A Lesson in Beer

A Lesson in Beer

Each month we hold a class taught by one of our staff members—some are mandatory, but most are not. We then test our bartenders, cocktail servers, food servers, hosts, bus-people and food-runners accordingly. This month the topic was beer. We just changed some of the handles (draft beers) and wanted to educate the staff on these great new products.

I have to admit, I am not a beer lover. I have a great appreciation for the craft, and often like to pair food with beer. But I am a wine and cocktail gal at heart. That being said, this tasting may have changed my mind. Ben Gergurich and Martin Bohnert taught the class. Ben bartends on the top two levels of George’s and has worked with us for five years—in fact, six of his siblings have worked for us both in the back and the front of the house. He is a scotch and beer connoisseur and can talk for 10 hours straight about either one. His passion for both is contagious. His childhood friends are the guys of AleSmith, so he is quite “in the know” about what’s going on in Beer World. Martin is a server and trainer on the Ocean Terrace and is also a beer-hound (although he knows a lot about wine too). Martin is full of facts and lore about beer, and is fun to learn from. They both added very cool dimensions to the class.

Here’s what we learned about our new handles.

Stone Pale Ale – Stone Brewing Co. Their flagship ale, Stone Pale Ale is their Southern California interpretation of the classic British pale style ale. Deep amber in color, Stone Pale Ale is robust and full flavored—a delicate hop aroma is complemented by a rich malt flavor. For those who have learned to appreciate distinctive flavor, this is your ale. Stone Pale Ale is great by itself, or with food that requires a beer of character. Alcohol = 5.5%

Nautical Nut Brown – AleSmith Brewing Co. AleSmith’s interpretation of this classic English-style ale is smooth, dark and rich. A variety of specialty malts produce a brilliant dark brown color and a wonderful malt complexity. A light dose of East Kent Goldings and Styrian Goldings hops from England balance the malt sweetness without adding bitterness to the flavor profile. Reintroduced at AleSmith in 2002, Nautical Nut Brown ale has quickly become one of their most popular beers. Rich chocolate malt flavors create complexity and drinkability in this classic English-style Nut Brown ale. Although dark in color, Nautical Nut Brown ale is an extremely easy drinking, relatively low alcohol beer. I loved this one. Alcohol = 5.5%

Hennepin Saison – Ommegang. Made by the respected Duvel Company, this beer is bright and lively with a warming mix of spicy gingersnap and citrus hops. This beer is delicious—super flavorful and drinks like a Roussane. It’s a perfect food beer. Alcohol = 7.7%

Big Eye IPA – Ballast Point. American centennial hops are used exclusively to bitter, flavor, finish and dry hop this brew. The full hop flavor is guaranteed to please the palate. It pairs well with a spicy dish to make it even spicier or with a sweeter dish to balance things out. Alcohol = 7%

Red Trolley Ale – Karl Strauss. Brewed with a half ton of caramelized malts, this bold ale is full of caramel and toffee flavors, hints of dried raisins and currants, and a slightly sweet finish. Pairs well with any grilled meats. Alcohol = 5.8%

Sculpin IPA – Ballast Point. All the real beer lovers liked this one. This ale has bright flavors and aromas of apricot, mango, peach and lemon, with a lighter body that brings out the crispness of the hops. To me it was like a bomb of grapefruit exploded in the glass. Inspired by the Home Brew Mart employees Gold Medal success in the American Homebrewers Association National competition, they combined both a Single and Double IPA recipe with a few ingredients added by their brewer to make this a truly “in house” collaboration. With the addition of Belgian Crystal Malts and Simcoe, Amarillo and Northern Brewer Hops a very tropical fruit forward aroma jumps out of the glass. Its lighter body helps balance the large amount of hop oils that give this beer a sticky, not sweet mouth feel. It took a Bronze Medal at the 2007 Great American Beer Festival in the Pro-Am category, a Silver Medal at the 2009 Great American Beer Festival in the American IPA category, and a Gold Medal at the 2010 World Beer Cup in the International Pale Ale category! Alcohol = 7%

Kona Pipeline Porter – Kona Brewing Co. Smooth and dark with a distinctive roasted aroma and earthy complexity from its diverse blends of premium malted barley, this malt unites with freshly roasted 100% Kona coffee grown at Cornwell Estate on Hawaii’s Big Island lending a unique roasted aroma and flavor. A delicate blend of hops rounds out this palate-pleasing brew. This was my personal favorite. Alcohol = 5.3%

Widmer Hefeweizen – Widmer Brothers Brewing Co. A golden unfiltered wheat beer that has natural citrus notes and is served with a lemon. Alcohol = 4.7%

With San Diego being one of the beer capitals of the world, it only makes sense to celebrate some of them at George’s. We will have one “rotating handle” to ensure our guests always have something new to try, and we still have Stella Artois and Bud Light on draft for the less adventurous. And if you want to talk beer with some true aficionados next time you’re in, just let us know!