A Pitcher of Beer Solves My Saturation Qualms
It seems odd to me that tours at southern California’s sun-kissed breweries and brewpubs and jaw-dropping tap takeovers fueled by San Diego’s nightlife are not what filled my thoughts as I traveled back to the other coast after attending the annual Craft Brewers Conference (“CBC”) for the past four days.
There is no doubt that these incredible experiences during the week contributed to my enjoyment at the conference. But it was one occasion that left me invigorated, confident and excited for our brewing community—a relaxing afternoon at Pizza Port.
A lot of the discussions at CBC involved the growth of the industry, and in the current era of record-number brewery openings and breweries-in-planning, “saturation” is a term that easily finds its way into the conversation. Whether we’re talking about decreasing shelf space, fighting over tap handles or maintaining beer quality, I tell people that I look forward to the day when there is a neighborhood brewery or brewpub on every corner that focuses on creating and serving that local community.
Pizza Port, with four brewpub locations in southern California, is one example of this beer utopia. I decided to venture out from the CBC festivities at the Town & Country Resort Hotel and convinced a few beer writer friends to join me for lunch and beers at the nearby Pizza Port in Ocean Beach. We met a few brewery folks from back home on the porch and settled in for a light lunch and local beer.
Though tied together under the same name, each Pizza Port location brews its own beers and has at least ten of its own brews on tap. This is in addition to several more draft offerings from other Pizza Port locations and local breweries, i.e., Russian River‘s Pliny the Elder happened to be on draft when I visited. (See the Ocean Beach Tap Cam.)
When hundreds of new beers present themselves to me, I have to sample as many as possible (one mental obstacle I hope eventually to grow out of). It was a breath of fresh air, then, to break away from tempting two-ounce samples and to share pitchers with friends. I don’t recall a time that I’ve ever had craft beer from a pitcher. Why would I when there are a plethora of beers beckoned to be sampled?
The physical act of pouring beer from the same container, however, goes beyond buying flights with a friend or even clinking separate pint glasses in creating a sense of community. I didn’t have to worry about how two sips of this beer compare to two sips of another beer or what beer I would choose to order next. Instead, the pitchers succeeded in the rather difficult task to make me relax, don’t worry and have a beer.
I had a chance to focus on the people I was with (instead of the beer) because I knew everyone was drinking the same beer, and everyone was likely to get more of that same beer. I didn’t know, however, how our discussions would evolve, how our relationships would develop, or what we would learn about each other while sitting in the sun and pouring our passion from a community container. For example, I spoke at length with one brewer with us who had acquired the difficult skill of living in the moment—something I’m rarely, if ever, able to do. He had been on that porch every day of the conference to relax by simply people watching with a pitcher of Rhino Chaser and buddies nearby.
Samples, half-pints and pints have their place and time, but I’ll be ordering pitchers of beer when I start to lose focus on the people behind the beer, especially when those pitchers are filled with a double IPA named Man-Baby. And as long as we have neighborhood breweries and brewpubs pouring their heart and soul into their beer and their community, the only saturation I’ll worry about is in my salad dressing.