For our final day, it was only fitting that we revisit our favorite place in San Diego: Ocean Beach. So, it was one last hurrah at OB for the Pour Travelers until next time. First on the list? Pizza Port OB, of course! We decided to start our day off with one of PP's famous lunch special deals: a pint of house beer, generous tossed salad, and slice of cheese pizza for $7.00. Or if you aren't too keen on "food's food," you can substitute another slice of pizza for the salad.
|Last visit to Pizza Port OB.|
Following the IPA, Brewslut and I shared a pint of Gimme Samoa, a delicious coconut porter. The toasted coconut really shined through in this beer, but it also boasted a nice, full chocolate character, which complemented the coconut flavor nicely. Samoas, of course, are classic Girl Scout cookies made with chocolate, caramel and, obviously, coconut. According to my trusty friend, Wiki, Samoa cookies account for 19% of annual Girl Scout cookie sales, making it the second best seller behind only - you guessed it - Thin Mints. And rightly so. Still, this beer was fantastic and served as a sweet little dessert after our lunch specials.
|Pleeps says, "Gimme some more of Gimme Samoa!"|
We decided to swing by Kilowatt again (our third visit this trip) to see Luke, who was working an afternoon shift that day. One could easily visit Kilowatt a few times over the course of a week and still not sample everything on tap. The tap selection was about 24 deep, which is quite ambitious (and thus impressive) for a newer brewery. We decided to conduct more sampling of a variety of beers. Here's the run-down of what we tried this time:
- S3 Green Apple - sour apple Berliner Weisse variation of S3 (Super Sour Series).
- Coconut Chai - coconut porter with chai tea. Kilowatt seems to dig chai tea.
- Snappy Cat - citrusy American-style pale ale.
- S3 Pomegranate Sour - pomegranate Berliner Weisse variation of S3.
|Tap handles at Kilowatt spell out Ocean Beach California.|
|Take advantage of the 3-D glasses when you visit the bathroom... trust me!|
After saying goodbye to Luke, it was off to Council. This was another place I'd forgotten about... until we got there. I remembered the name, but as soon as we arrived, I was teleported back two years to our last trip. I had one of those "oh yeah!" moments. Since we didn't remember much about Council (except for the place itself once we got there), we figured we might as well get a few sample flights. Here's the run-down:
- Hazeas Corpus - New England-style IPA with Mosaic, Citra and Amarillo hops.
- Questionable Advice - Another hazy NE-style IPA with Citra and Nelson hops.
- Beatitude Pineapple Tart Saison - "mixed fermentation" tart saison with pineapple.
- Royal Blood - Imperial red ale hopped with Centennial, Zythos and Columbus.
- Bully Drop - Triple IPA hopped with Mosaic, Simcoe and Nelson
- Pirate's Breakfast - Imperial oatmeal stout with coffee and chocolate notes.
- Woofle Dust - American golden sour ale aged in foeders with apricots. Love the name!
Although Council has been brewing a wide variety of beer styles since first opening in 2014, it recently launched a new label called "The Magic Factory," which focuses on wood-aged beers. The Woofle Dust, for example, is a Magic Factory beer. I definitely dig the name, and this beer was easily one of the best of the lot.
Overall, the beers here were solid, although nothing was in the running for a "best of the trip" award. Still, it was great to revisit this place seeing as it kind of got lost in the shuffle last time. I look forward to seeing first-hand how the Magic Factory program will have evolved by the time we visit again.
|Fun with blocks at Countil. Possible name for a bacon sour?|
Societe, on the other hand, is one of our favorite places of recent visits. There's nothing forgettable about this place. I love how they've created this faux old-time European town filled with unique personalities, which are portrayed by their many disparate beers. Societe's "town" is filled with such characters as The Butcher, The Widow, The Pugilist, and (my favorite) The Harlot, among dozens of others. Love it!
|Outside the "town" of Societe.|
For our third visit to Societe, we arrived to a warm, friendly greeting from one of the bartenders and a regular customer upon setting foot inside the tasting room. I decided to capture the moment with a selfie. It even made my Instagram feed. Here's the shot.
|Greeted like a regular customer at Societe!|
It's a pleasure to see how Societe has grown since we first visited shortly after they opened for business in 2012. I recall commenting on how large the space was compared to other start-up breweries. Upon looking through a window into the production area, I said, "Wow. they definitely have room to grow." Fast-forward five years, and Societe's growth is evident by the number of fermentation tanks that now occupy that once-empty cellar. I've also noticed their beer on tap at quite a number of beer bars as well as guest taps at other small breweries.
