Photo by Tenaya Hills"I LOVE BEER + ROCK N' ROLL!!!"
This is the red-inked, beer-splattered punctuation to my sleepy Sunday afternoon spent taking increasingly illegible notes while on a pub drive along Coast Highway. And it's telling—not just of the fact that I write embarrassingly lame declarations in italics even when completely tossed—but also of the sublime, blotto greatness of pub driving, sure to be this summer's hot to-do. So long as you're not doing the actual driving, of course.
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Seriously? Pub crawls are so for those twits with fake IDs or cumbersome full-leg casts. You can do better. In fact, you deserve better. So lasso that friend of yours who recently discovered sobriety—or Jesus—as your chauffeur and MapQuest a pub drive route toward sweet, soused oblivion.
Don't know where to go? Don't worry! Just peruse these notes that I took during my pub drive, a few spelling errors left intact for your reading pleasure.
4:43 p.m.5:17 p.m.5:18 p.m. 5:37 p.m.6:30 p.m.7:10 p.m.7:26 p.m.8:12 p.m.9:00 p.m. 10:07 p.m.10:40 p.m. 2:15 a.m. Finally make it home. Other bars were visited, but I lost my pen. Try to write more, but only come up with "I LOVE BEER + ROCK 'N' ROLL!"2:17 a.m.Belmont Brewing Co., 25 39th Place, Long Beach, (562) 433-3891; Huntington Beach Beer Co., 201 Main St., Ste. E, Huntington Beach, (714) 960-5343; Newport Beach Brewing Co., 2920 Newport Blvd., Newport Beach, (949) 675-8449; Ocean Avenue Brewing Co., 237 Ocean Ave., Laguna Beach, (949) 497-3381; Goat Hill Tavern, 1980 Newport Blvd., Costa Mesa, (949) 548-8428. Pass out.Actually leave Goat Hill. Time to go home. I have no idea what pint I'm on!GOAT HILL TAVERN. COSTA MESA. FINAL DESTINATION. DRUNK! We're here because they have a covered smoking patio and Blue Moon—among their hundreds of other beers, that is. It's my absolute summer favorite, despite being produced by Coors. Very light—finally!—and almost orange-y. I could drink it by the buckets—and have. "It's a taste of college," I say, meaning it's the perfect nightcap for a day spent throwing Frisbee at the beach. Or, in this case, getting wasted. "It tastes like fluoride treatments," a friend says. He means it as a compliment. We have two pitchers. Plastered. Take CA-133 past the Laguna mountains in twilight silhouette. I can still spell silhouette! Laguna!!! Ocean Avenue Brewing Co. is DEAD. Maybe not so good to go on Sunday pub drives. Want something light. They get their Hefeweizen next week, the bartender says. I order Red Sunshine Amber Ale instead. Add an orange. It's good! Like a Killian's. But not as good as Lambic's Rasperry [sic] Ale, which is absolutely delicious. They have brass vats here. It's a nice change. So are their bartenders, the nicest I've met since Long Beach. Bartender recommends jalapeo poppers with sun-dried-tomato cream cheese. Super-plus awesome! Clearly getting drunk. Back on Coast Highway. It's nice to be the passenger. Bathroom, Newport Beach Brewing Co. Three and a half pints! The bathroom smells like the Halls of Medicine—a good thing. There's a computerized alcohol tester outside the bathroom. My friend blows a 0.28, but he smoked and drank minutes before, which it specifically tells you not to do. Walk to the bar. Order Lefty's Cream Ale, which, judging by the baseball player drawn on the chalked menu, refers to a pitcher. Subliminal! The beer is deliciously creamy, although it looks a bit like thick urine. Eavesdrop on the regulars next to me: "Nixon was stupid," one says. I bet these people could get drunk from one beer. Last sip: far better than Bud, just shy of imported. Main Street. Huntington Beach Beer Co., stop two. It's empty. I order the Pier Pale Ale, forgetting I'm not a fan of pale ale. It's bitter, which I guess is a good thing. Fans of pale ale would like it, I bet. I look around. There's the same brewing vats, the same bricks, the same chalked menu. But it's somehow different: "It's like they ordered all the wrong pieces from the beach community-beer-company catalog," a friend observes. I down my beer and leave. Definitely wobbily while walking downstairs. The pub next door is packed. Should've gone there.I have to pee. Driving past Bolsa Chica. Smells like summer: fire pits and salty, beach air. Leave BBC and head down Coast Highway for Huntington. Two and a half pints down! Belmont Shores, Long Beach. Belmont Brewing Co., the starting line for today's pub drive. It's happy hour, says the bartender. He has muscles and a ponytail, and his name is Danny. He's a gentle giant. "Why not order a pitcher?" he asks. "They're only $7." A pitcher of Strawberry Blonde it is. [Bad idea! Pace yourself!] It tastes like a strawberry cupcake with strawberry icing. Very fruity. On the chalked menu, it's described as being "light and aromatic." The bar is packed. I look down. The pitcher's empty. "Do you want us to patch the whole [sic] in this up and get ya another?" Danny asks. No, I do not, thank you. My feet feel light. But am I buzzed? Not really. I like Rod Stewart. Last sip: beer still tastes good.