Laurie Delk talks the San Diego Beer Scene and Shows us How to Taste Beer
By: Jennifer Hood
San Diego | April 4th, 2013
This is a segment from Locale Magazine’s Guide to Cerveza San Diego 2013 – an ode to beer and the holy city of all things brew-worthy.
First, let us introduce you to our beer expert, Laurie Delk, a blogger, author, taster, and a member of the fabulous team over at Lumberyard Tavern & Grill in Encinitas. We sat down with her to talk the in’s and out’s of the local San Diego craft beer culture, and to get some pointers on how to taste beer like a true connoisseur.
Q: Let’s be honest, you’re the ultimate: A beautiful woman with a bewitching Southern accent who knows her beer. You are a beer connoisseur at Happy Hour magazine; you’ve graced the cover of Westcoaster and Happy Hour magazines; you star in three web video series; you run a hugely popular beer blog (100beers30days.com); and recently, you co-judged a homebrew contest with Peter Zien of AleSmith, Greg Koch of Stone Brewing and Cicerone Dave Adams of Green Flash – all while running sold-out beer tastings at Lumberyard Tavern & Grill. You are a beer sage. A brew whisperer. An ale savant. What’s it like to have everyone’s dream career?
Laurie Delk: I am blushing so red I could be a beacon for incoming planes at San Diego International Airport! It’s a lot more work than people might think! I hear so often, “Must be nice to be you.” And yes, it is! But it takes years of practice, study and passionate dedication. I have 15 years of background experience in the wine and spirits industry, which helped tremendously in the evolution of my beer palate. One of my mantras is “The more you taste, the more you know.”
Q: What’s it like being a beer lover in America’s capital of craft beer – San Diego?
LD: I couldn’t imagine a better place in the world to enjoy the fruits of the Craft beer movement. We have sunshine, beaches, the kindest and most open-minded beer geeks and some of the most creative and groundbreaking brewer minds on the planet.
Q: What is so alluring about San Diego? It seems like no matter how many breweries, the market here could never be oversaturated with the amount of beer enthusiasts, college students and everyday drinkers that are living here.
LD: Honestly, I do have a fear that oversaturation is around the corner. I fear it, because I don’t want these smaller breweries to fail, but there is only so many beers a bar can carry, only so many taps, only so much room in the cooler; and the stalwart classics like Stone, Ballast Point, Lost Abbey, Green Flash and others are going to keep their places. I am excited and thrilled when I taste new breweries, and I am so proud to live in a community with such creativity and ambition. I do all I can to bring those breweries in, and I know publicans around the city do the same. So San Diegans, keep supporting local breweries!
Q: What do you say to people who worry that the craft beer movement is being considered by some as a fad?
LD: Stop worrying. The glass is more than half-full, and it’s bubbling over with Craft beer. We live in the Mecca of the movement, and there is a dedication here to quality and preservation that I have never witnessed before in the drink world. So lower those cynical eyebrows, and enjoy a pint.
Q: Any new breweries you’re excited for in 2013?
LD: There are so many I can’t keep up! I love that veteran guys like Lee Chase, Scott Blair and Tom Nickel have opened up their own breweries, and I can’t wait to taste more of their beers. And I’m waiting, like everyone, to see what Jeff Bagby, formerly of Pizza Port, does this year.
Q: A new beer you’re most looking forward to trying?
LD: Anything that isn’t bourbon-barrel aged. I’m over it.
How to Taste Beer
Q: For us plebes who don’t know the art of beer tasting, can you give us some pointers? Is it the same “sniff and swirl” routine as with wine tasting?
LD: Basically, yes. After years of wine tasting, I judge aromatics the same; although it’s a completely different set of identifiers, especially in blind tasting. An important addition to the “sniff and swirl” as you out it, would be this:
Take 3 sips of a beer before you determine whether you like it or plan to grade it for a review.
• The first sip cleanses the palate (think of the carbonation like little scrubbing bubbles).
• By the second sip, you start to convert your palate to the beer at hand.
• By the third sip, you can get a full assessment of flavor, including malt and hop profiles, bitterness, body and finish.
• Always stick to the same type of glass for tasting consistency. I sample and review almost every beer in a tulip glass. It’s perfect for focusing aromas, and puts every beer on a level playing field, especially when you’re tasting multiple beers of the same style.
Lumberyard Tavern & Grill
967 S Coast Highway 101
Encinitas, CA 92024