I started off with a short pour of The Bachelor with Tahoma. The Bachelor is Societe's single-hopped IPA, and there are many variations. This particular iteration featured Tahoma hops, a variety with which I was unfamiliar. The profile for this American hop variety boasts notes of lemon, grapefruit, cedar, pine, spice and pepper. After a few sips of this IPA, the dryness and spice of the cedar definitely nudged its way through the citrus and pine notes prevalent in the initial flavor.
|Meet Societe's cast of characters.|
We also sampled The Coachman, session IPA or as Societe calls it, "a really small IPA." The bartender also hooked us up with some of The Heiress, a solid Czech-style pilsner that was mighty tasty. Many breweries opt not to brew a pilsner, mainly because they are so difficult to brew successfully. I'm a sucker for a good pilsner, so I applaud any brewery who can produce a great one. Societe definitely has its shit together, and we've enjoyed everything about this place since first setting foot inside five years ago.
|Inside Societe's tasting room.|
Our next two destinations were situated in the dreaded downtown area, not far from the baseball stadium. At first, I was hesitant about visiting this area during the day, but ultimately decided that we'd give it a shot, largely because there was no game on this particular day.
First on the agenda was Half Door, one of two new breweries that had opened since our last visit. Inside, Half Door feels like a traditional European pub from simpler times when neighbors gathered at their local watering hole to discuss their daily lives over a pint. The decor echoed these simpler times, and I felt I'd been transported back to England or Ireland at the turn of the century (not this past one, the other one). The tap handles fit the vibe nicely, as all were antiquated doorknobs opened with skeleton keys like you used to see in your grandparents' house when you were a kid.
|Full pints at Half Door.|
I kicked things off with a half pour of Hoban House, a 6.5% NE-style IPA with hints of pineapple, peach and tropical fruit. This was a winner in my book. It was soft, velvety, flavorful and aromatic without being overly bitter. Equally impressive was the Bean Bar Mocha, a nitro golden ale with chocolate and coffee added for a creamy, roasty flavor brewed in collaboration with the local Bean Bar coffee roasters. I really want to see the "golden coffee ale" trend pick up some steam on the east coast, as it seems fairly prevalent out west. We'd first encountered several similar beers during our venture to Portland last summer. I'm definitely on-board with more of these kinds of beers!
|Pleeps gets his IPA on at Half Door.|
On the other end of the spectrum, Necessary Evil was a tasty sour wheat ale with raspberry and passion fruit. I'm always down for a low ABV sour beer with fruit, and this one didn't disappoint. Bearleener, another light sour, was a straight-up tart, refreshing Berliner Weisse with plenty of lemon acidity. This was an exemplary interpretation of the style, which is one of Brewslut's very favorites. After sampling these four fine selections, it seems like Half Door has both hoppy beers and tart beers dialed in. The hoppy beers were more up my alley, but I recall leaving Half Door adequately impressed and in a happy state of mind.
Just around the corner from Half Door was our last brewery of the day, Resident. I always feel a bit melancholy when I know we're at the last brewery of the trip, but this time I just felt a wave of calmness envelope me. I was loud and busy (after all, it was Happy Hour when we arrived) but I kept things laid back during this final stop. Perhaps all of the beer had slowed me down and bit and gave me an opportunity to reflect on the past few days. Speaking of reflecting, this photo captures the sun shining through an adjacent window and splashing across the beer chalkboard directly onto the bartenders head. I just like the way it looks.
|Light streams down in bright, unbroken beams...|
With that said, I must admit that I didn't have very high expectations about Resident. The place was loud; not only did the sound of booming patrons' voices fill the room (again... Happy Hour), various TVs blared a variety of sports competitions. They also featured quite a bit of guest taps. Not always a bad thing, but in our travels I've found that sometimes this can be a tell-tale sign that the house beer, well, isn't very good. Still, it was our last brewery of the trip and I was going to stay positive. "Staying positive" is a trait I'm working to perfect in my advanced years... without much success, of course.
