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.
“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.
Much like coffee beans and wine grapes, oysters and hops owe much of their flavors to terroir: the environments in which they’re cultivated. Mineral rich soil and long summer days in Oregon’s Willamette Valley give Centennial hops a floral aroma and resinous pine-like bitterness, while the cool waters of San Diego’s Agua Hedionda Lagoon gives Carlsbad Luna oysters a clean brininess and melon-like finish. With hundreds of hop cultivars and oyster appellations, there are virtually limitless options for pairing fresh oysters with hoppy beers.
Hoppy Beer and Oyster Pairing
Pairing: Tower 10 IPA – Without any garnish, Tower 10’s caramel malt undertones draw out the oyster’s sweetness. Add a little lemon juice and you’ll boost the zesty grapefruit flavors of T 10’s Cascade and Chinook hops.
Coast Kumamoto – Originally a Japanese appellation, Coast Kumamoto oysters are farm-raised in Humbolt Bay, California. They’re sweeter than the Sweetwater and fruitier than the Carlsbad Luna, making them a natural match with fruity Belgian IPA’s.
Pairing: Blackball Belgian IPA – Warm fermentation with a Belgian yeast strain, combined with Curacao orange and citrusy Pacifica hops gives Blackball the perfect mix of flavors to complement the sweet and fruity Kumamoto oyster.
Carlsbad Luna – Carlsbad Aquafarm has been sustainably raising shellfish in San Diego’s Agua Hedionda Lagoon for the past twenty-five years. Their Luna oysters have a mild salinity and melon-like fruity finish. Look for them in San Diego restaurants or at a number of local farmers’ markets.
Pairing: Big Barrel Double IPA – The tropical fruit flavors of the Nelson Sauvin hops draw out the natural fruitiness of the Carlsbad Luna.
Blue Point Oysters – Cultivated by Blue Island Oyster Co. in New York’s Great South Bay, this world-famous variety has a crisp texture, clean salinity, and hints of celery and pine.
Pairing: Boardwalk Black Rye IPA – Boardwalk’s complex toffee and spicy malt profile balances the salinity, while its bracing Centennial hop bitterness draws out herbaceous undertones.
You were planning to celebrate #IPADay at your favorite watering hole when your significant other reminded you that Thursday’s your night to make dinner. Don’t be a jerk and bail; flex your culinary skills and spice things up with some IPA jerk chicken . It may look like a lot of ingredients but it’s EASY and odds are you’ve had most of these spices in your cabinet since the 90′s. To further help the cause, growlers of IPA-to-go are $8 all day on August 2nd in our brewpubs. And if you’re not feeling like a culinary wizard, bookmark this recipe and join us at our #IPADay Cask Night tomorrow.
Tower 10 IPA Jerk Chicken with Pineapple Slaw
3lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
*Vegan/Vegetarian: Sub chicken with Portobello Mushrooms, Tempeh, Zucchini, or your favorite herbivore option.
Tower 10 Jerk Marinade:
2 medium white onions
5 cloves garlic
4-6 Scotch Bonnet or Habanero chilies (seeded & chopped)
1 cup Tower 10 IPA
½ cup Olive Oil
½ cup White Vinegar
½ cup Orange Juice
¼ cup Soy Sauce
2 tbsp. Lime Juice (one large lime)
2 tbsp. Fresh Thyme
2 tbsp. Allspice
2 tbsp. Light Brown Sugar
2 tsp. Black Pepper
2 tbs. Salt
1 tsp. Nutmeg
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp. Ginger
Step 1: Coarsely chop onions, garlic, scallions, and peppers and add to a blender or food processor.
Step 2: Add liquid ingredients to blender or food processor.
Step 3: Add spices and dry ingredients to blender or food processor and emulsify on high for 90 seconds.
Step 4: Combine chicken and marinade and refrigerate for 8-12 hours.
Step 5: For best results, grill over an open flame on high heat. Cook times will vary, depending on the heat of your grill and whether you’re using charcoal or gas. Keep in mind that poultry should reach an internal temp of 165 degrees before serving.
1 cup Fresh pineapple (chopped)
1 cup Roma tomato (finely diced)
½ cup Red onion (chopped)
2 tbsp. Fresh Cilantro (chopped)
1 Red Jalapeno (minced)
Juice of 1 lime
Salt to taste
* Combine ingredients in small mixing bowl and serve.
