In the middle of a cold, Mid-Atlantic winter, I was lucky enough to have a quick visit to balmy San Diego. Over the years, I have read and heard stories from craft brew fans testifying to the fact that San Diego is the “craft beer mecca” of the West Coast, so I was curious to see how a 48 hour trip with limited time for beer tourism would turn out. I was not disappointed.
I started my visit with a late lunch at The Knotty Barrel. The comfortable craft brew bar had over 22 taps and 18 bottled beers, with the majority from the Bear State. I made sure that my first taste of San Diego was a flight of California’s finest – Three Weavers ESB; Sierra Nevada Kellerweiss, Ballast Point Fathom IPA, IronFire 51/50 IPA, and BNS Brewing Ma Deuce DIPA. The flight did not disappoint – especially when paired with Knotty Barrel’s Potato Chip Nachos and Knotty Wings.
After The Knotty Barrel, I headed to Mission Brewing who, by chance, was releasing their “Don’t Act Like You’re Not Impressed” IPA, that day. The brew was made in collaboration with Alpine Brewing Company and embraced the San Diego-based film “Anchorman.” The “Don’t Act Like You’re Not Impressed” IPA was brewed in two varieties – one with Mosaic and another version with Simcoe. Both were perfect examples of a West Coast IPA for an East Coast visitor! After sampling a few other Mission creations, I took bottles of Mission’s “Carrack” Red Ale and “Dark Seas” Russian Imperial Stout for the road and went on to explore more of San Diego, which included the grand opening of Half Door Brewing Company.
The following day I took the ferry to Coronado Island, home of Coronado Brewing Company. There was large crowd at the bar, but it was a friendly, comfortable group enjoying a warm Saturday afternoon. Between my flight and my companion’s flights, I was able to sample every one of the beers available that day. Although I hate to make lists or rank beers in any way (to each their own!), Coronado’s Algerythm was the perfect pairing with the weather and the fun people I was with at the time. A highly aromatic India Pale Lager, the grapefruit and citrus flavors were contrasted nicely by the crisp lager beer.
As I departed Coronado Brewing, I was treated with a stunning visual nightcap to a fantastic day – the San Diego skyline was bathed in gold from the setting sun. Between this sunset and the many outstanding local brews I had encountered in less than 48 hours, I am convinced that what you read is true – San Diego is truly a treasure and should be considered a “mecca” of the American craft brew movement.
Copyright 2015 – all rights reserved