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Campy names for serious beers

The pride of Hillcrest Brewing is a scotch ale

An IPA, red ale, pale ale, scotch ale, and cucumber lager at Hillcrest Brewing Company
An IPA, red ale, pale ale, scotch ale, and cucumber lager at Hillcrest Brewing Company

It’s noon on a warm Sunday, and I’ve just come from pinching produce at the Hillcrest Farmers Market to quench my thirst a flight at Hillcrest Brewing Company. It’s a journey of about twelve feet. As at the market itself, things are lively at the self-avowed World's First Gay Brewery. I spot a few fellow marketgoers at the bar and on the patio, and chat with a scattered mix of Hillcrest residents and tourists.

A popular postgame and postmarket location

It’s a sportier crowd than I expected. Outside, an adult kickball team has come to drink after a game at Morley Field, just one of their rotating postgame locations. Inside, I tip a glass to The Brewskies, a ladies softball team sponsored by the brewery, who come back to home base as a postgame ritual.

A full bar, with guest beers and wines, separates the brewpub’s tables from its tanks, but I was here to visit the house beers. The most distinctive thing about Hillcrest Brewing may not be its sexual identity, but that its top seller is a scotch ale.

Place

Hillcrest Brewing Co.

1458 University Avenue, San Diego

That would be the Banana Hammock scotch ale. Hillcrest Brewing is part of the Mo’s Universe of restaurants and bars, which has invested heavily in curating commercial spaces to Hillcrest’s gay community, including cheeky establishments such as Baja Betty’s and Gossip Grill. Innuendo has long thrived at Mo’s establishments, in the guise of campy cocktail names, and here the tradition continues. Core beers include Perle Necklace pale ale (highlighting perle hops), and the Long and Stout stout. Which brings me back to Banana Hammock, and whether or not there’s anything to read into the fact it’s got a 9-percent ABV.

Conventional wisdom says an IPA will most likely be a San Diego brewery’s top seller, but sometimes it just works out that a brewery’s best beers do well, regardless of style. Banana Hammock does so. It delivers sweetness in caramel and toffee malt flavors, but finishes with appealing dryness that effectively hides its potency. I look forward to future pints and the ensuing hired car home.

Another shade in my almost but not quite rainbow flight is the pale gold of Pride 2018, a collaboration beer with Ballast Point brewing in honor of the July 14, San Diego Pride Parade and weekend. I’m told it was made at the since retired Scripps Ranch Ballast Point. While I enjoyed a sulfuric, peppery notes, the cucumber makes it a little slick. Overall, it tastes fine, but the quality of the house beers exceed it.

It’s been more than a couple years since I last sat down to drink at Hillcrest Brewing, and I leave it with a much stronger impression this go-round. Which is good news, because I’m probably going to wind up getting involved with recreational team sports now that I know there are day beers in it for me.

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An IPA, red ale, pale ale, scotch ale, and cucumber lager at Hillcrest Brewing Company
An IPA, red ale, pale ale, scotch ale, and cucumber lager at Hillcrest Brewing Company

It’s noon on a warm Sunday, and I’ve just come from pinching produce at the Hillcrest Farmers Market to quench my thirst a flight at Hillcrest Brewing Company. It’s a journey of about twelve feet. As at the market itself, things are lively at the self-avowed World's First Gay Brewery. I spot a few fellow marketgoers at the bar and on the patio, and chat with a scattered mix of Hillcrest residents and tourists.

A popular postgame and postmarket location

It’s a sportier crowd than I expected. Outside, an adult kickball team has come to drink after a game at Morley Field, just one of their rotating postgame locations. Inside, I tip a glass to The Brewskies, a ladies softball team sponsored by the brewery, who come back to home base as a postgame ritual.

A full bar, with guest beers and wines, separates the brewpub’s tables from its tanks, but I was here to visit the house beers. The most distinctive thing about Hillcrest Brewing may not be its sexual identity, but that its top seller is a scotch ale.

Place

Hillcrest Brewing Co.

1458 University Avenue, San Diego

That would be the Banana Hammock scotch ale. Hillcrest Brewing is part of the Mo’s Universe of restaurants and bars, which has invested heavily in curating commercial spaces to Hillcrest’s gay community, including cheeky establishments such as Baja Betty’s and Gossip Grill. Innuendo has long thrived at Mo’s establishments, in the guise of campy cocktail names, and here the tradition continues. Core beers include Perle Necklace pale ale (highlighting perle hops), and the Long and Stout stout. Which brings me back to Banana Hammock, and whether or not there’s anything to read into the fact it’s got a 9-percent ABV.

Conventional wisdom says an IPA will most likely be a San Diego brewery’s top seller, but sometimes it just works out that a brewery’s best beers do well, regardless of style. Banana Hammock does so. It delivers sweetness in caramel and toffee malt flavors, but finishes with appealing dryness that effectively hides its potency. I look forward to future pints and the ensuing hired car home.

Another shade in my almost but not quite rainbow flight is the pale gold of Pride 2018, a collaboration beer with Ballast Point brewing in honor of the July 14, San Diego Pride Parade and weekend. I’m told it was made at the since retired Scripps Ranch Ballast Point. While I enjoyed a sulfuric, peppery notes, the cucumber makes it a little slick. Overall, it tastes fine, but the quality of the house beers exceed it.

It’s been more than a couple years since I last sat down to drink at Hillcrest Brewing, and I leave it with a much stronger impression this go-round. Which is good news, because I’m probably going to wind up getting involved with recreational team sports now that I know there are day beers in it for me.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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