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Matthew Lickona 5 p.m., Dec. 9
It seems like only yesterday I met Neighborhood owner Arsalun Tafazoli. As the young and ambitious owner of a regularly empty gastropub, he had a lot of time on his hand to converse with me about his hopes of delivering an enlightened craft beer venue and drinking-and-dining experience to San Diego. I appreciated his vision and wished him well, but was afraid the energy, work, and money he’d poured into his business would go unrewarded. Thankfully, I was wrong.
Though it came very close to going out of business, Neighborhood caught on and has since gone on to serve as a catalyst for the gastropub boom (which it seems we’re still in the midst of) and win accolades from national publications as a destination bar and restaurant ranking among the country’s best of its kind. That success has allowed Tafazoli to bring to life other big idea craft beer and artisanal cocktail concepts in the East Village, Little Italy, and, soon, North Park.
Neighborhood’s fifth anniversary is coming up. Given the doors it's success has opened up, it’s no wonder Tafazoli feels like celebrating. In doing so, he’s calling in some favors from brewers here and across the country to make an October 20 street festival all it can be. Among those conspirators are the “five godfathers” of San Diego brewing: AleSmith, Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits, Green Flash Brewing Company, Port Brewing/The Lost Abbey, and Stone Brewing Company. Over the past month, Neighborhood staff have met with individuals at the aforementioned brewing companies to develop one-of-a-kind beer blends that will only be available at the anniversary party.
I first heard about the blends while holding down a barstool at Neighborhood’s built-in speakeasy, Noble Experiment, and chatting with lead bartender Anthony Schmidt. He had just been to Ballast Point with Tafazoli and Neighborhood beer director Stephanie Tait to develop a blend of their Sculpin IPA and Black Marlin Porter called "Black Scorpion." At face value, it’s a pretty out-there mixture, but according to Schmidt, it's pretty darn good. Probably not too dissimilar from a black IPA (or "Cascadian dark ale," if you prefer). The next day, the aforementioned quartet headed to Stone to create "Belong to Where You're From," a blend of Stone Pale Ale, Stone Old Guardian BELGO Barleywine, Stone 16th Anniversary IPA (which is brewed with lemon verbena), and several other Stone beers. That should be interesting, to say the least.
Additionally, The Lost Abbey has produced a cognac sidecar-inspired barrel-aged beer, AleSmith will be pouring a lavender-infused version of its Lil' Devil Belgian pale ale, and Green Flash is contributing five-year-old Bourbon barrel-aged barleywine and its coveted Silva Stout.
On top of that, brewers from Avery Brewing Company, Allagash Brewing Company, Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales, and Russian River Brewing Company will also be on-hand to pour some of their rare specialty brews. Those offerings will include Allagash Avance aged in oak barrels with strawberries, Dogfish Head 120-Minute IPA, Bear Republic Das Koma, and Russian River Sanctification. There will also be live music, food from MiHo Gastrotruck, and a complimentary bike valet provided by the San Diego Bike Coalition.
Pre-order tickets are available online. The street fest will take place on 8th Avenue between Market and G Streets from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is $10 and includes four half-pint tastings dispensed into a commemorative beer stein. Proceeds from the event will benefit Sezio, a local non-profit providing resources and exposure to emerging artists.