Documenting beer travels in one of the craft beer meccas of both America and the world ...
My first stop was at a place called O'Brien's Pub. Its a bit of a dive, but they absolutely know and embrace their beer here, particularly hoppy beers. I've been here on occasion when they're carrying an "O'Brien's IPA", made by Alpine Brewing, also in San Diego. Its very refreshing and although hoppy, not so intense or off-putting as some of the usual west coast IPA's.
Anyway, aside from their great fish tacos, I went with an Alpine Pure Hoppiness IPA, an AleSmith Yulesmith and a Russian River Blind Pig IPA. The Alpine was fantastic, much in line with the O'Brien's IPA.
The Yulesmith is a seasonal cult favorite made twice a year by San Diego's AleSmith. In the winter its an imperial/double red. It was much more malty and complex than the others, obviously, a bit more hearty of a beer.
And then there's Blind Pig, one of the great American IPA's made by Russian River Brewing in Santa Rosa, California. Russian River recently became available in Philadelphia and parts of Pennsylvania and is incredibly popular and in demand outside of California. I know plenty of folks in the Baltimore/D.C./NoVa corridor hoping and praying for its arrival in their neck of the woods, but it could be a while if ever since in interviews the owner/brewer is content to brew enough to keep his brewpub in business and distribute where and when he can elsewhere, mostly in the state of California.
Overall O'Brien's has about 20 taps and two beer engines for cask beers which they pour on certain nights. They hold various beer events, regulars have their own mugs, their available beers posted on the website, I saw on the walls posters for a Belgian beer trip they're organizing. Just a lot going on, a strong devotion to beers. Their bottle list is also strong and as I was chilling at the bar I saw several gentlemen splitting a couple bottles of something by Cantillon, a fantastic Belgian brewery.
After O'Brien's, I went to the Ballast Point Brewing Company tasting room. Ballast Point is on a bit of a roll lately as an award-winner at several major beer festivals. They have a nautical/fish theme going (Black Marlin Porter, Big Eye IPA) and enjoy wide distribution in the San Diego area. Their tasting room was nice because unlike most of the really good breweries, it is open most days and I was able to sneak in on a day other than Friday/Saturday.
They had about five standby beers available for a tasting flight, as well as growlers and pints of those plus another four or five special and rotating seasonals, most of which were too heavy for my tastes and stamina after O'Brien's. So I went with a taster flight of the the standards:
1)Yellowtail Pale Ale
2)Calico Amber Ale
3)Big Eye IPA
4)Black Marlin Porter
They were universally delicious, and although not into porters lately the Black Marlin was lightly smoky and delicious. I've had the wheat before, at a Dave and Buster's of all places. The pale is a Kolsch-style, so a bit more unique of a pale ale. For good measure I socialized with the good hosts a bit longer and ordered up an extra pint of the Big Eye IPA.
Other than that, there's not much else beer-related to report from Day I other than the Claim Jumper where we had dinner had several in-house beers of which I enjoyed a Hef with my meal.
Update: I've created a Google Map that should give an idea of the locations of the various beer stops made on this trip. I'll update it the further I get along in the trip.