cramer’s restaurant next door (where the W Hotel is now) and you could get their fresh bread with your brews. And when nearly all the KS beers had San Diego-based names, before they started changing all the names. I don’t know how many different beers have had the name Stargazer now.

  3. Although, I gotta say this — I do respect the Boston Beer Co. A few years ago when there was a hops shortage and Anheuser-Busch was trying to hoard all the hops in their warehouses in order to deny the supply to craft brewers, Boston Beer used their market pull to buy up extra hops and sell it to other craft brewers. They’re big but they’re not corporate tyrants, and they’ve got a lot of really good seasonal brews.

  4. Oh, yeah. Just about everything else Boston Beer has put out since is better than that original lager. When I first tasted the original, I was disappointed but I still thought it was better than most at the time anyway.

  5. You know I don’t have anything nice to say about Karl Strauss. Did yhou read last week’s Reader? Nice to see a few San Diego brewers share my opinion.

    My first foray into specialty beers dates way back to the late ’70s when my dad would allow me to have a beer or two. I recall drinking Amstel bock which is only available in the spring (or fall, I can’t remember) and a few German beers. My real foray into craft beers as an adult began with Samuel Adams Boston Lager and Red Nectar Ale, which I believe comes out of Humboldt County in the late ’80s or early ’90s. I have never looked back since then.

    Some of my favorites now are the English style ales and stouts such as Bass ale and Guinness. I think one of the best locally brewed stouts in San Diego comes from the Eastlake Brewhouse in Chula Vista. Two of my favorite breweries in San Diego are Ballast Point and San Diego Brewing Company. An honorable mention goes to Coronado Brewing Company.

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