Started off the day by driving out to Alpine. Filled a bunch of growlers- 3 Duet, 1 Nelson, 1 Pure Hoppiness, 1 Captain Stout. Had a couple tasters as well. I hadn't drank Duet in about a year so I got a taster and man I can't wait till I crack a growler of it next week. It was my friend Adam's first visit to Alpine Brewing and he loved it, especially the Duet. After the growler fills we headed to O'Brien's for lunch where we met Steve T. Started myself off with a Russian River IPA to pair with the mandatory garlic fries and burger. Went with a pint of Alpine Nelson Rye IPA next (the very light beer pictured right), which was probably the best pour of Nelson I've ever tasted (better than my growlers from the last batch). That beer is crazy grapefruity and those Nelson Sauvin hops really do give off a grape-like aroma.
At about 2:45 we left O'Brien's and headed up to the Port/Lost Abbey anniversary part which was to start at 3. When we got there the line was loooooong. Like Angel's Share release long. This crowd made a Pliny the Younger release at O'Brien's look mild. It was weird because for the first two anniversaries there was never a line to get in, or at least not a substantial wait if there were a line I forgot about. When we finally got through the door we crammed our way towards the bar but soon realized that getting a taster was going to be harder than getting in had been. We decided that this was not going to be worth the trouble and the musty heat inside the room of hundreds of smelly beer geeks, so we got a refund on our way out and headed over to Stone. As much as we love to, and wanted to partake in the amazing Lost Abbey beers, this particular instance was just not going to be worth it, especially since we weren't going to be staying in SD real late into the evening. I'll have to wait to try some of the 3rd Anniversary Strong Ale when it hits stores soon.
At Stone we found a very solid beer list. I started off with a newly released Deschutes Mirror Mirror barleywine. High gravity beers are still being poured in those crappy mini-pint glasses which mute almost all aroma. The beer had a standard sweet barleywine smell to me, nothing out of the ordinary. The taste wasn't as sweet as I would expect, but it was pretty malty rich and slightly fruity. There was a bitterness there but it was very soft and not overly aggressive. A good barleywine but not really my favorite type of beer anyway. Oh, back to these crappy mini pint glasses Stone uses, not only can you not smell much aroma from them, the choice of what beers they put in them are a little strange. For the most part it looks like anything over 8% abv, but then they serve The Bruery's Hottenroth Berliner Weisse, at 3.1% ABV, in one as well? For a light, low alcohol, easily chuggable beer like Hottenroth, that's like 2 sips in that tiny glass.
The next beer I had was a fallback to good old Bear Republic Apex IPA. Now that is a great tasting IPA. I liked it the first time I had it but realized how very good it is today. Probably the best effort I've seen in terms of making an IPA/DIPA that has a nice malty sweetness to combine with the big hop flavor (we generally hate any substantial malty sweetness in our IPA's to compete with the hop flavor because it meshes weird- ask Vinnie Cilurzo). Steve and Adam also ordered some desserts, one being a very strange jalapeno cheesecake with balsamic vinegar and some sort of jalapeno jelly. Not my cup of tea.
JTH also met us over at Stone after leaving the Lost Abbey party (he and his sister actually got in fairly early and got some beer). He brought a pretty amazing present from he and his fellow Booze Reviews crew. An amazing collection of beer they crammed into this little monkey bag and were generous enough to give me. Can't thank you guys (JHam, JRhode, JTH) enough for that.
Ok enough of the mushy stuff, I came home with about 75% of the beer for the party next Saturday. Gonna pick up a couple growlers sometime this week... maybe at The Bruery or Pizza Port if I can make it down to these places in my week off here.