A few weeks ago, my husband and I took a drive up the California coast to one of our favorite little beachside towns, Cambria, Ca. After the long drive on Friday (a whole issue in itself in Southern California), we were in need of a nice cold, good quality beer. As I do with any place we visit, I researched the Internet to find some unique places to eat and grab a cold one. I don’t like visiting unique spots and eating (or drinking) at common places (chains) that I can enjoy anytime near home. That led us to Cambria Ale House and I knew we found a gem when I discovered this sign just outside the door of the quirky, cozy place:
This Ale House is small…really small. There are about 10 bar stools, a few tables and a couch. There was a really cool, indie style band playing from Big Sur that night and they took up almost 1/2 of the place but somehow, everyone made it work. The people were friendly and the beer was good…SCORE! There are beer mugs hanging from rafters that belong to the locals. When the lady sitting to my right asked Alex, the bartender, about the mugs, he said, “it’s a use it or lose it kind of club”. I loved the ease of this club. No small print and confusing rules to follow. It’s really quite simple…come drink regularly or you lose your membership rights and your mug is a goner too. Love it!
Anyway, they have about 8 beers on tap at any given time. None of these beers are boring…don’t go to the Cambria Ale House looking for a Budweiser or Coors. It’s not their thing. It would appear that they rotate beer selection on a regular basis given the shelves of tap handles seen here (I apologize for the poor picture quality. I only had my phone with me and the lighting in this place is just how you would expect it…dim):
The night we were there, my husband and I both sampled many of the excellent beers available. We started with the lighter beers and stepped up from there. One that we both thoroughly enjoyed was Barmy Ale from Ballast Brewing Company out of San Diego, Ca. Not only was this beer super tasty with hints of apricot and surprisingly light, it also had a 10.7% alcohol content so it was cost effective for our weekend getaway budget. Neither of us needed more than one! Had this been the beer we started the evening with, we still wouldn’t have needed more than one!
So that leads me to my search in San Diego. Our kids are at Surf Camp this week in San Diego so we decided to stay a few days down here in the world famous GasLamp District. Our main mission…to find this Barmy Ale at one of the hip, ultra-cool Gastropubs that line 5th Avenue. We visited a few highly recommended pubs to no avail. Frustrated and confused as to why none of these cool watering holes were carrying the best local beer in town, both my hubby and I got on our phones to do a little research. Yes, we looked like one of those stereotypical couples sitting cozily at the bar together but completely ignoring each other’s company because our noses were stuck to our phones. But we had work to do and we were on a mission. After digging around for a while, including visiting the website of the brewery who makes this amazing craft brew, we found what we were NOT looking for…the beer is no longer produced. When it was produced, it was crafted in extremely small batches (one post said they only made three kegs) and we had to accept that we were not going to be enjoying this San Diego beer, even though we were in San Diego. Bummed!
But we were kid free and in the heart of the GasLamp District. We did not let our defeat ruin our night on the town. We had some fabulous food at Urban India and BarleyMash. We enjoyed some cocktails at GasLamp Tavern and Lou & Mickey’s. On Tuesday night, we will be seeing Bruno Mars down here in SD…so yeah…we may not have found the beer we were looking for but life is still great and I’m not complaining! If you’re ever fortunate enough to come across this beer, do not miss your opportunity and by all means, send me a message – I’ll be on my way!!