SDBW Beer Garden
14 of San Diego’s top chefs came together with 28 San Diego Brewers Guild brewers to close out San Diego Beer Week in style. The Arroyo Terrace of The Lodge at Torrey Pines, which overlooks the golf course and ocean beyond, provided the perfect setting for attendees to enjoy unlimited pairings of creative dishes and beer. As in years past, each chef teamed up with two brewers to create a dish to pair with one beer from each brewery.
Some of the many standout dishes included smoked Rauchbier-braised wild boar with rye spaetzle and fennel-parsnip puree from Chef Matt Gordon and Urban Solace. Monkey Paw’s own German-style Rauchbier, Low-and-Slow, was one of the paring beers. Traditionally, Rauchbier incorporated smoked malts, derived from direct-fire malting into the brewing process. The subtle smoke qualities in Monkey Paw’s like-pairing served to complement those in the wild boar, while the roast and malt notes of Black Plague Brewing’s Freedom (a Scotch ale) provided some quenching contrast.
Pulled lamb sliders with pickled red onions and rosemary-mint mustard from Chef Brian Freeksen (of the Grand Restaurant Group) went exceedingly well with Societe Brewing Company’s Harlot, a Belgian-style blonde. Its subtle hints of fruit, earthiness and spice provided a cleansing to one’s palate, opening up the flavors in progressive bites. A Syrah wine barrel-aged Belgian-style dark strong from Kilowatt Brewing was the alternate accompanying beer for this dish, with strength in body coupled with notes of wine and wood that provided both balance and contrast.
On the wild end of the spectrum, Societe was also serving The Swindler Feral Blond Ale from its Feral beer line. Green Flash had its Ideal Savauge from Cellar 3. The coveted Red Poppy Ale was flowing from The Lost Abbey’s tap. Its complex body and flavor profile enhanced the accompanying porchetta-wrapped brioche and fig with orange compote and watercress from Hanis Cavin and Carnitas Snack Shack.
If there had been a competition for best jockey box display, Home Brewing Company and Amplified Ale Works would have been a couple of the contenders. Amplified’s amplifier surround promoted the brewery’s theme, as well as its Double Slide wine barrel-fermented saison and Twang, a wine barrel-aged brett sour, flowing from its taps. Home Brewing’s sleek aquamarine and white jockey box, reminiscent of a 57 Chevy of the same color, dispensed the brewery’s Competitive Tickling, a saison with lavender and rosemary, and Shark! Shark! IPA.
TAPS Fish House and Brewery currently has locations in Irvine, Brea and Corona. Fine dining and fresh craft beer are available daily, but TAPS Sunday Brunch is definitely worth checking out. The brunch setting gives one an opportunity to taste and numerous dishes prepared by TAPS’ upscale culinary staff.
On the liquid side of the weekly brunch, options include bottomless mimosas and champagne, or your choice of two TAPS brewed beers. Craft cocktails, while not included in the reasonably priced brunch, provide compelling spirited-side choices.
Included food choices abound. The buffet portion is limitless. On a recent Sunday, selections in the salad and fresh seafood section included chilled oysters, crab legs, shrimp, calamari salad and fresh fruit. Smoked salmon and other baked fish dishes were also available. More-traditional breakfast items include an omelet station, pancakes, bacon & sausage and eggs Benedict.
Fresh pasta dishes and many savory items were also available, as well as the three-stage carving station that included pork belly, brisket and Andouille sausage. Alongside was an artisanal charcuterie and cheeses area.
In addition to all of that, as well as the dessert section (with chocolate fountains), there were also 10 menu items available (and included) for ordering. Since this reporter was rapidly approaching appetite limit, only one selection was made from the menu. The house-made brisket hash made with 48-hour smoked brisket proved a satisfying choice. The potted egg with Maldon sea salt, breakfast carbonara, carnitas y sopas, caprese paloncino and Korean rice porridge would have to wait until next time.
TAPS gift cards are now available for the holidays. TAPS is also running a concurrent promotion through the end of December that will give you a complimentary brunch card when you purchase a $100 gift card!