I have a lot to be thankful for this year. For starters, I'm pretty thankful my liver hasn't given out on me yet—a very real occupational hazard in my line of work. That being said, the thing that I'm most ungrateful for around Thanksgiving is the horrifying offshoot "shopping holiday" known as Black Friday.
If you're looking for a way to avoid this annual putrefaction of the human race, there's no better option than imbibing some delectable local beers while waiting for the stampedes to subside. There are plenty of extraordinary dark brews represented across San Diego to help evade or simply forget Black Friday, and here are my top five.
1. Scripps Pier Oyster Stout from South Park Brewing Company (1517 30th St.) in South Park. If there's another oyster stout being brewed around San Diego, inform me immediately. This wildly underappreciated style is hard to find but easy to enjoy, and at 5.2 percent ABV, you can even enjoy seconds or thirds of this outstanding beer from brewmaster Cosimo Sorrentino.
2. Speedway Stout from AleSmith Brewing Company (9990 AleSmith Ct.) in Miramar. Barrel-aged? Vietnamese? Hawaiian? Get whichever Speedways are on tap at the gorgeous new tasting room. Don't leave until you've tried them all and take as many bottles home as you can afford.
3. Bacon & Eggs Imperial Coffee Porter from Pizza Port Ocean Beach (1956 Bacon St.) in Ocean Beach. If you do get roped into bargain hunting early in the day, this deceptively smooth 9.5 percent ABV breakfast beer will help ease your pain and hopefully erase your memory.
4. Tabula Rasa Toasted Porter from Second Chance Brewing Company (15378 Avenue of Science, #222) in Rancho Bernardo. With local legend Marty Mendiola behind the kettles, Second Chance barely qualifies as the new kid on the block. Its 6.2 percent ABV toasted porter is already a runaway favorite coming out of the fledgling brewery and invokes whiffs of dark chocolate, toasted nuts and just a hint of smooth caramel.
5. 2015 Stupid Stout from Coronado Brewing Company (170 Orange Ave.) in Coronado. There's a reason that Stupid Stout is considered one of the best stouts being brewed anywhere. At 9.0 percent ABV, it's bold, smooth and will put a fire in your belly—perfect for these harsh San Diego winters. If you can find the oak bourbon barrel-aged variety, snag that as well.
Runners-up include Rescue Buoy from Rip Current Brewing Company (Russian Imperial Stout, 11.2 percent ABV); The Butcher from Societe Brewing Company (Imperial Stout, 9.8 percent ABV); Home Brewing Company's Schwarzbier (5.5 percent ABV); Benchmark Brewing Company's Oatmeal Stout (4.8 percent ABV), and Enjoy By from Stone Brewing Company (Black IPA, 9.4 percent).
While I lament the absence of exceptional barleywines and bocks from this season's standouts, every single one of these brews is a reason to join the dark side. I don't know about any of you, but when the darkness comes knocking this Friday, I'm ready to say "no" to sales and a resounding, "Hell yes," to my local tasting room.