Thursday, April 16, 2009
San Diego Day 1: Thursday April 9th
Pizza Port Carlsbad: Excellent brews by the pitcher tempered by stomach sating pies
This past weekend I finally made it out to the beer mecca that is San Diego. Clarissa and I went out to visit my internet friend and beer blogging buddy, Chillindamos. When you consider that we had never actually met in person, or even talked on the phone up till a month ago, it was extremely generous of him to let us come and stay with him. It would be kind of like ordering a mail order bride without actually seeing the goods, except that luckily for him we left after 4 days. It was great to meet Chillin' and his wife in person, and we really did hit it off with a great weekend of beer drinkin', chillin', and...more beer drinking. It was all highly intellectual of course.
We rolled in on Thursday and promptly searched out some food and beer at Gordon Biersch. In outward appearance, Gordon Biersch is a giant sports bar that you might find at any local mall. What sets it apart is some excellently crafted German style beers that are as fresh as can be. We tried their alt and their schwarzbier, both of which were fantastic. Clarissa and I also went back on a separate occasion and we had the maibock and the export, a Dortmunder style lager, which totally blew my mind! It was so malty but crisp, the product of a true decoction mash and judicous use of melanoidin-rich malts.
Next we stopped off for a trip to Ballast Point. The original, and smaller brewing location is attached to the local homebrew store, and samples of all the beers are available. The only beer I had tried previously was the Calico Amber, which placed really highly in a blind Amber tasting I helped out with for the Ale Street News. My favorite was their Yellowtail Pale Ale, which is actually a Kolsch. We also tried a smoked lager, a doppelbock aged in some kind of barrel, and a hoppy barleywine-ish beer (for some reason my memory gets a little foggy here).
Then we headed out for a little cruise of the local neighborhoods, and ended up in La Jolla for a walk along the beach. There were a bunch of seals who had apparently mastered the art of chillin'. They were just basking in what sun there was to be had, occasionally stretching out or flipping over on their rocks.
We continued our walk to Karl Strauss, another local brewpub. I am a lover of saisons, so I made sure to taste theirs. It was pretty good, but maybe I just wasn't in the mood for it, so I passed an opted for an excellent IPA. Chillin' had an amazing doppelbock. It was full of malty richness without being too sweet.
Gordon Biersch: A corporate vibe, but outstanding lagers!
After all this drinking, it was time for a real dinner, with beer of course. I was having a hard time keeping up after the extremely early 4 a.m. start we got on the east coast, but I faked it for a while longer and it ended up paying off. We picked up Chillin's wife, Michelle, and headed out to Pizza Port in Carlsbad to meet some of their friends.
Pizza Port was my single favorite brewery on this trip. It's a large, busy pizzaria with a surprisingly small brewery. All the beers are brewed on location, with their bottled beers being brewed at Lost Abbey (see following post). The combination of the atmosphere, the cheap pitchers of some of the best beer you can find, and solid pizza kept me happy (try the San Clemente pizza with black bean sauce & cilantro). We had 4 pitchers, the Pizza Port Wipeout IPA, the Abbey Ale, and "Twerp", a blonde abbey single at 4%ABV. They were all tasty, but I couldn't get enough of the Wipeout! We also had a Firestone Union Jack IPA, but my money was on the Wipeout.
Incredibly, we proceeded back to Chillin's place with another homebrewing friend, Dave or "Comrade" to drink some more beer! By this time we had switched to The Bruery's Saison Rue. I liked it, but I am a bigger fan of their Saison Lente. But if you like a lot of brett in your beers, you will probably like the Saison Rue. We finished the night bathing in a crowded hot tub, which I graciously begged out of after I caught myself passing out.
To Be Continued...