Bringing Belgium to the West Coast: Pizza Port’s Belgian Beer Party 2006

After hearing about the greatness of Pizza Port Carlsbad’s 12-Hour Belgian Beer Party from my friends who have attended in the past, finally this year I had the opportunity to attend myself. On Saturday, March 25, 2006 I experienced Belgian beer nirvana.

For those brave souls dedicated to Belgian and Belgian-style beers, this event is perfect. Pizza Port, a pizza restaurant and brewery in Carlsbad, California, blocks off the lot next door for a day and features one hundred different Belgian beers for your tasting pleasure. Many of the beers offered are brewed in limited quantities, and are hard to come by prettty much anywhere in the world. For the bargain price of twenty five dollars you get a nice Belgian style tasting glass and five tickets, good for five four-ounce tastes. Additional tickets were available for one dollar each.

When we arrived at Pizza Port around 2PM, the place was pretty busy. There were many people standing around enjoying their beer, and some sitting at tables. As much as it was great to see so many people taking advantage of this opportunity to try new and rare beers, it made for a frustrating time trying to get a drink. The beer lines were long, and took a while to get through. The benefit of this long wait is that the high alcohol content of the Belgian beers was counteracted by the forced pause between drinks.

At the top of every hour a 3-liter bottle of beer was opened. In addition, at the six o’clock hour a six-liter bottle was opened, and at nine o’clock a nine liter bottle was opened. I was fortunate to taste the bottle opened at two o’clock and the one opened at nine o’clock. Both were excellent, but I unfortunately have no idea what they were. The mad dash for the hourly beer made it imporrible to see the label unfortunately.

My favorite beer of the day was the Cantillon Fou Fonne, a sour Flemish beer (I think…my more beer-smart friends are cringing right now). It has a different taste than any other beer I have had before. Normally I like a more dry brew, but in this case the sweetness and sourness really blended together and made for a refreshing and eye-opening experience. Other beers I tried and recommend include the Chimay Cinq Cents and New Belgium’s Blue Paddle Ale. Both were excellent, and are actually fairly easy to come by, unlike may of the other beers featured at the party.

I will definitely make a point of attending this fine party next year, and will hopefully be a bit more knowledgable and able to better appreciate the greatness of the beers featured. Either way though, this was a great experience and I truly thank my good friends Pat and Bob for dragging me along on this Grand Cru…I mean grand adventure.

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