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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Great Taste Caper: Day Two

Wednesday, August 8 was to be our only full day in Grand Rapids, so we were about to make good use of the day!  Following a tip from Kelly, we headed downtown for breakfast at an awesome breakfast nook called Wolfgang’s.  I enjoyed a huge breakfast burrito, while Brewslut noshed on two eggs and turkey sausage.  The coffee tasted especially good after such a long trip in the car the previous day.  After breakfast, it was time to get busy.  And as one of my favorite movie characters, Andy Dufresne once said, “Get busy drinking, or get busy dying.”  Or something like that.  

Pleeps' first visit to Founders!
Our first stop?  Founders, of course!  We love Founders so much that we had wanted to get back there immediately after our first visit (again, this was our first time since the aforementioned Michigan trip).  We pretty much opened the place, which was fine with us.  Our first-ever visit occurred on an extremely busy night, and it was elbow to asshole throughout the entire brewpub, making it very difficult to even procure a seat or wait staff, much less enjoy ourselves.  (We ended up going the following morning, and enjoyed our visit immensely!)  At any rate, here we were bright and early (at least by beer drinkers’ standards) at one of our favorite brewpubs on the planet.  I started with a twelve-ounce pour of the brewpub-only Brewer’s Guild IPA, an 8% Cascade-fueled hoppy ale.  Brewslut started with the same size of a beer called Spite, a Pale Ale brewed with an assortment of spicy peppers including Anaheim, habanero, and Serrano.  Translation?  Hotter than a ten-peckered Billy goat!  After a few sips of this face-melting concoction, Brewslut exclaimed, “My burp is gonna be like a flamethrower!”

Smell them hops!
After our initial beers, we decided to have a few samples, as there were numerous interesting-sounding beers on the menu.  We sampled four offerings: Porter, Oatmeal Stout, Berry Cherry Thrilla and Founders Fest Wheat.  While the former two are standard offerings, the latter two beers were brewpub-only releases.  Berry Cherry Thrilla was a sweet and mildly tart blend of two Founders beers – Cerise and Rubius.  The Fest Wheat was a hoppy American wheat beer, which seem to be all the rage these days (think Three Floyds Gumballhead, but not quite as hoppy).  After weighing my options, I decided to try my luck with a 9.2% ABV heavyweight (coincidentally my favorite named beer of the lot) called Dave’s Not Here,” a nod to one of the first Cheech and Chong comedy sketches.  This beer was described as a Red Ale (most likely Red’s Rye) aged equally in whiskey, maple, and (I think) bourbon barrels.  Wow!  This was probably the beer of the trip for me, a rarity indeed, especially given how recently the trip began.  But I knew after a few sips of this delicious nectar that this was going to be a tough one to beat!  The whiskey and oak characteristics were quite dominant up front and in the nose, but the finish was all about the maple sweetness.  I can’t really do justice in describing how awesome this beer was!  Let’s just say that anything Founders puts into a barrel turns out to get as luscious as a pair of perfectly formed female breasts.  Yeah… it’s that good!

Brewslut about to unleash the burp flamethrower on me.
After our visit to Founders, we met up with Kelly back at the radio studio for the obligatory ten-cent tour.  Then, we headed ‘round the corner to Hop Cat, who had since started brewing its own after our last visit (again… first Michigan trip blah blah blah).  Even though they have a ridiculous tap selection, we felt obligated to try two of Hop Cat’s house beers: the Hoppopotamus IPA and Kiwi Berliner Weiss.  Guess who ordered which beer?  We also HAD to get an order of Crack Fries, which were not as good as I had remembered.  They were still good, just not “crack” good.  And if there’s one thing I know, it’s the quality of good crack (see my other blog, The Rock Trippers).  Overall, the beers were fine but not memorable.  The IPA had a bit of diacetyl (buttery) quality, but it was still enjoyable.  I was pleased to see that the Frank Zappa mural in the men’s restroom was still intact, although the awesome free jukebox was out of order.  M’wah!

