Here we are, Thanksgiving is upon us once again and it’s time see the family and over-indulge in all sorts delicious treats, and that includes all sorts of fun winter specialties the breweries have started churning out.
When we last spoke, I was busy extolling the virtues of pairing your favorite craft beers with as many varieties of foods and snacks as possible. The point being to further the idea that craft beer is an important compliment to foods on the same level as many people view wine. The topic was easily one of my favorite things to talk about and it garnered a favorable amount of feedback from folks who typically don’t drink craft beer outside of certain social situations and certainly not over a filet mignon from Donovan’s Steak House.
It is a common misconception in the minds of the planet’s population that when you are enjoying a nice evening of fine dining at your favorite bistro, the first thing you should reach for when it comes to ordering your drinks is the wine list.
I like soup. I really do. It’s one of those food items that I sometimes get a craving for and can eat it all day long. Chicken noodle, cream of potato, tomato, clam chowder maybe even a nice lobster bisque if I’m feeling fancy. But for reasons that I can only assume are based on preconceived notions, I never really had much interest in ever going out and trying pho. That dish just so happens to be the specialty at OB Noodle House, a place of which I’ve heard good things about for years but in times past when I would make an attempt to dine there I would quickly be defeated by the incredible long lines and wait times.
Well, I can say with all certainty, ‘that was stupid of me’. Everything that hit our table was instantly gobbled up by our party and met with rave reviews from all around. You can now consider me among the converted, pho is great and they have a pretty extensive menu of other noodle based dishes that I will hazard a guess and say are pretty delicious as well. In case you are wondering, I ordered the OB Special (XL) (as a former resident of Ocean Beach I felt obliged) that comes with rare streak, well done steak, brisket, flank and tripe. It was more than filling and pretty impressive as well.
But I’m not here to talk about the high quality food they serve up, I’ll leave the restaurant reviews to my friend Megan over at monkeybreadandsweetpea.com. Nope, I’m going to tell you about one of the most impressive rotating draft lists I’ve seen at a restaurant in a very long time.
The bar at OB Noodle house is legit. On the night of my visit I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but what I got blew the top of my head straight through the roof. As we rounded the corner to our table adjacent to the bar and I saw the large pink Delirium elephant, I dared to dream that maybe, just maybe, this bar was going to have a decent selection. When the bartender placed the draft list in front of me, a single tear rolled down my cheek. It was magnificent.
Aside from Delirium Tremens, you could find such delight as Petrus aged pale xtra sour, Gulden Draak Belgian Triple, Double Dog Imperial IPA on Niro, Lambic Peche Fruit Beir, St. Louis Gueze xtra sour, Avery “Czar Russian Imperial stout”, The Bruery “Autem Maple”, Dogfish Head 60 & 90 minute IPA, Cuvee De Jacobins Rouge Sour, Uinta Hop Notch IPA, Stone’s 17th Anniversary IPA, oh and a little favorite of mine known as Blind Pig from Russian River.
That’s just a fraction, they have 40 taps of awesome at this place and if the beer isn’t enough for you they also have sake, of which we saw several table doing sake bombs…of which I have retired from since after my last experience I’m pretty sure I talked to Jesus…or a homeless guy in an ally. It’s very fuzzy.
The place has a great energy and vibe to it. From the lighting to the music and martial arts movies playing silently on the giant TV behind the bar, this place is a really good time.
One of these day I’ll sit down and write more about the underrated craft beer scene in Ocean Beach, but until that day do yourself a favor and check out the offering from OB Noodle House. Go for the noodles and stay for the beers…or go for the beers and stay for the noodles. Either way you’re going to be more than happy with your choice.
OB Noodle House is located at 2218 Cable St San Diego, CA 92107. Reservation for groups of 8 or more are available after 6pm. Also look out for great happy hour deals every day of the week.
I’m going to spoil my own blog by telling you what I think right off the bat, Mother Earth Brewing is great. It has quickly become one of my favorite of the newer brewers that have joined the impressive list of San Diego breweries in the past couple of years. However, there is a slight problem. I have no one to blame for this but myself, I just don’t live close enough. Mother Earth Brewing is located in Vista, California which is a not-insignificant drive from where I live in Mission Valley. This is the same hindrance that I typically encounter when it comes to having the opportunity to check out any one of the great brewers located in the North Country area of San Diego.
Aside from the excellent beers available at the brewery and the tap house, I’d also like to say that the homebrew store is pretty exceptional as well. An excellent selection of grains, malts, White Labs yeast, hops and a database that can help you reconstruct any of the beers that Mother Earth makes. Staffed by friendly and knowledgeable people they even offer free classes on the weekend for home brewers of every level. I highly recommend stopping by if you are in the area.
Well. That was a longer break than I originally had anticipated. Talk about delayed gratification, this is like waiting eight years to see if Frodo ever makes it to Mount Doom. (Spoiler Alert: He does) now with school behind me for the summer, until next week when Fall semester starts, I can conclude the tale of my epic adventure with a trip to the weird and untamed wilderness known as Petaluma, California and the circus known around the world as Lagunitas.
