These will be short updates with the date of my journey, any funny stories, maybe a photo or two, and whatever else strikes my fancy. So, let’s get started, shall we?
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
1st Stop: Societe Brewing Company – website here
This brewery makes a ton of great beer. The handles actually have silhouettes of real people in them, which I thought was kind of cool. Jade, the Tasting Room employee I encountered when I arrived, had my special prize in a bag all set aside for me. Here it is:
As long as I was up there, I decided to taste the first two Societe beers I ever had – the Widow and the Butcher. Both as good as I remember them (odd, I think I said the same thing the last time I had these beers. I often settle on the Apprentice and the Harlot these days.)
Societe Brewing Company – 8262 Clairemont Mesa Blvd, San Diego, CA 92111 –
The brewery was founded by Doug Constantiner and Travis Smith, guys who had worked in other solid places and decided to bring their wizardry to San Diego.
The chronicle: This one was actually pretty easy to come by. I didn’t have to do any odd stunts or anything. Just reached out to my friend Mike Sardina (a lawyer who chose to work for the company instead of practice law regularly), made the ask, and there it was. Sweet! I’ll remember this fondly the first time I am asked to do a push-up or go on a scavenger hunt or something.
What I’d recommend: Probably not fair to just say “everything” but that would be about accurate. There are very few breweries I’ve been to in any part of the country that has this many great choices. The Widow, The Butcher, The Apprentice, The Roustabout and The Harlot are choices that will be great for a variety of palates. If you only have time for one, I’d say the Belgian style Harlot or the classic San Diego IPA The Apprentice.
2nd Stop: Council Brewing Company – website here – 7705 Convoy Ct, San Diego, CA 92111
This brewery is just off Convoy, so pretty ideal if you have plans to hit the vast array of great Asian food spots on Convoy. It’s a 2 minute drive from Societe, just west and north (then technically west again). This place has something for beer enthusiasts and newbies, alike. For the enthusiasts, it’s like a souped up version of Hess’ original spot. It was the type of small, business park type location that makes craft beer so much fun.
The chronicle: Well, so one thing I didn’t count on was stopping at breweries too new to be able to part with a handle. I tried begging. I tried pleading. Even tried to buy the thing. Not budging. Curtis, a former commercial construction project manager who understands very large deals, wasn’t budging. I also got to meet Liz, the head brewer and co-owner. A former sign-language interpreter (having a deaf mother, I picked up a tiny bit and was super tempted to bust out my favorite phrase – “party people in the house.” Needless to say, I didn’t. Still, I liked being in that space. My favorite time in a tasting room is either when hanging with friends or when the place is almost empty and the brewers/owners are around and willing to chat. Cards on the table, I suck at brewing. But I care about the business, the land use challenges, the community of brewing, and the financial hurdles brewers face. And I am always grateful to meet another brewer who cares more about hard work and dedication than what degree you have.
I couldn’t get my hands on one of their delightful little gavel handles, but I did get a free sticker and will placehold a spot in my new beer room. If this beer stays this quality, I suspect the Chisms will be a mainstay soon. Curtis and Liz, I am holding out hope that by the time Beer Week rolls around I’ll have convinced you to part ways with a handle. I may even volunteer to wash glasses or sweep or something to give you enough time to make an extra one.
What I’d recommend: I ought to mention I had small tastes of Gavel Drop IPA, Pirate’s Breakfast (an Imperial Stout), and the Clodhopper. All were solid. I like a wide range of IPAs, from the smack-you-in-the-mouth hoppy to the more mild. This one had really strong flavor but was really mellow. Curtis even explained a bit about the brewing process that helps keep the beer tame.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
3rd Stop: Mike Hess Brewing Company – website here – 3812 Grim Ave San Diego, CA 92104
Going down to Hess Brewing in North Park was like going to my neighborhood corner market (if we had those here). It’s super familiar and I’ve spent quite a bit of time in the place since it opened. My friends had their holiday party there, the Human Rights Campaign (and a ton of other groups I care about) did a fundraiser there, it’s just generally a solid spot that makes good beer.
This brewery is on Grim Street in North Park just north of North Park Way. It can get a little warm inside, but it’s a great place to relax and enjoy beer that suits their motto…”Great beer, no exceptions.”
The chronicle: I reached out to the guys to inquire about a handle for my collection and was greeted with a warm response and, apparently, the information that I’d picked very good timing. Fortunately, I scored again and didn’t have to do any odd stunts or tell a joke to get them to part with a handle. Here it is
What I’d recommend: The Grazias Vienna Cream Ale is a light-bodied beer that doesn’t have any of the bitter hop character that turns some people away. Also, the Rye IPA Habitus and the Kolsch style Claritas are good for beer lovers. Claritas is smooth, and as someone who doesn’t usually gravitate to the lighter styles, I find this surprisingly refreshing.
It occurs to me I’m going to need to pick up the pace if I have any hope of getting through all 92 professional brewhouses by the start of San Diego Beer Week on November 7th. Very much looking forward to a few north county swings very soon – including the insanely anticipated opening of Bagby Beer Co.
4th Stop: TBD