The recent One Billion Dollar purchase of Ballast Point Brewing may have been just a blip on your local new, but here in San Diego this was Big News. San Diegans were either puffed with pride over the price tag, or horrified at the prospect of a local favorite becoming watered down for the national tastes. Ballast Point’s Sextant Oatmeal Stout is the first beer that I liked- up until I tried a stout, I thought that I just didn’t like beer… it turns out that I don’t like hops.
Constellation Brands Inc. not only bought some choice brews, but included in this deal are the Ballast Point Spirits- four of which are available in cans… yow! Conveniently canned mixed drinks include Fugu Bloody Mary, Three Sheets Rum & Ginger, Three Sheets Rum & Cola, and Old Grove Gin & Tonic.
This could seriously alter my adult beverage drinking opportunities!
We tried the Old Grove Gin & Tonic. Could a classic mixed drink work in convenient pre-packaging? Yes. We highly recommend it. Got a little Pre-Holiday home repair going on? This is a fine occasion to serve a drink to the guy who can take apart a Roomba while doing other home repair, too. Just not too much, at least until the vacuum is fixed.
The South Park/North Park community has a gold mine here. You buy your little sampler pottery bowl for $20 and get to taste five chilis. Want more? Buy another five sample pass for $15 and reuse your bowl. Bring your bowls back from the previous year, too, if you like.
All of the tax deductible proceeds from this event go to benefit the Spanish, art, and music programs at McKinley Elementary… to the tune of over $50K last year.
I realized really quickly that the best strategy for tasting the best chili is the most simple- when my bowl is empty, I try the chili from the nearest booth. It is that simple- they are all are delicious!! One of my favorites was the Duck Confit, Lardon, Sausage and White Bean Chili from Café Madeleine for a non-traditional chili. I’m not the biggest chili fan… OH MY GOSH THIS WAS DELICIOUS!!
My overall favorite was a Pork Belly and Smoked Brisket from The Deck at Moonshine Flats. An unbelievable, savory, meaty, flavorful taste and overall the best chili I’ve ever had. So there. Eat your heart out, every other place. This is something that is served in Heaven, I am sure.
Another out of this word chili came from City Tacos, and may well have been completely unplanned. When they ran out of their Albondigas Chili, they substituted Carnitas. I am already a huge fan of carnitas, and this sample was pushed over the top when topped by chicharrones and tortilla chip strips. I KNOW, RIGHT??? CHICHARRONES!!!
“Into the fun zone we go,” declared the ID checker we entered the Beer Garden. When one of our group (we’re looking at you, Johnnie!!) was holding up the Chili Sampling (Round 2!) with their unfinished beer, we decided to institute a new motto: Drink for Those Who Can’t… as in, if you can’t finish fast enough, we are now going to help finish it for you!
Music at both ends of the festival, student pottery available for purchase from the incredible gallery that is partly responsible for the SoNo Fest, unique vendors, and a handful of food trucks rounded out the sights for the day. Food trucks? I guess if you think you don’t like chili, you still will find some great eats here.
One of our local news stations has the ubiquitous news crawl at the bottom of the screen… notice how some San Diegan news writer handles today’s major (to us, at least) news story involving our beloved Ballast Point Brewing and Spirits:
So, what do you do if you want a second career because you’d like to branch out from the world of construction and engineering? If you live in San Diego, you start a brewery and hire people who have worked with some of the best California craft beer houses, of course! We LOVED this place.
Kellen Smith, Allen Hampton, and Kevin Dougherty have the praise of their regulars, who proudly told us the backstory of Division 23 Brewing. Some of these brew-flies are practically employees said our bar guide, and bona fide employee Alicia. She knows these beers and walked me through the flight of six small tastes. To paraphrase good ol’ Bill, “They may be small, but they are mighty.” (holy cow, that was a LOT of beer!).
Morrisch Meister German Pilsner- if mass market American beers tasted good, this is how they would taste. It’s flavorful.
Barrel Aged Berlinerweisse- amazingly different. Sour. Tastes like an orange grove, no lie- the musty citrus smell. One guy described it like a Chardonnay.
Sour Superintendent Berlinerweisse- it’s the above beer, not barrel aged. And it’s just weird. Whatever happened in the barrel, that’s what put the finishing touch on this beer.
Night Shift Imperial Stout- smell this, it’s coffee. Taste it, heavy coffee. Really full and heavy. Really toasty and sweet.
Change Order Porter- drinking a porter after a stout is like Cabernet and merlot. Cab makes Merlot taste like water to me. Tasting The Husband’s IPA in between helped. I like it.
Bitter Foreman IPA with Fire Roasted Chiles- holy cow you can smell the pepper. Mamacita, this is gooood!!! No bite from the pepper, it’s all flavor and aroma. And it’s an IPA that I like!I know, right?!?
Division 23 Brewing is at the top of our list to come back to where we can share beer talk and brew stories with devoted regulars and Alicia. What a great group of people brought together by quality drinks! They really have done it right, here.
Tough day in this ol’ world of ours. And yes, I know that this is a gross understatement.
Having visited Paris and other parts of France (I was a French and Spanish teacher before staying home with my children), I spent a lot of time glued to the Twitter feeds and news channels today. Like the rest of the sane world, I am horrified.
I pulled myself away this evening to visit a new brewery tonight like I have been able to do every night for the past week. I enjoyed sitting with my husband at the bar in the tasting room of Rough Draft Brewing Company, drinking a stout while he enjoyed his IPA. The universe inside this brewery was normal, right down to me not liking his IPA at all, and me finding a stout that was full of flavor with very subtle hints of coffee and vanilla. All was well, all was normal.
Please join me and offer prayers and work for peace and answers for the world outside this little brewery in San Diego.