It was starting to get late in the day and while my excitement was still high my wife was beginning to show some signs of beer fatigue. This was also our first stop where I knew things were going to be a lite on the crazy side. Especially at 4:30pm on a Friday afternoon. “Little” turned out to be quite the understatement. The lone man who was in charge of directing people to open parking spaces, of which there were few, was only the first indicator.
Sure enough that place was bustling with people, music and awesome beer flowing.
It was very evident that everyone was having a blast so we eagerly grabbed some seats at a table that we shared with a very nice local couple who shared some of the fun experiences at the circus but more importantly it was time to sample the wares.
One of the the neatest things about visiting these three brewpubs has been having the opportunity to sample a lot of beers that just don’t make it down here, bottles or kegs, and Lagunitas was no exception with a mighty list that included such tasty delights as a Nelson hop version of their IPA, Rye barrel aged Gnarlywine, the seasonal Wilco Tango Foxtrot (WTF), their Farmhouse ale as well as their Gueuze, and Kriek.
We also ran into our new friends from Mother Earth Brewing as they continued their way back south to Vista. They had apparently saw a post on Facebook about the power outage and closing of Russian River so they had decided to skip ahead and hit Lagunitas. The wife and I were very happy to share the news that the power was back on and that would be opening again at 5:30pm. I’m not sure excited is an adequate description of their reaction.
Shortly after this we finished up our drinks and decided to call this the end of the adventure. So what did I learn? The Bay Area is home to quite a few quality craft beer breweries and much like San Diego, you need more than a day to fully explore and appreciate them, but I’d like to think I did a pretty good job of scratching the surface. Already counting down the days till my next trip to Northern California and a chance to find even more places to explore.
I’m going to interrupt my current three part blogging epic for a brief but happy interlude.
Happy 1 year Anniversary to the awesome people at Societe Brewing.
Over the course of their first year in business, Societe has quickly climbed the ranks as one my favorite brewers in a town that has more than enough to go around. In fact you can read my first impression of Societe right here. From such awesome staples as The Pupil & The Apprentice IPA’s to phenomenal Belgians like The Harlot & The Madam, not to mention the treats that roll out for special occasions, like the Every Man’s IPA and The Roustabout DIPA. It’s insanely hard to find a beer that will not please your palette.
Did I mention the new hoppy ale, The Publican? It’s fantastic!
This past weekend, July 13-14, the good people of Societe hosted their 1st anniversary party at the brewery in Kerny Mesa and I was very excited to be able to join them in the celebration. I’m the type of beer enthusiast who tries his best to make it to multiple beer events over the course of the year. Some of those events are better than others and even the best have their fair share of problems. This event, however, might be the new gold standard to which all beer events you aspire to be. It was one of the most planned out, thought ahead and well organized events I’ve had the good fortune to be at.
My wife and I attended the sold-out second session on Saturday with a coupe of friends who enjoy Societe beers but had yet to make it up to the brewery. From the moment we got there, these guys were on top of things, from the easy-ness of our checking in without having to pull up four different ticket bar codes on my iPhone, to the checking of ID’s, getting our wristbands and the distribution of our souvenir glasses. They had us lined up and ready to go when the clock struck 5 pm and our session began. The only hectic part was getting that first beer, which really wasn’t even an issue as they had plenty of people on hand to fill your glass. We were able to grab a table and I couldn’t help but notice as the line of patrons all filed in and got their drinks, that there was still room to move around, people were not packed in, and we didn’t have to yell to have a conversation. A beer event that wasn’t over-sold. Such a simple yet innovative concept that I wish more people would follow.
Societe also had a couple food stations going, including the Mastiff Sausage food truck as well as an old-tyme photo booth which, of course, my wife made us all do. Also of interest was that despite the dozens of times I’ve been to the brewery I had never taken the tour. We changed that on Saturday as we got a pretty insightful tour from co-owner and head brewer Travis Smith. He shared a lot of details about their beer making process as well as their plans for the first expansion at the brewery. I liked how he talked about “growing into the space” which again, is a simple concept but one I don’t see employed a whole lot. We also got to take a look inside the cold room, which was fun. I heard from a friend who attended the earlier session that he loved this part due to the heat during the early part of the day. Luckily, by evening everything has cooled down quite a bit, except for Travis who was decked out in his early 20th century outfit and was happy to kill a few minutes in the icebox. After swinging past the bar for refills we had the chance to go in the barrel room where they are aging their beers in a wide variety of barrels for the purpose of creating sours. Which, if they are half as good as what they already have on tap, are going to be pretty impressive.
It was a fantastic event with fan had by all and best summed up by Megan “This is a beautiful event.” And that was before all the alcohol kicked in…I think.
So my congratulations to Travis, Douglas and all the super nice staff at Societe for having a great 1st year, I’m happy to keep enjoying your beers for a long time to come.