Day Three – The Great Whyte North
Day Three takes us about 20 minutes up north to the amazing concentration of craft breweries in the town of Miramar. I hope you saved some room yesterday. Hidden among the miles and miles of non-descript industrial park buildings are several amazing breweries. Next to the Pottery Barn warehouse and a distribution center for a pharmaceutical company might be the next Stone Brewing. Come along but do not tarry, for the way is treacherous, but I shall be your guide.
None of the breweries up in Miramar have amazing outdoor areas, but Greenflash comes the closest. The industrial park surroundings are mostly hidden by some trees and a fence around the side. Again there is astroturf here but it kind of works in the setting. The inside is very industrial, feeling mostly like a warehouse with a bar and small gift shop. The menu at the bar is vast though, thanks both to Greenflash’s large menu and the acquisition of Alpine brewing in 2015.
Both brands are on draft here and the small taster glasses make for perfect sampling of a large selection. There are a large number of IPAs and pale ales here, but again some gems can be found for those who search the menu. La Freak, a heady Belgian ale is delightful.
It’s too bad the only Greenflash beers I’ve seen carried around us is the IPA. However, in this setting with the beer conditioning in casks inside and a warm glow from the sun outside at the tables, everything tastes good.
Alesmith is our furthest point north on the tour. Also in an industrial park, it at least has a little more character inside. The outside is essentially a parking lot with chairs, but due to more giant garage doors, the inside can feel like outside.
Thanks to some huge comfortable sofas, you’ll probably want to be inside as well. The beer selection here is also pretty wide for a single brewer and has some interesting twists on their popular stout such as a coffee infused version. You have to get the nitro version as well to compare how smooth and creamy the mere substitution of nitrogen for carbon dioxide makes it.
The flights here are also very cool, served in little chalices arrayed along what seems like a candelabra of wrought iron. Very industrial chic.
Ballast Point is probably already familiar to you, oh savvy beer drinker. It’s probably the second most widely distributed San Diego beer behind Stone. They are known for their mixing of ingredients into their beer, particularly their sculpins such as grapefruit mixed with IPA.
The Old Grove location is great for two reasons. It doesn’t get quite as crowded, and the outdoor patio is pretty nice, though you definitely still know you are sitting in an industrial park. The selection here goes way beyond the one or two of their beers you see in the store. Beyond several other interesting mixtures there are several more tame wheat and less hoppy ale varieties.
I made myself an interesting pepper sampler with the three beers available with chilis in them, the habenero sculpin IPA, guajillo pepper pale ale, and thai chili wahoo white beer. The habenero was incredibly spicy, almost to the point of hiding any beer flavor. The guajillo was tasty, but a bit too low on the chili spectrum for me. The thai chili was just right and perfect for me with my taste for witbier.
Though there was a strange juxtaposition while watching hockey on the tv while sitting out in the sun with a beer, it is a perfect place to while away an afternoon.
Don’t while away for too long though or you might miss Lost Abbey. A significant drive further north, it’s a bit out of the way, but worth the detour.
The brewery is combined with Port brewing and the combination of styles is awesome. Port focuses on more traditional west coast styles with a lot of hops. Lost Abbey concentrates on Belgian style brews with a nice hop character. Luckily, you can get both in the same place.
Of course it is in an industrial park, beer isn’t allowed outside, but you can approximate sitting outside at the tables near the large garage door again. Somewhere in one of these industrial parks must be a garage door manufacturer making a fortune.
The beer is awesome here and it is a great testament to the wide variety of beer styles as well. It’s almost like It’s a Small World for beer. Except you’re in an industrial park.
If this hasn’t been enough industrial parks for you in one day, there’s also Stone, another Ballast Point, Whyte Labs, and Societe around these parts. But we’ll visit Stone tomorrow so it may be time to apply some aloe after all that parking lot tanning and get ready for day four.