Bottle (re)Cap: San Diego Beer News in October and November
Delectable dinners, righteous brews, and other stuff you don’t want to miss
SDBW Guild Fest revelers from 2015. | Photo: Bruce Glassman
October is traditionally the time when our brewers focus on celebrating two main things: First, they do their part to mark the fall season with Oktoberfest-style beers and events that remind us (even though it’s still 90º F. here!) that most of the world is getting ready to settle in for the winter. [I guess Oktoberfest in San Diego is also sort of a perverse celebration of just how lucky we are weather-wise.] The second thing brewers are focusing on is our upcoming celebration of San Diego as one of the world’s greatest brewing Meccas: San Diego Beer Week, which runs from November 4-13. Here’s the rundown on that:
San Diego Beer Week
This is one of the few times you’ll actually be glad that the week is 10 days long! San Diego Beer Week is an annual event that highlights breweries, pubs, craft-centric restaurants, and other beer-related businesses by organizing hundreds of beer dinners, lunches, and breakfasts all over the county in addition to special tap takeovers, beer-centric recreations, and beer training seminars. The week’s highlights include The Guild Fest (Saturday, November 5, downtown on Broadway Pier), which is the signature kick-off event, and The Beer Garden (Sunday, November 13 at The Lodge at Torrey Pines), which pairs some of San Diego’s star chefs with some of San Diego’s star breweries for an afternoon of great food and beer. For a calendar of all SDBW events, go to www.sdbw.org
And, at the end of the month…
Craft Beer & Cider Fest, Del Mar
More than 30 food trucks will take part in the Del Mar Craft Beer festival. | Photo courtesy Del Mar Racetrack
Want something to do with the family on the Saturday after Thanksgiving? This festival, held at the Del Mar Racetrack, will offer more than 100 craft brews and ciders in conjunction with a Gourmet Food Truck Festival that will offer selections from more than 30 food trucks. The event is Saturday, November 26, from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. More information at www.dmtc.com/calendar/detail/cider
Turns out, this was not the month to try to lose weight. Among October’s many fine beer-centric events were three notable beer dinners that highlighted some of San Diego’s most food-friendly brews:
Societe Dinner at Tasting Room, Del Mar
Cheescake with passionfruit, coconut cake, and raspberry. | Photo: Anthony Tran
For their inaugural beer dinner, Tasting Room Executive Chef Steven Lona and Chef de Cuisine Jenny Goycochea drew inspiration from Societe, which is one of their favorite breweries. The 5-course dinner melded American influences with those of Mexico and Asia, and highlighted the exceptionally food-friendly nature of Societe’s beers (especially the Belgian styles). Gold-medal pairing of the evening: Cheesecake with passionfruit, coconut cake, and raspberry sauce paired with The Filly, which is a light, crisp, and subtle Belgian-style wheat beer. Estery aromas and flavors of banana, clove, and lemon peel offset the sweet, fruity notes of the dessert wonderfully.
Alpine Dinner at Abnormal Beer Co.
Duck with Vadouvan spices, caramelized yogurt, and barley. | Photo courtesy Abnormal Beer Co.
This was the last of the monthly beer dinners for Cork & Craft/Abnormal, though they will continue to do events on a quarterly basis. The Alpine collaboration featured excellent dishes from Chris Gentile, chef at Double Standard Kitchenetta, and Cork & Craft’s Chef Phillip Esteban, matched with a stellar lineup of delicious, full-flavored heavy-hitters from Alpine Beer Company. Included in the lineup were HFS (bronze medal winner at GABF), Alpha Voyager IIIPA, Barrel-Aged Rye’der in the Storm, m3 with Mostra coffee, and Singled Out Pacific Jade IPA. Blue-ribbon pairing of the evening: The Great 2013, which is a 14% ABV barley wine, was outstanding with a dish of duck, Vadouvan (a French-inspired Indian spice blend), Japanese Raisin Tree sprigs, caramelized yogurt, and barley. Big caramel, butterscotch, and vanilla flavors in the beer paired perfectly with the sweet, caramelized duck and the Indian spices.
Look for the next Abnormal event in April, which will be their Anniversary Dinner, and then a collaboration with St. Archer sometime in the Spring.
Bitter Brothers Rocking It Family Style
East Meets West Coast Oysters. | Photo: Bruce Glassman
For the second installment in their quarterly dinner series, Bitter Brothers co-founder Bill Warnke assembled a talented group of chefs to collaborate in the kitchen with him: Melissa Mayer (Martini Media and founder of Portland’s Olympia Oyster Bar), Steve Brown (Harvest, Cosecha), Olivier Bioteau (A.R. Valentine), and BBB’s own Travis Clifford (formerly of Ballast Point, soon to be owner/chef of the Wanderer food truck). John Hunter’s notably food-friendly beers supported an impressive 5-course menu that included seafood, duck, beef, and a French-influenced Baba (soaked cake) for dessert. Grand-prize pairing of the evening: Chef Mayer’s East Meets West Coast Oysters paired with Family Tart Berliner Weisse. One oyster (a Shigoku) was adorned with chocolate persimmon, toasted quinoa, basil, and Thai chile, while the other oyster (a Puffer Wellfleet) was adorned with cuttlefish ink (smelled like truffle!), forest mushrooms, and yeast. The tart, refreshing crispness of the Berliner Weisse was the perfect foil for the briney, earthy, and rich flavors of the oysters.
Other October beer news:
Coronado’s Bourbon-Barrel Brown Release
The “Coronado Collection” features special barrel-aged beauties of all kinds, and each release highlights different kinds of barrels as well as different styles of beer. Unhitched is an Imperial Brown (9.9% ABV) that provides enticing aromas of toffee, vanilla, and chocolate and has a rich, satisfying mouthfeel that will also warm your winter cockles. The beer is available now, in 22-ounce bottles, through all of Coronado’s extensive distribution channels.
A Sweet Story at Finest Made Ales
As part of their recent re-branding, the folks at Finest Made Ales doubled their tasting space, re-tooled their tap lineup, and added some non-alcoholic offerings to their tasting board. Their new lineup of craft sodas has been a huge hit with the brewery’s fans, especially those patrons with kids who are happy to have an option other than water for the young ones to sip along with mom and dad. The house-made Root Beer is a core regular, with a rotation of other cool flavors that include Pineapple Basil, Lemon Lime, and Caramelized Apple Ginger. Cranberry Mint will debut around the holidays, and future flavors will likely include Pear Ginger and Blood Orange Vanilla.
It feels a little like you stumbled into a speakeasy when you enter Knotty Brewing’s new space downtown (842 Market Street), but it’s kind of a nice option if you don’t want the larger and louder environment of The Knotty Barrel, which is right next door. The tasting room is cozy, casual, and feels “crafty” and homemade, with a small section for tables and seating for about five people at the bar.
Brewer Donovan Lane, a transplant from the East Coast, makes solid, well-made beers, all of which are below 6% ABV. Of all the styles he offers, the Belgians shine the brightest; Friar’s Breakfast (Belgian Table Beer) and Jersey Mike’s Belgian Wit were good, but the tastiest and most interesting was the Dark Monk Rises Black Belgian Ale, which balanced coffee and molasses flavors with light, crisp citrus components very nicely.