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Are you ready to drink a pint at our Main Brewery?

Guest Blog Appearance: Melissa Dombo, Creative Projects Manager here at Karl Strauss

So… I am managing the build out of the tasting room and beer garden here at the brewery. No, it’s not just a rumor. I am happy to announce we are almost there. The official Karl Strauss Brewing Company Tasting Room and Beer Garden construction is underway and we couldn’t be more excited to share the progress with you.

As of today, Urban Contracting and Public Architecture are working at an aggressive pace and getting sh*t done. We have gutted out the old makeshift offices, made way for a new and improved quality control lab, planned the space for the large concrete bar, sawed out a new front door, cleared out more space in the garden area to drink, frolic, stand, sit, eat, or whatever else you like to do at a brewery tasting room. The brewers are even working on some custom cask recipes while the racket of the construction is happening. (Our brewers deserve a beer or three for working around the clock to keep up with demand, all while construction goes on around them… you should hear what they are working through so we can have this tasting room.)

When we open (in less than 2 months from now) you will be greeted by 20 taps, exclusive releases, custom casks, windows into the brewery, windows into the bottling line, beer coolers, custom furniture made of locally sourced woods, growler racks, aging barrels, sweet new Karl merch, and a roll up door leading to a lush garden filled with native plants and maybe even some birds chirping. The smell of the beer brewing never gets old—they should make a candle that resembles the scent. The handshake or just the subtle nod from our brewers working away like umpa lumpas will be well worth the trip (I can’t promise they will break out in song.). We can’t wait for you to stop by, grab a bite to eat from a local food truck, and sample or quaff some pints. Let’s plan it. Maybe you can buy me a pint.

Opening our doors to the public soon…
5985 Santa Fe Street, San Diego

Beer Myths Debunked

Whether you’re a card-carrying member of the über craft beer geek brigade or a casual fan of barley-based beverages, you probably think you know a thing or two about beer. If anything, you’ve undoubtedly picked-up a few fun facts from TV commercials. And surely the trusted producers of your favorite frost-brewed refreshments wouldn’t spend hundreds of millions of dollars misleading you… or would they? If you’ve ever wondered what “triple hops brewed” or “cold-filtered” really means, check out our infographic – it may change the way you view the beer aisle.

Beer Myths Debunked Infographic

Beer Myths Debunked by Karl Strauss Brewing Company

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Surf and Turf Kebabs & American Craft Beer Week Rye IPA

Monday, May 13th marks the start of the 7th Annual American Craft Beer Week, and with that comes the release of our annual American Craft Beer Week Rye IPA. Brewed each year at the end of April, this draught-only offering combines the piquant spice of malted rye with the zesty citrus hop character of American-grown Cascade and Ahtanum hops. The result is a more full-bodied San Diego-style India Pale Ale with a depth of flavor that pairs especially well with spicier fare.  And with grilling season already upon us, we figured we’d share our recipe for Tōgarashi Surf & Turf Kebabs to pair with our limited release American Craft Beer Week Rye IPA.

Tōgarashi seasoning is a staple condiment in Japanese cuisine that combines an array of savory and aromatic ingredients, ranging from dried orange peel to nori to Szechuan peppercorns. There are many different preparations but the key ingredients are listed in the DIY recipe below. Of course, if you’re short on time, you can always pick-up pre-made tōgarashi at your local gourmet food store or Japanese grocer.

Tōgarashi SeasoningTogarashi
2 tbsp. Szechuan Peppercorns
1 tbsp. Dried Orange or Tangerine Peel
1 tbsp. Shredded Nori
1 tbsp. Dried Red Chilies
1 tsp. White Sesame Seeds
1 tsp. Black Sesame Seeds
1 tsp. Poppy Seeds
1 tsp. Powdered Ginger

Step 1: Gently toast peppercorns and sesame seeds in a small sauce pan over medium heat for 2-3 minutes.
Step 2: Using a clean coffee grinder or small food processor, grind peppercorns, citrus peel, nori, chili pepper, and sesame seeds until well-ground but not powdered.
Step 3: Combine ground spices with poppy seeds and ginger and store until ready to use.

Tōgarashi Surf & Turf Kebabs
1 lb Beef Tenderloin, cut into 1 ½’ cubes
10-12 Large Sea Scallops
Pearl Onions
Sweet Peppers
Japanese Eggplant
Wooden Skewers, soaked in Red Trolley Ale

Steak Marinade
2 tbsp. Vegetable Oil
1 tbsp. Tōgarashi Seasoning
½ tsp. Sea Salt

Preparation:  Combine oil, tōgarashi, salt, and steak in a small mixing bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to skewer and grill.

