We were in town for the weekend and did our best to, well, drink a lot of beer. Here's a report:
Yardhouse (Friday night)
Okay, it's a chain, but we got in late on Friday night and we needed some place to eat in the Gaslamp. Good selection of beers, although I felt the list could have reflected the local stars a bit more (and not, say, Humboldt County…I’m just not that big of a fan of Lost Coast). Started with a Stone Smoked Porter and ahi poke tower – not an ideal pairing, but both good on their own. My entrée was the lobster garlic noodles – completely and unnecessarily over-the-top. Just too much butter, although my Racer 5 did an admirable job of cutting through the richness. The rest of the group had the ahi sandwich (good, with decent fries), the scallops orzo (good, but not great), and the steak/shrimp combo (fine). None of the dishes really seemed right for beer, but did the trick.
Pizza Port - Solano Beach (Saturday afternoon)
A revelation. The Hop 15 might be the best ever for this hop fiend (some day I’ll have to do a side-by-side with Pliny the Elder and Stone’s 10th anniversary IPA). Also had the Sharkbite Red – fantastic. And the pizza isn’t half bad either (the garlic vegetable was excellent). I love the small size and huge selection – they rightly deserve all the awards they receive. Very crowded for the middle of a sunny day, but fantastic fun. I would live at Pizza Port.
The Local (Saturday night)
Was told this was a good bar in the Gaslamp for beer and basketball. No and yes. Lots of tvs (and well-regulated crowd control), but the beer selection was a little sad (granted I was coming off of the Pizza Port high). I was just expecting more than sierra on tap. Had a bottle of Stone IPA, which did the trick.
Stone Brewery (Sunday afternoon).
Beautiful facility. Was told it would be a 35-minute wait for an outdoor table at 2 p.m., so we did the tour. Interesting and fun (loved seeing the bottling machine from Strange Brew), plus it ended with a generous free tasting. Enjoyed large pours of Stone’s Pale Ale (just not that interesting), IPA (always good), Smoked Porter (really one of the most well-balanced of the smoked beers), Arrogant Bastard (always fantastic) and the Double Bastard (rich and strong – almost bourbon-like….fabulous). We then enjoyed a late lunch/early dinner outside of garlic brussel sprouts (fine), mac-n-cheese (loved the sausage), bread “pudding” with vanilla ice cream (somewhat odd crispy texture, but had a nice sour edge) and the beer cheese with homemade crackers (very tasty). Service was a little slow, but very nice (they comp’d us on the sprouts and dessert because of some long waits – very gracious). The beers were fantastic … I love that Stone (like Pizza Port) makes an effort showcase other brewers. Enjoyed the Stone Ruination IPA (triple dry-hopped … superior to the IPA), Old Guardian Barleywine (very nice), Alesmith Wee Heavy (the best scotch ale ever -- brilliant), Pizza Port’s Old Viscosity (wow… what the hell is that? An imperial stout? A double porter? The best beer ever), Avery Collaboration (good), some lambic (extremely sour, but in a good way). There might have even been some more. A truly fantastic beer list (1/4 of the draft were strong beers (8 oz servers)… another 13 were IPAs or similar hop riots).
We wish we could have gone to Alesmith, but we need a reason to come back. San Diego is truly lucky to have such a wonderful craft beer scene.