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San Diego Craft Beer Week 2011

By November 14, 2011Events
SDBW at Ballast Point Home Brew Shop
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SDBW at Ballast Point Home Brew Shop

SDBW at Ballast Point Home Brew Shop

Last week we arrived 4 days into the San Diego Craft beer week, which ran from November 4th—November 13th. There were literally hundreds of events, from local brew pint specials to food pairing events, limited edition releases and total tap takeovers. Most people in SD didn’t really blink at all the events commenting that every week is craft beer week for them, but for out-of-towners the long list of events proved to be daunting. So we did what we would do when we arrive in any city, start with the closest local brewery. In our case, that meant we found the Ballast Point Home Brew location. Come to find out, this is the original location opened in 1992 by Jack White, not from White Stripes. Four years later, in 1996, they opened Ballast Point brewery in the back of the homebrew store. Now, they have a second location in Old Grove. The tasting room at the Home Brew store will only pour one sample of each beer, each sampler cost $1. Brian and I tried about 12 different beers, including their Calico Amber (Maria’s favorite) and Sculpin IPA (Brian’s fav). We took home a six-pack of their award winning Calico Amber and two bottles of their Bloody Mary Mix, also made with their Amber beer.

Hess Brewery

Hess Brewery

Hess Brewing - San Diego Craft Beer Week 2011

R.I.P. glass

The second night we decided to head north to Hess Brewing Co. and AleSmith Brewing. The two locations are within blocks of each other, which meant we could park at one, walk to the other, and take advantage of street parking there for the night. Both breweries are located in an industrial, business park area. Hess had a nice special, tasters of all 8 of their beers + a souvenir SDBW glass we could take home, for $10. Most people love collecting pint glasses, and maybe if we weren’t living in a mobile home with limited space we would too, but as it turns out, glass in an RV is not convenient and if we collected glasses from everywhere that wants to give them away to us, we wouldn’t have any space for food! We had planned on giving it away to one of our fans, but we forgot to put it away before we drove off and… it shattered. ha! Whoops!

AleSmith Taproom Beer List

AleSmith Taproom Beer List - we sampled them all!

Next, we headed into AleSmith, about 20 minutes before they closed, which gave us just enough time to split tasters of all of the beers they were pouring and give us the opportunity and the pleasure of meeting Abby Heibron, who runs the taproom, and her husband Scott. Turns out Abby was at the same Pink Boots Society meeting I attended while in Denver for GABF and she recognized me as The Roaming Pint! 🙂 That was a first for us. Abby has been working with AleSmith for a long time and knows a lot about the brewery, beers and their history. She gave us a quick tour to look around and let us know we really shouldn’t miss their favorite SDBW event on Saturday, A Million Zillion Different Speedways, featuring their barrel-aged Speedway Stout, 13 different ways. I had read about the event earlier in the week and figured, if she was recommending it, we shouldn’t miss it! We had fun getting to know them and definitely look forward to sharing more beers in the future.

AleSmith with Abby and Scott

At AleSmith with Abby and Scott

BLAH

Blind Lady Ale House, more commonly referred to as BLAH

Friday night we headed to Blind Lady Ale House as one of the most recommended taprooms in SD from other locals we talked to. They serve up delicious pizza pies and some of the best craft beer in the country. I was excited to see the night we were there they were pouring up a flight of some specialty seasonals from The Bruery, which was the first time I had sampled any of their beers. Some were pretty interesting too, like the Birra Basta Biere de Garde made with roasted zucchini, lemon beel and fennel and the Burly Gourd, Milk Stout with Pumpkin, seasonal spices and aged on cedar wood chips.

Green Flash 9th Anniversary Party

Green Flash 9th Anniversary Party

 
Saturday we attended Green Flash Brewery’s 9th Anniversary party at their new Mira Mesa location. They poured 10 different beers at three different tents, including the Hoppy Tent featuring the 9th Anniversary IPA, the Belgium Tent and a rare beer tent with Silva Stout, easily the most saught out beer of the day, and the Barleywine. A few locals I talked to came just for the Silva Stout, named after Green Flash brewmaster Chuck Silva, and it was GOOD. Brian was able to grab a taster before the crowd caught on, the line was pretty long for the rest of the day when it was pouring. From there, we took Abby’s advice and head towards O’Brien’s for the Million Zillion Speedway event.

Brian's mustache, meet Brian's mustache

Brian's mustache, meet Brian's mustache

We heard rumors while at Green Flash of the epic nature of the MZS. People told us that the line went out the door and wrapped around the building last year, so I was relieved to find there was no line when we arrived about 1.5 hours early. O’Briens is a pretty small Irish Style pub located on the corner of a strip mall. The place was packed and about 20 minutes after we got there the line started to form, despite the fact that it was pouring rain and they weren’t tapping the Speedways for another hour. Luckily, Brian already had a nice buzz going from all the beers sampled at Green Flash, so he happily waited in line with our friends from TheFullPint.com, Co-founder, Danny Fullpint and Events Contributor Pat Callard, while the other co-founder Jonny Fullpint and I held down the table inside. About an hour later the madness begun.

At O'Briens with Pat Callard and Danny Fullpint from TheFullPint.com

At O'Briens with Pat Callard and Danny Fullpint from TheFullPint.com

AleSmith Million Zillion Different Speedways event

AleSmith Million Zillion Different Speedways, this was a serious event!

You could definitely feel the excitement as 5:00 drew near. People prepping their tables with tape, numbering out 1-13 very carefully tracking what beer would be placed where. One kid we met came sporting his own muffin tin, with taped labels for each beer. Here we were, never having tried Speedway before Thursday night, having the honor of sampling it 13 different ways, among AleSmiths biggest fans that undoubtedly look forward to this event all year long. This beer is no joke at 12% they were only pouring 3 oz pours, but it definitely still had it’s effect on us, along with all the other rare bottles that were being passed around and shared. It seemed as if the overall consensus had 3-4 top favorites including the Vietnamese Coffee Stout, toasted coconut and vanilla bean and the Orange/Rum Speedway and the Madagascar Cocoa nibs and vanilla bean.

AleSmith Speedway Stout - 13 different ways

AleSmith Speedway Stout - 13 different ways

It was such a fun night, we’ve been meeting the nicest people here in SoCal and feel honored that we can witness the beer-geekedry that commenced over the past few days. We are definitely looking forward to meeting up with everyone we hung out with over the weekend in the near future and keep on tasting and learning more about the great beer the Golden State has waiting for us.

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