My first trip to southern California (ever!) was a rousing success. Checked off visits to Stone and Lost Abbey/Port Brewing from my bucket list, attended a wedding on the beach, quaffed my first Alpine beer, and made it home with six bottles and two cans intact thanks to the wonderful folks at Alaska Air.
Given the the fancy corking and elegant labeling of the Lost Abbey lineup, I was a little surprised by the warehouse aesthetic we were presented with at their tap room. Maybe “aesthetic” is too soft a word. It was in a warehouse. Some metal was screaming in the background and while I was swiftly carded upon entry, kids are allowed. It was dark when we showed up so pictures were a no-go, but it looks something like this.
Seriously, if I’ve been in one brewery making do in an industrial park, I’ve been in a hundred, so I shouldn’t be too surprised, but at the end of the day, I just couldn’t see Tomme Arthur strolling in here for his 9 to 5. And under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t have thought much of it, but then we went to Stone just 10 minutes down the road. Again, a stolen photo, but to give you a sense of our back-to-back experience.
We sat in the little booth by the entrance and dined on fried olives, baby back ribs, and the absolute best Brussels sprouts I’ve ever had in my life. They were roasted and salty but also sweet due to some kind of jam. And the lardons. Good lord the lardons. This was easily the best meal we had all weekend and we only ordered appetizers.
Oh yeah, there was beer, too. Track #10 and 10 Commandments at Lost Abbey. And a taster of Angel’s Share aged in brandy barrels because when in San Marcos. They were all great but I don’t think it was the right environment for a critical tasting sesh. At Stone I lightened up and had the Witty Moron, a 4.9% ABV black wit that did its job (washing down delicious food) admirably. The experience was so satisfying that I am willing to forgive the unnecessary 25 minute wait we had to endure in an essentially empty restaurant.
Since we were staying in Oceanside, I got a chance to try some local flavor at Bagby Beer Company and Local Tap House. Both spots were excellent and I found I could really get used to heated outdoor seating. LTH is where I was able to tick an Alpine Nelson which was delicious, obvs, but why so cloudy? I was pleasantly surprised with Bagby as they had something like 30 of their own beers on tap and the few that I tried were top notch.
I couldn’t travel down into the heart of west coast beer without bringing some back with me. The bottle shop at Pizza Port in Carlsbad (while certainly no Chuck’s) was more than sufficient. I got a handful of SD/LA beers along with a Pliny the Elder because it was there and two Bell’s beers. I find it funny that I had to go all the way to Oceanside, CA in order to get beer made in Michigan, but whatever.
I did a makeshift job trying to wrap these up for our flight home and the kind woman checking our bags at the airport, seemed dubious they would survive. The box was labeled “FRAGILE” which probably tipped her off that something was up. After inquiring what was within, I told here, perhaps a little to proudly, that it was full of beer. She asked if it was packed securely and I informed her, again maybe a little too confidently, that there were plenty of t-shirts in there for added cushioning.
It turned out just fine. Yes, the TSA opened it up to make sure everything was on the up-and-up It probably was for the best, since they taped it up much better than I had originally.