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San Diego's Toronado celebrates five years of great beer

Owner Ian Black toasts the crowd with a glass of Hess Toro Quintum.
Owner Ian Black toasts the crowd with a glass of Hess Toro Quintum.
Don Ayres

Anniversaries are a special occasion. You celebrate anniversaries with your spouse to marvel at how long they've been able to put up with you. You celebrate anniversaries at your job because it sometimes means an extra week of vacation. On Friday, loyal customers celebrated a different kind of anniversary as they marked five years of great beer at North Park’s Toronado.

An anniversary party for a craft beer bar wouldn't be complete without a quality lineup, and Ian Black, the owner of Toronado, didn't disappoint. While loyal drinkers arrived as early as 11:30 a.m. to get first crack at the dozens of quality offerings, the party didn't kick off in earnest until Black toasted the crowd at 4 p.m. Black lifted a glass of Toro Quintum, a beer brewed especially for this celebration by Hess Brewing, and thanked his loyal customers for five great years.

A good birthday party has to have presents, and those who ordered a Toro Quintum early enough kept the glass. Toro Quintum is a double dry-hopped pale ale with a color somewhere between gold and orange. The Cascade hops give the beer a great aroma, and the beer itself is hoppy without being too bitter. It should be available for most of the weekend, so it’s worth swinging by to try it. Aside from the Hess beer, Vista’s Mother Earth and Pizza Ports in Carlsbad and Ocean Beach made beers for the party.

One of the more interesting beers available was from Anaheim’s Noble Ale Works. Naughty Sauce is a milk stout that’s only served on nitro. The beer has a distinct coffee aroma, and the flavor profile is a combination of coffee and milk with a hint of chocolate. One more thing…it’s as blonde as a hefeweizen. The sensation of drinking this beer would be like drinking purple orange juice or eating green ketchup. The disconnect between appearance and flavor makes this beer a conversation starter.

Moonlight Brewing only puts out 1000 barrels every year, most of it to the San Francisco Bay Area, so it’s unusual to see their beers in San Diego. Toronado had two of their regular beers on tap for Friday afternoon’s festivities. Bombay by Boat IPA may not be the most fragrant IPA, but it has a very nice citrus flavor. Death and Taxes is a black lager with a strong coffee aroma and dry roasted coffee and bitter chocolate flavor.

Don’t fret if you weren’t able to make it on Friday afternoon. The anniversary festivities are scheduled to go on throughout the weekend with plenty of great beers being tapped.