Tōgarashi Beer Butter
½ c. Butter, softened
2 tbsp. Red Trolley Ale, warm
1 tbsp. Tōgarashi Seasoning

Preparation: Using a small food processor or whisk, combine butter, Red Trolley Ale, and tōgarashi and blend until smooth. Do not refrigerate.

Grilling Instructions: 

Steak Kebabs: Using your beer-soaked wooden skewers, build your steak kebabs alternating between meat and pearl onions. 1lb of tenderloin should yield about three full steak kebabs. Grill over hot coals until medium rare. Cooking times will vary depending on your grill.

Scallop  Kebabs: Pat scallops dry and carefully skewer 5 or 6 per stick. Generously coat both sides in tōgarashi beer butter and grill over high heat for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes per side. Baste scallops in beer butter once after turning and once before removing from the grill.

Veggie Kebabs: Skewer Japanese eggplant, onions, and sweet peppers to your liking. They’ll cook much faster than the steak and a little slower than the scallops, so it’s best to keep them separate. Grill over high heat until peppers are lightly charred on both sides.

Beer Pairing: The combination of dried citrus peel and Szechuan peppercorns in the tōgarashi seasoning will really punctuate the citrus and floral hop flavors in an American IPA or Pale Ale, while the beer’s hop bitterness is assertive enough to stand up to the complex spiciness.  We suggest trying this recipe with either our American Craft Beer Week Rye IPA or Tower 10 IPA.

kabob grill
Kabob 3

 

Behind the Beer: Blackball Belgian IPA

In April 2010, Blackball Belgian IPA joined Big Barrel Double IPA in KARL’s Coastal Reserve, but this hoppy Belgo-American strong ale got its start long before the first bombers rolled off the line. In fact, the inspiration for this beer, like many of our most popular offerings, came from a small batch brewed at one of our brewpubs.   I caught up with brewer Nolan Clark to recount how his “Belgian Stranger” strong ale evolved into today’s Blackball Belgian IPA.

If I remember correctly, it was around this time four-years ago when you startedBlackball Belgian IPA brewing some crazy one-offs in the pubs. What’s the story behind the infamous Belgian Stranger?

“The Belgian Stranger came about when I was brewing downtown…  Some people don’t know me as a brewer for Karl Strauss but as a drummer, specifically for a local San Diego reggae band by the name of Stranger – hence the name of the beer. All the guys in the band love craft beer and enjoy drinking local brew just as much, so I wanted to create something as sort of a tribute to them. Long story short, I wanted to brew a high gravity Belgian Pale Ale with some of my favorite West Coast hops.”

Any particular reason why you chose to create a Belgian-style ale with a West Coast hop profile?

“I’d been drinking a lot of Belgian-style beers at the time but hadn’t really had many West Coast-style Belgian pales.  I like simple things that function well, so I went with a pretty simple recipe; Pale 2-row,  Carapils and C-40 for color – a pretty typical pale ale malt base that really makes the hops to stand out. I also chose an Abbey ale yeast from White Labs that could handle the higher gravity and would also impart the distinctive clove and spice notes characteristic of many Belgian styles. “

And the result?

“My simple approach ended up working really well. The Belgian yeast strain gave me a super dry and spicy beer that really allowed the citrusy Cascade and Amarillo hops to shine through. I also added some coriander and Curacao orange peel during the boil which added to the citrus and spicy notes in the beer.”

What did people think?

“It was so well received that Paul and the guys had me brew a second batch for American Craft Beer Week 2009, and ultimately we used the recipe to create what is known today as Blackball Belgian IPA.”

Are there any major differences between the original Belgian Stranger and Blackball?

“There’s really not too much difference between the two, other than the Stranger’s  alcohol content (10.6%)  and Blackball’s massive dry hop addition of choice New Zealand hops. Overall, if you put Stranger up to Blackball, you would notice that Blackball has a more pronounced hop profile, while the Belgian Stranger is a bit higher in ABV.  To this day, I still refer to Blackball as the Belgian Stranger. Maybe I’m a little too proud, but sometimes you gotta savor those moments of inspiration and creative satisfaction. Drink up ya’ll and don’t forget to share. Cheers!”