Still not sure what to do with your #IPADay? Looking for a simple yet enjoyable way to celebrate your favorite India Pale Ales. Here’s a guide to selecting the best cheeses from around to world to match with your favorite IPAs. Since our beers are only available in Southern California, you can use these suggestions as a guide for finding IPAs in your neck of the woods. If you’re planning to spend your #IPADay in So-Cal, come see us for Cask Night with $4 IPA pints & $8 growlers of IPA to-go.
IPA & Cheese Basics:
It’s beer, not rocket science but consider the following when seeking the perfect cheese for your IPA.
- More IBU = More PU – Assertively hopped IPAs can handle the stinkiest blues.
- Dry bitterness balances sweetness and cuts richness.
- Bitterness will over power certain spices but will also intensify scoville units (i.e heat).
Hop Flavors/Terroir: Different growing regions produce hops with very distinct flavors and aromatics. Here are some basic examples:
USA Pacific Northwest: Floral, grapefruit, tangerine, lemon, resinous pine
Continental Europe: Grassy, minty, floral, herbal, spicy
England: Woodsy, earthy, herbal
New Zealand/Australia: Floral, berries, tropical, citrus
Tower 10 IPA & Apricot Stilton
Tower 10 IPA – A West Coast-style India Pale Ale brewed with tons of Chinook and Cascade hops for a floral aroma and zesty grapefruit-like bitterness that lingers through the dry finish.
Stats: 7.0% ABV – 9 SRM – 70 IBU
Apricot Stilton: England’s “King of Blues” studded with dried apricots for a pleasant blend of fruit and tang.
The Pairing: Tower 10′s forward hop bitterness stands up to the assertive tang of the Stilton, while the apricot draws out the citrus and fruity hop flavors in the beer.
Worthy Substitutions: Racer 5 IPA, Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, Ballast Point Sculpin IPA.
Big Barrel Double IPA & Mango Stilton
Big Barrel Double IPA - A boldly hopped Double IPA brewed in true West Coast fashion. A blend of Ahtanum and New Zealand grown Nelson hops lend a vibrant tropical aroma and clean citrus hop bitterness that lingers through a dry finish.
Stats:9.0% ABV – 15 SRM – 80 IBU
Mango Stilton: A tangy English blue studded with candied mango and spicy ginger.
The Pairing: New Zealand-grown Nelson Sauvin hops give the beer an intense floral and tropical hop character. When paired together, the hop bitterness stands up to the tanginess, while accentuating the tropical fruit flavors in both the beer and the cheese.
Worthy Substitutions: Epic Armagedon IPA, Kern River Double IPA, Alpine Nelson
Boardwalk Black Rye & Memoire + Midnight Moon
Boardwalk Black Rye - Inspired purely by imagination, this full-bodied black ale combines rich and spicy rye malts with the vibrant hop profile of a West Coast Double IPA.
Stats: 8.0% ABV – 80 SRM – 80 IBU
Memoire: A smooth a creamy Dutch Gouda, sprinkled with truffles for added spice.
Midnight Moon: A 1 year-aged goat’s milk cheese from California with sweet toffee flavors and a nutty finish.
The Pairings: Memoire’s spicy black truffle flavors draw out Boardwalk’s spicy rye malt character, while the sweet Midnight Moon softens the hop bitterness and accentuates the beer’s toffee undertones.
Worthy Substitutions: Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale, Deschutes Hop in the Dark, Firestone Walker Wookey Jack
Just when every week was starting to feel like craft beer week, the Brewers Association went and made it official. We kicked-off this year’s ACBW with a beer we brewed especially for the occasion. Our ACBW Rye IPA is a robust India Pale ale with spicy rye malt flavors, a vibrant floral aroma, and a clean citrus hop bitterness. It’s currently on tap in our Brewery Restaurants and in honor of ACBW, 64oz growlers to-go are $9 bucks – including the glass.
Below is a recipe I came up with, ironically on Meatless Monday, which highlights multiple layers of this hoppy special release. I’ve got no beef with the herbivores; this was purely by chance, so be on the lookout for a Meatless Monday installment next month. Ya dig?
