SoCal's 8 Best Breweries: Cismontane's Evan Weinberg Tells All

Cismontane Brewing Co.'s Evan Weinberg harvests wild California buckwheat

beerguy.tvCismontane Brewing Co.'s Evan Weinberg harvests wild California buckwheat

Last month, we asked Stone Brewing Company's Greg Koch and Golden Road Brewing's Meg Gill to share some of their favorite beers. And this month, we contacted Cismontane Brewing Company's Evan Weinberg to do something similar. He agreed to participate, but not without first expressing some valid reservations.

"When you asked me to share five to ten beers I thought were essential to SoCal, I was

somewhere between uninspired and concerned," Weinberg said. "Uninspired because of all the Cosmo or Wired cast-to-the-side columns like '10 Ways to Know How Horny Your BF Is' or '7 BS Gadgets that Suck.' Concerned because I, like many others, am a business owner, and the last thing I want to do is piss off one of my accounts or brewing homies because I didn't mention their beer."

"Look, this may all seem like fun, food, and great beer," Weinberg continued. "But the reality is the small brewers of SoCal have relationships to maintain, and we work our asses off. People think that just because I'm an owner/brewer at Cismontane Brewing that I'm on easy street. If not getting paid and working around the clock is your life's aspiration, then your priorities are as ridiculous as mine or Craftsman's Mark Jilg, or Joel and Rich

from Strand, or Aaron from Bootleggers, or Jerry Kolbly from Noble Ale Works, etc. We do this for the love."

Once Weinberg had expressed his concerns, his mood brightened:

"After a bit of conceptual digestion, and few shorter (10-hour) work days where I had some energy left, I became pretty excited. Excited because I can make this article what I want: all about drinking beer in my home of Southern California. How would I recommend people drink in my home? Well!"

"First and foremost, anything local that is clean and delicious," Weinberg said. "You've heard that rhetoric about how your wallet decides the future of all. Well, it's true. If you buy craft beer, we will make more, find room for experimentation, get better at it, maybe get some new tools to brew with, and it will always be fresher to your lips. Not to mention it's good for your community and lowers the impact on the planet."

Then, without further ado, Weinberg dove into his favorite breweries.

Owner/Brewmaster Jeremy Raub inside the brew room at Eagle Rock Brewery

Steven ArmstrongOwner/Brewmaster Jeremy Raub inside the brew room at Eagle Rock Brewery

8. Eagle Rock:

"We are on the Equinox of a Revolution with the Populist demanding a Manifesto

that is a Libertine granting us all Solidarity! How'd I do guys? Steve... Jeremy... anyone? What am I, some kind of Yearling?"

A draught of ale at The Bruery

Steven ArmstrongA draught of ale at The Bruery

7. The Bruery:

"These guys are doing some of the best barrel-aged beers around, and they are about

to get even crazier with their new barrel-aging facility. Bottleworks XII was one of my favorite sours of the year -- now likely hard to find or really expensive. I love what Patrick, Tyler, Jonas, and the crew are doing for craft beer's image."

Strand Brewing Co.'s Rich Marcello pours 24th Street Pale Ale at a summer event

Guzzle & NoshStrand Brewing Co.'s Rich Marcello pours 24th Street Pale Ale at a summer event

6. Strand:

"Why over complicate things? Pale ales are great beers, always will be. Joel and

Rich are work horses of the small brewery world. The 24th Street Pale they crank out like bats out of hell is sessionable, well balanced, and hits the spot after a long day. Drinking this beer truly puts your money where your mouth is, and swings the tide toward the small local business owner that's doing it right."

A view inside the mash tun at TAPS Fish House & Brewery

Steven ArmstrongA view inside the mash tun at TAPS Fish House & Brewery

5. TAPS:

"Beers to style, with great food and even better dudes. I love these guys. Victor, Evan, and

Kyle make fantastic beer, and are ridiculous to hang out with. The restaurant may be a bit spendy, but it is worth every cent. You can find their beers around town at other spots. Their Bohemian Pilsner was one of the best beers I've had in the last year. It will be near impossible to find now, but they will do it again. In the meantime, drink their beer when you see it."

The tasting room inside Port Brewing/The Lost Abbey

Steven ArmstrongThe tasting room inside Port Brewing/The Lost Abbey

4. The Lost Abbey:

"Who doesn't like Belgian beer? If you think you don't, I promise you you're wrong. There are so many different beers in Belgium, and there is one for everyone. The closest you're going to get to Belgium in SoCal is The Lost Abbey. This brewery is truly top notch. Try Red Poppy Ale because, in true SoCal style, it is an exaggeration of a Flanders Red -- a sour style beer. And don't forget the poppy is our state flower."

The malt mill inside the old Green Flash brewing facility

Steven ArmstrongThe malt mill inside the old Green Flash brewing facility

3. Green Flash:

"We don't make beers like this at Cismontane, mostly because there are lots of good

ones out there. This is truly the beer style of today. So, if beer is new to you or you aren't sure you have experienced what's going on in brewing today, find their IPA. Green Flash West Coast IPA is dry, bitter, hoppy, bright, and yummy -- the quintessential SoCal IPA. Drink it and enjoy. And of course, the 30th Street Pale is a must try if you're in San Diego."

A pizza and a pint at Pizza Port Carlsbad

Steven ArmstrongA pizza and a pint at Pizza Port Carlsbad

2. Pizza Port:

"Okay, I know that everyone is thinking, 'Been there done that.' But for me, this is a bit

more special. I grew up in Solana Beach, the home of the first Pizza Port. I would ride my skateboard to Pill Box to surf all day and hit up the Port for 'beer buddies' and some video games in the afternoon. When I got a bit older, they put in the brewhouse. I remember looking at it and thinking, 'What the f... is that? I think I feel kinda funny, like climbing the rope in gym class.' Shark Bite was one of the first beers that I was fired up on as a youngster. Personally, I would like to try this year's fresh Fallbrook Estate Pale Ale, and could always go for another Poor Man's IPA."

Craftsman's Mark Jilg stands next to his original delivery truck

Craftsman Brewing Co.Craftsman's Mark Jilg stands next to his original delivery truck

1. Craftsman:

"Mark is the man. His beers are awesome, delicious, clean, imaginative, and radical. He has been blazing a trail in craft brewing for a long time. For Mark, it's all about the beer, which is extremely rare these days, both in terms of the beer and the mindset. His website is painfully out-of-date, he has no marketing to speak of, and he built most of his equipment by hand. Try 1903 Lager. It's clean, yeasty, refreshing, and has that perfect hint of malt. It's what a lager should be."

"There are too many breweries to mention," Weinberg concluded, "and even more opening that I have never tried. The key is to find your local breweries, and try what they have to offer. If they are new, and you are not impressed, give them some time and come back. Be adventurous, try everything, and don't settle for the crap the mega beer corporations are shoving down your throat. Beer is fun, and everyone is unique. So put down this article, and head to your local watering hole for a pint, goblet, growler, schooner, or maybe... DAS BOOT!"