Holiday Drinks 2016

My birthday is around Christmas, so it can be hard to get friends together during this time, but I was lucky enough to round up some of my favorite people this year and hit up some beer adventures.

Having lived in San Diego for almost a decade, I wanted to make the rounds in a neighborhood that was not one of the usual party spots (e.g. Downtown, PB, etc.) I also wanted to drink somewhere walking distance from a Coaster station, so I decided we would take the Coaster and get off at Old Town Transit Center. It’s really unfortunate San Diego increasingly has a stick up its ass, and banned alcohol on the Coaster, but I guess it’s not like we needed any extra alcohol, considering how the night progressed. We took a short stroll from Old Town to Modern Times Brewing, which was on a nondescript street corner that appeared relatively uneventful and dead until we got inside.

Modern Times was full of the holiday spirit, complete with Christmas tree and arts and craft supplies for those who like to play with glue, glitter, and pipe cleaners while drinking craft brews.

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Modern Times beers are fantastic, with my favorite probably being the Blazing World. While I rarely favor ambers, this one definitely is more related to an IPA in flavor profile. They served their tasters in cigar boxes.

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We stayed at Modern Times for a few rounds of beers, and made our exit when we had our fix of making Christmas trees, wands, and headbands out of popsicle sticks and pipe cleaners. We took an Uber to Old Town Public House. It’s a pretty small bar, but even so, it was surprising that at 9:00 p.m. on a Saturday, there was literally only one other person in the bar. They had a fantastic selection of Belgian beers, which is unusual. Bars in San Diego tend to emphasize a vast collection of IPA’s, and rarely feature any significant selection of Belgians (dude, Stella does not count).

We had just one pint each here, and walked over to Home & Away, another neat bar in the area. Again, this was another joint that had a decent selection of beers on tap, and also had games a plenty, including ping pong on the patio. We really liked this bar, but again, it was surprisingly empty for a Saturday night. We did make friends with a regular who lived walking distance away. He treated us to a round of Fireball shots, which was wonderful of him, but regrettable when the morning rolled around.

When the bar closed, we Ubered back to our place to hang out and play Catchphrase until almost 4:00 a.m. It was a perfect end to a birthday celebration.

A Few Breweries Downtown

We decided to walk around to some breweries downtown a little while back, and started out at Monkey Paw Brewing,where we did several tasting flights.

Dr. Bill’s ESB was malty and a little sweet. The I-5 Coconut Black IPA was more coconut and less IPA than I would prefer. The Gibbon Back IIPA was lemony and floral. The Low and Slow Smoked Lager was interesting. I’m not usually one for lagers, but decided to give this one a go. It smelled sort of like smoked salmon, and had savory notes with a hint of smoked plum.

For our second flight, we had the Rhubarb Saison, which was fruity, slightly tart, with grapefruit tones. The Dark Side of Paradise, a macadamia nut milk stout, was a big hit with us. It was smooth, velvety, and practically a dessert. The Might Joe Young Stout was another good stout, with an obvious coffee flavor, more of a bite, but still smooth.

Our friends ordered some food while we were here, and decided it was the best Philly Cheesesteak they’d ever had.

Next, we made our way to Mission Brewery. Mission Brewery operates out of a building that used to be the Wonder Bread factory, which gives it a unique atmosphere and a certain charm that sets it apart from other breweries located inside industrial parks. We hadn’t been here in about 5 years, and were surprised to find some major changes to this place. You still have to walk through some pretty sketchy areas of downtown to get here (at one point, our friend saw an entire block of trash, tents, and shopping carts and questioned whether there was an alternative route to get to this place) but once you get in, it’s a whole different world.

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When we came 5 years prior, it was relatively empty and quiet. This time, it was busy as hell, and they’d added more tables, a small store, and opened up an additional area in the back.

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Mission has a great selection of IPA’s, so this was sort of a heaven for me, but if you’re not into IPA’s it might be a bit less exciting. After Mission, we walked to Half Door Brewing, which is located in a converted house. It is adorable, and I’d passed it with curiosity on several occasions in the last year. This was another IPA heaven, and I enjoyed most of the beers I tasted, including House of Hops, the Pale Ale, the Buzz, the Northeast IPA, and the Hoban. My only complaint about this place is that the tasters are a bit pricey for what they are.