They must have spiked our Crack Fries with bananas!
After Hop Cat, Kelly took us to two of her favorite local watering holes.  Up first was Stella’s, an ultra-modern but eclectic bar with a vintage feel.  I use the term vintage because Stella’s boasts a huge inventory of classic 80’s arcade games.  I also noticed three pop art works on the wall above the bar featuring three of my favorite television characters of all time: Sam Weir, Neal Schweiber and Bill Haverchuck, better known as the “Geeks” from NBC’s short-lived Freaks and Geeks aka the greatest TV show of all time.  As if that wasn’t cool enough, they were painted on vinyl records!  In addition to a small but well thought-out tap selection, Stella’s also offers two hundred different whiskeys and a variety of vegan and vegetarian dishes.  The longer we stayed, the more I thought about how much we would hang out there if we lived in Grand Rapids.  Beer-wise, I ordered a Short’s Huma Lupa Licious IPA, which was better than I had remembered.  Brewslut opted for a glass of Sangria, which was one of the happy hour specials.  

Afterwards, we headed over to Meanwhile, another awesome local bar with cool artsy d├ęcor and a great beer selection.  I went with a pint of Founders All Day IPA, a new session beer that surprisingly was not on tap at Founders.  Brewslut went with one of her perennial favorites, Short’s Soft Parade.  I almost bought some cool merch here, including the previously referenced Bill Haverchuck vinyl painting (they were selling a whole bunch of pop culture figures painted on old records for $20) and a T-shirt that read, “Thanks Bruce Dickinson.”  Being a huge Iron Maiden fan, I had to ask the bartender what the story was behind this shirt design.  Apparently, the owner of the bar was playing a video game and was having difficulty advancing to the next level.  His friend put on Iron Maiden’s Powerslave album and, by the grace of the “Air Raid Siren” himself, he was able to advance to the next level.  Hence the awesome shirt.  So, we visited two of the coolest bars we have ever visited in one night… in the same town.  How cool is that?

Bruce Dickinson fixes everything!
After a one-and-done at Meanwhile, we’d become rather hungry, so Kelly suggested a great, little award-winning Mexican restaurant called Beltline Bar.  She warned us that it wasn’t the classiest place, but the food was bangin’.  We were game.  The food was, indeed, quite bangin’.  Classic Mexican cuisine, cheap prices, and large portions.  To quote Philadelphia Collins, “Baaaaaaaaam!!!”  

Our final stop of the evening was Brewery Vivant, a Belgian-inspired brewpub situated in an old defunct funeral home, and a new destination for us.  They had a relatively small but diverse house beer menu.  The first beer to stand out was a French-style Farmhouse Ale aged in oak Jack Daniels barrels.  I usually gravitate to the barrel-aged beers, and this time was no different.  Brewslut got the Imperial Stout, a mammoth beer with which to end the night.  We were having a good time talking, so I opted for a second, a Belgian IPA, which was quite intense.  The food looked great, but we were stuffed from our dinner at Beltline Bar.  Perhaps next time we will have dinner there.   

Inside Brewery Vivant
And thus ends day two of The Great Taste Caper.  Stay tuned for Day Three: Return of the Mikie!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Greatest Taste Around: Day One

The following is an account of our trek to Madison, WI, for Great Taste of the Midwest, one of the biggest beer festivals in the country.  This would mark my sophomore visit to the festival, while it would be trip number FOUR for Brewslut (aaaah, the dreaded, self-imposed band schedules)!  Alas, how do you think I make all that money to travel in the name of beer?

We departed from Annville bright and early on the morning of August 7th at around 6:20am (at "the ass crack of dawn," according to Brewslut).  We hit Sheetz down the street for iced coffee, and we didn't stop until we reached another Sheetz in western PA for a piss break.  Our first beer destination of the day was Great Lakes Brewing Company in Cleveland, OH. I hadn't been there since our inaugural Thanksgiving beer-cation with Deuane and Carolyn back in 2008.  We landed at 12:15pm, only 15 minutes behind schedule.  We were both pretty hungry... and thirsty, of course.  Our first beers of the trip were Rye of the Tiger (a 7.5% rye IPA) for me and Truth, Justice and the American Ale (a 4.9% pale ale) for Brewslut.  For lunch, I enjoyed the summer chicken salad with strawberries, pine nuts and goat cheese, while Brewslut opted for the vegan burger.

