Liz Swain 4:24 p.m., May 24
It takes balls to call a beer-based business in San Diego the best damn anything. All over the county, brewery, beer bar, and retail shop owners are working their beer guts off scrambling to put out the best suds around. Yet, Best Damn Beer Shop, the craft beer emporium taking up a third of downtown’s Super Jr. Market, makes a serious case for being tops among local bottle shops.
Owner Sid Mikhail has built up a voluminous and ever-bettering treasure trove of craft beers funneled in from all over the world. Keeping such a beery inventory bloating to (and sometimes beyond) capacity is no easy task. Yet, in addition to keeping BDBS’ impressive inventory on-point, he also organizes massive events where attendees can down more rare specialty beer in one night than many will all year.
The most recent of these free-for-alls was the Best Damn Night of the Barrels, which took place the evening of Saturday, February 25 at Downtown Johnny Brown’s. The event featured dozens of hard-to-come-by brews ranging from booze barrel-aged imperial stouts and porters to Belgian sours, tripels, and quadruples. There were even some unoaked single and double IPAs, as well as a triple IPA (Dogfish Head 120-Minute IPA to be exact…remember that one) which, almost inconceivably, was a back-up beer for when they ran out of something even rarer.
What may look a bit unruly was actually a nicely controlled event during the Best Damn Beer Shop and Downtown Johnny Brown's Best Damn Night of the Barrels.
With so many interesting beers, crowd control was key to the event’s success. Having event-goers head to the outside patio and order beers from four separate lines leading up to the windows on the south wall of the restaurant, kept things from getting too congested, especially after supplies of the half-dozen or so must-have beers (e.g., The Bruery Black Tuesday, Cantillon Rosé de Gambrinus) were bled dry.
About 45 minutes in, the crowds thinned out, lines got shorter, and several hours of civilized tasting ensued. Best of all was the fact Downtown Johnny Brown’s kept their dining room open and their entire menu available, allowing attendees to find a seat, hunker down and grab a bite. Doing so always helps people pace themselves and adds much-needed sustenance to the stomach-lacing equation at events like this.
Like the Renaissance event I recapped earlier this week, this is another immense craft beer affair that affords beer enthusiasts the type of truly exceptional tasting experience that is very hard to come, here or anywhere. To keep apprised of future BDBS events, check out the store’s website.