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San Diego Beer Report

The Dive Apr 2, 2007 01:45 PM

We were in town for the weekend and did our best to, well, drink a lot of beer. Here's a report:

Yardhouse (Friday night)
Okay, it's a chain, but we got in late on Friday night and we needed some place to eat in the Gaslamp. Good selection of beers, although I felt the list could have reflected the local stars a bit more (and not, say, Humboldt County…I’m just not that big of a fan of Lost Coast). Started with a Stone Smoked Porter and ahi poke tower – not an ideal pairing, but both good on their own. My entrée was the lobster garlic noodles – completely and unnecessarily over-the-top. Just too much butter, although my Racer 5 did an admirable job of cutting through the richness. The rest of the group had the ahi sandwich (good, with decent fries), the scallops orzo (good, but not great), and the steak/shrimp combo (fine). None of the dishes really seemed right for beer, but did the trick.

Pizza Port - Solano Beach (Saturday afternoon)
A revelation. The Hop 15 might be the best ever for this hop fiend (some day I’ll have to do a side-by-side with Pliny the Elder and Stone’s 10th anniversary IPA). Also had the Sharkbite Red – fantastic. And the pizza isn’t half bad either (the garlic vegetable was excellent). I love the small size and huge selection – they rightly deserve all the awards they receive. Very crowded for the middle of a sunny day, but fantastic fun. I would live at Pizza Port.

The Local (Saturday night)
Was told this was a good bar in the Gaslamp for beer and basketball. No and yes. Lots of tvs (and well-regulated crowd control), but the beer selection was a little sad (granted I was coming off of the Pizza Port high). I was just expecting more than sierra on tap. Had a bottle of Stone IPA, which did the trick.

Stone Brewery (Sunday afternoon).
Beautiful facility. Was told it would be a 35-minute wait for an outdoor table at 2 p.m., so we did the tour. Interesting and fun (loved seeing the bottling machine from Strange Brew), plus it ended with a generous free tasting. Enjoyed large pours of Stone’s Pale Ale (just not that interesting), IPA (always good), Smoked Porter (really one of the most well-balanced of the smoked beers), Arrogant Bastard (always fantastic) and the Double Bastard (rich and strong – almost bourbon-like….fabulous). We then enjoyed a late lunch/early dinner outside of garlic brussel sprouts (fine), mac-n-cheese (loved the sausage), bread “pudding” with vanilla ice cream (somewhat odd crispy texture, but had a nice sour edge) and the beer cheese with homemade crackers (very tasty). Service was a little slow, but very nice (they comp’d us on the sprouts and dessert because of some long waits – very gracious). The beers were fantastic … I love that Stone (like Pizza Port) makes an effort showcase other brewers. Enjoyed the Stone Ruination IPA (triple dry-hopped … superior to the IPA), Old Guardian Barleywine (very nice), Alesmith Wee Heavy (the best scotch ale ever -- brilliant), Pizza Port’s Old Viscosity (wow… what the hell is that? An imperial stout? A double porter? The best beer ever), Avery Collaboration (good), some lambic (extremely sour, but in a good way). There might have even been some more. A truly fantastic beer list (1/4 of the draft were strong beers (8 oz servers)… another 13 were IPAs or similar hop riots).

We wish we could have gone to Alesmith, but we need a reason to come back. San Diego is truly lucky to have such a wonderful craft beer scene.

  1. m
    mudster Apr 2, 2007 01:53 PM

    Wow, thanks for the reports. I'm headed down there in a few weeks, and now I'll be armed with good beer info.

    1. n
      naven Apr 2, 2007 05:42 PM

      awesome little report there. Sounds like fun, but im shocked, No O'briens, No Liars Club? You missed out on some of the best beer places in San Diego. Also, being downtown, you were close to Downtown Johnny Browns. Next time, skip the Local and the Yard house and head to Downtown Johnny Browns.

