Wednesday, June 15, 2016

#cratebrewery vs #sdbrewculture

Ha! Interesting prompt for someone (like myself) who does not drink alcohol and avoids breweries in an awkward, other-people-shake-their-heads-at-me sort of way. Truly, I have no clue what Crate Brewery is like in comparison to San Diego Breweries. Maybe I'll find out. Here's an account of my experience as a non-alcoholic beverage drinker at Crate Brewery.

Oh! But first, some history.
I have been to three breweries in San Diego and I have not drunken alcohol at any of them.
1) Gordon Biersch Mission Valley, 2003ish. I think I had a Caesar Salad and exchanged photo albums with a friend, while he got drunk. I don't remember my friend getting drunk this time exactly, but he got drunk everywhere, every time - so, I think it's safe to say, Adrian Erwin Paligutan was inebriated this particular afternoon. There were huge metal vats of something nearby, probably beer. The restaurant was nice. The patio was dog friendly and the wait staff knowledgeable. 
2) Rock Bottom Brewery, La Jolla, 2007. The Annual La Jolla Firehouse Fundraising Auction. This was my first night out as a divorcee with my new girlfriends. Amidst seemingly wealthy, dare-I-say desperate housewives, I hooted and hollered in solidarity with all the "single" ladies, as they bid their husbands' moneys away on the young, the (very) shirtless firemen, who absolutely fit the bill of being fucking, unbelievably, delicious. I don't remember much about the brewery itself, except that it was a place people could be loud and have fun at and that the space seemed big. 
3) Stone Brewery, Liberty Station, 2016. 
Everyone else drank but myself and Josh. They seemed to be happy with their choices. Eight of us gathered to celebrate my older brother's return home. I chose this location because the venue would have had enough seats to take all of us without a long wait, the food and beverage menus were yelp rated excellent and the atmosphere, I had heard, was inviting. Plus, the menu had enough gluten-free options for me to be satisfied. The courtyard was lavish with elaborate stone and water features. Shimmering beneath the water's surface, large orangesicle, blanche, aurelian, coal coloured koi could be seen. Children leaned in to get a literal feel for them. (Where were their parents?! You should not touch koi! The oils on our skin could harm them.) Small industrial lights were pulled tautly, criss-crossing the airways. And the service, let me just say, was exceptional. I can pronounce this with confidence, as my cousin gets confrontational when inebriated, which can be entertaining, as she is the most non-confrontational person I know (when she isn't in her cups), and she gave our server a magnificent grillin' for running out of her preferred menu option: the Fresh Yellowfin Tuna Poke Tacos. The chef, to assuage her bitchin' and blubberin', actually made up a non-menu food item for my cousin in place of her much desired first choice. They won brownie points from me on this one. Anyway, it's beautifully massive, yet intimate. In doors the walls are white plaster and the ceilings are vaulted with dark wooden beams, corrugating the heavens. Stone and water features boldly interrupt the tables, walkways, and everywhere, really. Plus, it's huge. This venue could easily host more than a thousand people if bought out for an evening. 
So, that's what I've experienced prior to today's adventuring to Crate Brewery.

Crate Brewery: First Impression. Nice Lock.

Luke, our guide, as well as the restaurant and brewery manager at Crate Brewery, looks like he lives in San Diego (until he opens his mouth and shows off his sexy English accent - GOD!! If he could just keep his articulate, well-worth-listening-to, stupidly-interesting-English-mouth shut...). He wore a button down Hawaiian shirt, casually cuffed shorts, red socks and red DC shoes. His eyes were so dark blue I wanted to fall back into them and float away. His hair was pulled back in a ponytail and, like most brewers I've met throughout the world (I can say that sort of phrase now, "like most [insert pluralised noun] I've met around/throughout/amidst/in the world), Luke takes his brewing quite seriously. His knowledge is vast. I was impressed. So impressed I wanted to ask him out but, upon additional thought, didn't. (But, GAH, was the man interesting!)

