This blog documents my attempt to drink a beer from every country in the world and every state in the United States.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

State #1: California

Brewery: Green Flash Brewing Company, San Diego, California

Beer: 30th Street Pale Ale

ABV: 6.0%

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” – Lao-Tzu, who probably didn’t drink much beer, given Taoism’s focus on moderation, and if he did, he probably didn’t go to great lengths to attain it.

Stay safe, beer!
As if to validate Lao Tzu’s pithiness, to represent California I will start my venture as close to home as possible by sampling Green Flash Brewing Company's 30th Street Pale Ale. This selection was not as literally local as I could get—the Green Flash brewery is in the northern part of San Diego, and there are a few other breweries that are closer to my house—but it’s only about a 15 minute drive away, which isn’t too bad. But figuratively, a beer called 30th Street Pale Ale can’t get any closer to where I’m starting from: I live one block away from 30th Street, or about fifty steps based on my stride. Take that, Lao-Tzu! 

Again, most of the beer for the blog is going to come from the store, but this stuff was fresh from the brewery. Here is where the magic happens.
Green Flash named this brew in honor of the fine collection of bars and restaurants on or near 30th Street—nicknamed The Brewlevard—that have contributed to San Diego’s reputation as a craft beer mecca (sad fact: beer is banned in the actual Mecca). When it was first brewed in 2008 it was only released to a select few of these establishments, and, while produced on a slightly larger scale now, it’s still only available in and around San Diego, and only on draft. For a place of its size and population, San Diego really is remarkable in the volume and quality of beer it produces, much of which is now available far beyond the county line. To wit: Stone is available just about everywhere, and they are opening a brewing operation in Germany soon, while tiny Coronado Brewing Company now has its stuff in stores in my hometown in Connecticut. 

Can't find the Green Flash Brewery? I'm pleased to report that it's at this intersection here.
With fine offerings by Stone, Port, Lost Abbey, Alpine, Ballast Point, Coronado, and Alesmith, as well as a dozen or so other styles brewed by Green Flash, I had plenty of top-notch local options to choose from. So, I ultimately chose this beer over the hundreds of others brewed in California and the dozens made in San Diego because it pays homage to the amazing beer culture my adopted hometown fosters. While I’ve always liked beer, living here for the past four years has significantly increased my knowledge of and interest in good, locally produced beer. My social circle in San Diego is also sudsophilic: geographers like their grog. If I hadn’t been exposed to this place and these people I probably wouldn’t be interested enough in beer to write about it now.

So what about the beer itself? Even though it’s available all over my neighborhood, I traveled up the freeway to Green Flash’s new brewery and tasting room to get myself a growler of 30th Street so I could enjoy more than one glass at the bar. My choice was not simply symbolic: this is good stuff. 

That's a big beer!
It’s my go-to beer at The Station, paring remarkably well with their tater tots (full disclosure: everything pairs well with their tater tots). It’s thicker and hoppier than most pale ales, as is the norm for West Coast microbrews. My only hesitation in choosing 30th Street is that a true, hoppy-as-hell California IPA would have been far more representative of the local beer culture here. Just about all the brewers here specialize in brutally bitter (yet still delicious!) IPAs that are hoppier than anything you can get anywhere else. In fact, most California pale ales, such as 30th Street, or, more commonly, Sierra Nevada, are probably about as hoppy as most IPAs from East Coast breweries (with an extra dose of hops being what separates an IPA from a pale ale, for those who might be unfamiliar). Sometimes we don’t want our palate bombarded with bitterness though, and 30th Street does a nice job of being tasty without being obnoxious. 

A future offering from Green Flash: looks like the Black Freak has been aging for a while.
Finally, lest you were wondering just how awesome 30th Street is (the actual street, not just the beer): behold The Drinkabout. I'll be sure to report on this as soon as I get to try it.

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