Pleeps... poster monkey for The Pour Travelers!
 Beer number two was Engine 20, a hoppy American Pale Ale.  Brewslut went with the Gold Rush California Common, which she likened to "licking charcoal briquettes."  Leave it to Brewslut to equate a beer with something found inside a barbecue grill.  (Editor's Note: Brewslut has a penchant for describing beers in an odd manor.  If you don't believe me, check out the early Pour Travelers entry,  The Anomalous Olfactory Anecdotes of Brewslut).

Smaller brewing capacity than you'd think!
At any rate, Great Lakes makes some fantastic beers, most notably Edmund Fitzgerald, one of my favorite Porters in the country.  Overall, the brewpub has a very old-style English pub atmosphere, with lots of ornate wood and a vintage bar.  After lunch, we poked around the downstairs area, which wasn't really open (it is typically used for overflow on busy weekend nights or private functions).  We also checked out the store next door for official merchandise, and I picked up a cool tan visor.  Brewslut grabbed the first of many patches from this trip as well as a sticker.

Downstairs at Great Lakes
After leaving Great Lakes, we were off to Marshall, MI, to visit a favorite of mine, Dark Horse Brewing Company.  As with Great Lakes, I hadn't been there since 2008, and I was pleased to see that they expanded the brewpub quite a bit.  Most notably, they added an entire beer garden and second bar out back, complete with a stage for live entertainment.  It took quite a while to drive from Cleveland to Marshall, so it was pretty much time for dinner when we got there.  I had heard that the sandwiches were the way to go at Dark Horse, so I perused the menu and came across the "Reubenesque" - a sandwich with turkey, Asian slaw, cilantro sauce and cheese on a spent grain pretzel roll!  Sounded interesting to say the least.  It was delicious!  Brewslut got the Chocolate Thunder personal pizza, which had some spicy peppers among other ingredients.

One of the coolest Mug Clubs ever!
As for our beers, we both opted for brewery-only offerings.  I liked the sound of SC-7, an IPA brewed with seven hop varieties beginning with the letter "C" (we'll let you figure them all out).  Brewslut ordered the Belginator, a Belgian IPA.  We finished up our food and first beers, then headed outside with our second selections - me, one of my perennial favorites, Crooked Tree IPA, and Brewslut, the Black Bier.  The weather was nice so we sat outside and talked about the trip a bit.  There was a little kid passed out face-first on a picnic table outside.  Apparently, he was sleep-deprived and in dire need of a nap. 

Lots of pics from Dark Horse Brewing Company

After a pleasant visit at Dark Horse, we were off to our final stop for the day before arriving in Grand Rapids to stay with our good friend Kelly for a few days.  Bell's was yet another place we hadn't  been since that first trip to Michigan, so we were thrilled to be back, especially since we had a great time way back when. 

Outside Bell's in Kalamazoo, MI
Before visiting the bar, we hit up the merchandise area because they were soon closing.  I picked up an awesome Hopslam T-shirt.  Inside, we were able to procure seats at the bar, as it wasn't too busy this particular night.  There was a bourbon barrel-aged Best Brown on tap, which sounded mighty tasty, so I ordered that.  Brewslut also went with a brewpub-only offering called A Bit of Heat, a strong Pale Ale brewed with habanero peppers and dry hopped.  This particular beer was the result of a homebrew contest held by Bell's, in which the winner could have his beer brewed at Bell's.  Pretty cool, eh?  The habanero presence was mild and only accented the overall flavor.

We had plenty of time, and we were also enjoying a conversation with some patrons, so we ordered a sampler flight, which included the following beers: Roundhouse India Red Ale, Hopsolution DIPA, Java Stout, Expedition Stout, Lager of the Lakes, and La Batteur French Farmhouse Blonde Ale.  We shared the sampler tray, and by then it was time to hit the road.

