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Monday, July 2, 2012

San Diego 2012 - Part I: Pre-gaming in the City of Brotherly Suds

Every summer, it gets more and more difficult to select a vacation destination, because every time we pick somewhere to visit, we always end up weighing it against San Diego.  Unfortunately for the hundreds of other possible destinations, we always tend to go back to Old Faithful.  If you've read my previous blog about San Diego, then I'm sure by now you already know that I consider the great city my personal "Beer Mecca".  It also helps to have a good friend who resides there, one who is always gracious to put us up for a few nights.  In this case, about eleven nights!  Thanks Dano and Mags!  I had read about numerous new breweries and brewpubs opening since our last visit in late June/early July 2011, so Brewslut and I had a pretty hefty schedule by which to abide.

However, I will preface the actual meat of the trip with a quick prelude about making our travel arrangements for this year's San Diego trek.  Last year on our flight to Seattle, Brewslut and I signed up for a US Air Mastercard, whereby we were promised 30,000 bonus miles to be used for a free flight to anywhere in the 48 continental United States.  Well, unfortunately for us, what ensued was about five hours of hellish conversations with various customer service representatives trying desperately to get our flight booked.  On previous trips, we typically fly out of Harrisburg, which is only about thirty minutes from our house, and a friend or family member would drive us to and from the airport as to avoid costly airport parking fees.  But since we were using "free miles," we were at the mercy of the airline.  We had originally planned to fly out to San Diego on Friday, June 15 and return on Sunday, June 24.  But alas, we could not schedule anything on Friday or Thursday, so we had to leave Wednesday evening out of Philadelphia instead of the preferred Harrisburg.  So although we had some extra driving and parking expenses, we were able to pre-game in the City of Brotherly Suds.

We arrived at Casa de Spade on Tuesday evening, June 12, and got caught up in some conversation, so we didn't make it out that night.  But we did crack open two Left Hand beers I'd brought to share with Matt - Fade to Black and Wake Up Dead - as they are his favorite brewery.  It is also noteworthy that both of these beers are named after great songs by Metallica and Megadeth, respectively.

The next morning, we headed down the street a few blocks to one of our favorite breakfast spots in the city, Cafe Lift, for some coffee and morning grub.  Then it was off to Memphis Taproom, where we opened the place (as usual).  I love Memphis Taproom because they open early and the bartenders are always extremely cool and talkative.  While we were there, I enjoyed a Sierra Nevada Harvest Ale and Victory Braumeister Pils.  As I've said before, Fishtown may very well be our favorite section of the city, not only due to its abundance of fine craft beer establishments, but also for the free parking.  After a double header at Memphis Taproom, we checked out arguably my favorite beer bar in Philly - Kraftwork.  This place not only features one of the coolest themes of any area beer bar (think tools and auto gear), but they also have perhaps the most comfortable bar at which I've had the pleasure to sit.  The staff is always super friendly, and the food is fantastic.  This time, we split a Mediterranean platter, complete with veggies, hummus and baba ganoush.  Delicious!

We had time to hit one more spot before we needed to get to the airport, so we decided on Hawthorne's, where I enjoyed Coronado's Blue Bridge Coffee Stout.  We hadn't been there since Philly Beer Week 2011 for the Hill Farmstead event.  If you haven't been there, they boast a large, varied bottle selection that is meticulously arranged for easy perusal.  We also ended up having a nice conversation with one of the young beer managers on duty this particular day.

However, our imbibing for the day had come to an end, as we had to get to the airport for our flight.  All in all, it was a very pleasant flight - it was only about 40% booked, so there was plenty of room to stretch out, and it was a direct flight, which meant no timely layovers in another city.  We landed in San Diego at approximately 11:10pm, picked up our rental car and headed to Dano's new place, which is only half a block from the beach in Ocean Beach.  This would be our home for the next eleven days.

Stay tuned for Part II, coming soon!

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