Craft ~ brews and reviews
By Greg Richardson
November is the month we traditionally spend
time remembering to be grateful. Squeezed in with the football
games, family gatherings, and massive amounts of food, we take a
moment or two to express our thanksgivings.
I have many things for which to be thankful,
and strive to express my gratitude more than one day each year. I am
thankful for each of the many local craft breweries to which I have
such easy access. For example, it is a great gift to be within
driving distance of the vast number of choices in San Diego County.
In particular, I am grateful for, and to, my friend Beth and her
family who allow me to intrude on them every so often so Beth and I
can explore area breweries.
I recently drove down to spend just over a
day with Beth, and we were able to visit nine places on a Friday
afternoon/evening and Saturday. We began in Ocean Beach, because we
had not really visited there before, and because Beth surfs there.
We started at the OB
Brewery, which opened in July,
is three stories tall, and includes a rooftop deck that overlooks
It was an excellent, sunny Friday afternoon,
a great opportunity to drink beer and watch the ocean. We sampled
several, keeping in mind we were just getting started. Our choices
included a B. Right On pale ale, which, with its pale malts and
light bitterness, was
for a sunny day at the beach. We also tried a Long Time Coming agave
cream ale, which was light, crisp, and refreshing, and their Night
Moves oatmeal stout, which was roasty, yet still light bodied.
Our next stop was the Helm’s
Brewing Company satellite
tasting room, just down the street. Helm’s is a San Diego brewery,
brewing in Kearney Mesa, which established their tasting room in
Ocean Beach in May. Helm’s has a long history of community
involvement, including participating in weekly beach cleanup
Our choices at Helm’s were wide ranging. We
tried a Moulin Range Belgian Tripel, an unexpected seasonal Samuin
Harvest pumpkin amber ale, an excellent Red Velvet red stout,
a Batten Down Brown American style brown ale, a Wicked as Sun which
is a unique IPA in the San Diego community, their Carpe Lupulin New
England IPA, a delicious Black Pearl black IPA, a Dark
Waters Belgian dark brown ale, their great Beeruccino coffee porter,
and a Hispaniola golden stout on nitro.
After taking our time at Helm’s, it was
time for a brief interlude. After two breweries, I took the
opportunity to visit Hodad’s,
home of the world’s best burgers. What more do I really need to say?
the culinary and cultural experience that is Hodad’s, Beth and
headed to the Mike
Hess Brewing tasting room.
People were friendly, helpful, and gave us a free glass for
finishing a flight.
Our glass-worthy flight included a Coffee
Grazias, a Vienna cream ale, a Habitus, a double IPA, a Solis, Hess’
dynamic San Diego IPA, a Hop-To-It-Us, and their Umbrix rye imperial
Our next visit was to Belching
Beaver Brewery’s brewhouse. We
had both already tasted their Peanut Butter Milk Stout, so we
focused our attention on other brews.
Belching Beaver is a happy, friendly place.
Our choices included several IPAs; I Love Juicy, Hop
Highway, Damned! Double IPA, and Pound Town triple IPA. They were
all great, but I think Belching Beaver comes into its own in the
dark end of the pool. Beaver Buzz Coffee Stout nitro was amazing, as
was Viva la Beaver Mexican chocolate milk stout and Golden milk
stout with coffee. My only regret is that we succumbed to temptation
and tried the seasonal Pumpkin Spice milk stout rather than Old
Dirty Barrel Russian Imperial stout.
fifth and final brewery of the day was Culture
Brewing Company. Where
Belching Beaver is about craft beer with a sense of humor, Culture
is more serious and focused.
The people at Culture know their stuff, and
the beers we tasted were created for flavor, not necessarily
entertainment. With brews like Amber Ale, Sour Medley, and Milk
Stout, Culture is all about the taste. Tart Cherry Wit certainly
Culture’s wheel house is their IPAs. This is
San Diego County, after all. The flavors are incredible, and they
are straight for the tongue. We sampled their Amarillo SIPA, Double
IPA, Mosaic IPA, and Wet Hop IPA.
That was the first day of our two-day
pilgrimage. That was just Friday. Who knows what Saturday would
Thank you, Beth!
Greg Richardson is a leadership and
organizational coach, and a spiritual life mentor, in Pasadena,
California. He is passionate about craft brewing, listening, and
monks and monastic life. Greg is a recovering attorney, executive,
and university professor. Greg’s website is StrategicMonk.com and
he is on Twitter @StrategicMonk.
You can email Greg at StrategicMonk@gmail.com.