Our first day in San Diego (which was the first Monday after Christmas), we headed up to Carlsbad to hit the shopping outlets and visit Pizza Port Carlsbad for lunch. In the past we’ve visited the Solana Beach Pizza Port, but my brother assured me that Carlsbad is a bigger (and better) location—after all, they’re one of the most-decorated breweries at the GABF this past year, and the winner of Large Brewpub and Brewer of the Year—so we decided to check it out.
It was a beautiful sunny day—even in December! That’s one thing SoCal has going for it—so we opted to sit outside. Along the length of the building there is plentiful outdoor seating at picnic tables and benches, with easy access to the pub/restaurant through the rear door. (There is also gated access to the outdoor seating, so we could have gone through the gate and front door just as easily.)
(The outdoor seating is to the right of the building in this picture.)
The first thing that’s apparent is that this is a much bigger place than the Solana Beach Pizza Port. There is plenty of seating, inside and out, and the number of taps they have available—both Port Brewing house beers and many guest beers—is impressive.
Here are the house beers:
And here are the guest beers:
Here’s a shot of the taps themselves (coolers on either side with bottles beers), one thing I liked but didn’t get in this picture is a rinse spigot built in to the bottom (in the drain catch) that allows the bartender to do a quick upside-down rinse of the glassware—which gets rid of any particulates and helps head retention.
The beer itself is really good, too—naturally, for a Great American Beer Festival winner. I started with their Plant to Pint, a 7% ABV fresh hopped pale ale. My notes on that:
Hot and hoppy—strong and intensely green and viney. Clear and amber with a nice lacing. Maybe too heavy for a fresh hop… mouthfeel moves into DIPA/BW [Double IPA/Barleywine] territory. Nose is hoppy and malty… not really “fresh hoppy” but intensely hoppy nonetheless—lupulin syrup. [BA: A-; RB, 93%]
My brother didn’t like it, the aroma was too off-putting for him. (“Dirty sock” was mentioned.)
I snuck a sip of their Reed’s Wee Heavy Scotch Ale from my sister-in-law brother, and found it to be sweet and boozy.
Next I grabbed a tray of four tasters (you can pick any four):
Left to right are Good Grief Brown (5.6%, English style Brown Ale, won the bronze at the GABF), Cow Stout (5%, Milk/Sweet Stout, won gold at GABF), Carlsbad Cream Ale (4.5%), and Trigger Hoppy IPA (8.4%). I was enjoying myself visiting with my family so I only wrote down notes on the Good Grief Brown, but I do remember some impressions of the others.
I didn’t say I wrote a lot of notes, okay?
Of the others, I remember the Cream Ale to be crisp and clean, the Cow Stout to be good and roasty but possibly lighter in mouthfeel than I expected, and the Trigger Hoppy to be a tasty but fairly standard Double IPA (big and hoppy which is the San Diego beer character).
I finished with a guest beer: Sierra Nevada Belgian-style Trippel, a treat since we don’t get such things in Bend, Oregon. It was big and clean and spicy with a perfect peppercorn and coriander essence. I wish I could get this up here!
There was pizza and salad ordered, and I can confidently say that the pizza was excellent and the bites of salad I had were good too. My brother—who is the authority in such matters, living in San Diego and all—confirms that the pizza is better at Carlsbad, and overall I’d have to agree.
Inside there are video games on the back wall (near the rear door leading to the outdoor seating), lending to the “old school pizza parlor” vibe that they’re cultivating. There’s ample seating inside as well, and some room at the bar if you only feel like a beer. It’s very comfortable and laid-back, we were able to take our time without being rushed and the kids had a great time as well (the video games helped with that).
I highly recommend visiting, both for the beer and the pizza, and though it’s located some 30 miles north of San Diego proper, it’s well worth the trip.
Pizza Port Carlsbad
571 Carlsbad Village Dr.
Carlsbad, CA 92008