Friday we continued visiting suppliers at the expo, then we took a ride out to the White Labs tasting room. It was a good spot and luckily there was a Cajun food truck out front because we were starving and needed something before we started sampling. They had a variety of flight options at the bar that often consisted of one base beer to which multiple yeast  strains were applied. An interesting variety to say the least. Especially the "Franken" beers, an IPA and a stout. These beers had around 90 different strains applied to them, which created an interesting range of flavors. After our beers, we then went on the tour of the facility and got to see the massive wall of what appeared to be 3 BBL fermenters that was stacked to one side of the brewery. Looked to us like it would be a fun place to be a brewer! We then went onto the packaging facility where they spoke to us about their new FlexCell packaging that will soon replace the traditional test tube version for many of the most common yeasts.

 

Overall, White Labs was an interesting stop, but we had to get back because Friday night was Club Night. Where all the clubs bring out their best and put on a crazy display, while all the attendees happily consume what they offer. This is the night when you'll see a variety of costumes and plenty of people having the kind of great time that likely led to a few hangovers the next morning. We tried beers both good and not-so-good as we wandered through the crowd looking for people who were willing to stop and chat on camera. There are definitely some interesting characters who attend NHC. We even ran into a few people who listen to our podcast! Thanks to y'all for listening! The night ended with us having a discussion with some California farmers who were growing and selling hops on a small scale. It was nice to know that the craft and homebrew industry could help support and inspire local business.

 

Our next stop in North Park was Belching Beaver Brewery, an oddly named place with simple open air seating and a variety of beers including a horchata imperial stout and a rye IPA that we thoroughly enjoyed. After that we walked over to Rip Current Brewing and squeezed in behind a large group of beer lovers traveling around to the different breweries on 30th to try a few of their line up. Decent beers on a whole and a helluva old beer can collection up on the wall that rivaled the one at the Coors Distribution Facility where we used to hold our homebrew club meetings. We left there and found the San Diego version of The Toronado, an impressive craft beer bar. It was a great place to sit and drink a draft pint of Pliny the Elder in California. We could've wasted plenty of time here, but decided to move on to the next and last place, the Modern Times tasting room. They had what had to be the most interesting interior with lamps on the ceiling, floppy disk art work, and a wall made of old VHS with the tape still in the box. A favorite beer here was the nitro version of the Black House, an oatmeal coffee stout that was initially developed with the assistance of the Mad Fermentationist himself, Michael Tonsmeire. Well known blogger and author of American Sour Beers.

 

After our tour down 30th street in the North Park area of San Diego, we made it back to the hotel and got in line for the awards banquet dinner. Everyone found a place to sit in the many rows and we enjoyed conversation along with a series of beer pairings. It was crowded and tight, but an enjoyable evening. A highlight of the experience was when Mark Schoppe of the Austin Zealots won the Ninkasi award. AGAIN. Local boy does good indeed. Congratulations to Mark! And of course, we ended the night with another visit to Charlie's.

 

Sunday was all about packing up and getting ready to travel home in the morning, but we did manage to get out and check out a few more places in San Diego. We stopped at Small Bar for the strangest bloody mary/meal in a glass we've had and then wandered around until we found a place called Gilly's. Seeing as how it had the same name as the honky tonk bar in Dallas, we couldn't resist. But eventually, the good times had to come to an end and back to the airport we went to wait for our flight home. Out of the wonderfully cool weather of San Diego and into the heavily humid heat of DFW. But there's no place like home.