Reflecting On Seven Months in San Diego

September 14 marked the seven-month mark for me in San Diego.   It also marked what would have been the end of my employment contract.   That has been extended until September 30, 2013.   So it looks like I’m good for another year here.  Not sure I like the new management fad that has head-count as its focus.   Companies meet their artificial head-count figures, but only with the use of contractors.  The budget for contractors is often separate from the money used to pay full-time employees.  

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I miss from my old life.   It’s Sunday and I miss riding my bike over to Tablerock brewery in Boise.   I miss going to Brewforia (www.brewforia.com) for lunch too.   They have what they call “craft breads”, which are indistinguishable from little pizzas.  They always had a great  selection and the wait staff was great.

I really miss a friend of mine, that I used to drink beer with.   He and I would always be on a quest for the most unique beers we could find.   We’d split them over some take-and-bake pizza.   Sometimes, I’d make up some crazy cocktails as well.   My favorite was when I’d soak dried cherries in rum for a few days.   We’d drain the juice off for cherry rum-and-cokes.   The booze-infused cherries would then be put in the blender with some milk, vanilla ice cream, chocolate chunks, and a splash of Kahlua.  Best alcoholic milkshakes I’ve ever had.  

I miss hanging out with the neighbor kids.   I used to shoot baskets with the 7 y/o girl and ride my adult-sized kick scooter (www.xootr.com), while her 3 y/o brother rode his Skuut bike. I miss them for different reasons. I miss her because she was fun to tease a bit. I miss him because he is such a good little guy. He used to like to sit on my patio when I had a friend over. He just liked being with the guys and didn’t need constant attention. Both of them would bust on me for my tobacco habit.  

I’ve finally acclimated to living in an apartment.  It’s not ideal and I miss having a garage.   What I do have is freedom.   I loved owning my own house, but recognize that it was an anchor around my neck, particularly in the depressed Boi-C economy.  

Last week, the contract agency I worked for in Boi-C was relentlessly calling me.   Even though I miss things from my old life, I know that I can’t go back.   The agency I worked for paid 30-40% less than market rates for engineers.  On top of that, you faced 3-4 furloughs per year.  They were also very cheap towards employees.   You had to provide your own office supplies.   They used to do a summer party for employees.   The claim was they did it for us.   The catch was that you had to attend on your own time  AND it was potluck.   

I like San Diego and am actually looking forward to winter for once.   My job is exposing me to new technology and ideas.   I like my co-workers for the most part.   

This has been an adventure and I look forward to whatever is next.

 

Which is my favorite San Diego brewery? It depends.

There are so many breweries to choose from in San Diego that it becomes hard to pick a favorite.  Portland, Oregon rightly gets a lot of credit for the plethora of breweries there, but San Diego is catching up fast.

I go to Green Flash Brewery(http://www.greenflashbrew.com) the most because it’s only 1/2 mile from my apartment.   My go-to beer from them is their Imperial IPA.   I also really like their Rayon Vert (translates to Green Ray).   They’ve just about doubled their fermenting capacity.   They’re not a very adventurous brewery as they don’t do much on the experimental front.

For experimental brews, it’s hard to beat Ballast Point (http://ballastpointbrewingandspirits.com).  One of my favorites of their experimental line is the “Indra Kunindra”, which they’ll be bottling soon.   It’s brewed with curry, cumin, cayenne, kaffir leaf, and toasted coconut.   It’s like Indian food in a bottle.  I was there recently with a friend, who’s Indian.   Ironically, he didn’t care for the Indra Kunindra at all.  I had their Jalapeno Smokehouse beer.   I liked the Jalapeno component, but the smoke was overdone and had a funky after taste.  They had a Habanero Sculpin IPA that was fantastic.  I’m still holding out for a brewery to produce a  chocolate stout with a red pepper component.

Another place that does a certain amount of experimental stuff is Alesmith (http://alesmith.com).  I like their barrel-aged stuff.

I like to go to the San Diego Zoo.   I get in by 9 and out by noon.   I then head over to Coronado Brewing Company (http://coronadobrewingcompany.com) on Coronado Island.  It’s only about 4 miles from the zoo.  It’s a great place to grab lunch. The beers are pretty good. In addition to their own offerings, they have a number of “guest taps”.

Hess Brewing (http://hessbrewing.com) is always good too.   They are a nano-brewery and currently have a 51 gallon brewing capacity.   They do a lot of high-alcohol beers.   You never know what you’re going to get.   I met their head-brewer this week at Green Flash.   He used to be the head-brewer at Track Town brewery in Eugene, OR.

I recently tried Rough Draft Brewing (http://roughdraftbrew.com).   I loved their pub.   Unlike a lot of tasting rooms here, they had seating.   Bar stools, tables, and couches.   I wasn’t impressed with some of their beer.   I’d go back as I met some great people and really liked the setting.

For a really unique experience, I recommend trying the tasting room at White Labs (http://www.whitelabs.com/tasting_room.html).   White Labs is known for providing yeast to the brewing industry.   This year, they opened a tasting room.   They consider themselves to be a “yeast tasting room”.  They split a 31 gallon batch of wort into 6 and then ferment each 1/6th with a different yeast.    The beers are brewed to showcase the yeast.   It’s amazing to contrast how the different yeasts influence the outcome of the beer.   Go for the education, not the beer.

Stone Brewing (http://www.stonebrew.com/home.asp) had a really great gift shop, but I didn’t care for the place as a whole. In my mind, brewpubs should be non-pretentious, all-inclusive places. When living in Boise, I used to go to Bend, Oregon a lot. I loved the Deschutes Pub on Bond Street. On one trip, I sat next to an insurance company CEO one night and an iron-worker the next night. Stone actually had valet parking, thereby violating my non-pretentious rule. The food was overpriced too. I paid $25 for mediocre Chicken Tikka Masala. Stone was a tourist-destination, in and of itself. The gift-shop looked like it belonged in a mall. I picked up a really nice, cast bottle-opener.

Not being able to pick my favorite is a good problem to have.   I get to pick-and-choose what I like about each place.