Blackball Belgian IPA
Stats: 8.5% ABV – 14 SRM – 80 IBU
From the label: When checkered blackball flags dot the California coastline, experienced surfers migrate to advanced breaks where strangers to the sport dare not. Blackball is a Belgian-inspired India Pale Ale with a robust West Coast hop profile. Belgian ale yeast, coriander, and Curacao lend a fruity and spicy character for an ale bolder than your average IPA. A blend of New Zealand and Cascade hops add a vibrant floral aroma and clean citrus hop bitterness that lingers through its’ crisp, dry finish. Drink up while it’s young, heavily hopped IPA’s are best enjoyed fresh.

Nolan Collage

 

Beer and Bacon Pairing

I’m sick and tired of beer and bacon… said no one ever.

Yes, it seems America’s fixation with barley-based beverages and salty pig parts is one that will continue to transcend even the most radical epicurean trends, and that’s fine with us. So to celebrate our affinity for suds and swine, we put together a few pairings to go with our hoppy Coastal Reserve IPA’s.

Boardwalk Black Rye IPA, Blackball Belgian IPA, Big Barrel Double IPA\

Boardwalk Black Rye IPA, Blackball Belgian IPA, Big Barrel Double IPA

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Red Trolley Ale Corned Beef

With St. Patrick’s Day falling on a Sunday, don’t be surprised if half the office comes down with a sudden case of the bottle flu Monday morning. And while we’ll never quite understand the appeal of chasing Irish car bombs with bright green lager, celebrating St. Paddy’s Day with local beer and traditional Irish fare is definitely something we can get behind. So, rather than drown this year’s corned beef in Guinness, try this recipe using our award-winning Irish Red, Red Trolley Ale.  If you can’t get your hands on Red Trolley, the LA Times has a great list of craft brewed Stouts and Irish Reds to experiment with.

What is corned beef?
Corned beef is a brisket that has been brined or pickled with salt and spices for 7-10 days. Because curing your own brisket is time consuming, head down to your local butcher or market and pick-up a pre-cured brisket. For this recipe, we used a 3.5lb  Harris Ranch Corned Beef Brisket- Mild Cure.

Red Trolley Ale Corned Beef

RTA-6Pack-NewWhat You’ll Need:
1 3-4lb Corned Beef Brisket
1 8qt Stock Pot or Dutch Oven
4 Cups Red Trolley Ale
4-5 Cups Water

Spice Mix:
1 Tbs. Black Pepper Corns
1 Tbs. Mustard Seeds
1 Tbs. Coriander Seeds
1 Tbs. Red Chili Flake
1 Tsp. Fennel Seeds
1 Tsp. Whole Cloves
1 Tsp. Ground Ginger
½ Tsp. Ground All Spice
1 Whole Cinnamon Stick, Crushed
4-5 Bay Leaves

1 Large Yellow Onion, Chopped
6 Large Garlic Cloves, Crushed
3 Large Celery Stocks, 2” Chop
5 Large Carrots, 2” Chop

1 Large Head Green Cabbage, Cut into 4-6 Wedges
8-10 Medium-sized White Potatoes

Step one: Remove pre-cured brisket from package, rinse under cold water, and trim away excess fat.

Step 2: (Optional) To reduce sodium content, place beef brisket in a large stock pot, cover with an inch of water, and bring to a boil. Simmer brisket over low heat for 30 minutes and drain water.

Step 3: Return pot to the stove. Add seasoning mix, onion, garlic, celery, carrots, water and Red Trolley Ale and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to low, and boil for 2 hours.

Step 4: After 2 hours have passed, add cabbage and potatoes, increase heat to high, and return to a rolling bowl. Cover, reduce heat back to low, and simmer for another 30 minutes.

Step 5: Remove brisket from pot and thinly slice against the grain. Serve with cabbage, carrots, potatoes, and a Red Trolley Ale.

 

Red Trolley Ale Corned Beef

Red Trolley Ale Corned Beef

Behind the Beer: Wreck Alley Imperial Stout

 Behind the Beer: Wreck Alley Imperial Stout

It was around this time last year when we were making the final tweaks to a beer that Wreck Alley Imperial Stoutwould become Wreck Alley, our Imperial Stout brewed with cocoa nibs and coffee beans. And as we look forward to releasing our first barrel-aged version of Wreck Alley on March 1st, we thought we’d share the story behind the original beer, or at the very least some of the interesting details that wouldn’t fit on the label.

