San Francisco Beer Week is an amazing extravaganza of beer and community that resonates throughout the Bay Area and this year’s ran from February 8-17. For the launch of this incredible event… I thought it would be fun to instead pay visit my old home of San Diego for the weekend!
I lived in San Diego for about 10 years and while I honestly never particularly liked living down there I have enjoyed my visits since leaving and a big part of that is due to the beer. I don’t need to go into how much the San Diego beer scene has grown in the last two decades but suffice to say it’s been quite amazing and I was privileged to live through a decade of it. This trip, though, we happened to be staying in Escondido and it proved a great base camp for various brewtivities.
My first stop for the weekend was a quick trip to neighboring San Marcos at a brewery called The Lost Abbey (Port Brewing). Tucked away in an unassuming business park off the SR-78, the Lost Abbey is a terrific place to spend an hour or two and try some amazing beers (and I did).
Despite the location, it was a very welcoming place with a food truck out front making pizza (fitting, since The Lost Abbey’s an offshoot of the mighty Pizza Port empire) and a roomy interior. I’d attended their 3rd Anniversary festivities years earlier and they’ve definitely expanded the location, which was great considering the several dozen people that were already there (and quite a few more would arrive before leaving).
Surrounded by barrels and brewing equipment the bar itself is a large ‘L’ shaped with quite a few beers on tap and a good number of friendly, knowledgeable staff. I was there with my friend Jeremy, who’d never been, so it was a blast. I tried a number of their offerings (I’d wanted a few more, but I was the responsible driver) and they were terrific across the board:
- Amigo (Blonde Lager)
- Avant Garde (Bière de Garde)
- Mayan Apocalypse Judgment Day (Belgian Strong Dark Ale)
- Midnight Expression (Black Lager)
- Mongo IPA (Imperial IPA)
- Serpent’s Stout (Imperial Stout)
The bartender helping us gave us the lowdown on several of their beers (including the interesting origin of Midnight Expression) and we even caught a bit of their free guided brewery tour. Overall a really great time and I’d highly recommend a journey to this North County destination next time you visit San Diego.
The next day I visited San Diego to get our taxes done (got a refund—WIN!) and decided to swing by the relatively new Societe Brewing, located conveniently off the SR-163. I’d tried their impressive IPAs during the San Diego Comic Con last July so was really looking forward to the quick visit.
Once again located in an unassuming business park (a trend in San Diego breweries!) Societe was a gorgeous, well-lit space, super clean and really inviting. (Surprisingly, there were even some children in there!) They featured a long bar as well as a handful of high tables in the generous space. After ordering from a very amicable bartender, I had a seat at the bar to enjoy:
- The Butcher (Russian Imperial Stout)
- The Apprentice (IPA)
- The Roustabout (Imperial IPA)
- 10/19 O’Brien’s Anniversary Ale (American Pale Ale)
Terrific beers across the board although the 10/19 made me wish I’d had a chance to swing into O’Briens Pub, which was only a mile or two away. Another top recommendation if you’re ever in the 619 and would like to stop and enjoy some top-notch brews.
And last, but certainly not least, I made a really quick trip over to Stone Brewing and their always amazing World Bistro and Gardens (sorry that I didn’t snap any pictures—but for some great shots and a bigger review of the location be sure to check out the original review from a few years ago). I’ve made the journey to these hallowed grounds on many occasions and this one was only slightly marred by the light rainfall right after sitting at the outside bar. Their generous number of taps (40+!) were loaded with an amazing selection of Stone beers and of particular interest to me were the number of Vertical Epics on-hand (8 total!). With the usual courteous, efficient service it was nice to relax and sip some hard-to-find brews with good company:
- 05.05.05 Vertical Epic Ale
- 06.06.06 Vertical Epic Ale
- 07.07.07 Vertical Epic Ale
- 08.08.08 Vertical Epic Ale
- 11.11.11 Vertical Epic Ale
- Stone 9th Anniversary Ale
All told it was a Grade-A weekend for beer and fun to visit some old haunts, although I sadly missed a Double IPA festival during SF Beer Week… but c’est la vie.