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Beer of San Diego

May 31, 2013

When we arrived in San Diego on Thursday, it was just after noon there so we headed straight for lunch at a restaurant called Neighborhood. There we finally got to taste our first Russian River beer — Pliny the Elder. Yum.

After dropping our bags at Thomas’ apartment, we headed to the first brewery, AleSmith. I love when breweries offer sample sizes. We grabbed a bunch of $1-2 samples to share so we could taste as many different beers as possible. My favorite was the Speedway Stout with Vietnamese Coffee.

At Lost Abbey

At Lost Abbey

Post-Torrey Pines hike, we stopped quickly at Green Flash. Most of their beer is distributed to Georgia, so we’d tried most before. Green Flash is a nice facility, but the staff starts preparing everyone to leave at least half an hour before they close; and they close about 15 minutes before the posted time. I realize it was a Thursday night, but it was annoying to be told every couple of minutes to finish up and head out.

After Green Flash closed, we hopped over to a brewery called Wet ‘N Reckless, which is nearby. It was open an hour later (’til 10 p.m.) so we had time to order a couple flights. This brewery doesn’t make anything to style, so we asked about each one and then sampled, sampled, sampled. There were a few good ones, and all were definitely worth trying. The owner has a pretty interesting story because he just has this brewery as a hobby.

We took Friday off from visiting breweries since we hit three on Thursday. But after Coronado Island, we beer-shopped at Krisp for the house party that evening. Great selection. We picked up Noble King by Jester King (Austin, Tex.), Double Jack by Firestone Walker (Buellton, Calif.), The Tide and its Takers by Anchorage Brewing (of Alaska), and Blue Dot by Hair of the Dog (Portland, Ore.).

After seeing the sights at La Jolla on Saturday, we first headed to Escondido to Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens. Stone has put a lot of work into its facility. There is a full gourmet restaurant and beautiful gardens for strolling and sitting. The tours for the brewery were already full, so we didn’t get to see the brewing facilities. I had a fresh Cali-Belgique on draft, and after a Stone, Matt bought a bottle of Russian River Sanctification.

Then we headed to Port/Lost Abbey where we had tickets for the brewery’s seventh-anniversary party. This format was more like the breweries in Georgia — we got bracelets and traded tear-off numbers for samples. If was fun (but exhausting) and even included a $5 credit at one of the food trucks.

Since apparently we hadn’t had enough beer for the day, we stopped at Ballast Point, which, admittedly, was on the way back. A few more samples later, and it was time for bed.

On Sunday at Pacific Beach, Matt and I sketched off from the Pacific Beach Shore Club where the group was hanging out. We found a place called  Amplified Ale Works, a nanobrewery at California Kebab & Brewpub. Then we wandered some more and Matt looked up a place called Ciro’s Pizzeria. We each tried a flight from Cucapa Brewing, Mexico’s only craft brewery. None were outstanding, but they were interesting to try. We eventually met back up with Thomas and his friends at Pacific Beach AleHouse where we had another flight of its beer. This was more of a typical brewpub, similar to Gordon Biersch, and with styles like a golden and a pale, they were a little bland. I thought the Hopulent Double IPA was pretty good though.

Was the beer scene a big factor when deciding to visit San Diego? Yes. Did it live up to expectations? Absolutely.

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