San Diego Cheese and Beer Festival
There are few things this girl loves more than beer and cheese. Unfortunately, cheese doesn’t love me, so when I headed to the Beer and Cheese Festival this past weekend at the Horton Grand Hotel, I came armed with a cheese-eater who could sample for me while I sampled all of the delicious beers!
First things first, this venue was fantastic, and I will try to find every excuse to return. There were four different areas with beer samples, cheese samples, art and vendors, live music and oversized games providing a perfect atmosphere to snack, sip, and dance. Upon entering the main room, there was a beautiful open air patio with tunes played by the excellent DJ. When you continued into the next room, you found several more beers and tons of cheese, along with an exit out onto the back patio where the live music was going on, and then there was yet another room with even more cheese and beer!
We were having one of our perfect sunny San Diego days and just loving this awesome back alley/patio space with tunes played by The Big Lewinsky (a badass 90’s cover band) and the Faux Fighters. Now onto the beers!
Our first few beers were from 32 North Brewing where I sampled the blancdonkadonk, because with a name like that, how could I not. Following that we tried the Mountain Light from Figueroa Mountain and the Red Red Amber from Ironfire. While I enjoyed my Red Red Amber, the IPL I had a sip of was seriously good, and might be the perfect compromise for those who can’t quite handle the hoppiness of a typical IPA.
On to the snacks! Now I know this was a cheese festival, but our first stop, and arguably the most important was at this table full of cannoli and the densest and fudgiest brownies I’ve ever encountered, these deserts were so rich and so delicious. When I saw the cannoli, I made the snap decision to pop a Lactaid and deal with it because sometimes, you’ve got to make sacrifices. Also, feast your eyes upon this giant tray of delicious cheeses, that was a tough one to resist and was Tanner’s favorite cheese of the night! My favorite of the very few things I sampled, was this soft pretzel with an alfredo sauce, which took beer cheese and pretzels to a whole new level.
One fun feature at this event was Bill Travers, who was in this current season of Masterchef and his daughter who set up shop to show off their cheesy creation! They were serving up the coolest little cheese boards with fondue, crudites, and fresh bread. The presentation on these was beautiful, featuring edible flowers and they looked almost too good to eat!
Following our search for snacks, we got back to business and enjoyed our own mini brewery hop! First was the Absolution Brewing Company’s Purgatory, followed by the Common Cider Blackberry Sangria, and the Bell’s Brewery Two Hearted. The blackberry sangria solidified my love of these common ciders, having tried the hibiscus saison at the last event, I can officially call myself a big fan!
Next up was Jamul Brewing Porter, Left Hand Brewing Stout, and the Fall Brewing Stout. I am a huge Stout lover, and all of these did the job and made me one happy foodie, particularly the Jamul Porter, which was perfectly rich and had just the right hint of Madagascar vanilla bean.
For our last two brews, we had some fun at 2 Towns Ciderhouse, putting on temporary tattoos and tasting the Cherried Away, which was the yummiest cherry cider and another favorite of the night. And on the quest to be a better San Diegan, I even caved and tried one IPA, and was very happy I did! This grapefruit weekday session IPA from Rough Draft was so bright and citrusy that I wasn’t even mad about the hops!
This event was a blast, even with my cheese limitations, and I got to discover not only several new local and regional breweries and beers to love, but also this lovely little venue situated downtown. This event just goes to prove that cheese and beer are a perfect match, so the next time you’re trying to pick out wine for that cheese, try picking up some local craft beers instead!