Thursday, February 7, 2013

Beercation Three: California's Final Ride

Best Friends
The Bruery reserve society is beginning to feel a bit like the hotel California, "You can checkout any time you like, but you can never leave". At least for now I am making my third trip to California in three years to pick up beer. This will be my last vacation to this location to pick up beer. They're going to begin shipping within California and it's my hope eventually they'll ship nationally. So goodbye Southern California, it's a lovely place.

(Please read more about my trip after the break.)

The Last First Day:
The first day is always the most hopeful day. You have your whole vacation ahead of you. No disappointments yet. We landed at LAX at 9:30 with some time to kill before Kyle arrived. We hit up a Bevmo to find some beers that aren't shipped nationally and buy our shipping cartons. 48 beers are all we can bring home with 39 slots already allocated to the Bruery. We didn't find much at the Bevmo by LAX but at Total Wine we found Barrel Aged Big Foot Barley Wine and Anchorage White Out Wit. Score.

Then we picked up Kyle who took a later flight in and proceeded to the only place I'd ever eat if I lived in LA. In-n-Out Burger where we ordered three Double Doubles Animal Style, Three Animal Fries, and Three Drinks. Quite a lunch.

We then proceeded to the Getty Villa to see ancient Herculaneum  It was quite impressive. It was a collection of art shared with the public by J Paul Getty's Foundation. Thankfully the art is in a private collection to preserve it and protect the collection from being split up.

After the Getty we checked out Beachwood BBQ and Brewery. A nice location with cold beer and smoked meat. I ordered a Stone Ruination Double Dry Hopped with Chinook and Liberty. It was a great beer. Their BBQ was North Carolina Style... I found their sauce mediocre. Their beers were better though, we got a sampler flight and I found everything on the flight to be reasonable. Nothing bad; nothing world altering. They had a selection of locals that was notable and I enjoyed them.

The Bruery
Then we went to the show: The Bruery. We picked up our beer while we sampled the on tap selection. I will never be disappointed by their creativity. They're on the leading edge of the awesome curve. This set the bar high for Sunday. We ordered three flights and had everything on tap. As well as a glass of pineapple faro on cask. My highlights were the Rueuze, Berazzled, and Otiose. Berazzled is something that I hope they bottle in the future. Picking up our reserve society beers was painless. It was a good stop.

The Calm Before The Storm and an Epic Tour:
Superbowl Sunday this year was also Stone's Winter Storm. This was an event to be sure. We got tickets to the gourmet breakfast starting at 8:30. The breakfast was delicious. We hung out there drinking delicious stone brews for a few hours. More on that later.

The next stage was the brewery blitz through the San Diego beer scene: Lost Abbey, Iron Fist, Ballast Point, and Alpine. We went to Lost Abbey two years ago but I wanted to go back because it is 10 minutes from stone. This time around I sampled their Framboise de Ambrosia. This beer was appropriately sour but was still packed with raspberry flavor. Tomme did a great job on this one. Their non soured beers were less of my thing. I am learning that I don't enjoy every Belgian beer, that the high finishing gravity and extremely sweet finishes leave me desiring a nice dry beer.

From there we headed to Iron Fist Brewing for samples. Their beers were solid and I enjoyed their IPA. The food truck they had outside was wonderful and it was nice that they allowed dogs.

Ballast Point
Then Kyle drove us to Ballast Point for some Sculpin on tap. I wanted to see if the hype was true; we'd had bottles before but you never know, especially with hoppy beers, how true of a sampling that is. The Sculpin on tap was wonderful. I'd love buy something similar in a closer location. The Mango Sculpin was a delight. The highlight for me was Peppermint Victory at Sea. This had a nice but not overpowering mint flavor and maintained the character of the original beer.

To end the day we headed to Alpine Brewery for what was suppose to be the Exponential Hoppiness release, Oh well. We watched the super bowl from Alpine brewing. Their BBQ food was good; it was a smokey Kansas City styling. The Pure Hopiness on tap was wonderful it had great flavor and a full aroma. It would be in the top five of my everyone after heady topper.

Sunsets on the West.
So it's a 4 day trip and we're leaving on day 4; so this was the last full day. We didn't have much of a plan, well I did but that's secondary. We hit some of the other locations around town that highlighted the San Diego Beer Culture. We started off seeing the U.S.S. Midway before stopping by Coronado Brewing. The calzones were electric. I liked their beers the XPA was their stand out. The finishing gravity of their IPAs were a bit high, they came off as sweet instead of dry. The biggest letdown of my flight was Hibiscus IPA; The flavor of tart hibiscus just doesn't mesh well with the bitterness of the hops.

It was a good day, and a good trip; I have no complaints. Drinking beer, eating food, celebrating America, and good friends.

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