A couple weeks back was the 50th birthday of Churchill’s bartender and all around great guy (even if he is English), Tony Dowson.
To celebrate, friends Kevin Hopkins (who Twitters with the enthusiasm of a 16 year-old girl) and Brian Friel chartered a bus from Brewery Tours of San Diego, assembled 20 or so of Churchill’s most accomplished drinkers, and set off on a grand quest to conquer five of San Diego’s top beer bars.
Naturally, mayhem ensued.
Okay, maybe not so much mayhem, as much as public nudity, hi-jinks, and a (barely) controlled group stagger through a large part of San Diego County.
Here’s the stops we made:
- Port Brewing and The Lost Abbey | 155 Mata Way, Suite 104, San Marcos, CA 92069
www.lostabbey.com | Google Maps
This was our launch point. (10 am on a Sunday — no easy launch). We ambushed Tony here and did a little pre-drinking prior to getting on the bus and heading south.
- Blind Lady Ale House | 3416 Adams Ave, San Diego, CA 92116
www.blindladyalehouse.com | Google Maps
Excellent atmosphere, tap list and food. (I had some sort of fresh olive dish and mussels; both of which were delicious. The pizza is outstanding too.) Former Stone Brewing brewer Lee Chase and wife Jen are the proprietors, so you know they’ve got lots of great local brews on tap. We had such a great time there we were able to convince Lee to grab his skateboard and hop on our bus to the next couple of stops down 30th street.
- Hamilton’s Tavern | 1521 30th St, San Diego, CA 92102
www.hamiltonstavern.com | Google Maps
Hamilton’s is a local legend — a great craft beer tavern with a “dive bar” atmosphere. A huge tap list of local and not-so-local craft brews, and a crowd that’s always ready for another round. We’ve been here a number of times and always enjoyed ourselves.
- Toronado San Diego | 4026 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104-2602
www.toronadosd.com | Google Maps
The southern sister to San Francisco’s Toronado, this was actually a re-scheduled stop. We had intended to go to another bar (less big beer, more English stuff as a nod to the birthday boy and a couple of guests), but that got over-ruled and we ended up backtracking up 30th street to the Toronado. Naturally, it has a great tap list (and less scary restrooms than its SF sibling), so somehow we ended up hitting bottles of Cable Car and Toronado 20th in addition to all the other stuff we were drinking. (Things start getting fuzzy here.) This is also where Lee Chase parted ways with us, grabbing his skateboard and rolling back up 30th to the Blind Lady.
- Tap Room (Pacific Beach) | 1269 Garnet Ave, San Diego, CA 92109
www.sdtaproom.com | Google Maps
Our final stop, the Tap Room is a couple of blocks from the beach in an are of San Diego known as Pacific Beach. Open and airy, they’ve got an outdoor bar where you can sit and watch San Diego’s beach culture ride by. (Many of them stop and have a pint too.) Again, a great tap list full of local craft brews and an atmosphere that pretty much demands you stop and enjoy at least 3 or 4 leisurely pints. (Can’t wait to get back here again.)
By the time we rolled out of the Tap Room (and I do mean some of us were rolled), it was closing on 6pm. Thankfully we were at least half an hour from our original rendezvous point back at Lost Abbey, so many were able to grab a quick nap. And the really hardcore professionals were able to grab another pint on the bus.
After drop off in the brewery parking lot (and a couple of people being shoveled into taxis), I’m happy to say that other than a phone, a backpack, and a few billion braincells, nothing else was lost on our adventure.
All-in-all, not a bad birthday party. Happy birthday, again, Tony. Hope you have 50 more. For anyone visiting from out of town, I highly recommend each one of the stop we made… Just get someone like brewery tours of San Diego to drive you.
And for those of you who’d like a visual accounting of the entire thing, here’s a photo album (I’ll get around to commenting on the photos some other time):
PS: Thanks to Ivan Derezin of Churchills. Even though he could attend (his loss), he ponied up for a part of the cost of the bus. A very cool gesture indeed.