14 August 2013

beer thirty (v.3)

How could anything sound better than a San Diego brewery tour
with spirited conversation among old friends?
san diego IPA

Believe it or not I had a bit of hesitation in the plan.
I'm not a daytime craft beer drinker,
and navigating through miles of San Diego freeway between breweries,
sounded like an accident waiting to happen.
Not a car accident,
more of a piss in the bottle + throbbing headache type.
My choice was made when friends showed up and rallied me out of the house.
Ok let's do this!
Alpine Beer Company

Our first stop was the Alpine Beer Company,
on the main drag at the base of the Cuyamaca Mountains.
A nondescript place that I had unknowingly passed by many times.
alpine beer company pub/cafe

We were treated to a small town cozy atmosphere,
with a decent list of their fresh brews.
The inside cafe was packed,
which was fine as the no frills backyard had enough space.
Everyone establishing themselves wherever there was shade.
alpine beer company backyard

The first beer was a strong IPA named Nelson,
using a New Zealand hops or that's what I was told.
What better way to celebrate Lindsay's brief return.
A good beer to burn off any of those lingering thoughts I had earlier.
Next time I'll have this one second,
after my taste buds have been desensitized.
morning brew - nelson

As a brewhound newbie,
I didn't think to try the taste test array first.
A handful of small glasses in a muffin tray.
The list was long enough that drinking 2 full beers is a crapshoot,
and it seems like I missed out on whatever was left on the list.
The last IPA, the"Duet" was very tasty and refreshing.
PL gel - Chip and Lindsay

The trip was the brainchild of Cho-ip - (green shirt)
who has the largest growler collection on the west coast.
Each brewery allows only their own bottles to be filled,
and he's enough of a connoisseur to need multiple growlers from each.
He willingly accepted his role as a designated driver,
predicting that he would be the first row of a drunken spectacle.
Lindsay was the catalyst,
as he was wrapping up his stay in San Diego,
with years of practice in the art of alcoholic beverages.

Our years of friendship can be summed up rather easily.
Chip will take a stand on a random subject,
Lindsay will play the devil's advocate and try to undermine the stand,
and I'll usually sit on the fence and feed tinder into the fire.
Throw a couple beers in the mix and time goes by fast.
Alpine Beer Company

Chip's ulterior motive was filling up his growlers.
The bottling area was packed,
standing room only packed.
Mind you this was Saturday around 2pm.
Chip and LC grabbed their selection,
and we were off.
standing room only

One more beer and I would have been happy to stick around all day,
try some of the menu out and relax.
Nice to be in a stress free environment like this,
and little did I know this was the only pub like setting we would see for hours.
But...we had an itinerary to keep,
and what the heck I wasn't driving.

San Diego is basically a living freeway.
The city is planned around the automobile,
with the idea that long stretches of driving is normal.
Good thing Chip brought along some decent tunes.
east county

Our journey landed in North County - San Marcos,
where the Lost Abbey or Port Brewing Company was tucked away,
amongst a sea of cookie cutter commercial buildings.
north county hell

We were greeted in true religious style,
to a group of USMC tanks and battle wagons.
A line of doe-eyed souls lined up to get in,
and one-eyed stumbling drunks unwillingly booted out.
Looked promising!
The Lost Abbey - Port Brewing Company

Parched and ready to test out their hailed selection,
we sauntered up to the bar area.
Dozens of kegs fed the row of taps.
Each of us knew exactly what we wanted.
Lost Abbey Brewery

Even though the bar-backs were filling up beer steins,
we weren't allowed any tasters or even a growler fill.
Blue-balled with an excuse this was a ticketed event.
Chip was about ready to hurl his growler into the wall.
Lindsay even pulled out his New Zealand accent.
How could they say no to a world traveller?
I was too dumbfounded to use my revered status as a blogger.
Lost Abbey/Port Brewing Company Beer Dufus

The dufus in the red shirt above really knew how to sour the 45 minute trip.
This guy was about as lame and condescending as they come.
Their beers may be award winning but I'll pass on supporting their gig,
and it takes a lot to push me off my fence post of neutrality.
We coined the phrase FLA- "eff" lost abbey - on the ride away.
Green Flash Brewing Company

Now we were 3 grouchy sober guys,
with a dire need to salvage this trip.
We made our way down to the Green Flash Brewing Company,
somewhere in Mira Mesa.
Green Flash

What a welcome relief to see happy flip-flop wearing beer drinkers,
an easy to read variety of different brews,
and a nonstop crew of bartenders wanting to take our money.
stimulating conversation

The dollar taste testers were the perfect remedy to the previous confusion.
Where was this place when I was going to college?
I barely made it out anyway so just as well.
green flash brewery

The Green Flash Brewery was made for social consumption.
A big open room and also a strip of open space outside,
allowing kids, dogs and food.

