If San Diego is in your travel plans for 2012, this post will offer up a few good suggestions. If you live under a rock <kidding> in San Diego and have never checked out the places that make us known as one of the greatest Craft Beer Cities in the U.S. then you’ve come to the right place.
Part One of the series starts with an adventure in public transportation that will take you safely to South Park, North Park & Normal Heights. That’s right – you heard me. San Diego Metro Transit Bus Route #2, aka The “Hot Deuce” < Hot Deuce Schedule – Saturday > travels from downtown San Diego to the top of 30th Street (The Craft Beer Corridor of San Diego) at Adams Avenue. Catch the Deuce at the Americas Plaza stop near the Trolley Station or on Broadway at 3rd Ave. For $5 you can hop on and off the bus all day, not to mention the fact that you can enjoy your beer responsibly.
During San Diego Beer Week, this is the route I chose for visiting Twitter Craft Beer Friends @TheBeerWench (Ashley), @JessHunter (Jess), @MllBess (Bess), @BisonBrew (Dan) and Amie. There was side-splitting laughter and beer experiences that we will remember for years to come. I hope you will enjoy it as much as we all did.
Here are the great Craft Beer spots you can hit and pace yourself please:
Hamilton’s – Hop of the Hot Deuce at the 30thstreet, about 15 minutes from the stop on Broadway. Open the screen door and allow your eyes a few seconds to adjust to the darkness that lies within. Don’t be surprised if there are several adorable pups hanging out at the bar; Hamilton’s is pet friendly! They have 28 tap handles and 2 cask engines pouring a kick-ass variety of local craft beer as well as some world selections . They have a cooler stocked with bottles that include rare finds like Firestone Walker Abacus and library selections from breweries like Stone and Lost Abbey. You can order food from the take-out place next door through a tiny window located near the pool table. Don’t expect anything fancy but rest assured that it is good pub-type fare. On the second Saturday of the month, a local brewery is featured on all tap handles and there is a feast of “free” food to boot. Plan on getting there early. It gets crowded fast…
1521 30th St, San Diego, CA
Next stop The Linkery on 30th just south of University Avenue. The Linkery boasts artisan sausages, made on premise, and a terrific menu of farm to table selections that showcase the strength of the Slow Food movement in San Diego. Fresh **Local** produce and pasture-raised meats are featured along with 10 tap handles and a cask engine. The Linkery has a highly innovative menu and the staff here tends to know their stuff when it comes to beer.
3794 30th St
Walk about 5 blocks north on 30th (past University Ave) and you will find the infamous Toronado San Diego (left or west side of street) , the sister location to the original in San Francisco. There are more than 50 taps and several cask engines showcasing the Best of San Diego, the US and the world!. You can find them all listed on the gynormous chalkboard hanging above. If you can’t find a beer here that you like then you are in need of therapy <enough said>. Don’t faint when you look at the epic bottle collection in the cooler. Last time I was there we enjoyed a 2 year vertical of “Cable Car”; a very special American Wild Ale brewed by Lost Abbey for Toronado.
4026 30th Street
Across the street and up a block or so up from Toronado, you will find Ritual Tavern , one of San Diego’s BEST farm-to-table restaurants, featuring old world, traditional cuisine with great beer pairings to compliment the food served. Innovative and ethical; Ritual serves up great food. Ritual has 8 tap handles and a cask engine; plus bottle selections. Prepare to have your socks knocked off at Ritual. The food is as interesting as it is outstanding. “Hop” back on the Deuce at the next stop north or back toward Toronado.
4095 30th (& Polk)
Next stop Tiger! Tiger! Tavern – the latest brilliant venture by San Diego local favorites Lee and Jenniffer Chase along with Jeff Motch and Clea Hantman. Located just off the now famous 30th Street Hot Deuce route at El Cajon Blvd, Tiger! Tiger! offers up a mighty selection of sustainable, seasonal small plates and sandwiches. My fav is the Bánh mì (photo right) but I love the oysters as well! There are about 30 tap handles on this custom built Direct Draw Draught System. The selections include Belgian-styled beers. Don’t be fooled by the pizza oven. No pizza served here but they bake some terrific bread. Save the pizza for the next and final stop on the Deuce; sister property Blind Lady Ale House.
El Cajon Blvd (just east of 30th)
Last stop on the Hot Deuce loop is Blind Lady Alehouse (BLAH as the locals call it). Exit the bus at the Adams Avenue stop on the corner of 30th. DO NOT go inside the really scary bar on the corner unless you are missing most of your teeth and have a meth problem. You’re going to stroll east on Adams Avenue for about 7 blocks where you will find BLAH on the left (north) side of the street. By this time the walk will do you good if you have indulged in a beer at each stop thus far! Blind Lady Alehouse is the original venture by Lee and Jenniffer Chase, Jeff Motch and Clea Hantman. This group of friends turned their passion into a successful business that has made Draft magazine’s “America’s 100 Best Beer Bars” list. Lee brought an impressive brewers resume to the table for the restaurant and Nano brewery (Automatic Brewing) as well as expansive knowledge of the craft beer industry in general. All four owners are passionate about food ethics and chef Aaron La Monica serves up the finest in locally sourced, seasonal ingredients. The thin crust pizza** selections are as tasty as they are creative and pair perfectly with the selection of 26 craft beers handles, a cask engine and a few bottled beer choices. There are always vegan menu items at BLAH but fear not #Bacon lovers. BLAH has pork products available! Order at the bar, grab your plates and utensils and find a seat. This is the way it works so deal — the food is awesome and the beer superb!
Closed on Monday for Lunch
3416 Adams Ave
Do not order pizza here if your idea of great pizza is Papa John’s – You will not like it #justsayin
If you make it through all 6 of these locations you are A) Worthy of your SD Beer Card and B) A Craft Beer Consumption Rock Star. Walk off a little more of your beer on the way back to 30th Street to catch the Hot Deuce back to the downtown area. I sincerely hope you enjoy this adventure. This beer geek is woefully proud of the San Diego Craft Beer Culture.
Stay tuned for Part Two of the series which focuses on the best places to sip good beers in Little Italy and the downtown area. Part Three will highlight the other great Craft Beer spots San Diego County and last but not least, Part Four will offer up some top brewery picks. These lists are based on my experience and opinions. There are scads of other spots in SD that are also highly regarded so please do your own homework. Please also check Hours of Operation.
Cheers —- TheArtofBeer
Special thanks to @Goats_Udder for the crash html lesson!
Please Drink Responsibly
Map locations are not exact so pay attention to addresses listed above
The Hot Deuce Route Map