Whew, it was quite a weekend. Me and Sean traveled to San Diego (and surrounding cities) Feb. 9-10 and it was a whirlwind of great beer, delicious food, and birthday celebrations.
Traveling down the 78 we hit our first stop: Stone Brewing Co. We were there early to procure 20 brewery tour tickets and apparently a bunch of other people had the same plan. Here is a tip for those of you who plan to go to Stone when the tasting room opens at 11am and get tickets for a large group: you can only get 8 tickets each. Me and Sean had to get 20 tickets and for those of you bad at math that meant we would be short 4 tickets. Luckily the gentlemen in front of us in line was nice enough to get the extra 4 tickets for us.
Holding tour tickets in my hot little hand we dashed over to Mother Earth but alas, they had moved locations. We went to the new location and couldn’t find them…and I begin to get frustrated. I make an executive decision and we head over to Iron Fist. The location was easy to find (thank you Iron Fist!) and very welcoming. The beers they had on tap was amazing. Some of the stand-out brews were: Uprising with Champagne Yeast and Tequila Soaked Oak Chips (12%ABV) and Nelson the Impaler (5.5%ABV). The Uprising was really interesting, the Champagne was a really nice play against the Tequila. It was light, and fruity and bitter with a nice after-burn taste of Tequila. I normally hate the taste of Tequila but this wasn’t bad. The only other Tequila beer I was ok with was the Mikkeller Black Hole aged in Tequila barrels. The Nelson the Impaler was great. It was clean and hoppy and was the type of beer you could just have glass after glass of. I also enjoyed the people there, they were warm and friendly. Plus, it’s always a good sign when there is an adorable dog guarding the brewery for it’s owners.
Next stop was Latitude 33 Brewing Company, who now resides in Green Flash’s old brewery location. We ordered a flight of all of their standard beers and a few of their more adventurous and seasonal delights. The most delicious beer we had there was Breakfast With Wilford oatmeal coffee stout (8.5%ABV). It was seriously good. The beer pours dark and smooth, with a fantastic coffee smell and flavor. Coffee in beer is so hard to do because it seems to get bitter or chalky and unpleasant. Not this beer, this beer was like sitting the fire making s’mores with your best friend watching your favorite movie having spiked coffees on a snow day. Malty, roasty, sweet (not overly), flavorful coffee notes, smooth body, dark brown head, … basically perfect. We liked it so much we bought a growler just to be able to take some home! We also ran into a beer tour group of entertaining and overtly friendly people on a birthday bus. Beer people are the best people 🙂
Next stop: Stone! We met-up with our large group of 18 friends and proceeded to have a beer then the brewery tour. I have been on the tour several times before, but it was fun to go with such a large group of my friends. There was also some pretty painted barrels to take photos of…bonus! After the tour we had food at the Bistro. I ordered the cheese plate which I haven’t had before and it was really good! I love cheese so much. It was my buddy Pappy’s birthday so I gave him a 21st Amendment jacket and some cookies and fun was had by all. Too much fun for some 🙂 After Stone we ended-up going back to our hotel. We had planned to go to Lost Abbey after Stone but frankly I was so tired that we went to bed at something like 10pm and slept 12 hours.
The next morning it was cloudy and sprinkles of rain threatened to fall on our day 2 of beercation. The weather didn’t bring down our mood because we actually love the cold and rain so with smiles on our faces we left our hotel and went back to Stone. Back to Stone?! Three times in two days…you are crazy – you might be thinking. Don’t fret, we didn’t stay long. We just went back to purchase some Quingenti Millilitre barrel-aged blends: Green Flash/Pizza Port Carlsbad/Stone Highway 78 Scotch Ale Batch 01 (Chuck/Jeff/Mitch Blend) & 02 (Wagner Blend).
First beer of the day was at Ballast Point brewery. This was my first time here and the tasting room was really nice. It had a long bar and a lot of space for people to enjoy their beers. The patio looked really cool with their almost school-like metal tables with connected benches. It hit me in the nostalgic spot. We had some tasting flights of the most enjoyable beers there which was: French Oak Syrah Barrel Aged 3 Sheets Barley Wine (9.5%ABV), 2011 Bourbon Barrel Sea Monster, and Brandy Barrel Aged Navigator (10%ABV). I am so glad we just got the tastes because these beers were strooong. The flavors were great and you can really taste the aging. After I purchased a few Sea Monster shirts we headed to the next stop.
We had a plan for lunch that was ruined when the place was closed. We quickly decided to go to Tiger Tiger! which was only 15 mins away via the freeway. We had heard wonderful things about this place and I can tell you that the stories are true! They had a fun and inviting dining room with cork-board and wood adorning the walls and kitsch accessories that draws you in. We sat at the bar and I had a flight of their Automatic Brewing Co. beer, which is specifically brewed for Tiger Tiger!. They brew inside Blind Lady Ale House’s location. I really liked the Quadracycle by Automatic which is a 6.9%ABV Belgian Blonde. It was fruity and sweet with great carbonation. Let’s just take a minute to talk about the food. We had the fries with curry sauce to start, and it was downright sinful. The curry sauce was amazing. The fries with the fresh herbs were addictive. The main course was Sean’s Cuban sandwich and my toasted egg. The tasted egg consisted of sourdough bred with some caramelized onions in between and a fried sunny-side up egg on top with green onions. It came with a small side of pickled mushroom and onion. Sounds simple, that’s because it was. But it was so well-done. They put the bread in their wood-fired oven so it’s smokey, crunchy and still soft in the middle. The egg made everything perfect. I could eat this every day.
After a very fulfilling lunch, we went to AleSmith. Bud Light in the trash at AleSmith made me and Sean laugh a little. I really liked AleSmith. They had a smaller tasting room but a really impressive bottling line machine. They also had a great tap list with too many good things to choose from. We had tasters of Decadence (2012) 12%ABV Belgian Quad and Belgian Small Beer 4.1%ABV Belgian Pale. The Decadence was great! The people behind the bar was super friendly and very knowledgeable.
Last stop before getting pizza at Pizza Port Carlsbad and then driving home was at Fezziwig’s Brewing Company. Our buddy Dawn works there so it was just a good excuse to go. Little did we know it was Corgi day at the brewery. My sister has a corgi named Charlee that I adore so it was so cool to see so many corgi’s in one place! I wish I had my little doxie Porter with me to play with all the other dogs. The beers were good and the one that caught my attention the most was the Rum Barrel Aged Dark Xmas (8.4%ABV) american strong ale. I hope to see more from them! I really enjoyed the steampunk theme as well.
All in all, it was a very successful few days of breweries, amazingly wonderful craft beers, unique and delectable food, and sensational people. Have you been to these places? Planning a trip? Where do you suggest we go next time? We had planned on going to Societie and White Labs but White Labs is closed on Sundays and we didn’t have time for Societie. We hope to hit both on the next trip!