Wednesday, May 20, 2009




We were having our Sunday morning pre-church coffee and coupon-clipping hour, perusing our one newspaper of the week, when the wife said from behind the front section pages something like, "Maybe you should get more serious about brewing your own beer." I think I spit-taked my Columbian Supremo. This is like your wife saying we need a bigger, flatter television. I tried to play it cool.

"What makes you say that, honey?"

She pointed out this article in the North County Times. There have been several news pieces covering the local microbrew industry in the past few years, and I've always found them hopeful and encouraging. (Civilization is advancing. Society is rejecting bad beer.) Also, it appears that a few years ago I wisely bought property right in the heart of the Napa Valley of microbreweries:

"It always shows up on top-10 lists of brewery cities in the country," Gatza said.

The "city" is San Diego, but North County actually has about as many independent breweries as San Diego, and both numbers are growing. Two companies offer local brewery tours throughout the county, complete with tastings and a pub meal. The standard Saturday tour at Brewery Tours of San Diego focuses on North County breweries.

North County breweries have racked up their share of accolades. The Brewers Association named Port Brewing as the nation's best small brewing company for 2007. The association named Alesmith Brewing Co., in San Diego's Miramar neighborhood, as the best small brewery last year. Beer Advocate magazine called Stone the "best brewery on earth" in December and rated five Stone beers among its top 25. Food & Wine Magazine's June issue dubs Highway 78 a "near-mystical" route for visiting breweries.

A near-mystical route! It's true. Some misty mornings I load the tools into the back of my truck and I catch a glimpse of the glistening dew on the hop fairies' wings. And then, when I'm driving home on the 78 after a long afternoon of patio cover installation, I feel the pull of the siren song of the alesmiths, but I resist and head on home. It's a personal battle I fight at the end of every day, lashing myself to the Tundra lumber rack like the Argonauts did Jason to the mast.

(Alesmith is a fine brew, by the way. I picked up a few bottles a couple months ago on someone's recommendation and Wow, I thought. That's good beer.)

So I'm thinking about it again -as if I needed another project. In my defense, there is some crossover betwixt my passions: the reverse-osmosis water filtration system I have for the reef aquarium will purify the water for the ale. And there's no reason I can't grow organic hops out back in the garden. (There is a worldwide hops shortage, you know.) We have the tools! We have the technology! We have the will!

Okay, so we don't really have all the tools -but what we lack in tools we make up for in will! It's beer, man!

Later that day, Mrs. Ditchman asked how much it was going to cost to remodel the master bath.