So, first impressions. Right. Back on topic. Okay.

Crate Brewery is in a community known as Hackney Wick which is very near to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and amidst its own gentrification. It's a only matter of time before the rent really goes up (I saw some graffiti that said the only thing going up is the rent), the lock is cleaned up and people start hacking off chunks of wall to preserve the street art. Crate Brewery will no longer be offering pizza for 8 GBP and Mr-Sexy-Casually-Cuffed-Shorts (try saying that ten times with a mouth full of mallows) will soon be wearing a ring on his 4th finger - and, most likely, not one from me.

So there you have it. That's ALL I got out of our day at Crate Brewery.

Too much off topic expounding, you say? Let me break it down into easy breezy, (slightly) less-Natalie terms for you:
Smart guy guided tour. Kinda hot. Dresses like he's from Cali. Knows too much about his craft to remain single for long, if he is single - but probably not because, let's face it, he's smart and smart is sexy. Decent pizza. No clue about the booze, everyone else seemed fine with it, but the Ginger Kombucha was bomb. Hackney Wick is near Olympic Park and is getting bought up and sold out. The only thing going up is the rent.
And now I'm done. Cheers.

Nope. Just kidding. Can't be done. Those were only my FIRST impressions. Additional thoughts are as follows:

Breweries are messy, smelly, hot places that seem pretty laid back. Brewing beer is chemistry in action! I asked Luke if there is a formalised education for brewing and he said that Crate Brewery teaches home brewing classes on weekends. I reiterated my question, making sure he understood me this time. He replied that their original brewer learned from his dad who learned from his dad. Cool. An answer I could work with. Brewing craft beer is, essentially, family recipes being passing down from generations back for thousands of years.

My great-grandmother was blind from Glaucoma but that didn't stop her from cooking. And she taught my grandmother and mother how to cook her family's recipes that she brought with her from Puebla, Mexico to America. And now I know how to cook them too. Mole Poblano. Salsa Chipotle. Salsa Tomatillo. Arroz Mexicano. Frijoles pintos.

(So, profe, you don't speak fluent Spanish and you trot around with a Sicilian last name, but you know without a doubt that you are absolutely Mexicano. Well, here's one for you on authenticity, being Mexican and cultural identity. I am only 1/8 Mexican proper and I don't speak fluent Spanish either, but I know without a doubt that I am Mexican-American. Try to convince me differently and I will have words with you and anyone else. The women in my family raised me. My grandmother's mother called her children Mexicans. They called their children Mexicans. I know that I am exactly what my mother and father are. Without dilution. Period. I am Mexican.)

My great-grandmother married my great-grandfather who was Cubano-Gallego and so, my family, myself included, also cook Arroz con Pollo, Arroz Espanol, Picadillo, platanos fritos, frijoles negroes, paella, caldo gallego, albondigas, fideos, pozole, and more. In addition to learning how to cook from my mother and grandmother, I've also taught myself to bake.

My father is a craftsman, makes cabinets, builds cars, kitchens, bathrooms, houses, anything and everything. And I help him with that stuff too. I come from artisans - craftsmen - and I take keen interest in other arts that require significant craftsmanship, as well. So, naturally, I was fascinated with the entire brewing process (and the house it's brewed in). I took hundreds of photos. Asked several questions. Even got to hang out with Luke and Carem (not sure how to spell [or pronounce] her name, but the Italian woman that was helping serve everyone beer at the warehouse) after the tour for a few minutes. Everyone else had moved on but it was nice having a human moment with them. I choked (down the wrong pipe) on the kombucha and Senor Dreamy Eyes rubbed my back for me while I coughed it out. (Now you know how I developed a crush on the man. He's cute, smart and he rubbed my back for me while I was in distress.) Anyway, I think I can be done now.

Oh, and what about...

#cratebrewery vs #sdbrewculture

Well, that's easy enough:
hottie, kombucha, beer brewing unfolded, food & fun...
Crate Brewery wins by a landslide.

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