1517 30th Street, San Diego
You may remember the sneak-peek construction photos of South Park Brewing Company. Even with planks and sawdust strewn about, it showed great promise. And the finished product shows that promise has been fulfilled.
The main bar gives way to the brewing system, which came over from Monkey Paw.
The brewpub built next door to parent business Hamilton’s Tavern soft-opened last Friday (February 27). It was immediately mobbed by South Park residents, beer enthusiasts, and foodies who had been looking forward to the project’s completion for the past nine months.
I was among that initial throng of visitors and snapped more photos to share with readers. But pictures can only do so much. I also took a seat at the bar and tasted my way through the quartet of first-draft beers brewed up by Cosimo Sorrentino (who, in addition to managing the entire South Park Brewing project and crafting all of its beers, also oversees brewing and service at sister brewpub Monkey Paw Pub & Brewery in the East Village).
First up was a yet-to-be-named saison brewed with the same Dupont yeast Sorrentino utilized for Monkey Paw’s Stumble South Saison and the LUP’d Up Singel he debuted last week for the Beer to the Rescue lupus fundraising campaign. The use of that strain as well as Nelson Sauvin hops made for a beer that was reminiscent of the latter (which is the current San Diego Beer News Beer of the Week): crisp with nice tropical hop notes and a nose reminiscent of passion fruit. At just 4% alcohol-by-volume, it fulfills one’s need for a seafood-friendly session beer.
Toasty and caramel, clean and low in bitterness, Griff’s Pale Ale was designed per owner Scot Blair’s request for a beer that tastes simultaneously reminiscent of pales brewed in England, Northern California, and the Pacific Northwest. Mission accomplished. Meanwhile, the XPA (extra pale ale) peels back the malts while keeping the IBUs (international bittering units) on the low end. Still, Simcoe hops bring in light citrus and woodiness that almost makes it feel like you’re drinking an IPA.
The most impressive of the foursome is Scripps Pier Oyster Stout, which is brewed with salt water (two gallons out of the 150 gallons used to make the beer) procured from the filtered tap at the beer’s namesake site. The result is a dark beer that starts out nutty and chocolaty, giving way to roastiness on the mid-palate before segueing to a nice, bitter finish that feels like the salt is balancing the beer out, keeping it from getting too roasty. Whatever the chemistry behind it, this beer’s a winner as much for its flavor as its creativeness. Beers from Monkey Paw and guest breweries round out the tap list, but if these ales are any indication of what to expect, house beers will be the main draw at South Park Brewing.