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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?

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The Pour Travelers thank you for reading about our beer travels!