Sake to Me: Not rice wine…rice beer!

Sake is an ancient, fermented beverage, known throughout the world as the perfect accompaniment to sushi and other Japanese fare. When asked about sake, most people will tell you it’s a “rice wine.” Well, most people happen to be wrong, because sake is not technically wine and, in fact, is much closer to beer. Simply put, wine is made by converting the sugars naturally found in grapes to alcohol through the process of fermentation. Beer is made by converting the starches found in grains into sugar, and then fermenting them into alcohol. Sake uses this same method of conversion, using rice that has been polished to remove the bran, instead of barley or wheat which is most often used in beer production.

b9b84c2e-6162-491d-ac5f-cc3aae3bfbb7

There is a difference between how sake is made vs. how beer is made, however, and it has to do with an enzyme called, koji. Koji is a very special fungus used throughout asian cooking to ferment things like soy sauce, rice vinegars, fermented bean paste and alcoholic beverages. This enzyme allows the conversion from starch to sugar as well as the fermentation to happen in one step, rather than the two steps used when brewing beer.

So why does everyone call sake, rice wine? It has more to do with the countless different styles and types of sake than anything else. Also, many sake flavors are more similar to wine than beer because of their sugar content and taste. Overall alcohol content also plays a part in the perception of sake. There is a reason why those teeny-tiny cups are used to consume it. Whereas the average ABV of most beer is somewhere between 3%-10%, the average ABV on sake is much higher at 18%-20%. Wine ABVs are usually between 5%-16% so they are much closer in strength to sake.

Often, when the sake is bottled, water is added to the brew to make it more palatable. Speaking of taste, one of the crucial factors to how sake tastes is in the amount of rice milled to make it. The more milled or “polished” the rice is, the more delicate and clear the flavor of the sake is. Polishing the rice takes time and therefore costs more man-hours when making certain types of sake, raising the their quality and price.

What does all of this have to do with beer? Well, sake and beer are perfect companions and here at Thorn Street Brewery we are super excited to be offering a Sake and Beer pairing coming up on April 10th. Saiko Sake and Sushi Bar in North Park collaborated with us to bring you three different sake and beer pairings. The complex flavor profiles of sakes vary just as much as beer flavors do, so the opportunity to pair the two is truly endless. Here are the pairings we have so far…

Relay IPA with Chrysanthemum Meadow
Castaway Coconut Porter with Cranes of Dewa Kimoto
Abbey Wall Belgian Style Dubbel with Tears of Dawn

There is also a very special sake bomb made by the mad-sake-scientists at Saiko called the Saiko Bomb. They somehow wrap Beautiful Lily Honjozo sake in a gelatin bubble and when you place it in the Tropic Daze IPA and drink it, the sake bursts in your mouth like a delicious piece of fruit. You need to be on the 50 person list to get one of these, but if people who reserved their bomb don’t show up within the first hour of the event, we are releasing them to the general public, so make sure to get on the waiting list when you get here! Here’s a link to the FB event for more info…Kampei!

22fb52d2-c316-4dc2-9f35-04121a7cf62d

 

 


The IPA Madness Finals Are Here!

The last two weeks of IPA Madness were definitely some tasty, beer-soaked Sundays. With 32 breweries competing to find out who has the best IPA in San Diego it was a lot of beer to get through. Luckily, we had some of the best tasters around (San Diegans) and they cast their vote and whittled down the field to the top 16.

Now, Home & Away will once again be hosting the IPA showdown and this Sunday, starting at noon, they will be getting through the Sweet Sixteen, the Elite Eight, the Final Four and then the final head to head match up to name the best IPA in San Diego!

d58240b6-e2bc-495d-88a3-e2637bdf3ab5

As a recap, on the first weekend of competition, Karl Strauss won over Novo Brazil, Rip Current won over Rough Draft, Modern Times won over Iron Fist, Coronado Brewing won over Fall Brewing, Pizza Port beat Duck Foot Brewery, Belching Beaver beat Mission Brewery, Mother Earth won over Groundswell and finally, Green Flash beat out 32 North.

