Brewery Tours for Father's Day
So, for Father's Day this year, I've decided to take my Dad on a tour of breweries in San Diego. I think this is a great idea because 1) Its beer; 2) Dad has almost no knowledge of the local beer scene; and 3) He lives within five miles of Ballast Point, Lightning Brewery and Alesmith. Okay, Alesmith is more like seven miles away, but you get the idea.
Looking at the websites, it appears that only Ballast Point is open on Sundays - so here's my question: Aside from Ballast Point, are there any other breweries open on Sunday? Please don't say Stone, because as much as I love their beer, I'm not driving up to Escondido. Besides, Dad finds their beer too hoppy.
So, instead of going on Sunday, we headed out on Saturday. The one thing about brewery tours is that there is a lot of beer involved, particularly for my Dad. So, here was our agenda, along with tasting notes:
Lightning Brewery - We noted that this brewery was located in the next building over from one of my Dad's old jobs. Anyway, we both tasted the Elemental Pilsner, then Dad had the Porter and the Amber Ale, I tried the Fulminator Lager. Overall, the beers of Lightning tend to be less balanced than the others we tried - my Dad reported that his beers were "harsh." Still, I'll chalk that up to the difficulty in making lagers, and they were still very good.
Ballast Point - A much different animal than Lightning. Even though they both are located in industrial parks, Ballast Point is a much larger brewery, and obviously is at a different stage of development. Unlike Lightning, Ballast Point charges for its tastings - about $1.25 per beer. We started with the Yellowtail, then Dad tried the Calico Amber, and finally the Piper Down. I tried the Fathom IPL and the Sour Wench. Overall, all of the beers were excellent, with a remarkably dry finish. Dad's favorite was the Piper Down, whereas I enjoyed the Fathom IPL - a beer that smells like an IPA, but finishes like a lager. The Sour Wench, however, was not so good. The aroma was off-putting (slightly like BO), and there wasn't enough complexity to the beer. Still, I'd rate Sour Wench as a noble failure rather than simply a bad beer.
Alesmith - Slightly smaller than Ballast Point, and larger than Lightning, Alesmith lived up to its reputation. At this point, Dad was feeling the beer, and topped it off with the Speedway Stout, a beer with 12% alcohol by volume. I had the Lil' Devil and the Decadence. Given that Dad's tastebuds were a bit compromised, I'll skip his review, though from the sip I had of his beer, the coffee notes of the stout were pronounced and refreshing. The Decadence was sweet but balanced - I probably wouldn't drink the beer every day, or have more than a snifter of it at a time. The Lil' Devil was exactly as it should be - a pale ale spiced with coriander and orange peel.
At that point, a trip to Escondido for Stone or the Lost Abbey would have been problematic, and so we decided to call it a day.
Ballast Point -
Ballast Point Brewing Co
10051 Old Grove Rd Ste B, San Diego, CA 92131
I actually would vote Stone, even though you specifically said you didn't want to go there.
1) Their brewery is by far the most impressive in town, and the tour they give is actually quite entertaining.
2) After the tour, you can go to the bistro and drink any number of awesome non-hoppy beers made by other breweries.
Well, I decided to move up the brewery tour to Saturday instead. Let me be clear - I love Stone Brewery, and the IPA is in the rotation of beers I always have in my fridge - Stone IPA, Pacifico, and Ballast Point Yellowtail - but this is not for me, its for Dad. He's tried Stone beers on numerous occasions, and does not like them.
So, my plan is Alesmith, then Ballast Point, then Lightning. Maybe, just maybe, we'll head up to Stone.
The Brewery Tours are good people.
Anyway, even if the "tour" is moved up to Saturday, it is still the same 3 breweries open on Saturday if the OP isn't willing to drive up north. Thankfully Green Flash is moving down near Scripps Ranch later this year.
Also, Alesmith isn't doing tours this Saturday. They only do them on the last Saturday of the month. You can still go to the tasting room though.
You are really selling your Dad short by skipping Stone (IMO) and they have plenty of other beers to try (the Levitation is a great choice for people afraid of hops). You can then hop on the 78 and go over to Lost Abbey/Port brewing. They have a cool tasting room/bar. Escondido isn't that far if you are already up by Ballast Point.
701 Thomas Ave, San Diego, CA 92109