Sunday, December 14, 2008

Ballast Point Sculpin/SD Trip Roundup

The goal of the trip was to pick up a few bottles of Sculpin and explore 1 or 2 new beer places in San Diego. Our first stop of the day was Ballast Point to grab a pint and some bottles of Sculpin IPA. To my surprise we ran into some Summer of Beer readers JRhode and friends. That obviously made the Ballast Point trip fun being able to geek it with some other craft beer lovers. Sculpin was very good on tap, though I was told it may be slightly better out of the bottle. The first thing I noticed was how similar it seemed to what I remember of Mission IPA. A nice bitterness that doesn't come across as harsh, and a lot of citrus to it, I picked up a dominant orange zest flavor in it, like Mission IPA. I forgot to take a picture of the Sculpin but it's a really nice looking IPA. I was gonna order a 2nd pint to enjoy and take a picture of but without having eaten anything that morning and me being the driver, I decided against it. The Ballast Point location we went to was the Old Grove location and I thought the tasting room was pretty cool... small but a nice place to hang out and try some beers. Almost forgot to mention, thanks to JRhode and friends for letting me sample the bourbon barrel aged Black Marlin Porter... it seemed like it'd be a pretty solid beer in small portions.

I actually didn't realize how much flavor Sculpin had in it until I got to my next destination and favorite beer bar in San Diego, O'Brien's, and ordered a Russian River IPA (on the right). Kevin took my recommendation for a new beer and ordered a Pure Hoppiness (on the left). RR IPA is one of my all-time favorite IPA's (I think I prefer it over Blind Pig), but after having that Sculpin the RR IPA seemed very one dimensional, lacking some of its better flavors with only some fresh tasting bitterness (if that makes sense) coming through. I still enjoyed it but am thinking Sculpin might have numbed my taste buds a bit. O'Brien's had a bunch of stuff on tap that I've had before, lots of good beers, though I was really looking forward to trying something new, just not a Seasonal/Christmas beer at this point. Since I was driving though I decided to stay relatively light in ABV with my old friend Blind Pig (pictured left). We stayed at O'Brien's and watched the Real Madrid/Barcelona (or "Barthelona" according to Vick the Brick Jacobs) match and then decided to head out and get to a couple other places.

The next stop was the Toronado. We had a pint and took off. I was looking forward to having a Green Flash 30th Street Pale Ale but they were out. Instead I ordered a Telegraph Winter Ale which reminded me a lot of Moonlight's Working For Tips, a beer brewed with Redwood tips instead of hops. This beer had almost the same appearance (dark yet kinda murky clear) and absolutely no head and kind of oily looking. It looked dead in the glass but had a very interesting spicy smell. Apparently they used cinnamon, allspice, and sweet ancho chilies. It was ok, I wouldn't really seek it out again though... just not my thing. Kevin had a New Belgium 2 Below, which he thought was an interesting, fairly solid beer. I probably won't go out of my way to get to San Diego's Toronado again, it didn't seem to have much character to it. I knew it wouldn't measure up to the original Toronado in San Francisco but it did seem to lack a lot of character, though maybe it was just because it was 3pm on a cold, rainy Saturday. At some point I'll be back just to try their sausages.

Once we finished at Toronado we headed to get some more food at a place Kevin has gone many times called Santana's, a little fast food Mexican joint that I still don't really know where it's located. That was great stuff. It's hard to mess up a bean & cheese burrito but this one was really good because their tortillas were pretty good.

On the way back home we stopped in Temecula to check out a pub called Barley & Hops Olde World Family Tavern for a beer. Kevin got a Pliny the Elder, while I went with a Full Sail Lupulin Fresh Hop Pale Ale. That beer is the reason I won't be seeking out any Full Sail products in the future (not like I was ever impressed with them after trying their pale ale a while back). This beer had the same weird, metallic, weird hop type of flavor that I remember their pale ale having. Unfortunately I had to suck down 20 oz of it. I'm glad I got to stop in to check out Barley & Hops, it was a pretty cool place I'll definitely be back to, but that last beer of the day was like ordering 2 waffles and a breast at Rosco's... You don't really need that 2nd waffle, it's overkill. It seems like such a good idea at the start though that you can't resist.

If things work out right I'll be heading back down to Alpine on Thursday afternoon to grab some growlers of Nelson.


J.Rhode said...

Keep us posted on your timing for Nelson on Thursday at Alpine and we'll have some goodies for you. Drinking Sculpin and Bad Boy growlers during the Charger game for Jesse The Hutt's 30th bday (miraculous win). Bad Boy is a beast, Pliny the Youngerish? Sculpin no slouch either. Started the morning with an Abyss side by side '07 vs. '08. A standoff.

Steve said...

That was quite a day for you guys... Bad Boy, Sculpin, and then how the Chargers pulled that one out. If everything works out right I'll be down there between 2 and 3. I'll keep ya posted.

Rational Realist said...

Awesome beer and Mexican restaurants like Santana are two reasons it would be hard to ever leave San Diego. Sounds like you had a great weekend. So you liked the Sculpin? You seemed more disappointed that the RR IPA was underwhelming after tasting the Sculpin than impressed with the Sculpin. The Telegraph Winter Ale is unique beer to say the least, had one last winter. Not sure I try another, kind of ruins the palate for anything else. Agree with your opinion of the Lupulin, I hate getting stuck with a big glass of something that sucks.

Steve said...

I wish I had realized they do 10oz pours but I hadn't looked at the menu and just took the bar-lady's recommendation. But they do 10oz pours for all their beers... Next time I go back I'll be going that route.