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On a mission for craft beers

Andrew Hahn

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San Diego Brews lead the country

Mission Brewery recently opened in East Village inside the old Wonder Bread factory and I had been looking forward to visiting it ever since. My greatly anticipated review of the Mission Brewery was foiled by their early closing hours, which came as a great disappointment. The entire workday I had planned on drinking beers in shades of golden sun, desert sand, maple syrup, and chocolate cake.

After looking through the closed windows with a sad, puppy-dog face, I peddled off to a near by pub called Bare Back Grill, located on Market Street. The Gaslamp District is a bourgeois makeover on a long-rotting, cockroach infested concrete ghetto. Today it’s where women from cruise ships, Marines in striped button-down shirts and anyone else not from San Diego goes to spend a Friday night out.

Bare Back Grill has kept that all outside. As you enter the pub the first thing you see is a life-sized Jenga game, and the food is good! I ordered the lamb sliders and I asked for mint on the side, because everyone knows mint and lamb are delicious together.

The sliders are great. They come with goat cheese and caramelized onions. I suggest adding mint, or even strawberry if you’re a true aficionado. My favorite beer to order with this meal is Ballast Point’s Sculpin IPA, which is a little more expensive than other India pale ales, but for a good reason.

When you drink a truly refreshing and quality IPA, you will know where that extra money went. These quality IPAs are not cheap malt liquors overloaded with hops to mask the flavor of rotting ingredients. Too many San Diegans have bought into imitation IPAs because they wear hipster labels, but they taste like cheap perfume.

After the Bare Back Grill, I was feeling rose-cheeked and decided to go for one more drink at Monkey Paw, so I huffed it over and ordered an Allagash White, a favorite of mine. It’s a Belgian-style wheat beer that is smooth, creamy and flavorful. I also recommend Allagash Curieux, which is aged in Jim Beam barrels giving it a very distinct oaky flavor.

I also sampled a couple of holiday beers worth mentioning. One was brown and tasted like gingerbread, the other was black and tasted like chocolate. I did not care for either of them.

My final closing message is this: hats off to you, San Diego, and your local microbreweries especially. In just the last decade this city has grown into a beer-metropolis that is becoming the envy of the rest of the United States. I pray that we do not sacrifice the high standard that San Diegans are thirsty for to offer cheap mockeries. I’m sure there are buyers for a Mickey’s IPA if it ever comes out, but I personally believe that it is our buying choices that will determine product development and supply.

Cheap beer definitely has a place at Super Bowls, Sunday barbecues and Christmas, but I’m strictly boycotting these impostor microbrews that pretend to be made with high-quality ingredients and craft flavors when it’s just cheap malt liquor overloaded with hops to cover up the flavor of molding barley.

There are good brews and bad brews but you have to drink to know, so cheers! Drink a lot, as much as you can, but please be responsible. Remember, even though it tastes like the nectar of the gods, it still gets you drunk. San Diego has become a tourist destination for beer drinkers and the locals are hopped up and proud.

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On a mission for craft beers