Fall arrives with the promise of brats and lederhosen, but there’s more to October than its namesake festing period. Don’t believe us, then read on and see for yourself the plethora of ale- and lager-fueled events that so admirably fill the period in-between Oktoberfest and next month’s San Diego Beer Week. Still not enough for you? Consult our events page for even more fun.
October | Oktoberfest Celebrations: Everyone is embracing German culture (and beer) to varying degrees, from ‘hoods like Carlsbad, El Cajon, La Jolla, La Mesa and Ocean Beach, to local breweries including AleSmith Brewing Co., Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits, Green Flash Brewing Co. and 24-7-365 Germanic Lightning Brewery. Consult our events page and brewery websites for more deets. | Various Locations, Dates & Times Vary
October | Beer to the Rescue Releases: It’s another big month of one-time-only beer releases for this charity effort benefiting the Lupus Foundation of Southern California. Half Door Brewing Co. will debut its extra special bitter (Oct. 12, East Village), followed by 32 North Brewing Co.‘s dry-hopped Irish-American red ale (Oct. 22 in Miramar) and Rip Current Brewing Co.’s red rye imperial IPA (Oct. 28 in North Park). | Various Locations, Times Vary
October 10 | Birdies & Beers: It’s the official unofficial sporting pastime enjoyed by just about every pro brewery in the Greater San Diego area. That’s right…disc golf? Go figure, but the only thing San Diego’s fermentation specialists seem to love more than ales and lagers is a good fling. Get in on a great day on the greens that includes beer, food, music and helping out a good cause. | Sun Valley Golf Course, 5080 Memorial Drive, La Mesa, 11 a.m.
October 18 | Pour It Black: As autumn sets in and the temperature “falls” from 85 degrees to a chilly 82, the time for darker, heartier beers presents itself and Stone Brewing Co. is more than prepared. With more than 100 different brown-to-onyx hued sour ales, porters, stouts, IPAs and barrel-aged brews, quantity, quality and variety are all well represented at this annual fest. | Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, 1999 Citracado Parkway, Escondido, 10 a.m.
October 21 | Drinkabout!: Yes, this event happens every month, but having the fun and value of taking part in free transport to a handful of standout imbibing strongholds offering special deals and beers within San Diego’s sudsier neighborhoods can’t be understated. Get on the bus and get in on a good time. | Various Locations; Normal Heights, North Park, South Park, University Heights; 7 p.m.
More than 20 of our local craft breweries plan to brew a beer in support of lupus research and awareness in 2015, thanks to an initiative established by journalist Brandon Hernández.
On January 31, the Beer to the Rescue campaign kicks off at Benchmark Brewing with the release of Hildegard, a triple IPA.
“Most people have heard of lupus or know someone suffering from it, but few know anything beyond the name of this autoimmune disease — what it is, its effect on those who have it or the fact that it is severely under-researched. This needs to change,” says Hernández, who was diagnosed with lupus in 2014 after years of suffering. Proceeds from Beer to the Rescue benefit the Lupus Foundation of Southern California (LFSC).
In a press release, Hernández noted that in San Diego, Imperial and Riverside Counties alone, more than 20,000 people are suffering from lupus. That number is even considered a low estimate, because most people with lupus are never diagnosed with this autoimmune disease, which negatively impacts victims via myriad painful symptoms, causes irreparable damage to vital organs and can be fatal.
“The LFSC has been in operation for 20 years, and because no one really talks about lupus — even people who have lupus — it’s hard to get people involved with our organization,” says LFSC Executive Director Hollaine Hopkins. “The Beer to the Rescue campaign will tap into the very large and passionate craft beer fan base that already exists in San Diego and help raise awareness for lupus and our organization.”
In addition to the Benchmark beer mentioned above, other Beer to the Rescue brews include a Belgian-style quadrupel from Nickel Beer Co., a dry-hopped Belgian- style single brewed with rhubarb from Monkey Paw Pub & Brewery, an imperial milk stout infused with chocolate, orange and spicy chilies from Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits, a sour ale brewed with blueberries and fermented using wild yeast from Toolbox Brewing Company, a black saison brewed with dried currants and orange peel from Lightning Brewery, and an experimentally dry-hopped wheat and passion fruit-infused Brett IPA from Green Flash Brewing Company.
