Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mini Beercation - Day #2

I had been really excited to try Pizza Port for some time.  They make some incredible beers
and their love of hopping their American Style ales with Simcoe and other high alpha acid hops is really after my own heart.  So, after some roughly 20 miles hiked, we headed off to Pizza Port Carlsbad for Day #2 of Beercation 2010.
Unfortunately, through some navigational errors we ended up at Pizza Port Solano Beach instead.  This turned out to be a very fortunate miscalculation.  Solano Beach is actually the original location for Pizza Port and it gave us a glimpse of "Pizza Port past" that we wouldn't have gotten otherwise.

Walking into this joint was a serious blast from the past.  This place has a real small town and, dare I say, Pacific Northwest feel about it.  The beer places I grew up with, and came to love, were essentially giant rooms with big german beer hall style tables, video games at one end, and a walk up counter at the other where you can order your beer and/or pizza from the plethora of college kids working the night shift.  It's certainly not fancy, and probably not entirely hygienic, but you can fill up your growler, watch the game, and enjoy some great west coast style pizza.  It's the kind of place that simply doesn't exist in LA and may cease to exist as beer bars become increasingly fancy establishments in urban areas.  Not that I'm against all the wonderful new places that are sprouting up, they offer their own value, but I do think there is still a place for the good old fashion beer and pizza joint, and I couldn't have been happier to walk into this throwback.

Once I saw the beer board I got even more excited.  Most of their own stuff on the board were not available in the bottle, at least that I've seen.  That always makes for great tasting.  We started off with the Swami IPA.  Swami was just a solid American style IPA with classic Port Brewing Simcoe style hopping. I was really enjoying the Swami until I tried The Road IPA.  This beer blew my mind.  It was just a wonderfully balanced, yet still strong hopped double IPA. There were strong hints of citrus and a cannabis type flavor and it really finished with a lot of bite.  We enjoyed these beers with a delicious vegetarian pizza.  It was hard to contain my excitement.

The next round was the Jules Winfield.  This was described as a Strong American Stout, but it was the hoppiest stout I've ever tasted: not that that's a bad thing.  This beer could have almost passed as a Black IPA if it were not for the rich chocolate flavors on the front end of its taste.

Finally, I went with a Mikkeller IPA, which they happened to have on tap there.  It might seem strange to order a Mikkeller at Port, but it's so rare to find a Mikkeller beer on tap that I felt like I had to give it a try.  It actually proved to be very interesting comparison to the very American styled IPAs.  After drinking the long list of Port beers, the Mikkeller IPA was really overpowering with caramel and was a bit too strong in this comparison.

We met our neighbors as one does in close quarters and long tables like this.  One of them may have actually been Casey Affleck...

I was kind enough to help them pick out some better beers to order, and they returned the favor by buying us some of their pitcher... with no glass.  I improvised with some pouring skills I learned in Cinque Terre.

Afterwards, I bought a couple of rare bottles they had by the register.  The anniversary ale made me giddy like a school boy.

Next week, the long awaited journey to Stone Brewery headquarters for a very different sort of beer experience...

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