Finding the right coffee…

In our search for the perfect coffee beans, we were certain about two things; first, we wanted a roast that would complement the dark chocolate flavors of the beer without adding bitterness, and second, we wanted to work with a local roaster. Fortunately, the folks at Bird Rock Coffee Roasters were not only willing to supply us with their award-winning coffee, but even offered to create a special roast for Wreck Alley Imperial Stout. After plenty of sampling, we landed on lightly roasted beans from Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee.  The flavors were delicate, and when cold-steeped, the coffee had a nutty, roasted, and toffee-like character.

What the heck are cocao nibs, why do I keep hearing about them, and what are they doing in a beer?

Simply put, cocoa nibs are cocoa beans that have been roasted, de-husked, and crushed into pieces– basically chocolate in its rawest form. In brewing, the addition of cocoa nibs will add to and accentuate the dark chocolate flavors in porters and stouts. The Peruvian cocoa nibs used in Wreck Alley are roasted and prepared by Tcho Chocolate Company on Pier 17 in San Francisco, CA.

Where does the coffee and cocoa come into play in the brewing process?

This step is what all the test batches were for.  We use coffee and cocoa nibs in Wreck Alley to lend their individual flavors to the beer, while complementing the flavors of the malts. Because both coffee beans and cocoa nibs can be bitter and acidic, we use a cold-steeping process where both ingredients are added to the conditioning tank after fermentation. This technique allows Wreck Alley to extract the flavors and aromas of the coffee and cocoa without adding bitterness or acidity.

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Karl Strauss San Francisco Beer Week Events

San Francisco Beer Week kicks-off today and we couldn’t be more excited to participate in the Bay Area’s annual craft beer celebration for the first time. When we expanded  beer distribution into Northern California last year, we missed San Francisco Beer Week by about six-months. This year however, we have a handful of events planned in San Francisco and San Jose that will feature San Diego favorites like Red Trolley Ale and Tower 10 IPA, as well as harder to find special releases like our 24th Anniversary Flanders-style Red Ale and Barrel-aged Wreck Alley Imperial Stout. So, if you’re interested in dropping by for a pint and chatting up our motley crew of Karl Strauss reps, check out our event schedule below.

Red Trolley San Francisco

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24th Anniversary Flanders-style Sour Red Ale

When I began my career in the craft beer industry, Karl Strauss Brewing Company had just celebrated 18 years of brewing in San Diego. It was 2007; San Diego was home to a close-knit band of breweries, and you could count the number of craft-savvy beer bars on one hand. San Diego’s beer scene was plenty mature at the time, but the cult-like demand for San Diego beers was still a few years away. And while high-octane hoppy beers were putting SD on the international map, a more experimental and lesser-known brewing practice was developing behind closed brewery doors.Sour Beers

Experimenting with different ingredients and techniques is one of the most exciting parts of brewing, especially when a little spontaneity or a happy accident leads to new discoveries and complex flavors.  The most exciting discovery of my first year with KARL was sour beers. In my life before beer, I knew nothing about spontaneous fermentation or wild ales; my only real experience was pouring a Duchesse de Bourgogne down the drain because it tasted like balsamic vinegar. That being said, my education began when I discovered a cache of dusty, cobweb-covered oak barrels in a dark recessed corner of the brewery. Curious,  I asked around and learned that these barrels contained sour and spontaneously fermented ales inoculated with lactic acid-producing bacteria and wild yeast. At first, I didn’t know what to make of folks using bacteria and wild organisms to make beer, but after reading up on the styles and doing a little bar stool research, I was hooked. Read the rest of this page »

Beer Cheese Soup

If you’re a Wisconsin native or a regular at San Diego’s Hamilton’s Tavern, odds are you’re familiar with beer cheese soup. And while this awe-inspiring comfort food may throw a wrench in your quest to be the biggest loser, we think you’ll agree that beer cheese soup is worth a few extra minutes on the treadmill. So, if you’re looking to add another beer-centric recipe to your repertoire, celebrate this Super Bowl Sunday with Red Trolley Beer Cheese Soup.

Red Trolley Beer Cheese Soup

Ingredients:RT Bay Bridge
8 Strips Bacon
½ Cup Yellow Onion, chopped
½ Cup Celery, chopped
½ Cup Carrots, chopped
1 Jalapeno, seeded and minced
2 Cloves Fresh Garlic, minced
12oz Red Trolley Ale
1 ½ Cup Chicken Stock
1 Cup Half and Half
¼ Cup Flour
8 Ounces Sharp Cheddar, shredded
4 Ounces Extra Sharp Cheddar, shredded
Salt and Pepper to taste
Parsley, chopped

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