Pure Project, Miramar

I saw a news story about Pure Project's latest bottle release and it sounded so interesting I had to go. They do a lottery for large bottles of their latest and best releases, and on release day they offer samplers from the tap using a small portion of the production that doesn't get bottled. By all accounts they sell out fast and the beer is excellent.

"Pura vida" (pure life) is the Costa Rican phrase that inspired the name "pura birra" emblazoned over the bar in the "brewery igniter" location in Miramar, CA, aka Beeramar because of the plethora of craft breweries and tasting rooms in the area. The room is very small but nicely decorated. There's a nice rough-wood wall, some plants, a few small tables and two benches under the windows. The chairs are rough-hewn and funky, though not entirely comfortable. The nature documentary being projected on the wall was an interesting touch. The staff were so slammed that I didn't get a good read on what the service would normally be like.

Sensei Kolsch (made with rice, gluten free, 5.2% ABV). I added this one to my flight because it sounded so unusual. The result was decent but to my mind not special. No doubt beer lovers who have gluten intolerance will appreciate it. 3.25/5

The place was so crowded (because of all the people coming to get their bottles) that I had to share a bench with a couple in their 20s. It was fine until I started overhearing their conversation. It was one of those conversations you can't stop listening to even though you'd rather not hear it.

Badlands Rye Pale Ale (5.5% ABV). Full flavor, complex, a little funky. 4.25/5

At first it was just the awkward newly-dating conversation of, "Oh, you are seeing other people, too.... Well, yeah, that's cool, I like you, you are fun to hang around, yeah, it's cool, I'll just take it as it comes."

Milagro (dry stout with coffee, 5.3% ABV). Delicious. Robust, deep flavor with just the right coffee note. There's a tiny bit of the grittiness of espresso grounds--which I love.  4.5/5

Then it came out that not only is she seeing other people, but she says she has so much student debt she is considering prostitution. I can't imagine why in the world she would say that to someone she isn't planning to date seriously. Maybe she was just "trying it on" to see if it sounded good when she said it out loud. Maybe it was a test of some sort. Maybe it was a weird strategy to get him to stop pursuing her. He, of course, thought this was a bad idea for her and began to protest. She tried to make the point she would never judge someone, whatever the circumstances that led them where they ended up--mostly I think as a way to guide his thinking but also to try to convince herself. She eventually tried to soften the blow/stop him objecting to her plan by saying, "Well, it's an option, and I like keeping my options open." He was so uncomfortable he suggested they go to the other tasting room next door, hoping (or so it seemed to me) that a change of scene would lead to a change of topic. On the way out she said, "And you know, I am moving to Sin City." I would have been relieved to see them go, except that next door is Amplified Ale Works, which was where I planned to go next!  (See my review here.)

Everyday California 100% Cali Wet Hopped IPA (7% ABV). This was surprisingly less hoppy and bitter than I expected, West Coast IPAs often being almost punishing. There's more sweetness and carbonation than I expected, giving the beer a mouthfeel reminiscent of a soda on the finish. I don't detect anything special about the "wet hops"--brewer's jargon for fresh (rather than dried) hops. A day or two before trying this I read an article about a recent movement among craft brewers to use local wet hops. The movement is inspired in part by high prices due to demand and a shortage of hops. It also jives with many brewers' feelings about environmentalist and slow/local ingredients. According to what I read, wet hops are supposed to also have a flavor payoff, but I didn't detect that in this case. 4/5

The ebb and flow of the crowd is interesting. Ninety minutes into my visit, which started around 4 pm, a good third of the people who were there when I arrived were still there. It was so full it was hard to get to the bar at first, but the place had largely cleared out by 5:30 pm. A whole bunch of people came right after work to buy the bottles they won in the lottery, I guess, and most stayed for one drink before heading home. Can't blame them, really, it was a Tuesday.

TenMile with Coffee Barrel-Aged Imperial Porter (10.7% ABV). This was the reason for today's visit. It does NOT disappoint. The base porter is fantastic, the coffee is just right, and the bourbon barrel (from Breckenridge) created a wonderfully flavorful booziness. 5/5

I am really jealous of all the people I saw picking up their two 750 ml bottles, even though they had to pay $28 for the pair and can never have another. This is a brewery worth checking out.

Pure Project, 9030 Kenamar Dr, Ste 308, San Diego, CA 92121

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Bay City Brewing, Midway District

Amplified Ale Works, Miramar Brewery and Tasting Room

Amplified Ale Works, Miramar Brewery and Tasting Room

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