John’s SD Brewery Tour – Part 2

Brewery Three – AleSmith

After spending an hour and a half at Lightning we loaded up the car with our new Lightning beers and headed out to AleSmith. Having been open since 1995, AleSmith is a grandpa brewery compared to Lightning.  Our first experience with AleSmith dates back to last year when we made a side trip on the way down to the hotel in San Diego for Kip’s bachelor party. Ever since then Alesmith has been a favorite brewery of ours and they are easy to love since they keep cranking out high quality ales. In fact, I still have my pint glass – thanks Kip!

It is around this time where the clock became a serious factor in our journey. Having over-indulged and spent nearly 4 hours at the first two breweries we were in jeopardy of leaving San Diego with only a fraction of the breweries on our list visited. We descended upon AleSmith with a purpose and singular focus, snatching up christmas gift bottles and glassware – you’re welcome Kip!

While we forgot to snap any photos, we did take a breather to enjoy some of their fine ales. We sampled their holiday ale YuleSmith (Winter Ale), Wee Heavy (Scotch Strong Ale, and Nautical Nut Brown (English Brown Ale).


Brewery Four – Hess Brewing

The newest member of the San Diego brewing family is Hess Brewing. They opened over the summer and proudly claim to be San Diego’s “first licensed nano-brewery”. They are not messing around, their current brewing system, tucked into one side of the tasting room, would be more familiar to a home brewer than a large scale commercial brewer. You can read about their custom 45 gallon brew system on their website – it is fascinating.  For reference, we brew on a 5 gallon system, and Stone Brewing brews on a 3,720 gallon system. They are small, new and make good beer – we wish them great success! Unfortunately, only two beers where available for tasting while we were there: an IPA and a limited edition Barleywine. I was looking forward to trying their Cream Ale, so another trip is definitely needed.

Up until the Barleywine I had been holding myself together pretty well. Unfazed by the hop attack at Stone, I braved Lightning’s “unlimited” tastings, and was even un-phased by the strong ales at AleSmith. So I confidently (perhaps drunkenly) gulped down my full glass of Barleywine and jumped into the car to head to the fifth brewery.

In the car I started feeling funny. We decided to pull off and have a dinner break. I felt horrible so upon entering the restaurant I made my way to the restroom and shared all my beer tastings back with mother earth. Oh what a difference that made! The meal was fantastic! We had bread bowls of savory soup – it was raining at this point which made the meal serious comfort food.

Brewery Five – Green Flash

It was dark, it was raining, we were tired. This visit was borderline perfunctory. We had come this far and, dang it, we where not going to only make it to four breweries!

Not much to say about Green Flash, they are an icon of San Diego brewing probably second only to Stone. They craft legendary IPA’s and are well known throughout the craft brewing community.

I ordered a tasting flight, about 8 2oz beers, and shared it with drinking comrade Brett (@B_Pad). We enjoyed the beer but not with the enthusiasm as the previous breweries. We bought several beers for gifts and made our exit. Thank you Green Flash, next time we’ll start with you.

That was the San Diego brew tour in a nutshell.  Gathered good info, meet great people, and of course drank great beer. Cheers.

My next post is going to give highlights of our adventure making the historical predecessor to eggnog, a beer-nog called Flip



BJCP Beer Judge

About John Rockwell

John Rockwell is a co-founder of LA Ale Works and contributing writer to Bierkast. He has been home brewing for over seven years and is a certified BJCP judge, "Bring me your beer!".

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