Inside Bell's Eccentric Cafe
We arrived at Kelly's house a bit after 10pm, caught up and bit and then it was time to hit the sack.  We'd been on the road all day and were quite fatigued not to mention about two-and-a-half sheets from all of our imbibing throughout the day.  All in all, it was a productive first day, and I'm glad we were able to leave almost two days earlier than we had planned.  Otherwise, we probably wouldn't have had the time to visit Grand Rapids prior to the festival.  But we were back in the land of Founders, and we both couldn't wait to open that place tomorrow!  Stay tuned for Part Two of the Great Taste Caper... coming soon to a computer screen near you!

Monday, September 10, 2012

An Evening at Tired Hands Brewing Co.

A few days after returning from our epic San Diego vacation, Brewslut and I were off to Philadelphia (yes... again!) for yet another romp around the city.  However, this time, we were in town for a pair of concerts: Iron Maiden with special guest Alice Cooper on Friday night just across the river in Camden, and Tenacious D on Saturday night at Festival Pier.  But you know us... ANY trip is a beer trip, really.  During our visit, we were able to hit favorites like Barcade, Memphis Taproom and Kraftwork, plus a few new spots like Yards and the brand new Tired Hands Brewing Co.

Since the last blog went on for, well, forever, I'm going to focus my energy on our visit to Tired Hands.

Situated in the suburban town of Ardmore, PA, Tired Hands takes pride in producing fresh, unique craft beer in very small batches; so small, in fact, that they only produce about 12 kegs per batch.  Additionally, their small but well-thought menu includes a variety of locally-produced meats, cheeses, pickled items and seasonal produce.  They even bake their own delicious bread on premises, which you can order as a stand-alone item with butter or as the base of a variety of panini sandwiches.

The owner and brewmaster, Jean Broillet first got his start in the business at Weyerbacher, then moved onto brew at Iron Hill's West Chester location.  I first became aware of Tired Hands while visiting Hawthorne's for a Hill Farmstead event during Philly Beer Week 2011.  I struck up a conversation with Jean and talked about beer for a good fifteen minutes or so.  So I was indeed surprised that he remembered not only my face, but also my name when we visited Tired Hands over a year later!  I found this to be rather impressive, largely due to the fact that I typically forget someone's name five to eight seconds after meeting him.  It usually takes a good three or four meetings with someone for me to remember his or her name.  At any rate, I was excited to finally visit Tired Hands because I had heard from various friends in my beer circle that Jean really knew his stuff, and he was also friends with Shaun Hill of Hill Farmstead, a brewery I admire and respect greatly.

The main floor plan at Tired Hands is quite narrow, yet rustic and simple.  Think earthy colors paired with lots of distressed wood, stone and exposed brick.  No TVs, loud music or tacky decor.  This place is quaint and classic.  Brewslut and I parked at the bar, and we were immediately struck by the charm of this place.  I made the comment that this was the kind of place I would frequent a few times a week if I lived in town.

As for the beer menu, well, everything sounded amazing!  I honestly couldn't decide on even two or three pints, so I opted for 4oz. pours of a variety of beers.  The first, Blood Root, was a hoppy red Saison that was quite tasty.  My two other selections, Hop Hands and Leaflet, were both low-alcohol, sessionable Pale Ales, the former being Tired Hands' flagship beer.  Leaflet was described as a "delicate pale ale," which I assumed had something to do with the very low ABV of only 3.5%.  This is a beer that you could enjoy all afternoon.  Brewslut chose the Delicado, a citrusy collaboration IPA with Hill Farmstead.  I shared this with her, of course, and we liked it so much that we ended up getting a growler to take home.  She also tried Farm Hands, a 4-grain Saison that was solid.  While we were there, one of the other beers we tried kicked, and Jean said he would be putting on a beer called Killgore (named after a character from a Kurt Vonnegut novel).  He described it a cross between an India Black Ale (or black IPA) and a Stout.  Sounded good to me!  We tried it, and it was quite good... hoppy, roasty and bold!

The food was equally impressive.  We each got a smoked cheese panini with gazpacho and honey kraut.  The panini sandwiches were made with the aforementioned in-house baked bread.  We liked the place so much that we didn't really want to leave, but after all it was Sunday evening, and we had to work the next day.  Plus, we were pretty tired from the double-header concert (both were outside in the wonderful extreme summer heat of PA).  Before we left, however, we also tried Lazy Feet, a barrel-fermented Biere de Garde.  Jean definitely has a penchant for brewing French-style farmhouse ales and barrel-aged beers, and this beer was a wonderful combination of two of his passions.  However, his beers artfully blend the traditional European styles with the envelope-pushing American hop-forward styles we beer geeks can't seem to get enough of.  Overall, this place definitely left a lasting impression on us, and we can't wait to return to see what else Jean is brewing up!

