Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Lost Abbey Craft Beer in San Marcos

San Diego Safari 1

(Originally posted at Ventura Craft Beer Examiner, May 28, 2010)
So Cal Craft Beer, Tomme Arthur (right) and friend
On a recent afternoon, we wandered into the Lost Abbey. The first thing you think, driving into the parking lot of the non-descript office park in San Marcos, is "This can't be the right place." And then you notice that the parking lot is jammed. "What's going on here?" you ask. Further inspection reveals that it's just a typical Friday afternoon at the LostAbbey/Port Brewing Facility in San Marcos. The place is packed, and there's more beer available on tap than you can shake a stick at. Everybody's standing - 10 deep - and everyone is absolutely digging what they're drinking.

In a space formerly occupied by a much more humble Stone Brewery (about which more in a future post), Lost Abbey's Tomme Arthur is holding court at a long bar opening out onto the aforementioned parking lot. Here, one can find some of the best beer on the planet.Way back in 1997, garage-brewer Arthur was hired by Vince Marsaglia of Pizza Port in Solana Beach, CA,  to brew Belgian-style ales, such as the Dubbel Overhead Abbey Ale. Multiple GABF Gold Medals later, Arthur has arguably become one of the most renowned "craft brew meisters" in America. What's GABF stand for, you ask? GreatAmerican Beer Festival, that's all. And there are many other laurels, as well.

Meanwhile, back in the non-descript San Marcos office park, there is much to marvel at and savor. One entire section of the Lost Abbey warehouse is piled high with recycled wine and whiskey casks holding some of Arthur's most treasured elixirs. We sidle up to the bar with an old friend of Arthur's, and immediately two pints of Arthur's Lost and Found Abbey "Double" Style Beer (with raisins and a sweet malt finish) appear. It's clear that this beer is Arthur's nod to the Trappist Abbey of Westmalle's (Belgium) "dubbel," a strong version of a brown beer.

Without too much prompting, Arthur disappears -- his daughter Sydney entertains guests with dayglo Playdough sharks and stamps -- and reappears again with taster glasses of Devotion. This dry-hopped blonde ale with a dry hop-driven finish is Arthur's hommage to the great Belgian Trappist St.Sixtus Abbey's Westvleteren Blonde ale. It is sublime.

The Lost Abbey has been found, along with the divine inspiration of Tomme Arthur's incomparable craft. The tasting room is open 1-6 Monday and Tuesday, 1-9 Wednesday and Friday, Thursday 1-8, on Fridays, Saturday 11:30-8, and Sunday 12-7. This is a MUST for the serious beer connoisseur.