In the second week of the first round we had some surprising upsets that just go to show, big names don’t always make a better beer… O’Sullivan won out over Alesmith, Societe beat Jamul Brewing Co, Legacy Brewing Co.’s Hellfire IPA pulled off a win against Ballast Point’s Sculpin and Acoustic Ales’s Willow Wolf IPA pulled off a surprising win over craft brewery darling, Alpine Brewing Co.’s Duet.  Then Stone beat St. Archer, New English pulled out a win against Butcher’s Brewing, Port Brewing won over Bitter Bros and the most exciting of the wins (in our opinion) was our own Relay IPA beating out Latitude 33.  Here are the final match ups…

dec3c5a1-83ed-4a47-8df1-d5bc81477689

Can Thorn Street Brewery pull off a win against craft beer giant, Stone Brewing? We certainly think so, but of course we are biased so it will get thrown out to the masses to decide!

Now comes the final Sunday of exciting competition. Starting at noon and going until 4 pm, the last four rounds will be held. Each hour will feature head to head match ups and then move on to the next round, so make sure to get here at noon to begin the voting. Competing breweries were invited to set up tents with merch and more at H&A so expect to see lots of industry faces there. There will also be IPA and food specials, the best smoked pork tacos around, tons of games and of course, basketball.

Who will move on to the next rounds? Who will be the final brewery standing? Find out, this Sunday at IPA Madness!


IPA Madness: Who has the best IPA in San Diego?

San Diego has long been known for its sunny skies, expansive beaches and delicious fish tacos. However, in the last 20 years, it has also emerged as a craft beer Mecca with more than 120 breweries and counting. Not only that, but West Coast IPA, as a style, was pioneered and honed here in SoCal. OG breweries like Stone BrewingGreen Flash Brewing Company and Coronado Brewing Companypioneered the hop-heavy trend and now west coast IPAs are becoming world famous, thanks to San Diego craft breweries expanding into Europe. Although all IPAs are hoppy, west coast IPAs are known for being hop-forward while also light on the malt, with a hoppy nose and a blistering ABV.

Every San Diego brewery puts out their own IPA and most will tell you their’s is the best with many local breweries winning awards in all sorts of beer competitions both near and far. Most of these contests are judged by experts and as exciting as it is to hear that your favorite brewery won…it’s way more exciting to taste test the delicious craft beer and decide for yourself!

1496143_973073089449389_5241698617886522066_oGet ready for IPA Madness, kicking off this week at craft beer bar, Home & Away, in Old Town. This is the the ultimate IPA competition with 32 of the best breweries in San Diego going head to head to find out who has the best IPA in San Diego. This a bracket style competition where the people’s choice takes it all!

For the next three Sundays, from 1 pm to 6 pm, you will be able to head to H&A and cast your vote for what you think is the best IPA in town. This Sunday, 3/20, the first 16 breweries will compete and then next Sunday, 3/27, the last 16 breweries will go head to head. After that, the winners from the first round will go head to head on 4/3 with the finals happening that same day!

Here’s a look at the first round match-ups…

ipamadnessbrackets

Breweries were seeded based on their date of opening. So the oldest breweries were seeded 1st and the youngest were seeded 8th, with a few last minute entries paired up not based on this metric. Thorn Street Brewery isn’t competing until 3/27, but you better believe we will there tasting on 3/20 too!

This is a blind taste test too, so you are sure to see a lot of local brewers and staff coming in to vote!

Any way you slice it, there are going to be some exciting, beer-soaked, Sundays coming up. We would love to see North Park Breweries prevail and, of course, hope that our own Relay IPA makes a strong showing on the 27th.

The real winners of this contest are all the lucky judges (that’s you!) who get to taste the best IPAs in San Diego, under one roof, over the next three weekends!

Where: Home & Away, 2222 San Diego Ave, San Diego 92110

www.homeandawaysd.com

When: 3/20, 3/27 and 4/3 from 1-6 pm

Who: See list of competing breweries below…

LIST OF COMPETING BREWERIES:

Karl Strauss Brewing Companys
NOVO Brazil Brewing CO.
Rough Draft Brewing Co.
Rip Current Brewing
Iron Fist Brewing San Diego
Modern Times Beer
Coronado Brewing Company
Fall Brewing Company
Pizza Port Brewing Co.
Duck Foot Brewing Company
Belching Beaver North Park
Mission Brewery
Mother Earth Brew Co.
Groundswell Brewing Company
Green Flash Brewing Co.
32 North Brewing Co.
AleSmith Brewing Company
O’Sullivan Bros. Brewing Co.
Jamul Brewing Co.
Societe Brewing Company
Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits
Legacy Brewing Company
Alpine Beer Company
Acoustic Ales Brewing Experiment
Stone Brewing
Saint Archer Brewing Company
Thorn St. Brewery
Latitude 33 Brewing Co.
New English Brewing
Butcher’s Brewing
Port Brewing Co / The Lost Abbey
Bitter Brothers Brewing Co.