Spicy Rye IPA Skirt Steak
1 Growler of American Craft Beer Week Rye IPA
1 lb Skirt Steak
1 Meyer Lemon
1/2 Cup White Onion (sliced)
2 Garlic Cloves (minced)
1 Jalapeno Pepper (coarsely chopped)
1/3 Cup Fresh Cilantro (bruised)
¼ Cup Clover Honey
1 Tbs Kosher Salt
1 Tbs Course Ground Black Pepper
Step 1: Pour one 16oz pint of Rye IPA into a glass mixing bowl and reserve the rest for drinking.
Step 2: Halve lemon, squeeze juice into beer, and add both halves to the bowl. Add salt and honey and whisk until dissolved. Add remaining ingredients and transfer to a 5 gallon freezer bag.
Step 3: Add steak, seal bag, and refrigerate for 3-4 hours.
Step 4: Cook steak in a grill pan on high heat for 3 minutes on each side. Remove from heat and let rest for an additional 3-5 minutes.
Fire-Roasted Habanero Aioli
4 Vine-Ripened Tomatoes
1 Medium White Onion
3 Garlic Cloves
2 Habanero Peppers
1 Tbs Powdered Chicken Bouillon
¼ Cup ACBW Rye IPA
¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Cup Mayonnaise
Step 1: Adjust oven rack to top position (about 6 inches below flame) and preheat to broil.
Step 2: Peel and quarter onion, quarter tomatoes, peel garlic, and remove stems from habaneros.
Step 3: Place above ingredients in a baking dish and broil for 15-20 minutes or until skins begin to char.
Step 4: Transfer cooked ingredients to a blender or food processor and emulsify. Slowly add in beer, olive oil, and bouillon.
Step 5: Allow emulsion to cool to room temperature before mixing in mayonnaise.
*Tip: Omit mayonnaise for a killer hot sauce.
Pintail Pale Ale 5.3% ABV – An American Pale Ale brewed with Cascade and Amarillo hops for a vibrant floral aroma and citrus hoppiness. Caramel malts provide balance, rounding out its dry refreshing finish.
American Craft Beer Week Rye IPA 7.6% ABV –Our American Craft Beer Week Rye IPA is a celebration of craft beer culture in America. This robust India Pale Ale combines the zesty spice of malted rye with the citrus and floral hop character of American Ahtanum hops. Finishing crisp and dry, it’s the perfect way to celebrate ACBW on the West Coast.
Minden Maibock 7.5 % ABV – A traditional German springtime lager with crisp toasted malt flavors, balanced by the soft bitterness of noble Tettnanger hops.
American Craft Beer Week Rye IPA & Crispy Cheese Stack
Crispy Cheese Stack: Rye breadcrumb-crusted sharp cheddar and provolone sticks, crispy pastrami bacon, and jalapeno honey.
The Pairing: This dynamic and flavorful appetizer pairing puts tired cheese sticks to bed. Spicy rye flavors in the beer provide a delicate complement top the savory melted cheese and crispy breadcrumb crust, while its assertive hop flavors balance the richness and jalapeno spice between bites.
Whether you’re hosting a holiday get together or bringing something to your office party, a thoughtfully paired beer and cheese spread is always a good call. Sure, you can bust out your Mom’s favorite Chardonnay with some store-bought brie but this isn’t 1987 and you’re more original than that. When most of us think of paring cheese, wine is the first thing that comes to mind – and while wine and cheese have their moments, any Sommelier will be hard-pressed to compete with beer’s range of flavors. When was the last time you found a Zinfandel that tempered the heat of a chipotle infused cheddar or a Riesling that complemented a coffee & lavender-rubbed cheese? The answer is probably never and that’s why beer is a much better partner to cheese. Here you’ll find a few simple yet sophisticated cheese parings to accompany the beers in our Holiday 4-pack, along with a DIY tasting sheet to guide your friends.
Beer & Cheese Pairing Basics:
There are many different approaches to planning a great pairing but the general principles are rather simple. Start with your beer, evaluate its flavors and decide what you want to accomplish with your pairing. Use these tips as a guide:
Complement: Find a cheese that mirrors the flavors of your beer. An example would be taking a sweeter English Barleywine and finding a cheese like Noord Hollander (aged Gouda) that matches the caramel and toffee notes in the beer.
