4646 Convoy Street, Kearny Mesa
1485 Hollow Glen Road, Julian
Tom Nickel isn’t one of those bandwagoners who become infatuated with futbol every four years. He follows soccer year-round, travels the world to take in matches at storied arenas, and has made his bar, O’Brien’s Pub (4646 Convoy Street, Kearny Mesa) such a hub for fans of the sport that it was named the top soccer bar in America by U.S. Soccer in 2011. From the moment he opened his brewery, Nickel Beer Co., he knew he’d brew a beer especially for this year’s World Cup, and it will be on tap beginning June 26 when Team USA takes on Germany in its bid to advance to the elimination round.
Dubbed Nickel Penalty Shot, it’s what its creator calls an “American strong pale ale,” meaning it comes in at a relatively low ABV — 5.3% — while delivering vibrant hop flavors. For this beer, Nickel was set on using Mosaic hops, but wasn’t certain which varietal he should team with it to provide the IPA “oomph” that the flavorful yet more delicate Mosaic lacks. After spending a morning burying his nose in bags of hops, he went with Simcoe, figuring that hop’s peachy aspects would go well with Mosaic’s melon and berry nuances. After tasting the beer, it seems a perfect pairing. As fresh as this nation’s newfound hope for its squad, the ale bursts with fruity aromas and immense fruit flavor balanced by a slightly sweet finish that brings everything together.
The beer’s name references an inside joke. Upon moving to a cabin in Julian, Tom and his wife, Lindsey, had a number of restoration projects to get done on their fixer-upper. A contractor friend of theirs helped out and, at the end of each day, the trio would find themselves sitting amongst torn-up flooring and construction materials with no TV or Internet, playing cards on a piece of plywood held up by two sawhorses, and imbibing adult beverages. As the night wore on, drinking fouls occurred. For each misstep, the perpetrator was made to take a “penalty shot” of liquor. Beats a red card, any day. But if you want a red card while watching a Team USA game, O’Brien’s has you covered there. They’re also serving Alpine Beer Co.’s Red Card and Benchmark Brewing Company’s Off-Sides, which like Penalty Shot, were brewed to celebrate the World Cup.