The Confessional by Lost Abbey, Cardiff-by-the-Sea
The Confessional is located in one of the nicest strip malls I’ve ever seen, and it is only about 1000 feet from San Elijo State Beach. (Don’t try to park for a beach day in the strip mall parking lot, however: they have lots of “we will tow you” signs and they really seem to mean it.)
The Lost Abbey is a brand of Port Brewing Company; you can find both brands on the extensive 23-tap menu here. That menu also includes Port’s other brand, The Hop Concept, under which they release one hoppy IPA each quarter, on a rotation. (Port Brewing Company, in turn, is a “cousin” to Pizza Port, with many of the same principals involved, though they are technically not the same company.)
The tasting room is tucked in the back corner of a courtyard off the strip mall, with a faux-grass area out front, some palm trees, a small patio, a bar top with stools along the open side, several small booths and some high-top tables inside. A sea breeze wafts in and the vibe is relaxed. The cozy feeling is enhanced by the dark woods throughout. Yummy smells from the neighboring restaurants will tempt you to get some take out while you enjoy your beer.
In addition to liking the location and the beers, I thought the service was top notch. Everyone who came in got a personal conversation, guidance to good beer, and a friendly smile from the bartender.
My flight of four focused on Port Brewing Company beers with one Lost Abbey appearance. Then I tried another Port taster, all followed up by a pint from The Hop Concept. I stayed away from the Lost Abbey beers today–I’m generally not a fan of saisons and Belgians, which is Lost Abbey’s forte. In many beer lovers eyes, that will mean that I missed the best part. Even so, I had a great experience and I would come back any time.
Dawn Patrol (English Dark Mild, 5.5% ABV). A nice dark mild. I’d prefer it at the more traditional 3.5% ABV instead of its current 5.5% ABV so I could enjoy the toasted malts all afternoon. 3.5/5
Surf Report (Red Ale, 5.3% ABV). This one doesn’t come together for me. The typical sharpness of a red comes through as thin, and the malts seem under-toasted to me. 3/5
Board Meeting (Brown Ale, 8.3% ABV). It pours stout-dark with a smooth, persistent tan head. I would say it is slightly over-carbonated, and the coffee dominates to the point you don’t get many other flavors or aromas. 3.5/5
Angel’s Share by Lost Abbey (Barleywine, 12.5% ABV). This is on Untappd as a Strong Ale but it is on the board as a barleywine. (Untappd also says 14.7%, but the version I had is “only” 12.5%.) It is barrel-aged, and the bourbon comes through strongly. I got the aroma and flavor of figs up front, followed by an alcohol punch that pretty much erased everything else, with lingering raisin and fumes. At $5 for a 4oz taster (other tasters here run around $1.50), I would have to put this in the “don’t bother” category. 3.25/5
Wipeout IPA (7.5% ABV). There’s a hop in it I don’t like. Earthy/dirt is all I can taste. This is probably a problem with me, not the beer, which seems to be very popular. 3/5
Citrus & Piney by The Hop Concept (Double IPA, 8.5% ABV). This Port Brewing brand focuses on, you guessed it, hoppy IPAs. This was my first from this series. It was fine but it didn’t blow me away as I hoped it would given they only do four per year and are trying to make a big deal about it. The release date was April, so perhaps this wasn’t as fresh as an IPA should be. 3.5/5
LostAbbey.com 2007 San Elijo Ave, Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA 92007