Birthday in San Diego

I turned 41 Wednesday, so my last full day in California had another touch of fun to it; even if we did get a late start on the shenanigans after working throughout the day.

Anyone who knows me knows I am an IPA guy. I “grew up” on Dogfish 90 and the traditional east coast IPAs. But the west coast took the IPA to a whole new, aggressive direction years back and changed the game. One of the godfather beers of that movement was the Russian River Pliny The Elder. I’ve had it in bottle before. It is an excellent beer, but my IPA preference of late has been the New England juicy style coming out of the Boston area.

Still, I am a man who appreciates history and taking stands, so I still respect the Elder. Just so happens, Knotty Barrel just a block from our hotel had it on tap. No brainer.

We got the last two pours of the keg before they ran out. Fortune favors the bold on their birthdays, or something like that.

Speaking of west coast beer pioneers, if you are going to have a hotel beer, you might as well make it a Stone crowler of Unnecessary Sweet stout.

Then came the birthday dinner. We have been gorging on seafood and ethnic food all week, but I’m a simple midwest boy, so we found a nice downtown steakhouse with outdoor dining. You can take the boy off the farm, or something to that effect.

Check out this lineup–Oban 14 whiskey, Booker small batch whiskey, crab bisque, mushrooms, mac and cheese, 45-day dry aged ribeye, and yes, birthday cobbler. Lou & Mickeys has an onsite butcher, and built their own dry-aging room.

Sarah went with the crab cakes and french onion soup. She nailed it too.

This was one of those “high five your waitress on the way out” meals. Her birthday was the next day, so we made friends.

After dinner, we heading to another speakeasy for the nightcap. This play has a door that just says Law Offices, with a prohibition notice stuck to the door. It’s a clever gimmick. Having a bouncer/door man for a law office was a bit of a giveaway though.

The door opens to stairs into a basement bar. Long and narrow, there were but just a few people in there. That would soon change, as we apparently just beat the traffic for a popular, weekly blues band.

We set front and center. There was only enough room for one row of benches, spread against the back wall the width of the bar.

A couple Elijah Craig single barrel old fashioned and some pretty damn good blues and R&B? Yeah, we don’t suck at this.

Watching the drummer set up was especially fun. He was ducktaping his bass drum skin, and his rim. There had been a blowout.

The band was the Lafayette Blues Band, and they were fun, especially Lafayette, a Texas blues man now residing in San Diego. With his blinged out guitar, some solid keys, bass and drum behind him, Lafayette worked the crowd. They can jam, and eventually he showed off some soul in his voice on a solid version of Stand By Me.

After they played for about 45 minutes, the floor was open to local musicians who had signed up. It was fun in a different way, watching them take their lead as the singer started, figuring out the song as he was going, calling changes in the jam and then going. Zero rehearsal, no planning, just jamming and going with it. It wasn’t a bad set either. Some Cream, Junior Wells’ Messing With the Kid and Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Sky Is Cryin’.

With enough whiskey and music in me, we called it a night. Gotta say, 41 ain’t half bad.


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