More San Diego breweries plan to participate, although not all of them will be creating beers for the campaign. Some, due to brewing capacity restraints, will instead donate to the cause, host special events, and/or make LFSC a featured charity at their venues. Those breweries include 32 North, AleSmith, Amplified Ale Works, Aztec, Bagby Beer, Bolt, Coronado, Council, Intergalactic, Iron Fist, Mike Hess, Mother Earth, New English, Pizza Port Solana Beach, Port/The Lost Abbey/The Hop Concept, Rip Current, Societe, Stone (Escondido), Stone (Liberty Station), Toolbox, and URBN St.
In front of me I was staring at a glorious en plein air painting that is the sunset west of San Diego’s prime Torrey Pines Mesa. I was inside The Lodge at Torrey Pines, a 5-star craftsman-style hotel next to a golf course that hosted the U.S. Open a couple of years ago. All that was the hors d’oeuvres. I came for the main course: a cuisine and beer pairing featuring top chefs from The Lodge’s impressive Grill restaurant and the best from local brewer AleSmith.
Arriving early, I took a seat at the concise yet elegant bar tucked away behind the cozy dining room of The Grill. AleSmith X was on tap – always a treat. With full glass in hand I made my way to mingle with the other patrons on the patio.
I introduced myself to Loren Miraglia, Co-Organizer of the National Homebrewers Conference & Encinitas resident. I asked why the NHC decided to set up shop in our hometown this year. He pointed to the sunset and then added, “the economy made hotel and venue prices much more affordable, so a San Diegan NHC was a no-brainer.” When pressed for more info, he simply smiled and referred me to the NHC website.
Waiters politely hovered through the crowd, their elegant trays offering the House Made Mini Pork Corn Dogs with a tomato confit as well as fresh glasses of X to accompany. Soon, the announcement was made that dinner was imminent. We took to our assigned seats on the two long tables that were set to accompany the 40 or so people present.
Upon settling in, Head Chef and mastermind behind The Grill’s beer pairing, Kyle Bergman gave an introduction and told us what to expect:
The first dish was to be a Smokey Pork Belly Salad with various fresh leafy greens and a dressing called “Green Goddess.” AleSmith’s Nautical Nut Brown Ale was the pairing choice.
For the second course was the Roasted Day Boat Baja Scallops with Beer Tempura Eggplant and Okra “Creamed Corn.” Evil Dead Red Ale was the choice for this dish.
The third course, a slow-roasted New York Strip with Fennel, Horseradish Potatoe Gratin, Roast Cauliflower, & Bordelaise Sauce, was paired with Decadance 2010.
After Kyle’s friendly introduction, AleSmith’s Peter Zien greeted us and elaborated briefly on the beers that would be coming with the dishes. Immediately after Peter took his seat, large plates were then placed in unison on the tables. Family style, the plates were passed around, and we began to dig in.
As one of few 5 Star locations in San Diego, Torrey Pines holds itself to a high standard of quality. Having dined at The Grill & stayed at The Lodge, as well as tasted all of the AleSmith offerings previously, I thought I knew what to expect. The pairings were flawless, and I was happily blown away. Specifically, the robust carmel/coffee notes from the Decadence 2010 formed a delicious duet of flavor with the New York Strip dish. This beer pairing was out of this world. As craft beer lovers, we are so fortunate that one of the most gorgeous hotels in the world is on board with beer pairings. It’s the talk of the region.
Luckily, The Grill chefs Luca Banfi (now at Tender Greens in Point Loma) and Kyle Bergman are both fellow North Parkers, so I caught a ride with them. I was in no position to operate a motor vehicle, not only because of the ABV, but also because I was in a sort of food-coma that can only come from a really great meal. Keep this in mind if you choose to attend in the future, and I recommend you do. For October, the Lodge brew and cuisine crew are offering a Lightning-themed beer pairing dinner on the 27th. Of course, they are going to be hosting the closing ceremonies for SDBW. See http://lodgetorreypines.com/beer/ for more information.