Port Brewing Company/The Lost Abbey- San Marcos
It was my first taste of fresh craft beer from the brewery I have revered for years. It came in a pint glass with the familiar logo and name of the brewery arching over it. I was finally in the tasting room of Port Brewing Company/The Lost Abbey brewery drinking a beer that up until now I have only had from bottles.
A crowd of visitors were lining up to buy glasses of Port Brewing and/or The Lost Abbey beers (two brands made at one brewery). When it was my turn at the bar, it was like standing in front of an altar. For a moment I felt like kneeling while looking up at the menus to offer a prayer of thanks.
Next to the bar is a wide doorway to a room full of wooden barrels. Hanging on the wall above the door is a large Celtic cross, and under it a long, narrow sign with these words: In Illa Brettanomyces, Nos Fides (In the Wild Yeast, We Believe). Opposite the cross and sign in the huge hall loomed tall shining vessels in a dimly lit brewhouse.
From time to time, customers who, like me, wished to sip fresh beers at the source, sauntered in and gazed at the menus in awe. Even young children, in tow by parents, looked around in wonder as they entered, mouths wide open.
From San Diego International it is 40 miles north to San Marcos on freeways crowded with fast cars going 80. Port Brewing/The Lost Abbey is on the north side of one of those freeways– Highway 78, AKA The Hop Highway.
The brewery has an amazing story which you can read more about here. One interesting fact about the brewery is that it is located where Stone Brewing used to brew beer until they moved in 2006.
So, what was in the glass? Shark Attack (9.0% ABV), a Double Red Ale brewed with Crystal Malts, hopped up with Centennial and Cascade hops. Shark Attack won a Bronze Medal at last year’s Great American Beer Festival.
My impression of it, fresh at the source:
In a pint glass it’s amber-copper in color, slightly hazy, with a frothy, tan head. Aromas of citrus blossoms, grapefruit, toast, and a hint of caramel tempt the nose. Flavors are similar to aromas, and those from the malts and hops are nicely balanced. Mouthfeel is smooth and toasty, medium bodied, with medium carbonation. The finish is clean with a delightful, bitter-sweet character. Overall, this Imperial Red Ale is true to the style while being unique and quite drinkable. Just watch out for the ABV.
Cheese- Port-Salut, and any of the tangy styles
Entrée- chicken, seafood, burgers, and spicy dishes
Dessert- banana bread, carrot cake, caramel cheesecake