NEW BEER: BJ’s Hoppy Scotsman Ale

My wife and I visited our local BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse in Folsom for a bite to eat and to try the new Hoppy Scotsman Ale released today (full disclosure, BJ’s comped my bill).

I’m not keen on “chain restaurants,” however, I have some fondness for BJ’s. It’s the place I really discovered there were different styles of beer — beer with flavors and aromas. I enjoy their Nutty Brewnette and HopStorm IPA and pretty much hate the LightSwitch Lager. Ugh!

But that’s the great thing about BJ’s; as a beer novice, it allowed me to ease in to Craft Beers. I could discover what I liked and didn’t like before I hit some of California’s premier breweries.

Unfortunately, as I developed a thirst for California Craft Beers, I sort of tossed BJ’s aside a not “serious” craft beer. That’s a mistake. BJ’s is the 44th largest craft brewery in the United States and they DO make good beers. Plus, I love Brewmaster Michael Ferguson‘s Beer Geeks television show!

The Hoppy Scotsman Ale was developed by the Huntington Beach-based BJ’s and Caledonian Brewing of Edinburgh, Scotland. Click here to see BJ’s promo video. The beer had a nice balance of malts and hops and went well with my deep dish pepperoni pizza. I also had a wedge salad; the combination of the beer and blue cheese was a bit bitter for my taste.

The food was plentiful and tasty, but I wish the restaurant’s atmosphere was more like Stone World Bistro than T.G.I.Fridays (just a personal preference). Also, do yourself a favor and DO NOT look  at the menu item calorie counts. Scary!

The service was pleasant and efficient.

There are 64 locations throughout the state and though the company is based in California, the beer appears to be brewed out of state in Reno, NV, Chandler, AZ and Boulder, CO.

Hoppy Scotsman Ale
Hoppy Scotsman Ale
Wedge Salad
My wedge salad
Pepperoni Pizza
My deep dish pepperoni pizza

 

San Clemente Beer Festival

I  drove down to San Clemente this weekend for the 3rd annual San Clemente Micro-Brew Festival hosted by Left Coast Brewery and the San Clemente Chamber of Commerce.

The 17 participating breweries were:

This was my second time at this festival. It’s becoming an annual tradition as I get to spend a day with my sister (I can’t say her name or show her face because her school district has a very prudish social media policy…that’s another story).

The crowd definitely seemed bigger than last year and I’m afraid they’re going to outgrow the Left Coast location very soon (actually, I’m not afraid…I hope they can move it somewhere closer to the beach that allows for a nice breeze and wider spaces).

My one big bitch with this festival is the food. There was only one vendor which had a very long line the whole event. I would add a couple additional food options in the future.

There were two fun bands (I really liked the second one), but their names escape me!

Since I love hoppy beers, I used all my tasting tickets on IPAs I’d never tried. All were good, but two really stood out:

  • Pizza Port El Camino IPA – what a great aroma!
  • Beachwood Pole Position IPA – hoppy and citrus!
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My sister and I at the San Clemente Micro-Brew Festival on April 20, 2013.
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The crowd enjoys the beer and music.