Modern-Times-Carnival-of-CaffeinationIf you’re tapped into the San Diego craft beer scene [too easy], you were probably aware of Modern Times’ inaugural Carnival of Caffeination at Liberty Station this past Saturday. Originally slated to be held at the Fortress of Raditude, apparently the response was sufficient to prompt the last minute change of venue. Besides, we’re in San Diego so it’s almost always better to be outside anyway…

Before I continue I think it important to point out that #1, I am most certainly NOT a certified cicerone by any stretch of the imagination, I just like craft beer. #2, I didn’t get a chance to try every single beer at the festival because I wanted to make sure I could leave under my own power, and I was taking a lot of pictures. If you were there and find that there is some beer in particular I don’t mention, it’s nothing personal. Maybe I just didn’t get around to it. #3, I didn’t drink any coffee while I was there, I’m in it for the beer.

Fremont-Dark-StarMy #1 Pick of the Day

Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout – Dark Star by Fremont Brewing, Seattle, WA. – 8%ABV 50IBU

As partial as I am to local craft beers, This Imperial Oatmeal Stout was just awesome. Truth be told, I would have likely skipped their tent altogether simply because they’re not based in San Diego but I ran into @CraftbeerRay (Instagram) and he told me it was the only beer of the day that he went back for seconds. I tried it myself and quickly found out why… So balanced, with a nice, creamy mouthfeel and just the right amount of vanilla on the back end. Loved it…

Mikkeller-Fruit-Face#2 and a Very Close Second

Berliner Weisse – Fruitface by Mikkeller SD, Miramar, CA. 4%ABV IBU(0)

Had it not been for the Dark Star, this upstart would have hands down been my top pick. Points awarded from the jump for the beautiful coloring and just plain outside the box thinking but much to my surprise, the flavor backed it all up in spades. Light and creamy, not overly sweet or fruity, the coffee-raspberry combination was just spot-on. So unexpected to taste coffee in a beer that looked like this but IMO, that was part of the magic.

Pure-Dark-Side#3 but Closer Than it Sounds

Golden Imperial Stout – Dark Side of the Sun by Pure Project, Miramar, CA. – 10.5%ABV 40IBU

Full disclosure: I have a predisposition in favor of just about anything on NITRO and “Dark Side” was no exception. Chocolatey & roasty, complete with that nitro mouthfeel you’d expect from an Imperial Stout but in a golden wrapper. Ingredients make all the difference and nobody knows this better than the folks at Pure. Organic Costa Rican coffee, organic Dutch cocoa and organic Cacao from Ghana round out the entire tasting experience quite nicely.

Bruery-Mocha-WednesdayHonorable Mention

Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout – Mocha Wednesday by The Bruery, Placentia, CA – 19.2%ABV IBU(0)

At the risk of simply stating the obvious, this beer is awesome… I’m pretty sure it’s preceded by it’s reputation, which is why I think it didn’t make my top three. In fact, I’m probably cheating a bit by not giving it a higher spot on the podium but I tend to gravitate toward the unique and it’s just not in my nature to celebrate what I consider to be such an obvious choice. SO GOOD 😀

Abnormal Beer LineAlso worth mentioning was that while they didn’t hit the top of my list, both beers by Abnormal were excellent and they consistently seemed to have the longest lines throughout the day. I had both the Hugs & Kisses with full dressing and the Maple Breakfast which were obviously crowd favorites.

Unfortunately I didn’t take time to hit any of the coffees, or even the food vendors but I saw what looked like a lot of killer noms going down around me.

As the day wore on, the lines for the beer subsided and the lines for the facilities exponentially increased. Thankfully I’m not one to wait for the last minute but there were quite a few around me dancing in their shoes as they desperately sought the solace of the blue water oases.

All in all it was a glorious occasion, and while I regret missing out on the food and some of the other beers I heard great things about, my biggest misstep was failing to pickup my VIP T-shirt which was included in the price of the ticket.

One of these days I have to attend one of these things without being so distracted by cameras, social media and taking notes 🙁


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