Del Mar to La Jolla
By Bobby Bush
As I left my previous stop, Solana Beach Pizza Port brewer Tomme Arthur handed me a
bottle (a 40 ounce Coors Light twist top, talk about sacrilege) of his mighty Old Bone
Yards Barleywine. With instructions to deliver it to Tom Nickel, head brewer for Stuft
Pizza in Del Mar, California, I did just that.
Part of a franchise pizza joint chain -most do not have breweries- this Stuft Pizza,
founded in 1995, was jumping with a dinner-time crowd. Before we hit the barleywines,
Nickel wanted to share his other brews. A Yale graduate in Medieval History, Tomís first
brewing job was as an assistant at Solana Beach Pizza Port. His California Gold, formerly
known as Yale Pale Ale, was a cream ale, golden and perfect for craft brew virgin
drinkers. Dry hopped Paradise Pale Ale was light in body with balance emphasizing hops
flavor. Export style McGarveyís Scottish Ale, authentically made with Scottish yeast was
medium bodied and semi-sweet, while Amberís Ale was a nice ESB that would be even
better on cask. At 6.5% abv, Black Mountain Stout was a traditional UK dry stout, rich
with the taste of roasted barley, chocolate and coffee. With sweet aroma and flavor,
Staggering Scotsman was properly named, for it hid a potent 8.5% alcohol shot.
Unfortunately, Torrey Pines IPA, which utilizes five different hops varieties, was not
available at the time, though I did try an uncarbonated sample from a conditioning tank.
This award-winning brew, with dry hops additions in the fermenter and in the serving tank,
is Tomís premier beer and his favorite.
With only two monthís conditioning time, Nickelís barleywine, 1492 Discovery
Ale (brewed with Columbus hops, get it?) had little time to mellow. Itís hoppy presence
was still not as in-you-face hoppy as the bottled Old Bone Yards from Pizza Port, which I
brought, though the older beer had yielded some of its hoppiness to a slippery
butterscotch profile. (See www.stuftpizza.com for more info).
Again with explicit instructions in hand, I left Del Mar headed to La Jolla, home to
five brewpubs. The night was getting old, so I planned to hit just one more brewpub on
this jet-lagged day.
Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery was busy. I had to search for a seat at the
elongated, shellacked bar. Noticing two beer engines behind the bar, I asked the harried
bartender what he had on cask. He had to check and came back with a frown. No
cask-conditioned ales tonight. From their long list of house brews, which included Long
Board Brown, Ragtop Red, Breakwater Pale and Great White American Light ales, my
first choice was a nitro-spiked IPA. Itís medium body was flat, somehow escaping the
soothing nitrogen effect. Entering with an alcohol nose, it departed with a sour, hoppy
display. Also conditioned with the NO2/CO2 blend, Seal Stout had that expected
cascading chestnut brown color effect. Although it was served entirely too cold, mocha
flavor was obvious beneath a frothy head of foam.
Based in Louisville, Colorado, Rock Bottom Restaurants Corporation not only
owns about 20 Rock Bottom brewpubs, but also controls 40 Old Chicago restaurants and
two swanky Chophouses, which also brew in Denver and the District of Columbia, and
Boulderís Walnut Brewery, their first brewing venture. Their food is always excellent.
Their beers, which must cater to a broad cross-section of patrons, are well brewed, from
lightest to heaviest. From Maryland to Texas to Washington State, consistency is the key
to Rock Bottomís success. Visit www.rockbottom.com to learn more.
Next we go round and Around San Diego
This article first appeared in Focus, a weekly paper published in Hickory, North Carolina.
© Bobby Bush