 


An Afternoon Delight with Prepkitchen

interieor

Little Italy is a historic, San Diego neighborhood famous for its delicious Italian cuisine, fine art galleries and boho-chic shops. There is a plethora of fabulous restaurants in this culinarily-focused neighborhood, and we were incredibly lucky to collaborate with Prepkitchen, one of the few non-Italian restaurants in the district and a stand-out spot for artisanal, farm-to-table cuisine .

Recently, we got together with the staff of Catania, another restaurant alongside Prepkitchen in the Whisknladle Hospitality Group, to brew a beer here at Thorn Street Brewery that would pair well with the fresh seafood dishes they are known for. The resulting brew was the Children of the Thorn, hoppy American Wheat ale with 6% ABV.

For the restaurant’s beer release, Chef Johanna Rockwell put together a delectable trio of fresh seafood bites to go with the crisp Wheat ale. The pairing was light and refreshing and consisted of ruby red ahi crudo, a Kumamoto oyster and a yellow tail ceviche.

74eba732-ed19-4934-99c0-1f1386c46718The ahi was epic in its freshness and clean flavor profile. The oyster was briny, yet mild in an oh-so-light foam to compliment it and the ceviche was bright and citrusy with lime and pineapple curing the yellow tail perfectly. The whole trio paired wonderfully with the beer. The citrus notes complemented the bites without overpowering them, and it also managed to go well with the wide range of flavors displayed in this tasting.

After the tantalizing trio, we decided to get a few more appetizers while we enjoyed the afternoon sun streaming through the open-air patio. Starting us off, the chili-lemon, head-on shrimp were impressive and savory…

28778504-8775-4ee8-863f-f45fa1221908

The ginger and soy chicken wings were crunchy and spicy delights…

wings

And a true surprise were their PK Tots and Tarragon Dip. These “tots” were a breaded and fried crisp, marriage of fontina cheese and polenta. The creamy inside juxtaposed nicely with the crunchy outside coating and when dipped in the accompanying tarragon sauce, it was both tasty and creative.

90a3024c-8274-4bf4-a19a-a38402896301

Another happy surprise was that since we were gathered during Prepkitchen’s happy hour, which is held daily from 3 pm to 5 pm, all of these tapas were only $5.55! They also have a large list of craft beers, specialty cocktails and wines for $5.55, making this a must-stop spot on any happy hour tour.

The next time you are looking for an afternoon delight, stop by Prepkitchen for bite and a drink. You won’t be disappointed!


Best Bets for San Diego Burger Week

burgerweekheader.22587

Calling all burger lovers! If you are a burger aficionado, then this is your week here in San Diego. March 3rd-12th is San Diego City Beat’s Burger Week, where more than 50 restaurants and bars are offering up their best burgers for only $5! Additionally, restaurants offer a burger combo (add a beer or fries depending on the restaurant) for $10. With only a week to eat your way through San Diego’s best burgers, we thought we would make it simple for you and let you know our picks for the best places to go during San Diego Burger Week, 2016.

1. 57 Degrees 

This one makes our list because they are offering Wagyu beef for only $5! Is this even possible? We don’t know, but are willing to try it out to see what our tastebuds think. Not only that but they offer a local craft beer in their $10 combo!

1735 Hancock St., San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 234-5757
Neighborhood: Middletown

$5 Burger: The Middletown Burger – 8oz Wagyu Beef on a toasted brioche bun topped with blue cheese. Add Bacon for $2. Double the size for $5

$10 Combo: The Middletown Burger  + a Local Beer

2. The Brew Project

12779243_1147809728563470_7702253804670763817_o

The Brew Project opened up recently in Hillcrest and has already become a popular spot for great beer and delicious food. Their Bomb-Ass burger is on the list because it has beer-battered onion rings and the combo comes with a decent beer. For some reason, many of the restaurants on the list put out their $10 combo with a domestic, big beer like Coors or Miller Lite. When the burger by itself is $5 and it’s $10 for the combo, is a crappy beer really worth $5?

