Trip to San Diego

Rachel and I celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary around North San Diego yesterday. We went to the Wild Animal Park in the morning, which was fun. Going for a few hours was perfect though, I couldn’t see myself spending all day there. Of note during our trip there, we saw two desert turtles getting it on:

I’m glad someone’s getting some on my anniversary! (Just kidding, sweetheart!)

We then had an excellent lunch at the Stone World Bistro. We split the Spud Buds (pretty damn good!), and I had the Tikka Masala with a bourbon barrel aged Sierra Nevada Celebration, and Rachel had the Bruchetta BLT with the Craftsman Triple White Sage. The people at Stone put a lot of attention into the details of that restaurant, it was a great experience.

We met with Greg Koch, Stone’s Co-Founder and CEO, and prodded him about the brewery business. Greg’s a great guy and was very willing to share his expertise with me. Stone has seen huge success in their short 11 years in business and I think this is in large part due to Greg’s business sense and vision for the direction of the brewery. Thanks for the advice, Greg!

We spoke briefly about The Bruery serving beer at the 11th Anniversary celebration, and I hope we’ll be pouring there. By mid-September, we will hopefully have a few batches in the works, but they likely won’t be ready to serve at the festival. If we’re pouring our beers, we’ll be serving some of our beers brewed on our 10 gallon Beer, Beer and More Beer (B3) system. I love going to the Stone anniversary festivals so I’m anxious to serve our beers at the event.

We moved on to Lost Abbey / Port Brewing in San Marcos, just 5 minutes away from Stone. This was Stone’s first brewery, and it’s always exciting visiting this brewery. Things seem to change on a weekly basis here. There’s always something new going into the barrels, coming out of the barrels, and the people who work here are a lot of fun to hang around. Tomme was on a trip to beer-related trip to Italy (lucky bastard). We got to talk with Bo Winegarner, the assistant brewer here. Bo and I met the first time at the homebrew judging for the Orange County Fair, and since I’ve seen him at a lot of homebrew judgings. It’s awesome that he’s working at such an exciting and innovative brewery.

Lost Abbey has a very loyal following, and there were quite a few people hanging out on a Friday afternoon. Whenever I visit The Lost Abbey / Port Brewing, I’m always a bit surprised how friendly and approachable everyone is. It’s a fun place to hang out. Whenever we open up our brewery to tastings, I hope there will be a similar atmosphere. I saw many familiar faces while we were there, and got to speak with a few people who actually read this blog. You guys must be really bored! Rachel says I need to make this blog more interesting, so there’s a chance it’ll be more interesting to read in the near future. I’ll probably just post more pictures. Didn’t I just post turtles humping? It’s getting better already.

It was great to meet Julian, a homebrewer and fellow beer geek from our neck of the woods in Garden Grove. I asked him if he was going to submit anything to our homebrew competition, but he doesn’t have any Belgian beers at the moment. He just did brew a malt liquor though, something that could fit into the Specialty Beer category of our competition. Forget the 750 mL champagne bottle shipment, we’re going straight to 40’s. I’ve heard great things about Julian’s beers (especially his IPA’s), so I hope he’ll be able to enter something. I’m sure his Malt Liquor (“Thundertrain”?) kicks ass too, literally.

As a final note, The Lost Abbey is one of the breweries I look to for inspiration and techniques on how I’ll be making my beers. Of particular interest is their barrel aging techniques. I’m looking forward to aging many of our beers in oak, and these guys know how to do it right. If you’ve ever had Cuvee de Tomme or Angel’s Share, you know what I’m talking about. Check out the barrels at Lost Abbey (this is a fraction of what they have aging at the brewery):

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