      I love the Stone World Bistro, but they have to figure out something to move people out quicker. The last two times we have been there (granted they were Sat. night) there has been 2 1/2 HOUR waits. Ridiculous.

      3 Replies
      1. re: naven
        Josh Apr 2, 2007 08:17 PM

        Agreed w/ all of naven's comments. Hamilton's in South Park is another great place for local craft brew.

        1. re: Josh
          j
          JRSD Apr 2, 2007 08:43 PM

          Went to DT Johnny Browns on Sunday and was very happy w/ the beer selections. Had a few Alpine Reds and some great shuffleboard competition. Fries were good, but the rest of the menu seemed a little on the expensive side for bar food unless it was very good quality. Has anyone eaten there? All local pints were $2.75 and they had about 8-10 to choose from.

        2. re: naven
          The Dive Apr 3, 2007 09:13 AM

          Ah, Downtown Johnny Browns was my choice for Friday night, but through some tragic mix-up, we ended up at the Yardhouse. Next time for sure.

        3. Josh Apr 2, 2007 08:16 PM

          Surprised that the Local didn't have more stuff on draft. My last visit there, they had Alpine, AleSmith, Ballast Point, Stone, and Green Flash handles (all San Diego breweries). I wonder if there have been some changes in ownership. If all they had on tap was Sierra Nevada then that's pretty freaking sad.

          7 Replies
          1. re: Josh
            n
            naven Apr 2, 2007 10:17 PM

            Agreed Josh. Last time I was there, the Local was nearly awesome. Im hoping they haven't changed gears.

            Josh, you have heard about Toronado SD, haven't you?

            1. re: naven
              Josh Apr 3, 2007 05:24 AM

              No, but I just read about it on Beer Advocate. Seems almost redundant, but it'll be nice to have yet another option.

              1. re: Josh
                n
                naven Apr 4, 2007 08:24 AM

                Agreed Josh, but I have some familiarity with the people involved in making it happen, and it should be exceptional. Rumor is that they are putting a artisan sausage deli next door, just like the S.F. location.

                1. re: naven
                  Josh Apr 4, 2007 11:10 AM

                  Sounds great. Looking forward to it.

                  1. re: naven
                    e
                    Ewilensky Nov 13, 2007 11:07 AM

                    Where is this going to be? I keep hearing "North Park" but do you have any idea where in North Park? Is this Ian's project? Much appreciated!

                    1. re: Ewilensky
                      e
                      Ewilensky Jan 23, 2008 09:37 AM

                      4026 30th St...

              2. re: Josh
                The Dive Apr 3, 2007 09:15 AM

                Okay, to clarify, the Local had other beers on tap, but no AleSmith or Stone, and no IPA/pale ale other than Sierra Nevada. I was just disappointed.

              3. MVNYC Apr 3, 2007 07:05 AM

                Good tour. Next time Alesmith, O Briens and the Liars club should top your list.

                1. h
                  hammerhead Apr 3, 2007 09:27 AM

                  Nice work, Dive. I haven't been to SD for quite some time, but am familiar with their stellar lineup of brews. Bookmark.

                  1. MVNYC Apr 3, 2007 12:12 PM

                    If i were to rank the SD breweries, here

                    Port Brewing-They make so many styles almost all of which are excellent. Sea Side stout, Hop 15, the Hefe(forget tge name) and the Mo Betta Bretta are some of my favourites.

                    Alesmith-Not everything they do is great but their winners are real winners. Yulesmith and Speedway stout are both in my top 10 beers i have tried.
                    TIE
                    Stone-Great all arou nd brewery for hopheads. Being able to go into any grocery store and pick some up is a good thing. Ruination, Double Bastard, Russian imperial Stout are my top, Their anniversary beers are usually good, especialy the 6/6/6 Vertical Epic. The OldGuardian too. Stone has more beers i love, but i really love those two above.

                    Alpine-Exponential Hoppiness, Pure Hippiness, Captain Stout
                    Ballast Point-Sea Monster Stout, a few others

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