3683 5th Ave, San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 795-7890
Neighborhood: Hillcrest

$5 Burger: The Brew Project Bomb-Ass Burger! 8 oz Seasoned 80/20 Ground Beef, Beer Battered Onion Ring, Blue Crumbles, B.P. BBQ Sauce, Roasted Tomatoes, Diced Red and Yellow Bell Peppers, served on a Toasted Onion Roll

$10 Combo: The Brew Project Bomb-Ass Burger + Legally Red IPA

3. Carnitas’ Snack Shack
This pork centric spot makes the list because their ground pork burger is delicious and unique and, unlike some of the other participating restaurants, they really do give you a good deal on the $10 combo with fries and a soda.

2632 University Ave. North Park, CA 92104
(619) 294-PORK (7675)
Neighborhood: North Park

$5 Burger: The Extortion Burger:Fresh ground pork shoulder – pork belly / smoked onion-mushroom confit / house made pimento cheese

$10 Combo: The Extortion Burger + Fries + a Soda

4. Crazee Burger

o

Crazee Burger is crazy good. They have some of the most inventive burgers around and they also get points for offering two different burgers to choose from for the $5 deal.

3993 30th Street, San Diego, CA 92104
(619) 282-6044
Neighborhood: North Park

$5 Burger: Your choice between The Texas OR The Cajun Burger.
The Texas:  fresh ground angus burger topped with thick cut bacon, house made BBQ sauce, lettuce, tomato, onion and pickles
The Cajun Burger: fresh ground blackened angus burger topped with sauteed onions and a house made chipotle sauce, lettuce,  tomato,  onion and pickles.

$10 Combo: The Buffalo Burger: sweet and tender buffalo meat topped with a house made creamed horseradish sauce, lettuce,  tomato,  onion and pickles + an order of Crazee Fries that are tossed in parmesan cheese and our house blend of salt.

5. Red Wing Bar and Grill
Not only is the Red Wing the best San Diego bar for Karaoke seven nights a week, but they have quality food. Since their combo offer let’s people choose between any of their craft beers vs. swill, they get our vote!

4012 30th St., San Diego, CA 92104
(619) 281-8700
Neighborhood: North Park

$5 Burger: Our “New Standard Burger” which is our basic delicious Angus Burger On a fresh Sadie Rose Bun.

$10 Combo:  Our New Standard Burger plus a 12 oz. Craft Beer.

6. Royale With Cheese (At Park & Rec)

o-1
New kid on the block, Royale With Cheese, is located in the back of Park & Rec, a hip, new bar in University Heights. The buzz on their burgers has been superior, so we had to add them to the list. Plus they pair the combo with a highly respectable Alesmith .394, so make sure to put this spot on your list.

4612 Park Blvd., San Diego, CA 92116
(619) 795-9700
Neighborhood: University Heights

$5 Burger: Royale with Cheese –  Wagyu beef patty, Gruyere, bacon, caramelized onion, Dijon, special sauce and pickle.

$10 Combo: A Royale with Cheese plus a pint of Alesmith .394

7. The Rabbit Hole
This is one of our favorite watering holes on Adams ave. Their burger is amazing and they get extra points for adding fries AND a beer to the $10 combo rather than just one or the other.

3377 Adams Ave, San Diego, CA 92116
(619) 255-4653
Neighborhood: Normal Heights

$5 Burger: Ground Chuck Norris – beef chuck patty, choice of cheese and house louie dressing.

$10 Combo: Ground Chuck Norris, Fries & Domestic Draft

8. Small Bar
This bar is located right next to Royale with Cheese so you may want to plan on a two-for when you visit this hood. Small Bar is known for their craft beer, strong drinks and killer food. Their brunch burger comes with a fried egg, bacon, cheddar and for the $10 combo you can get any local beer with it!