But enough of my yakin'! Let's talk beer.
First up was Die Gose, a straight-up sour German wheat beer with a citrusy tang. Everybody makes a gose these days, just like every brewery now has a NE-style hazy IPA. While I like both styles, I'd love to see more gin barrel-aged beers and blonde coffee ales, personally. I guess it's good to stay ahead of the trends as well as follow them, as there are certainly more than one type of consumer out there. Next was the excellent Vacation Coconut IPA, featuring tons of coconut and pineapple notes courtesy of real toasted coconut as well as Citra and Amarillo hops. This beer just hit the spot at that precise moment in time, and it turned out to be one of the most memorable beers of the trip. This beer was a slam dunk! And I'm not talking about a dunk from the tall white kid in high school who just barely can touch the rim. I'm talking about the backboard glass-shattering dunk you see in Game 7 of the NBA championships by Shaq.
Our final beer was Walk of Shame, kind of an ironic beer with which to end such a great trip. Well, not the beer itself, just the name. Speaking of blonde coffee beers, this one is a version of Resident's Perky Blonde Ale with coffee and cacao nibs added. To refrain on the type of extensive verbosities (is that a word?!) used to describe the last beer... I freakin' loved it! Sorry. Sometimes I just need to embrace my Polonius-like nature. Brevity ain't the soul of wit... otherwise, why are Bill's plays so damn long?! To put things into better perspective, Yngwie J. Malmsteen once uttered these wise words: "How can less be more? That's impossible. MORE is more."
|Pleeps looks like he's ready for the Walk of Shame.|
And with that said...
Stick a fork in me, San Diego. It's been real.
One of the nasty side effects of traveling to San Diego is having to fly to get there. I have a love/hate relationship with airplanes, airlines and airports. On one hand, I love the convenience of flying. On the other hand, I hate the inconvenience of flying. But if you want to get anywhere in this world (i.e. travel), then you best just shut up and deal with it. Otherwise, you ain't goin' nowhere.
I was glad to see the Stone tap room so close to our gate at the airport. This made me immediately thirsty, so we took the bait and entered. They only had a handful of beers on tap, as this was one of the smaller Stone taprooms at the airport. When we landed in San Diego this time, we just missed grabbing a beer at the much larger Stone site at the airport. There must have been twenty taps, but alas they had just closed.
I found it fitting to start my morning (it was around 9:30 a.m.) with a beer called Who You Callin' Wussie. This beer turned out to be a solid, crushable German-style pilsner with a crisp, hoppy flavor profile... just the way I like 'em! I know in the past Stone has criticized other breweries for making "fizzy yellow beers" and calling them out as "wussies," so I thought this was a funny name for its own "fizzy yellow beer." I've kind of been on the Stone hate train as of late, but I couldn't resist an airport beer. Plus we completely skipped over Stone this time around, opting for newer, smaller breweries that had opened in the last two years since our previous visit. With that said, this beer (a 20-ounce, no less) delivered and provided just enough of a depressant to allow for a nap on the plane.
|Astronaut or suffocation? You decide.|
Believe it or not, I actually was able to catch some zzz's on the flight to Charlotte, NC (half an hour tops, which is good for me). However, the majority of our time was spent chatting with the guy sitting next to us in the aisle seat. This made time on the plane fly by (no pun intended). After we landed, we had just enough of a layover to seek out a beer at the airport. Enter local brewery Sugar Creek. Our new friend also had some free time before his flight, so he was nice enough to offer to buy us each a pint. Can't turn down free beer! Sugar Creek Pale Ale was a pleasant, straight-up citrusy American pale ale that went down with ease. It was nice to have a taste of the Carolinas, even if we were just swinging by momentarily.
|Is the glass half empty or half full?|
And with that, folks, ends another chapter in the Pour Travelers' San Diego adventures. You know we'll be back in two or three years because we can't seem to stay away from this amazing place. Until next time...