San Diego Beer Week is a vast, untamed wilderness of drinking possibilities. It’s a good thing you have me here as your survival guide. I'm familiar with this treacherous terrain, and I won’t even make you drink your own pee unless I’m really bored.
I want to arm you with specific weekend options, but first it probably makes sense to call out the events that will be running all weekend:
The 10 Days of Beer Week at Sea Rocket Bistro: This will be going all week, technically, but this weekend is looking particularly strong with Hess’ Vienna Cream Ale on Friday, unusual Wheatwines on Saturday and a slew of wet (i.e. fresh) hop selections on Sunday.
Barrel Aged Weekend @ West Coast BBQ & Brew: The options for Drakes and Allagash alone are probably worth the trip.
Mission Brewing - SDBW Nightly Casks: Like Sea Rocket, Mission Brewing will have something special every night. These cask selections feature some really interesting flavor infusions, like the Dark Seas Russian Imperial Stout with molé on Saturday.
With those accounted for (along with the previously mentioned events likely to sell out), let's take a look at some of the gems this weekend is serving up.
Russian River Night @ Encinitas Ale House, 4 to 11 p.m.: Getting Russian River beers en masse like this is unusual and should be make for an unique night of sampling.
3rd Annual Stone Brewing Co. “Cellar Night” at Ciro’s Pizzeria and Beerhouse (Pacific Beach), 6 to 11:55 p.m.: The Cali-Belgique takes on some interesting dimensions in wine barrels. The '09 Double Bastard is probably no slouch, either, though I can’t recollect if I’ve had that particular vintage. That may be a little sloppy of me, but in my defense I drink a lot.
If Friday doesn’t break you, a wondrous weekend still awaits:
Beer Floats with North Coast & Tap Takeover @ Sublime Brewery and Grill (San Marcos): I generally find beer floats passable. I tend to enjoy them more in the sense that I’m pleasantly surprised how inoffensive they are unless they're expertly conceived. That said, I love the creativity of this event, and the North Coast beers, particularly the Old Stock and Brother Thelonius, seem like great candidates to make a novel beer float. Worst case scenario: You dump the ice cream and have a delicious beer.
Redouble of Double Bastard @ Stone World Bistro and Gardens - Liberty Station: The Double Bastard does great things with age. The hop and cherry notes really soften around the edges, and just a couple of years makes a significant difference. If you’ve never put together your own vertical tasting, this is a great way to examine a beer what a beer can do in just under 10 years of maturation.
"Stone Temple Pirates" @ URGE Gastropub: Ballast Point is bringing seven versions of its Victory at Sea stout to URGE's taps and a fairly impressive brunch menu. While I think the Sculpin IPA is likely to overpower even the scotch egg unless the sausage is sufficiently spicy, all of this looks pretty tempting.
Mikkeller & Evil Twin Brewing Tap Takeover @ Public House La Jolla: Mikkeller is a highly inventive and experimental brewery, so taking the time to try their stuff out is time well spent.
WET HOP FLIGHT DAY WITH THE BREWERS! @ Acoustic Ales: Fresh-hop beers are always fun to test out, but getting them all shoulder-to-shoulder as single-hop variants should really let them sing.
5th Annual Green Flash Smokeout @ Carnitas Snack Shack, noon to 4:30 p.m.: “Its going to be like a petting zoo of smoked meats,” promises Carnitas’ Snack Shack executive chef Hanis Cavin.
That pretty much says it all for me.