4628 Park Blvd. San Diego, CA 92116
(619) 795-7998
Neighborhood: University Heights

$5 Burger: Brunch Burger

$10 Combo: Brunch Burger and a pint of local beer

9. The South Park Abbey 

o-2
This one might be our favorite deals of the bunch! Not only is their burger tasty and juicy but for their $10 combo they are giving a basket of their seriously amazing, smoked-then-fried chicken wings. That’s one delicious deal!

1946 Fern St. San Diego, Ca. 92102
(619) 696-0096
Neighborhood: South Park

$5 Burger: Our Harris Ranch Beef Burger, ground in-house.

$10 Combo: The Burger and a Basket of SD’s Best Wings

10. Waypoint Public

12794453_1079706635426773_532724421758902793_n
The burger that Waypoint is offering is truly something to experience, but when they pair it with their crispy fries and a side of IPA triple cheese sauce, it’s out of this world.

3794 30th St., San Diego, CA 92104
(619) 255-8778
Neighborhood: North Park

$5 Burger: 1/3 lb. Steak Burger, Mozzarella Cheese, Stout Caramelized Onions, Roasted Garlic Aioli, Lettuce, Bread & Cie Bun, WP Spicy Pickle Spear

$10 Combo: Our $5 burger special, Order of Hand Cut Kennebec Fries, and a side of IPA Triple Cheese Sauce

Sure you might not have time to make it all of these spots, but we hope we at least gave you a game plan to attack burger week. Drop by for a pint while in the hood, here at Thorn Street Brewery, and let us know which burgers were your favorites!


Strange Bedfellows: Surprising Food and Beer Pairings

It goes without saying that beer is the perfect accompaniment to nearly any salty and rich food, from pizza, to burgers, to smoked BBQ. Because of the growing popularity of craft beer, there are now more styles of beer than ever for people to choose from, opening up a whole new world of flavors with which to pair. Here at Thorn Street Brewery, we love to play around with beer and food pairings from savory to sweet, so we thought it would be fun to take a look at some of the more unique beer and food pairings out there…

Donuts and Beer

nomaddonuts2015 2

This is one of our favorite unexpected pairings we have here at TSB. We are incredibly lucky to collaborate with North Park artisan bakery, Nomad Donuts, and have now put on three donut and beer pairings so far, all to a sold out house. Not only do we pair each donut with a taster of our beer, but they use beer in the making of the donuts too. Their creativity ranges from using our Barrio Mexican Lager in the glaze on a churro cruller to a malty Agave Amber ale whipped into a honey goat cheese filling. Sweet pairings are where the maltier beers really sing. Not that IPAs can’t pair well with sweets, but the toasted malts lend themselves to sweet exceedingly well. Porters and stouts are hits with nearly any kind of donut and a coffee stout with a classic glazed donut can hardly be beat. Grab a dozen of your favorite donuts and an array of beers for a true Sunday Funday with your friends.

Cheese and Beer

12342355_797035377091028_2388806746337232772_n

This may not be one of the more shocking pairings on this list, but what is surprising is just how well beer pairs with cheese. In fact, we believe that beer pairs better with cheese than wine does! Sure we might be biased, but the carbonation of the beer as well as the bitterness of the hops does a superb job of cutting the fattiness of the cheese. The malt flavors pair well with the nuttiness of many cheese and a nice oatmeal stout tastes amazing with a bit of bold stilton. We often host pairings with local artisan cheese shop, Venissimo Cheese, where guests are taken through a culinary adventure of rich cheese and craft beer. Check out their shop in North Park which is inside Bottlecraft and have your own beer and cheese tasting any day of the week!

Girl Scout Cookies and Beer

cookie pairing

Cookies and Beer? We certainly thought so and put the duo to the test at our recent Girl Scout Cookie Pairing, hosted at the brewery. Coconut and caramel Samoas accompanied our Castaway Coconut Porter, tart lemony Savanna Smiles paired with a crisp, citrusy Tropic Daze IPA and we elevated the often over-looked shortbread cookie, Trefoil with our Belgian, Hipster’s Wit. Each flavor in the cookies can be paired with the complimenting flavors in the beer and once again the pairings of sweets and beer were a delightful surprise.

