Don Bauder 7:30 a.m., Dec. 9
In June, I visited the new brewpub that's claimed the title the world's "first gay brewery" and I found the beers to be drinkable at best. I resolved check back in, somewhere down the line, and give the Hillcrest Brewing Company a chance to correct the errors in recipe, technique, or whatever was causing "nail polish" and "dishwater" faults in the beers.
All the raunchy names are still in place, but so is happy hour from 4:30-6 every day. $2 off draft beers is a pretty fair HH pricing policy and it lessened the sting of buying a "Banana Hammock" scotch ale some. Normally $7.50, the man-thong inspired beverage had a lot of alcohol and a big boost of malty sweetness. It wasn't perfect, but it was much, much better than anything I had tried the first time I went to HBC. There was a slight unpleasantness in the beer, perhaps a touch of phenol giving it a medicinal flavor, that was very hard to detect and nothing like the mouth-searing acetone character of the "Brain Lubricant" that I had tried before. Overall, the Banana Hammock was on the better side of average. It wasn't great, but I was able to enjoy it.
I also tried an Irish red ale, which could have held its own in a contest against lesser beers. It was more of an amber color, not overly hoppy, and lower in alcohol content. I detected a hint of the stale/oxidized flavor that had really ruined one of the beers I tried last time, but, like with the possible phenol in the scotch ale, it was a subdued undercurrent as opposed to a dominant flaw.
After my initial visit, I had hope that HBC would address the faults in the beer and move forward. There was some threat that the company would simply sit back on its laurels, content to coast on the backs of the loyal customer base inherited from Mo's and Betty's, wrap the place in rainbows and let the scene run wild. That wouldn't have been bad, in fact, it would have been a perfectly serviceable business model. After all, they have a little cart that drives people between the different clubs. HBC could get away with perpetually phoning it in forever because the customers are willingly kidnapped and fiercely loyal to the greater Mo's family.
But HBC didn't do that. Faults have been addressed and, while things are far from perfect, there has been a marked improvement in the quality of the beers. The service was still a little slipshod and overly casual, but the servers no longer seem absolutely flustered and terrified. Given time and further improvements, I think the HBC might be able to prove itself in the local arena sooner than expected.
More like this:
- Ensenada trip part 2: Old Mission Brewery — Aug. 29, 2012
- Hip-hop inspires brewing — Aug. 20, 2012
- The Coffee and Tea Collective: Grand Opening Party Tonight — July 17, 2012
- First Look: Hillcrest Brewing Company — June 18, 2012
- Checking in on Sea Rocket Bistro — May 28, 2012