We were in such a rush to get there,
somehow we forgot to make a pit stop at the mexi-food beforehand.
It was time to eat,
and we filled our bellies with way overpriced fare.
Lindsay grubbin

Good to know for next time
that they would have allowed us to bring in our own food.
Chip mackin'

The silver lining was this tasty treat.
Who would have thought to add macaroni and cheese to a pulled pork sandwich.
So simple and so delicious.
We'll be trying this at home.
pulled pork + mac & cheese = grub

The taste test format worked perfect.
I wouldn't have picked a 9.1% dark ale as my favorite otherwise.
My brew-of-choice here was the "Grand Cru".

Just as we were getting comfortable,
it was time to return to our schedule.
Lindsay and I like leaves in Chip's whirlwind itinerary.
Guess that's what happens when you're the guy not drinking!
The next stop was Societe Brewing Company in Kearny Mesa.
societe brewing company - clairemont

And wouldn't you now it,
the one day we show up and there's a line out the door.
Of course it's their first year anniversary.
Time to party right?!
Shut down as a sold out event.
Dang hipster lushes!
They were gracious enough to fill one of Chip's growlers free of charge,
and who can complain with that...
ballast point brewing company - home brew mart

No problem.
Ballast Point Brewing Company was on the way back to our stomping grounds.
This grew out of the store that started it all in San Diego - Home Brew Mart.
I remember going by this place when it was scraping by selling home beer kits.
Now it's a worldwide empire.
Who woulda thunk...
ballast point brewing co - san diego

This was a different setup,
as it's not marketed as a drinking establishment.
They allow one taste tester per type per person,
and keep a check list similar to a sushi menu,
so yeah there is a possibility of getting a good buzz.
We were cut short as they closed up rather early,
but the guys were able to grab a couple refills and garb.
My favorite here was the Sculpin it's some good chit.
chip's chariot

Our final destination was Pizza Port in Ocean Beach.
We filed into Cho-ip's Chariot and headed to the coast.

This place has been around for a couple years,
but it was my first time.
Unknowingly we walked straight up to the bar,
ordered our beverages,
and walked past a huge line that trailed to the doorway.
Whoops no wonder they were all frowning at us!
pizza port - ocean beach

I chose the Skid Mark Brown Ale,
and although it is supposed to be an award winning beer,
wasn't as pleasant to my palate as I needed.
A little bitter and flat,
not that refreshing even with the pizza,
but I guess that's the definition of an English dark ale.
Maybe it was too much stop and go between drinking sessions,
and my tongue or stomach was tired of being teased.

The final thought here is there's alot of money to be made,
on fermented hop water, dough and cheese.
We all had a good time,
and the 2 earlier shutouts made way for a clean getaway.
No sloppy drunk hijinks tonight and no hangover!

stevie ray vaughan - life by the drop
green flash grand cru growler

I borrowed one of Chips first generation Green Flash growlers,
and brought home the 9.1% Grand Cru Ale.
The prices vary by alcohol content,
$14-18 for a 6-7%er and $25-28 for the 9-10%er's,
so this would be a rare occasion.

An unopened growler lasts about 2 weeks,
and after opening should be finished within 3 days or less.
I waited a week to crack it open,
and wow it was like having a brewery in the house.
By the third night,
my taste buds and stomach had adjusted,
and welcomed the beer like a hearty meal and dessert.
Too bad this was the last drop.
beer thirty

On the fourth night my mind and body were in withdrawal.
There'd be no joy opening a Coors Tall or whatever leftover in the fridge.
I can see how this brewing trend has become a cash cow.
My willpower held strong,
and I resisted the urge to get a growler fix.
Much more fun to drink with friends then as a hermit lush!

Good times and good friends!


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