Monday, September 3, 2012

San Diego 2012 - Part VII: OK, I think this is it!

On Thursday, June 21, we enjoyed a quick breakfast at Sunshine Cafe, a small breakfast and lunch nook two doors down from Rancho.  Then it was off to OB for a bit, a stop at the gym and finally our daily visit to Pizza Port OB for yet even more Jetty IPA and A.B.L.E. Stout. 

As I mentioned in our last episode, we had tried to visit Mission on Wednesday, but alas a Padres game foiled our plans.  Today, however, was different.  We opened the place and decided to go with a sampler tray, which included the following beers:  blonde, hefe, amber, pils, IPA, Shipwrecked DIPA, and finally Dark Seas RIS.  All were solid, with the RIS being our favorite of the lot. However, the names of most of the beers were simple "Mission" and then the style of beer - not too clever.  Still, the place was cool and offered a kind of a pirate-themed atmosphere.

Inside Mission's tasting room
After Mission, we headed north (up near Escondido) to another new place for us: Mother Earth Brewing Company.  We immediately felt at home at this place.  The walls were adorned with vintage music posters - lots of Zeppelin, Floyd and even a Rush poster!  Music and beer.. you can't get me more sucked into a place than when you combine those two things.  Some of the beers sounded pretty damn interesting.  Brewslut opted for a Chocolate Oatmeal Stout, while I went with their cask offering, Rysing IPA with Zythos hops.  We enjoyed both quit a bit.  Afterwards, we tried samples of a few more offerings: Pinup Pale Ale and Red Dog Extra Pale Ale.

 Overall, the place is pretty chill and laid back.  Some folks even brought their dogs in, which I particularly liked, being a dog lover and all.  So we spent some time petting the dogs.  In addition, we also met some cool peeps from Minnesota with whom I spoke for a while about beer, music and what not.  The merch also looked pretty dope, so I purchased a T-shirt. When I was paying for said shirt, the bartender informed me that they were having a grand opening of a new, improved tasting room on Saturday, and he gave me some details.  We liked the place enough to consider visiting the new tasting room, and perhaps we'd visit Stone again, as both were in close proximity to one another.

Pleeps is cut off!
After a fun visit to Mother Earth, we checked in at Pizza Port Carlsbad for a pair of Coffee Monster Stouts.  Like our first visit to Solana Beach, this place was like a daycare center.  There were tons of kids running around and the parents didn't seem to care.  Well, this time at Carlsbad it was no different.  I don't mind if you take your kids to a brewpub or other establishment that serves beer.  But you know what?  Don't let them run around unsupervised, bumping into people, tables, chairs, etc.  Also, I can't stand when little kids are sitting at the bar.  Really?  Unless you are serving them alcohol, they shouldn't be sitting at the bar.  Ever!  I guess when you combine pizza and beer, the end result is some kind of drunken Chuckie Cheese experiment gone wrong.  With that said, I like Pizza Port beer enough to endure these little shitballs, especially since we only get to visit once a year.  Just don't expect me not to swear just because there are a bunch of eight-year-olds there. Fuck that shit!

Pleeps... the drunken sailor.
After Romper Room, we headed over to another Pizza Port location (the fourth and final site on this trip) - Solano Beach.  This is the first Pizza Port site we'd ever visited, and back then it was like a daycare center.  Well, as if we didn't get our fill of rugrats at Carlsbad, we were greeted with a similar barrage of little kids during this visit to Solano Beach.  No need to rant again (read my last paragraph again, if needed).  At any rate, I went with Swami's IPA and Brewslut went with Fisticuffs Dry Irish Stout.  We also ordered the OB veggie pizza, and I must say it was awesome!  We could tell that this was the oldest Pizza Port location, given the shitty microphone and PA system they used to call out orders.  After this visit, we retreated for OB for the day to regroup and get ready for Friday.
The next day, we woke up and did our usual morning routine.  Breakfast at Rancho again, this time I enjoyed turkey chorizo con huevos with wheat tortillas.  We officially love this place, and will definitely return for multiple visits during future visits to San Diego.  After breakfast, we hit the gym for a bit, then enjoyed some peach/mango smoothies from a local stand down the street from the gym.  Today was also laundry day, and since airlines charge like $30 per bag per flight, I decided to save $120 and wash a few shirts, socks and skivvies in lieu of paying the exorbitant rates levied by the airlines. 

