Jeff Josenhans | Drink Shrink
It’s summer. It’s San Diego. Those who wear suits and ties are in flip flops the second they get home (speaking for myself, at least).
I like a good rose wine, white and fish, and a nice summer cocktail here and there, but what I really want 90 percent of the time is beer, and there is no other alcoholic beverage that defines San Diego like beer does.
There can’t be many cities where beer is actually on the agenda of the mayor. I literally did a walking brewery tour on 30th in North Park that covered four breweries in less than three hours last weekend. What cities can boast that?
If you are an aspiring beer connoisseur, whether it be through taking the Cicerone exam like I am this year or just building your home beer palate, you have already noticed the vast market of beers available.
For many of us, we have noticed the transformation of the beer market on the shelves over the last decade or so. More San Diego, less commercial crap. The selection gets broader and at the same time beers are designed more specific all the time. The local beer scene is more specialized than ever with breweries embracing styles that range from traditional interpretations to total beer innovation.
With that said, I thought I would switch gears this month and offer a small guide to some beer styles you should look out for this summer.
• Kölsch — Traditional German from Cologne brewed using ale yeast at cooler temperatures. Nice switch-up from your traditional pilsner or lager. Mike Hess’ Claritas Kolsch (Grim Street in North Park) is great place to start.
• Cream Ale — This hybrid of ale and lager has more body and a distinctive malt character, but with more hops than your traditional American lager. And let’s face it, no one in San Diego even makes a traditional American lager so this is a lighter style beer by our city’s standards. For a sophisticated interpretation try Alesmith Cream Ale (Cabot Drive in Miramar area).
• Belgian Tripel — This is a medium-bodied ale that packs a punch but still offers a deviation from the traditional hop-driven San Diego style. Belgians tend to be more fruit driven and offer more alcohol than other countries in the world, and the same holds true for those brewing this style in San Diego. For a fun day trip, try this style at Council Brewing (off of Convoy Street in Kearny Mesa).
• Saison — Ok this one you see a lot nowadays. It’s most likely the eclectic offering on the shelf because it often includes fermentation fortified by a proprietary blend of herbs and spices. It typically also has a higher carbonation level than other beers and moderate bitterness. Try a traditional style at Monkey Paw Brewery (16th Street Downtown), and try their other non-traditional stuff while you’re there.
• Geuze — Ok had to throw in a weird one. This is a member of the Lambic family and can show lactic, earthy flavors with high carbonation. Tart and refreshing, and perfect for summer. If you can get your hands on Lost Abbey’s Duck Duck Gooze (San Marcos) you can consider your summer beer adventure successful.
With that may your beer palate become more adventurous and more educated. It’s only the right thing to do in San Diego.
—Level 2 CMS Sommelier and Master Mixologist Jeff Josenhans has changed the dynamic in The Grant Grill Downtown from a classic institution to an exciting lounge and elegant restaurant. Taking the kitchen’s “Farm to Table” philosophy to the bar, he has developed a seasonal cocktail program based largely on the hotel’s rooftop garden. He can be reached at email@example.com.