SAN DIEGO BEER WEEK: Stone Rare Beer Breakfast
He’s not a doctor, but he plays one at Stone Brewing Co. And he’s quite convincing. Dubbed “Dr. Bill,” Bill Sysak does not own a Ph.D., but what he does have is a deep knowledge of craft beer and a network of friends in high places at breweries worldwide. Because of this, he is able to procure the best of the best for the Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens, which opened San Diego Beer Week by holding a Rare Beer Breakfast rewarding early risers with live jazz, a creative buffet and 45 beers, the likes of which are so exotic, even the most hopeless of beer geeks have never heard of them (even I was only familiar with roughly two-thirds of the impressively esoteric list).
Stone Brewing Co.'s Rare Beer Breakfast.
Photo by Brandon Hernandez
It may seem unorthodox to tap kegs and pop corks at nine in the morning, but beer, particularly the array of roasty, malty, tart and fruity selections on-hand at this event, actually lends itself quite well to breakfast dishes. For instance, an appetizer of ponzu-braised pork belly served atop an herbed biscuit topped with a sweet Clementine marmalade matched up nicely with The Lost Abbey’s Sangre de Cristo, a crimson-hued quaffable that comes across like a low-in-sweetness sangria with a semi-dry finish. The same could be said for the pairing Sysak was excited about – Avery Rumpkin (a 13.2% imperial pumpkin ale that tastes like a sugar cookie dipped in slightly burnt caramel) and waffles made from spent grain reserved from the brewhouse.
“I’ve been pairing different beers with breakfast items for the last 20 years,” says Sysak. “I couldn’t think of a better way to kick off SDBW [than] with great music, rare beers and delectable treats in [our] beautiful gardens.”
The crowd of roughly 175 eager celebrants echoed that sentiment as they enjoyed made-to-order omelets, crepes and house-smoked salmon with schmear-adorned bagels in the multi-tiered outdoor oasis on the northern border of Stone’s Escondido facility. Folks were so jazzed (pun intended) that Sysak saw fit to take the microphone less than an hour into the festivities and announce that this event would recur during San Diego Beer Week 2011.
Being both a foodie and a beer fanatic (we really need to come up with an official universally-accepted term for our kind) with 15 taster tickets affixed to my wrist, I was very strategic about my approach to this once-in-a-lifetime line-up of beers, starting with sours, moving toward rounder medium-bodied beers and ending with imperial stouts. Among my personal favorites were the aforementioned Sangre de Cristo, Cantillon Classic Gueuze (not that rare, but a real benchmark of this tart style), The Bruery Coton (a brain-wrenching 14.5% ABV old ale with malty body contrasted by the crisp finish this company’s beers are famous for) and Pizza Port Carlsbad Barrel-Aged Night Rider (a version of this Great American Beer Festival 2010 silver medal getter made even more smoothly powerful thanks to time and oak).
Such a selection was enough to inspire revelers to book their entire San Diego Beer Week around the numerous events happening at Stone over this 10-day span. For fans of good beer, that wouldn’t be a bad idea considering the quality and diversity of what they have going on. To name a few, there’s Sunday’s Ultimate Beer and Chocolate, a session where 15 artisan chocolates paired with 10 cacao-friendly beers; Tuesday’s Brewmaster Dinner with Jeff Bagby from Pizza Port Carlsbad (the US’ Large Brewpub of the Year) and The Bruery’s Patrick Rue; and Thursday’s Brewmaster’s Luncheon with Tomme Arthur (The Lost Abbey) and Stone’s own Steve Wagner.
Whether you flock to this Escondido hot spot or partake of the myriad of incredible events happening all over our fair county, get out there and drink in the fun. San Diego Beer Week is what you make it and it’s all out there for you.
Here are my picks for great San Diego Beer Week events on Saturday (November 6)
San Diego Brewers Guild Festival, 12-4 p.m.
If they brew in San Diego County, they’ll be at this event, showing off both everyday varieties and the seasonal/rare offerings that make any beer festival fun and interesting.
Liberty Station, Point Loma
Blind Tasting, 5-7 p.m.
Think your palates good enough to discern the hoppy subtleties of 10 San Diego double IPA’s? Plunk down $20 and see if you can prove it and win yourself a “delightful surprise” from Del Cerro’s epicenter for good beer.
KnB Wine Cellars, 6380 Del Cerro Boulevard, Del Cerro, 619.286.0321
Cucapá Night, 6 p.m.
Taste the full line-up of beers from our neighbors to the south, Mexicali’s Cucapá Brewery while getting a full cultural experience courtesy of vintage “Mexi-pop” from TJ/SD DJ Astronauta Jackson.
El Take It Easy, 3926 30th Street, North Park, 619.255.8778
Mission Bay Brew Fest, 6:30-10 p.m.
Five local breweries will pair up with chefs and design a tablescape and beer-and-food pairings that reflect what their breweries are all about at this intimate, interactive evening event.
The Dana Inn, 1710 West Mission Bay Drive, Mission Bay, 619.723.2485
- City: Escondido
- Phone: (760) 471-4999
- Address: 1999 Citracado Parkway