Ice Cream and Beer

Ice cream floats have been around for a long time with a favorite summer refreshment being ice cream scooped into root beer or Coca-Cola. But another pairing that is a true delight is ice cream beer floats. Top a bold porter with a scoop of rich, vanilla bean ice cream, or a dollop of peanut butter ribbon ice cream in a coffee stout. Even hoppy, tropical, IPAs can get in on the ice cream deal when topped with a lemon or passionfruit sorbet. At your next picnic grab a few pints of your favorite ice cream and a few 22s in a variety of styles and treat your guests to this surprising, sweet combination.

Pickles and Beer

11143055_779425182156348_1895256713_n

We couldn’t just play the sweet card here and although the saltiness of the pickle is an easy pick to go with a delicious beer, the two pair so well together we had to give them a shout-out. Possibly this match made in heaven has to do with the fact that both items are fermented and share flavor characteristics of tartness, sour notes and other complex flavors. Furthermore, pickles can even be made with beer as in the case of Farv’s Pickles here in San Diego. He uses a hoppy pale ale to brine the pickles in, lending a slightly bitter yet tart pickle that is down-right addicting.


Best places in San Diego to watch the Super Bowl: Wild to Mild

On Sunday, February 7th, more than 100 million people will tune in to watch the Denver Broncos take on the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50. From serious football fans to people who are just watching it for the commercials and half-time show, the Super Bowl truly has something for everyone. Here in San Diego, there are tons of different options if you are planning on catching the game out and about. With that in mind, we compiled a list of the best places to watch the Super Bowl, no matter your level of commitment to the actual game…

Firehouse (Pacific Beach)

This annual celebration is the mother of all Super Bowl Parties. Firehouse, a Pacific Beach staple for their spacious, roof-top patio and fun vibe, creates their very own “back yard” by fencing off their huge parking lot. This BBQ wonderland features food from different vendors, all sorts of drinks, live DJs, couches, bleachers, a 20 foot teepee and a 20 foot LED Jumbotron. Tickets are $20 and it sells out every year, so if you want your Super Bowl to be super-sized, look no further than the Firehouse.

722 Grand Ave, San Diego, 92109

 

The Rabbit Hole (Normal Heights)

If you are a betting person then The Rabbit Hole is the spot for you this Super Bowl Sunday. Not only can you enjoy food and drink specials all day, but there will be side games, giveaways and a square bet pool, so get your square picks in today! Must-try football grub includes their (anything but) Normal Nachos and Fire-In-The-Hole spicy wings.

3377 Adams Ave, San Diego, 92116

 

Home & Away (Old Town)

Home & Away is the spot for you if you want to watch the football game but don’t want the extra hubbub of a big Super Bowl event. This is because H&A has 12 TVs around the bar along with two outdoor TVs over an expansive patio. This is a great place to take your non-football loving friends too because there are tons of games like darts, beer pong, ping pong, corn hole, giant Jenga, foosball, board games, cards and more to keep them entertained while you watch the game. They truly have something for everyone and will be serving up their amazing, house-smoked BBQ they are known for all weekend.

2222 San Diego Ave, San Diego, 92110

 

Wonderland (Ocean Beach)

This beach hotspot has one of the best views in San Diego, looking out over the Ocean Beach pier as waves crash around the plethora of surfers. On Super Bowl Sunday, however, this will be the go-to bar for beach goers and OB-tians. With a full array of Super Bowl beer and drink specials and tons of huge TVs, this is a great spot for game-watching, drinking and just hanging with friends. They have a full list of craft beers on tap and one hell-of-a Salty Dog that shouldn’t be missed.

5083 Santa Monica Ave. Suite 2C, San Diego, 92107

 

Thorn Street Brewery (North Park)

BBQ and beer are on the menu for our Super Bowl Sunday here at Thorn Street Brewery. We are the ultimate, laid-back, game-day location, so if none of these other spots are of interest because of the likely hubbub, TSB is for you. The game will be on multiple TVs, we will be pulling down our big screen for the game and as usual, 15 different craft beers will be available. Also, our good friends over at Grand Ole BBQ Y Asado will be providing the grub for the game with their amazing smoked brisket, pork and more.

3176 Thorn Street, San Diego, 92104

There you have it, Super Bowl plans for every type of game-day viewer. So get your bets placed, your friend invited and have a fabulous day of football, food and fun!