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San Diego brewers are known to create beers based on interesting concepts. These beers are combining unexpected flavors and turning heads while doing it.
San Diego beer makers are known as rebels in the brewing world—they create beers based on interesting concepts and ingredients, and not always within traditional style guidelines. Many of the resulting beers are difficult to define, but once you taste them, you definitely want another. They incorporate offbeat brewing techniques with unexpected flavors that some call “Frankenbeers,” but most just call “awesome.”
Ballast Point calls this beer a "Curry Export Stout." Yeah, it has curry in it. The India-style stout, which is also brewed with cayenne, coconut, and kaffir lime leaf, came about when homebrewing superstar Alex Tweet submitted it for a Ballast Point competition and won. The beer caused such a sensation—and enjoyed such great demand—that Ballast Point eventually made it part of its regular production lineup.
The first-ever hybrid ale of its kind, this groundbreaking beer combined a Belgian-style Trippel with an American Imperial IPA. This rich, malty, subtly fruity beer is plenty hoppy and packs a punch at 9.2% ABV. It has all the caramel, toffee, and bubble gum flavors you expect in a Trippel, but it’s balanced with a crispness and bitterness from a healthy dose of hops. It’s also Green Flash Co-Founder Mike Hinkley's favorite combo beer!
When Karl Strauss first released their Peanut Butter Cup Porter, they officially set off what has come to be known as the “candy bar” beer craze. This beer combines the rich, nutty flavors of peanut butter with the deep, roasty, chocolatey flavors and aromas of roasted malts—it’s like a liquid Reese’s. Other brewers have since developed an “Almond Joy” beer, a “Fluffernutter” beer, and a “Mounds Bar” beer.
The Lost Abbey is San Diego’s most revered barrel-aging brewery. This agave-based strong ale is the first Lost Abbey beer to be aged in tequila barrels. The brew clocks in at 13.5% ABV and was aged for a minimum of 10 months in barrel. With the rich flavors of black pepper, oatmeal, and honey, this brew was designed to complement the unique spiciness of tequila.
Border X uses Mexican flavor influences in many of its beers, but this one stands out. This saison is inspired by the Mexican drink, Jamaica, and Border X uses real hibiscus and agave to give it tartness and a distinctive, bright red hue.
This dark beer has some serious coffee flavor—far more than most beers that call themselves coffee porters or coffee stouts. Like a great triple espresso, this beer doesn’t mess around. With tons of dark and roasty flavors from cold-brewed coffee made by local roaster Bird Rock Coffee, this is a beer that will certainly wake you up—although you might not want to actually have it with breakfast if you have any plans for the day! "Like a cold cup of coffee with 8% ABV," says Pizza Port Co-Founder Vince Marsaglia. "Good morning!"
Stone Brewing Co. collaborated with San Diego's own Monkey Paw Brewery and homebrew competition winner Juli Goldenberg to make this crazy-brilliant, devilishly decadent dessert-like brew. It's a Belgian-style golden strong ale inspired by...carrot cake. The finished product has everything you’d want in a carrot cake: flavors of cream cheese frosting, cinnamon, vanilla, carrots, and raisins.
San Diego brewers have been innovating with chile beers for many years, and wherever you go, it’s not uncommon to find at least one beer on tap that’s made with jalapeños, anchos, pasillas, even ghost peppers! This double stout is made with fresh serrano chilies, which blend with the rich, chocolatey flavors of the beer just perfectly. Don’t trust the initial sweetness, though, because there's a major spicy kick that follows the luscious chocolate and coffee flavors in the beer.
Fruit-infused beer isn't new...but a double IPA with watermelon? Now that's out there. And it’s delicious. The sweet aromas and flavors of the watermelon mellow the bitter kick of the double IPA and create a surprisingly tasty, well-balanced, and unexpected combo. For other surprisingly delicious combinations, also try Mango Even Keel IPA, Longfin Cucumber Lager, and Pineapple Sculpin IPA, also from Ballast Point.
Two popular drinks in San Diego, beer and horchata, come together for this fun flavor mash-up. Drinkers can thank San Diego's friends to the south for inspiring this glass. Savor the Mexican flavors of vanilla, cinnamon, and rice malt all blended together in a creamy beer that comes in at 9% ABV.
The brewers at The Lost Abbey let their Judgment Day brown ale sit in bourbon barrels for a while...and when they tasted it, they realized that the raisins used in the base beer were being accentuated...the beer actually tasted like in a delicious oatmeal cookie. Following that train of thought, the brewers added cinnamon sticks and a few dried chilies to create a form of liquid oatmeal cookie that packs a spicy punch.
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