Contrast: Find a beer and cheese combination that enhances both by combining different flavors. An example would be tempering the heat of a spicy cheese like Chipotle Cranberry Cheddar with the hop profile of an IPA or balancing the tanginess of Bucherondin with the sweetness of a malty Red Ale.
Beer & Cheese Pairings with Our Holiday 4-Pack
Our Holiday 4-Pack is available exclusively in our Brewery Restaurants and includes a 22oz bomber of Red Trolley Ale, Tower 10 IPA, Parrot in a Palm Tree & Big Barrel Double IPA. Below are some beer and cheese pairings featuring all four beers included.
Red Trolley Ale & Bucherondin
Red Trolley is a medium-bodied red ale with a sweet caramel malt profile, underpinned by notes of dried fruit.
Bucherondin is a semi-aged goat’s milk cheese from the Loire Valley of France with a creamy texture and tangy flavor.
The Pairing: Red Trolley’s sweet caramel malt flavors provide a nice contrast to the tangy Bucherondin. Try this pairing with fig jam to add a complement to the dried fruit flavors in the beer.
Tower 10 IPA & Chipotle Cranberry Cheddar
Tower 10 IPA is an American-style India Pale Ale with assertive citrus and floral hop flavors from Cascade and Chinook hops.
Chipotle Cranberry Cheddar is studded with dried cranberries and infused with spicy chipotle for a nice blend of sweet and spicy flavors.
The Pairing: Tower 1o’s hop bitterness gently tempers the spicy chipotle, while the citrus and floral flavors in the beer are complemented by the cranberry.
Parrot in a Palm Tree & Barely Buzzed
Parrot in a Palm Tree is a robust Baltic Porter with layers of chocolate, coffee and dried fruit flavors.
Barely Buzzed is an American white cheddar, dusted in coffee and lavender. This full-bodied cheese is aged on Blue Spruce racks, developing notes of caramel and butterscotch with hints of cocoa and coffee.
The Pairing: Parrot’s milk-chocolate and espresso flavors draw out the coffee and nutty flavors in the cheese.
Big Barrel IIPA & Stilton Blue
Big Barrel is an aggressively hopped Double IPA with a vibrant floral aroma and tropical fruit character.
Stilton, “The King of Blues”, is a soft, tangy, and complex English blue with an assertively ripe flavor.
The Pairing: Both Big Barrel and Stilton possess bold flavors on their own but when paired together their flavors are mellowed. Big Barrel’s hop bitterness is balanced by Stilton’s bold flavors, allowing a rich floral and tropical fruit character to emerge in both the beer and the cheese.
Parrot in a Palm Tree 8.5 % ABV – A robust Baltic Porter brewed especially for the Holidays. Aged two months in San Pasqual Tawny port barrels, the resulting brew boasts a complex bouquet of dark fruits, espresso and chocolate, with hints of oak in its warming finish.
Extra Special Bitter 5.6% ABV – A traditional English-style ale brewed with imported Ashburne and Maris Otter malts for rich caramel and toasted malt flavors. Dry-hopping with Willamette hops adds an earthy hop character that lingers through the finish.
Fullsuit Belgian Brown Ale 6.3% ABV – A Belgian-style brown ale brewed with a blend of caramel and brown malts for toasted and sweet coffee-like flavors, underpinned by the peppery spice of Belgian yeast. Aging on French oak adds a hint of vanilla to its slightly dry and warming finish.
Featured Pairing: Parrot in a Palm Tree with Holiday Shake N’ Cake
Holiday Shake N’ Cake: Baltic Porter vanilla bean ice cream shake topped with spiced whipped cream. Chocolate cupcake, caramel pecans, and raspberry coulis.
The Pairing: Whether you’ve been naughty or nice, this is the perfect pairing to end the year on a high note. Our Baltic Porter ice cream shake is a decadent blend of vanilla and chocolate malt flavors. It’s served with a caramel and raspberry drizzled chocolate cake that draws out layers of dark fruit and espresso in the beer. Santa’s coming to town for this one.
12/23 San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl – San Diego State University vs. Navy – We’re the exclusive beer of this years VIP Tailgate. Join us before kick-off between 2:30 and 4:30pm for pints of Karl Strauss Amber Lager, Red Trolley Ale & Tower 10 IPA.