In Belgium, beer is an art form, often served with equally memorable food. That’s not the case in the U.S., where restaurants with world-class beer lists dish up burgers, fries and other frat-house staples.
Gravity Heights, which had its soft opening in Sorrento Mesa about two weeks ago, is a great leap forward for San Diego’s beer-and-food scene. The beer, from local brewing icon Skip Virgilio, is superb. The menu, from the folks behind La Jolla’s Whisknladle, includes burgers and tacos and pizza, yes, but soars far beyond.
My falafel burger ($14.50) was a tasty fried chickpea patty covered with Tzatziki sauce and laid over hummus, lettuce and tomato. My companion ordered the crab melt ($15.95), a perfectly toasted grilled cheese sandwich topped with scoops of tender crab meat.
And the beers? “Skip’s recipes are all spot-on,” said Rich Link, a veteran beer writer and home brewer, dining there for his second time in a week. “And I’ll be back next weekend.”
I don’t blame him. All five beers I sampled were excellent, while two were worth a special trip: the Torrey Porter (6.7 percent alcohol by volume) and the Red Tide Ryesing (8.3 percent), an IPA that balances spicy rye against juicy tropical hops.
A covered patio, a children’s play area, outdoor and indoor bars, an appealing menu and terrific beers — Gravity Heights soars.
Karl @ 30, BLAH @ 10
For local beer fans, there are two milestones this week — Blind Lady Ale House’s 10th anniversary and Karl Strauss’ 30th anniversary, the latter marked by Saturday’s sold-out Changing of the Barrels party.
In its first decade, BLAH (3416 Adams Ave., San Diego) has baked 450,000 pizzas and poured 1.25 million beers. The latter have included many from co-owner Lee Chase’s Automatic Brewing Co., but also a wide range of guest beers. Today, the focus is on San Diego’s Societe; Friday, it will shift to Oregon’s pFriem Family brewers.
Karl (5985 Santa Fe St.) is Southern California’s oldest existing craft brewery. The Barrels party will feature live music plus unlimited food and drink. There will be 30 beers on tap, and ticket holders will receive a bottle of the 30th anniversary beer, a Russian Imperial Stout aged in rye whiskey barrels.
Washington, D.C., is focused on winning, or at least not losing. So when the hometown newspaper warned that Sunday’s Super Bowl LIII parties are doomed if we don’t properly chill beer, I paid attention.
But what if the fridge is full of, say, food?
No worries, The Washington Post’s Kara Elder counsels, you can still triumph by cooling your brews somewhere else.
“Things we have used: a cooler, bucket, Christmas tree stand, large plastic storage tub, the snow outside,” she wrote.
“Things we have seen people on the Internet and in movies use: a washing machine, bath tub, empty plant pots (?), buried in the ground outside (??), an icy flowing stream near a haunted house in Iceland (!).”
Question marks and that final exclamation point belong to Elder, as does the suggestion that you swaddle ice-filled vessels with towels, to absorb the resulting seepage.
Kings of Beer
Nehru jackets, the AMC Gremlin, Starland Vocal Band’s “Afternoon Delight,” — what were Baby Boomers thinking?
Here’s another disaster Boomers foisted on an innocent public: wispy, hollow-chested Mexican lagers (looking at you, Corona!), guzzled by the bucket load in the muddleheaded belief that, because it was imported, it must be awesome.
Mexican lagers are easy to drink because they are supermodel thin. Often, though, the flavor also seems a bit malnourished. Sierraveza (5 percent alcohol by volume), Sierra Nevada’s new Mexican-style lager, attacks that problem with crisp Pilsner malts; spicy, floral Sterling hops; and a skosh more alcohol (true Mexican lagers usually weigh in around 4.5 percent).
The result is a light brew with flavor. Not a banquet, admittedly, but at least a decent snack instead of its shadow.
Kurt Bach, the owner of Barrio Logan’s Attitude Brewing, was in no hurry. Attitude opened its doors at 1985 National Ave., Suite 1115, on Oct. 1, but the grand opening celebration will begin Friday and run through Sunday.
For the festivities, Bach will debut Iconic, a pale ale, and a special double hazy IPA.
“We had 10 beers on tap when we started,” he said, “and now we’re adding our 16th. Definitely the hazy IPAs tend to be our best sellers — the single, Intense Attitude, and the double, Dramatic Attitude.”
He laughed. “You know how dramatic opinions on hazy beers can be.”.
Words to Drink By
“I bought a beer,
“for Richard Brautigan
“at Thomas Lord's bar
“on Union Street
“in San Francisco.
“he was already drunk:
“this is what
“the literary life
“means.” — “A Beer for Richard Brautigan” (2015), by Mike Essig. Brautigan,(1934-1984), would have been 84 on Wednesday.