Beercation: San Diego

In honor of my soon to be brother-in-law’s soon to be marriage we headed out to San Diego for the bachelor party! Now my last beercation post about Atlanta really wasn’t a true beercation. It was Christmas vacation in Atlanta where I drank a lot of beer. This time we are going to San Diego solely for awesome breweries, brewpubs, and bars that abound there.

Brewery Tour

San Diego has a number of companies that offer public or private brewery tours to the various breweries around town. They all differ slightly in pricing, transportation, pick up/drop off, and breweries covered. I’ll be honest that our first choice was Brew Hop but they were all booked up… because they let a bunch of their staff off for MLK day weekend and had some vehicles in the shop, not a great way to run a business IMO. We ended up rolling with Brewery Tours of San Diego and while they were pretty full up as well Jon was extremely helpful in working out a time and giving suggestions on the best tour route. What we ended up with was:

Lost Abby tour/tasting
Stone dinner/tasting
Green Flash tasting/tour.

 Lost Abbey reminds me of a bigger Rivertown while Stone is a massive brewery and has some awesome grounds. I was psyched for the food and beer at Stone but the food was so-so and the beer menu lacked the kind of crazy awesome one-offs or rare Stone beers I was hoping for. Green Flash is a pretty sweet place to hang out and, as with Lost Abbey and Stone, is full of great beer. Luckily in the case of Green Flash, unlike Stone, they were serving a lot of stuff I’ve never seen around town.

If you’re staying in San Diego this is definitely something you want to look into as Stone is 40 minutes north and would be an almost $200 cab ride round trip. Plus Jon brings a lot to the table himself. He seems to know all the important people at each place we visited and those tours of the breweries aren’t with some huge group they’re personal tours led by Jon just for your group, very relaxed and very informative affairs. Riding around in a nice big van and having bottles of water there is far better than 4 dudes crammed into a cab or renting a car and having 1 designated driver.

A 50/50 burger, a black bean pizza, and a beach!

After recovering from the brewery tour and more bars we hit after that we spent Saturday north west of downtown. Our first stop was Slater’s 50/50 famous for a burger patty of 50% beef and 50% bacon. For the B’B’B’Bacon burger they add bacon american cheese, thick cut bacon, fried egg, and bacon island dressing… yeah… I passed on this as I prefer my arteries unclogged but the bachelor smashed this monster of a burger and loved it.

B'B'B'Bacon

Another awesome thing about Slater’s is their 110 taps. These were mostly full with local San Diego area beers including a double IPA from Belching Beaver, great name but mediocre beer.

After waiting too damn long for a cab we headed further out from downtown to check out Pizza Port (Ocean Beach) brewing company. Pizza Port is a chain of small brewpubs each with their own special beers and pizza, the one we went to is in Ocean Beach but they’re scattered about town. Beyond having a selection of their own beers they also serve other local beers but I stuck to Pizza Port brews while there and was not disappointed.

Pizza Port (Ocean Beach) beer list

I had 2 flights while there and tried many of the samples my friends got as well so I wouldn’t be surprised if I tried most of their beers. However one stands above all the rest. That one was Fisticuffs, a dry Irish stout a la Guinness, very deliciously tasty perhaps especially so as a reaction to all the IPAs I’d been drinking since Thursday night. After a short diversion to the beach we headed back for more beer and this time Pizza. I split a Pizza San Clemente – Black bean sauce, tomatoes, olives, red onions, topped with cheddar, mozzarella, Spanish spices and fresh cilantro – and damned was it more amazing than I would’ve guessed, that black bean sauce really kicked ass.

Having never seen the pacific before a few hours ago I couldn’t pass on a pacific sunset.

An island in the sun

We spent the next afternoon at Coronado Brewing Company. Coronado is an island across the bay from San Diego, we figured heading out there was an excellent excuse to take the ferry… and drink more beer. Besides seeing a dolphin and getting a bad ass view of San Diego the ferry is by far the fastest way to Coronado. Coronado almost exactly matched my concept of southern California; bright sun, blue sky, palm trees, 70 degrees, good looking women, and great tasting beer! They had plenty of good beer but nothing super astounding to jump out in my mind and report back here.

The hunting of a Roman philosopher.

Before leaving Cincinnati a friend informed me that Russian River distributes to the San Diego area. I had gotten busy planning for the trip and let this info slip from my mind for a time. While out there I remembered and we began trying to hunt down the elusive Pliny The Elder. A great and rare beer (formerly #1 now #2 for Beer Advocate’s top beer in America) which I had the luck to score in a trade a few months back (my review). Though I’d had it none of my other traveling companions had yet tasted it’s deliciousness and I, knowing what I knew of it’s grandeur, had to have more. 1 beer store led us astray but gave us a hint for a “ghetto” place to find it… boy was he right.
Don't judge a liquor store by it's overpass, or the bum with a bad ass box fort living under said overpass.

Don’t judge a liquor store by it’s overpass, or the bum with a bad ass box fort living under said overpass.

That light under the overpass lead us to our salvation (consecration, supplication, and damnation (all amazing Russian River beers)) and plinally (sorry… bad pun) our Pliny. After acquiring our Pliny (1 per person, so sorry no trades) and a few other goodies we headed back to the hotel and out again continuing the hunt… but this time hunting for draft!

Draft was had, and it was grand!

The above pic of 4 pints of Pliny The Elder on draft was achieved courtesy of Hamilton’s Tavern. I had long heard that Pliny the Elder was best fresh, then even more improved on draft. This is abundantly true. I will still not say that Pliny The Elder is “the best (or 2nd best) beer in America” but it is an amazing beer that everyone should be given the opportunity to try, preferably on draft if possible.

Overall it was a fantastic weekend, made even better with the knowledge that it was 50 degrees colder in Ohio. San Diego is a great city to visit; an aircraft carrier you can tour, whale watches, beaches, and of course… awesome beer.
Stay classy, San Diego.
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5 Comments

Filed under Beer

5 responses to “Beercation: San Diego

  1. It’s a shame you did not get out to the Alpine Beer Company. Truly a gem in the SD beer game.

    • Tom Aguero

      Yeah. We wanted to but decided there was enough to do in town to dodge the extensive cab fare. Next time I go to San Diego (which is a must) I’ll hit it up. I heard they have fantastic IPAs.

  2. Sounds like an awesome trip! I’m hoping to get out there in March/April to visit my brother and hit some breweries, too.

    By the way, all of your Untappd check-ins were just obscene. You definitely put a hurting on the West Coast!

  3. Randy

    Hamilton Tavern + Green Flash = Palate Wrecker

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