san diego beer tour (ballast point, hess, alesmith)

with family in carlsbad, my trips to san diego are usually limited to stops at north county heavy hitters including pizza port, lost abbey/port, and stone (not that there’s anything wrong with that lineup).  however, last weekend AP and I decided to venture a little further south to check out a few more of san diego’s numerous brew locales.

  • our trip started with a brewery tour of ballast point’s old grove facility and distillery.  their distillery was especially impressive in that it was technically separate from the brewery (it was fenced off from the rest of the brewery and had its own entrance and exit to the street).  word got out that in addition to their gin and rum, a young (3-year) bourbon-style whiskey was in the works…
  • after our tour, we enjoyed tasters of fresh sculpin, even keel, piper down, and sextant.  the tasting room was packed at one in the afternoon, with tour buses full of visitors and locals filling growlers.
  • we managed to avoid the crowds at out next stop – hess brewing (although I did spy a beer tour van leaving the parking lot as we arrived).  hess had a very relaxed vibe and a great bartender to match.
  • with AP tagged as the designated driver, I ran through a flight of tasters, including grazias, jucundus, intrepidus, trinitas, brunus induresco, brunus robustus, and ex umbris, while chatting up some locals.  all of their offerings were very well made, and a high level of attention was evident in their 1.5 barrel “nanobrewery” batches.  hess was definitely my favorite stop of the trip, and I’m bummed to be missing out on their first anniversary celebration this upcoming weekend.
  • our third stop of the day was alesmith, which was a quick five-minute drive from hess (ballast point is only a few minutes away as well).  a spartan tasting room with a lineup including classics such as speedway stout, grand cru, horny devil, X, and wee heavy had me ready for an afternoon nap in no time.
  • other trip highlights included newport pizza and olive tree marketplace in ocean beach, and the super jr. market downtown, which had an absolutely amazing temp-controlled beer selection.
  • despite running through a half dozen beer spots in SD, only a fraction of my list was checked off.  it will take at least a few more trips south to cover all my bases down there…

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