I’m a sucker for San Diego brewery tours. When I heard there was a tour departing from Noble Ale Works in Anaheim, I instantly registered and X’d off my calendar until the big day came. It’s been at least a year since I’ve been down there which is WAY too long. That’s like 30 fortnight in brewery terms.
The day is finally here, and frankly, I’m frilled! Visiting Noble Ale Works at 1 in the Afternoon is something I’m not a stranger of. “Any cask left?” I say, referring to the cask of Citra hopped Nobility DIPA from the night before. As I sit and sip, the bar seat hisses like a pissed-off anaconda. The remnant of this cask is slightly carbed, grassy, pissy, and monster mango delicious! As a few couples funnel in and order beers, I get the feeling I’m the only loner of the group. Great!
The tour coach, rented by LA Craft Beer Tours is bright yellow and looks like a big Nuprin. It’s clean inside, has AC and there’s more than enough room for everyone. Pat and Dale run the tour and pack enough beer fuel for the long trip down to San Marcos and abroad. For starters, they brought a keg of Old Orange Brewing Co. Rookie Red which was sucked down by the time we hit San Clemente! The cooler is packed solid with random singles from Lagunitas, Oskar Blues, Rogue and a few Arrowhead waters for the trip back. Protip: If you don’t care for red solo cups, bring your own glass!
First stop is Lost Abbey/Port Brewing in San Marcos. Kevin at Lost Abbey is quick to give us five taster wrist bands and we’re off! I make a quick run of some Lost Abbey Seasonals, starting with 10 Commandments. Thou shalt not put blacked raisins in a beer? Do not covet thy neighbors Rosemary? Lost Abbey does not obey. This is insanely tasty and complex. “Can I order two at a time?”, “Hell yeah!”, “Let me do a side by side of the Saisons.” Saison Blanc and Red Barn. I prefer Red Barn based on the body; Saison Blanc is a tad chewy for my taste; especially on a hot day. I’m almost tempted to buy a few bottles but lets face it: buying a bottle or two at the first stop of a brewery tour wouldn’t last five minutes on the bus.
My last two tastes I hit some Port Brewing Mongo DIPA and Summer Pale Ale (SPA) while hitting the brewery tour. After the Belgiany goodness, a nice hopload goes perfect with my beet-pizza I scored out front. SPA wins my visit to Lost Abbey/Port Brewing with a decent body, crisp bready malt and a shit-ton of hops. This beer would work well with any Summertime BBQ. I highly recommend doing the tour as it is full of great brewing info for all levels of beer knowledge. I’m glad we found Lost Abbey.
Second Stop: Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits. Despite having just opened a sizable patio, BP is still quite cozy. As the sun sets, I hit the beers I haven’t tried yet; first up is Indra Kunindra Curry Stout. Yo momma quero, mama! This beer is a party my mouth! Big notes of coconut, curried graham cracker and some other tasty eastern spices. Indra would go great with Yellow Thai Curry, some Kimchee or a coconut macaroon.
It’s no secret among friends that I really like Ballast Point’s Wahoo Wheat. When I saw a Thai Chili Ginger Lime Wahoo Wheat, I was like, “Wha-hhhhweeet” and order it. I love that Ballast Point was born from a Homebrew Mart and still keeps that spirit alive by tweaking their proven base beers. It’s also no secret among friends that Sculpin IPA is not only my favorite IPA, but one of my top ten favorite beers of all time. When I saw Dorado DIPA, my boxer-bound boner pushed me a few inches from the counter, trustfalling backwards into a complete stranger. Honestly my palate is shot at this point, but this beer is one tasty guy. Tons of bright tropical fruits, earthy hops, backed up with caramel malts. I’d like to try this beer on a fresh palate, without a boner, even though palates are made out of wood.
Last Stop: Green Flash. We’re here with an hour to spare at 8PM. The bus is rowdy, loud and ready to party. $1 tasters? $2 half pints? Craft beer on a college student budget here! The tasting area has an ample tasting “pen” inside the size of a Rodeo and a picnic area on the side of the building. I work my way through their San Diego series consisting of East Village Pilsner, Park West Porter, and 30th Street Pale Ale. All are sessionable at ABV’s less than 6%. 30th Street Pale Ale is remarkably hopped and will be on my radar when down in SD. For my nightcap, I grab Le Freak, then a Tripel before pounding some serious water. Did I mention $2 half pints?
Last Last Stop? Home. I fall asleep before the bus is out of the parking lot and wake up near home. I love when that happens! Magically, nobody barfed that I was aware of, although the nice smell from when we first got on the bus has turned into 31 flavors of ass.
The tour was a complete success! Pat and Dale of LA Craft Beer Tours know how to run a tour and highly suggest you check them out. Check their website calendar for future tours! I look forward to hitting an LA tour soon.