July and August of 2018 will likely go down in the record books as part of one of the hottest summers ever in San Diego, and the extended heat waves have made it all but completely miserable to venture outside. With the mercury pushing skyward, it might not be your first instinct to throw back a few big barrel-aged stouts, but it shouldn’t take much coaxing when said libations are crafted by AleSmith Brewing Company. Friday kicked off a weekend of celebrations for the Miramar brewery’s 23rd year as part of the local craft beer community, and the tap list didn’t disappoint.
As always, the star of AleSmith’s lineup is Speedway Stout, and the company always finds innovative ways to paint new colors onto the burly stout’s black canvas. Like Bob Ross layering dabs of Cadmium Yellow to make happy little rays of sunshine, AleSmith Owner Peter Zien’s team expertly introduce flavor components to this already-flavorful craft beer. Attendees at this weekend’s festivities will have the opportunity to sample a few unique variants:
- Big Bender, which conjures up the flavors of an Old Fashioned cocktail thanks to aging in Tennessee whiskey barrels with cognac barrel-aged coffee beans, cardamom and orange peel.
- Cinnamon Vanilla, which will also be available to-go in limited quantities.
- Celestial Dawn, which used a special blend of beans roasted by the coffee savants at Modern Times.
Along with the Speedway variants, the brewery will also have a few other premium pours available for purchase such as Single Barrel-Aged Old Numbskull Barleywine, Gin Horny Devil and Strawberry Milkshake Ale.
While the craft beer is obviously the centerpiece of the anniversary celebration, there are also plenty of activities to stimulate the senses. Saturday will feature an art show with works from people all over San Diego County, while Sunday’s session is dedicated to the art of roasting coffee with cupping sessions hosted by representatives from Modern Times. Visitors might even have the chance to pair beautiful hand-painted chocolate truffles from Nola Rose with AleSmith beers.
AleSmith might have 23 years already in the books, but they aren’t finished growing by a long shot. Next up on the company’s punch list is the long-awaited opening of Zien’s pet project, CheeseSmith, which will feature artisan cheeses made on site. I had the opportunity to speak with him about it, and he says they don’t have a concrete date yet, as they’re still waiting for final approval on permits from San Diego. If the company’s approach to fromage is anything like its treatment of craft beer, San Diegans will be able to look forward to some flavorful curds.
Also going on for the remainder of August in the AleSmith tasting room is a fundraiser for the California Sudanese Lost Boys & Girls Foundation, which became near and dear to Peter and Vicky Zien after the brewery hired eight refugees from the war-torn country. San Diego beer writer Bruce Glassman has a great piece about the Lost Boys of Sudan for San Diego Magazine.