After laundry, it was off to Pizza Port OB, bitches!  We both opted for the Blue Steel Pilsner this time.  Yum!  Honestly, I could drink this crisp, refreshing beer all day.  It's the perfect beach beer.  After a quickie at Pizza Port, we walked up the street to Newport Pizza again for more Parabola.  Lucky for us, it was still on tap.  What?!  We were shocked it hadn't kicked yet.  Oh well... more for us!  While at Newport, we ran into our brewer friend, Cy Henley, who'd previously worked for Ballast Point and Alpine.  We were pleased to find that recently he'd been hired by California Kabob's new in-house brewery, called Amplified Aleworks.  He invited us to stop by before we left San Diego, even though none of his beers were ready for consumption yet.  Still, we were excited to see what was brewing there, so we made plans to visit on our last day of the trip.  After catching up for a bit (and buying him a beer), we invited Cy to dinner with us, as we were heading off to an Ethiopian restaurant with Dano and Mags shortly.  This would our first foray into the world of African cuisine.  So, we headed back to Dano's to get ready, and the five of us jumped into the rental car and departed for the University Heights neighborhood, destination Muzita Abyssinian Bistro for some authentic Ethiopian food.  The place was awesome, and the food was amazing and reasonably priced.

After dinner, we headed down the street for a nightcap at Small Bar, one of the better beer bars in the neighborhood, according to Dano.  I went with another pour of Port's delicious 6th Anniversary IPA.  I couldn't seem to get enough of it on this particular trip.  After a one-and-done visit, we headed back to Dano's for Lebowski night, where we watched The Big Lebowski in its entirety.  In the spirit of things, Brewslut and I stopped by the liquor store (ie: Rite Aid) and purchased vodka and Kahlua so we could make White Russians (or Caucasians) for everyone.  Dano is one of the biggest (if not THE biggest Lebowski fan I've ever met), and he is even collecting memorabilia to make his guest quarters into what he calls the "Lebowski Suite."  I promised not to micturate on his rug.

We awoke on our last true full day in San Diego with minor hangovers (well, at least I had one), and what better way to combat the effects of a hangover with... more alcohol?  Cy was busy concocting his patented bloody mary mix for us to enjoy.  I'd never been a huge fan, so I opted for a kid's portion and made my way over to the leftover Kahlua and spiked my morning coffee.  After a bit of morning preparation, we caravaned down to the annual OB Street Fair, something that all of the San Diego folks were excited about.  We were too, but it turned out to be a glorified block party just like all the other street fairs across the country: overcrowded and overpriced.  What did this mean for us?  It was over for us before everybody else wanted to leave.  After milling around for a bit and getting some falafel, we ducked in to the AZ Bar to meet Dano for a quick one (in my case, a can of Tecate), then crossed the street to good old Pizza Port OB for what has turned into my daily dose of Jetty IPA.

Blind Lady Ale House
Since we quickly grew tired of the street fair shenanigans, Brewslut and I regrouped back at headquarters and decided to go and check out Blind Lady Ale House, home of the tiny Automatic Brewing Company.  After a GPS malfunction and plenty of curse words, we made it to our destination only to find no Automatic beers on tap.  M'wah!  Upon perusing the beer menu for what seemed like five minutes, the woman at the counter finally asked me, "What would you like?"  "Um," I answered, "Aren't there any Automatic beers on tap today?"  She replied, "No, but we have twenty-four other beers on tap."  I kindly explained that we lived three-thousand miles away and were on a beer vacation.  Nevertheless, I wasn't going to let it cockblock us, so I ordered a Port 6th Anniversary and Brewslut opted for a Hanger 24 Chocolate Porter.  

