photo credit: David Mulvihill

Beer Garden

San Diego Beer Week has once again come and gone. The opening Guild Fest, followed by numerous events at breweries and businesses all across the County took place from November 1st through 10th. 

This reporter was able to make it to SDBW’s closing event, the coveted Beer Garden at the Lodge at Torrey Pines. 14 of San Diego’s best chefs each joined with two San Diego brewers to create dishes to couple with beers from the 28 breweries. Benefitting Chef Celebration Foundation and the San Diego Brewers Guild, the picturesque Arroyo Terrace served as the setting for enjoying unlimited food and accompanying beers.

Chimney-roasted venison, spaetzle, apple mostarda, red currants and chicory from Chef Katie Weber’s team at The Lodge at Torry Pines was paired with a light-bodied Brut Saison from White Labs and Imperial Stout from Rouleur Brewing Co. Unlike many of those trendy sticky-sweet 17% ABV Stouts, Rouleur’s Niterideur, at 8.3% ABV, complemented the roasty notes and accompanying fruit components in the venison.

A mouth-watering Tongue and Cheek Ravioli, brought to us by Nine-Ten’s Chef Jason Knibb and team, was topped with beef-garum brown butter and fermented cavolo rosso. Ampliflied Ale Works’ Rare Form, a bourbon-barrel-aged Quadruple, possessed bourbon, malt and wood notes that provided complement and heightened flavors in the dish, as did the malty-ness in Kairoa Brewing’s Roll Call Red.

Seared loin of boar with stewed gigante beans, sorrel pesto, dehydrated Serrano peppers and smoltz-roasted cipollini onion puree was paired with an Altbier from Eppig and Barleywine from Gravity Heights.

Duck Foot Brewing’s Slow Burn Chile IPA added a bit of extra heat to the Hatch chili gravy that accompanied the fried chicken and biscuits from Chef Lance Repp’s team from Cove House, while the Blood Orange Saison from Border X provided a fruit and spice component.

Coronado Brewing’s Oktoberfest Marzen and Second Chance Beer Co’s Mulligan Irish-style Red were there to pair with a Kielbasa dog on Challah bun topped with Baja giardiniera, coal-roasted oyster aioli and cilantro from Trust Restaurant and Chef Brad Rice. Some added treats were also in store: ice cream, Tabula Rasa Robust Porter and Islander IPA. Completing the ballpark experience, Executive Pastry Chef Jeremy Harville created a Tabula Rasa Porter fudge ripple ice cream with caramel and toffee. Second Chance Beer Co’s triple-GABF-gold-medal winning Tabula Rasa provided a delightful pairing with the ice cream. The subtleness of Coronado Islander’s hoppy fruity notes provided contrast and palate cleansing. The ice cream was provided as a preview of the ice cream window that will be part of Trust’s new Cardelino, which is slated to open in mid-January.

Later, upon arriving at Karl Strauss’ station for some Queen of Tarts (Dark Sour Ale aged in red wine barrels with Michigan tart cherries), Marty Mendiola, co-owner and brewmaster of Second Chance, was also there sharing a story. For Karl Strauss Collabapalooza 2019, his aforementioned medal winning Tabula Rasa had been blended with Karl Strauss award-winning Queen of Tarts to create “King of Beers–AKA Many Gold Medals.” Both beers were awarded gold medals at the 2016 GABF. Since they were individually available at this event, an unofficial testing of the mix was in order. The resulting combination mingled oak and bold tart cherry notes in Queen of Tarts with the toasted, roasted and subtle cocoa notes of Tabula Rasa to bring forth a complex new taste treat. 

Brewers Mash-A Different View

The resounding success of the Orange County Brewers Guild Brewers Mash at the Fullerton Arboretum was witnessed from a somewhat different perspective this past October. During the planning stages it was encouraging to see so many individuals come together to assist with preparation and spreading the word. Helpers took to the streets, getting posters to breweries, pubs, restaurants, businesses and local universities. This definitely made a difference, given sellout of the event and many new faces in the crowd. 

Recognition and thanks for the success go to the OC Brewers Guild and attending brewers, the organizing crew that included Stereo Brewing’s Amanda Pearce Smets and Nicole Coram, GameCraft’s MJ Duck (and others) and their voluminous team of volunteers. 

On the day of the event volunteers were there early to help. This reporter, along with his wife and daughters (who had also assisted with advance promotion), were there to lend a hand with setup, pouring and festivities at the Special Release tent. In addition to beer flowing from their own booths throughout the festival grounds, most breweries also provided special packaged brews (bottles, crowlers, etc.) to be poured at the Special Release tent. Needless to say, with so many choices in one place, demand was high and pouring was fast, frantic and fun. 

Daughter Caroline (Stereo Brewing) was also instrumental in securing Unlicensed Nuclear Accelerator, the lively and most-entertaining
opening band. 

Wild Fields Opens

The much anticipated opening (soft opening) of Wild Fields Brewhouse in Atascadero came on Friday, November 22. Since relocating to Atascadero last year, Co-founders Ryan and Jacque Fields have been working hard to make this day possible. 

Ryan, who grew up in San Luis Obispo County, began his decorated brewing career in San Diego at Port Brewing/The Lost Abbey. Following that stint, as head brewer for Pizza Port San Clemente, Ryan was honored with two Great American Beer Festival gold medals and three World Beer Cup awards (gold, silver, bronze). Julian Shrago and the Beachwood team recruited him in 2014 to fill the role of Head Brewer & Blender at Beachwood Blendery as it began. Here, Ryan’s creativity would further expand as the team crafted its Lambic-inspired, experimental and offbeat creations. Shortly after his exit from Beachwood, Funk Yeah, a beer that he and the Beachwood team took a few years to construct, was awarded 2018 GABF gold in the Belgian-style Lambic category.

Jacque’s craft beer-focused career began at Beachwood BBQ in Seal Beach and continued at Pizza Port San Clemente. She later became Executive Director of the Orange County Brewers Guild, a position she held until their move.

This scribe is looking forward to a visit to Wild Fields in the near future. With at least eight beers already flowing at opening, an increasing list of brews will begin to fill the twenty-plus taps. Family friendly, Wild Fields Brewhouse also sports an approachable food menu, two-lanes of mini-bowling, arcade games and an area for toddlers.