It is early morning and I’m swimming in a coffin-formed pool surrounded with the aid of gnarly ancient cacti, not noted by way of a 12-story floral mural. It changed into an invigorating manner to awaken taking note of the muted stirring of downtown LA – and I needed it after simplest two hours’ sleep. The night earlier than, the Mad Men vibe at the trendy foyer bar of the Hotel Figueroa had led me to order a couple of overdue-night Old Fashioneds to help me on my manner. I must have had some extra. As my Californian sister-in-law advised me: “LA for cocktails, San Diego for beer.”
I was heading to San Diego to visit my brother and his circle of relatives and a large part of the attraction turned into to see for me whether or not the metropolis, with greater than two hundred craft breweries and tasting rooms, justified its “craft beer capital of America” billing (although Portland and Denver would no question object). Rather than flying or riding, I’d decided to journey from LA to San Diego using train on the double-deck Amtrak Pacific Surfliner, which hugs the coast for about a third of the 3-hour adventure.
As we slowly trundled out of the mighty artwork deco Union Station, the train’s woozy whistle signaled a semi-industrial backdrop of packing containers, parking masses and significant warehouses earlier than choosing up velocity as we hit suburban Orange County, flanked by the Santa Ana mountains and the Pacific. The hazy sunshine inland ultimately gave manner to three wispy clouds as we met the coast at San Clemente. Suddenly the sea turned into just a few ft away, together with miles of infinite sandy seashore studded with sky blue lifeguard towers and surfers looking forward to waves. It turned into a scenic and relaxing way to reach.
As well as my brother displaying me round his favorite locations, I’d arranged to go on a private excursion of some brewpubs and tasting rooms in North Park – considered one of America’s hippest neighborhoods, in line with Forbes magazine – with Summer Nixon of Brew Hop beer excursions. It’s a great manner to discover several breweries and faucet rooms while a person else drives and educates you approximately the one-of-a-kind sorts and tasting notes. We headed for craft beer significant along thirtieth Street, wherein you may without difficulty hit ten first-rate places in a 1.5-mile stretch. It’s no longer for not anything that Summer insists on you signing a waiver announcing you’ll be responsible for the smooth-up in case you overdo it.
There’s a rabbit hollow to fall into when it comes to navigating the overpowering type of craft beers in San Diego. Summer taught me approximately color, readability (extraordinary to cloudy), aroma (sweet and malty or sharp and hoppy), flavor, mouthfeel, head retention (a very good element) and the lacing at the glass (rings) and end. At Epping brewpub, I attempted its Natural Bridge: Vienna Lager consultation beer, which had simply received a gold medal at the 2018 Great American Beer Festival – it changed into smooth, malty and had a hint of smokiness. The hoppier and citrusy 10:45 to Denver became voted the high-quality San Diego beer and IPA of 2018. The Dark American Sour with plum and cherry had chocolate and fruit notes and a pleasingly tart aftertaste. At Epping you may also get a lager canned immediately to take out – referred to as a crawler (now not to be stressed with a growler, that’s a refillable glass bottle to take away).
A very distinctive experience awaited me round the corner at JuneShine, which claims to be the sector’s first alcoholic kombucha bar, and it brews its personal natural Jun kombucha (fermented inexperienced tea and honey) onsite. The beverages have half the sugar of beer and also are gluten-free and probiotic. It’s truly going for the wholesome-ingesting crowd. I attempted the cucumber mojito, honey ginger lemon and the blood orange mint, which turned into my favorite – bitter however refreshingly so.
Next, we headed slightly off 30th Street to Thorn Street Brewery, which has a real neighborhood feel. I could have drunk its smooth, chocolatey Locomotive, a coconut porter, all day lengthy however at eight.3% It’s close to Special Brew ranges, so it changed into quickly on to the Tropic Daze IPA – extraordinarily hoppy and filled with tropical flavors. There are so many notable breweries to visit. However, unmissable are Societe, also north at Kearny Mesa, Fall Brewing and Modern Times (though the days of its large Michael Jackson and Bubbles mural may be numbered). Because of the legal licensing guidelines approximately serving food at brewpubs, most tasting rooms have food trucks out of doors, too. There are the inevitable tacos (City Tacos are high-quality). However you may also get sushi with a Mexican twist – at Sushi Uno, I tried the Matador specialty roll filled with tempura shrimp, avocado, cucumber and cilantro crowned with crab, shrimp and spicy sauce. La Cochinita is also a splendid fusion of Mexican and Japanese cuisine. Then there’s the kimchi quesadilla from Eat Your Heart Out.