Increasingly these days, for better or for worse, there are many breweries brewing beers to simply capture a trend. Sure, beers that some might consider to be cutting edge, but beers that others might consider to be gimmicky. Beers that could potentially be described as over-the-top, beers so saturated with aromas and flavors—derived from hops, malts, adjuncts, or otherwise.
The “newer school” beer styles—Juicy or Hazy IPAs, Pastry Stouts, Fruited Sours—can be nice, once in a while. There may well be a time and place for these beers, especially if they are well-brewed, and brewed by talented brewers. But there is something to be said about classic “beer-flavored flavors,” and balance and nuance, to a beer. I’m talking about beers that are brewed (first and foremost) for drinking! And in that respect, it is at least my sincerest hope that these types of beers, and the breweries brewing them, will have true staying power in today’s beer world.
High atop the list of places brewing these types of old school, “brewers” beers, is The Lost Abbey and Port Brewing in San Marcos, California. Not to say that this spot in North County San Diego has remained completely unchanged in the time since Tomme Arthur left his position in late 2005 at Pizza Port to direct the operations at The Lost Abbey/Port Brewing. The packaging and branding is different. They made some modest changes to the Tasting Room. They opened a new spot in Cardiff….
Consistent, world-class beer, however, has been a constant ever since 2006, when Vince and Gina Marsaglia, along with Arthur, took over the old Stone Brewing facility. The rest is well, San Diego brewing history.
The two brands, under one roof, allowed Arthur and the production team to focus on brewing clean, succinct, drinkable and delicious beers in two very different themes—Belgian inspired ales, and West Coast ales of all varieties. And, over 10 years later, these beers have stood the test of time, I’d argue that they are even better today.
Over the holidays, back in San Diego, time and time again, I found myself so incredibly refreshed by the beers that The Lost Abbey and Port had to offer. Revisiting beers like Devotion, Judgment Day, Lost & Found, Red Barn—on the Lost Abbey Side—and Wipeout, High Tide, Mongo, Santa’s Little Helper—on the Port Brewing Side—were simply eye-opening beer-drinking experiences for me in the present moment. And tasting new beers from The Hop Concept, the (confusingly, maybe) third brand that is now brewed in the same facility, was refreshing as well. No gimmicks, no frills, just delicious hoppy beers meant to be enjoyed by the pint glass.
It is my hope that breweries like The Lost Abbey and Port Brewing will never cease to exist. That no matter how crowded, how much over-the-top beer is being brewed, that there will always be beers like Devotion around. That beer drinkers everywhere will arrive to the realization that beer should be for drinking.