Blind Lady Ale House
After a quick one-and-done visit to Blind Lady, we headed off to the grand opening of the brand new Mother Earth tasting room, which was just two exits down from the original site we'd just visited two days prior.  After a bit of frustrating traffic, we made it to Mother Earth and were greeted by a fairly packed house, which we expected, of course.  They pretty much had the same offerings on tap today that they did two days ago at the old site, although they did have the fine Rye IPA on draft, which I selected as my first beer.  Brewslut decided on the Cali Creamin', a great name for a Cream Ale.


While we were there, Sonic waitresses rolled by selling bags of tater tots and other snacks, which was pretty cool, considering there was no food available at the tasting room.  So, I grabbed some tasty tots as a quick snack.  We followed up our beers with samples of their blonde and Scottish ale, both of which were solid.   

My little slut... Brewslut, that is!
After a fun visit to the new Mother Earth tasting room, we made the very short drive to Backstreet Brewery, a small CA brewpub chain.  Located in one of those outside mall villages, it definitely felt like a chain brewpub.  They had a decent selection of house beers, and Brewslut and I settled on two of the more interesting sounding offerings: Rydin' Dirty IPA and Cellar Rat Rye Porter.  We washed down our beers with some chicken quesadillas with jalapenos.  Surprisingly, we thought the beer was better than the food!

Since we were in close proximity to Stone, we decided to head over for dinner since our last visit was cut short due to Dano needing a ride home from work a few days prior.  When we arrived, it was apparent they were extremely busy.  We decided to wait, as we figured we only get here once or twice a year.  There was about an hour wait for table, so we sat at one of the outside bars around a fire pit and ordered some beers.  I tried the Ruination 10th Anniversary IPA and Brewslut went with an AleSmith YuleSmith.

Fire at Stone
After a while, or table was ready, but we were informed by our server that the kitchen was extremely backed up.  I was beginning to think that the tots and quesadillas at the last two places were a good idea!  We both decided on the Yakisoba with chicken, an Asian noodle dish.  Dinner was excellent, although it took over an hour to get our food.  We were too full for dessert, so we ordered some coffee and chilled out for a bit in the crisp evening air.  We even had leftovers for lunch the next day!  We finally got back to OB around midnight... a long day all in all!

The last picture of the trip.  I am as tired as I look!
On the morning of our last day in San Diego, we decided to take a leisurely walk down to Dog Beach.  We stopped for iced coffee at a street vendor called Pirate's Cove, and picked up some bananas at a nearby supermarket for snack.  After watching a plethora of little K-9s run around and play in the sand, we made our way to Pizza Port OB for our final visit of the trip... our eleventh!  One last Jetty IPA for each of us, though I had many more than Brewslut over the course of the entire trip.  Afterwards, we headed back to Dano's to pack, relax and watch the Olympic diving finals on TV.  

Our last order of business before leaving sunny California and returning to the volatile and unpredictable weather of our native PA, we stopped by California Kabob & Beer Garden, the future home of Cy's new Amplified Aleworks.  While none of Cy's beers were ready just yet, he did hook us up with lots of great beer, including Green Flash West Coast IPA and Double Stout, as well as Ballast Point Sextant Stout.  The food was outstanding!  I enjoyed my kabob platter with shrimp, chicken and salmon, plus sides of veggies and falafal.  Brandi got a tasty citrus salad with salmon.  We definitely can't wait to return so we can try some of Cy's beers!

After saying our goodbyes, we made our way to the airport, only to be greeted by a long twenty-minute line through security.  Waiting on the other side, however, was none other than a Karl Strauss beer garden.  Yeah!  One last beer, right?  I went with their Tower 10 IPA and Brewslut got... wine?  WTF?!

Overall... what a beer trip!  Everything went extremely well, save for some annoying traffic and toddlers along the way.  Plus we achieved our goal of visiting Pizza Port OB every day of the trip.  YEAH!  We also hit tons of new places.  We are definitely looking forward to our next venture to San Diego.  Right Pleeps?