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Thursday, August 3, 2017

San Diego 2017 - Part 5: Goin' Down to North Park

Today we scaled things back and bit and hung out with Dano. We kicked off the day with some killer tacos and a beer at ¡Salud!, an authentic Mexican eatery not far from Dano's pad. Dano turned us on to this place during our last visit, and the food is about as legit as it gets. I woofed down a few chicken street tacos and some chips and guac, and chased them with a pint of Duckzilla, an IPA from Duck Foot Brewing. Not the best IPA of the trip, but it was decent. ¡Salud! has a solid tap selection of mostly local San Diego beers, which adds to its appeal.

After some tasty street tacos, we headed on to our first brewery visit of the day. Our first taste of Little Miss took place a few days earlier at Newport Pizza & Ale, where we sampled its Gremlin IPA. It was promising, so we decided a stop at the tasting room was in order. Inside, this place has a WWII vibe with images of bombs, shell casings, flags, propaganda posters, and other miscellaneous memorabilia of the era. Its rough-hewn decor was reminiscent of a bomb shelter or other war-ravaged building. OK... it wasn't that bad, but it did enhance the atmosphere and tie in with the brewery's theme. Even the creative sampler flight trays are in line with the branding. Although we opted for full pints during our visit, I noticed the uniqueness of the copper, cartoonish, bomb-shaped trays.

Sampler tray at Little Miss (courtesy of San Diego Reader)

I decided to start light. Yeah, right. Bring on the DIPA! First up was a healthy pour of Hoperation Overlord, an Imperial Oatmeal IPA hopped with Citra, Mosaic and Nugget. This was a pretty hefty DIPA with equal party fruity, citrusy and floral qualities, but the addition of flaked oats helped soften up the rough edges. We also got a pour of S.M.A.S.H. Vienna/Citra, brewed exclusively with Vienna malt and Citra hops. Presumably, S.M.A.S.H. is an acronym for "single malt and single hop." This one showcased the citrus fruit character of Citra hops paired with the distinctive toasty, biscuit-like flavor of Vienna malt.

Bombs away at Little Miss Brewing.
For our last beer, we settled on Helldiver, a straight-up 6.5% IPA featuring notes of pine and peach. Overall, the beers were solid here and the place has a unique vibe. My brother, who is a total WWI buff, would have loved this place, even though he's not much of a "beer guy." I walked away with a few good beers in my tummy and an appreciation for the men and women who served during WWII. I really enjoyed the atmosphere of this place... so well done, Little Miss!

Bullet bar at Little Miss.

After a few beers at Little Miss, we strolled on over to North Park Beer Co. Inside, North Park is pretty impressive. With its towering arched ceiling and impressive metalwork, it kind of reminded me of a old-time train station for some reason. Even the font used on the chalkboard outlining the available taps hearkened back to a train schedule. I mean, I was on an old-time train once, maybe twice in my life, so I have a limited frame of reference. But that's what it reminded me of, so I'm sticking with it. And who doesn't like trains? I know Sebastian Bach does (Editor's note: Lame Trailer Park Boys reference.)

This place was one of the more impressive spaces we came across in our travels this time around, so we were hoping that the beer matched the atmosphere. After perusing the beer list, I settled on a pour of Warped Plates, a juicy tropical DIPA heavily hopped with El Dorado, Idaho 7 and Mosaic. They also dry-hopped with a dose of additional whole flower Mosaic hops in the serving tank. Think lots of tropical fruit with a hint of earthy blueberry and some resinous dankness and you'll get an idea of the flavors and aromas of this beer. For my next selection, I went with Chaucer Quotes, a tart but hoppy hybrid, or what's becoming known as a "sour IPA." Weighing in at 7% ABV, this tropical fruit-forward tart wheat ale was kettle-soured with pureed apricots and mangoes, then dry-hopped with Nelson Sauvin, Idaho 7, and Mosaic. This one took me back to my college years, particularly my early British literature class when we had to read The Canterbury Tales. Man, those writings from the Middle Ages are pretty dry. You think Shakespeare is difficult to read? Try some Chaucer! With that said, I wonder if there were any beers like this back in the 14th Century. I highly doubt it.

Inside North Park Beer Co.

Eppig is situated in a small plaza on El Cajon Blvd., which is essentially the "main drag" in North Park. There are two other breweries next door, one of which we'll talk about in a later blog (Pariah) and the other we didn't visit (San Diego Brewing's North Park tasting room). Anyway, back to Eppig. Eppig takes its name after a brewery founded in Brooklyn, NY in 1866. Fast forward to 2016, when the great granddaughter of founder Henry Joseph Eppig reinvent the family brewery. Pretty cool, huh? You can read the full story here. During our visit, Eppig featured about 10 beers on tap, including a fair amount of sours, so we opted for a sampler flight and settled on the following four beers: 
  • Royale with Grapefruit - Grapefruit gose. 
  • Elegant Solution - Berliner Weisse with notes of sourdough and lemon. 
  • Glitz and Glam - Berliner Weisse fermented with raspberries and cherries.
  • 10:45 to Denver - IPA hopped with Mosaic and Cascade.

This tasting room was small and charming, and the beers were solid. This part of town has really been building up a solid craft beer scene, which is why we decided to hit up this area a few times during the trip. El Cajon Blvd. is kind of like OB's Newport Ave. - the hub of North Park. You can wander down the street and find plenty of shops, boutiques, restaurants and, of course, breweries! There's also an awesome (albeit expensive) ice cream shop called (if memory serves correctly) The Daily Scoop. We stopped in last time, and found they served ice cream flights (much like the beer sampler flights we were used to ordering at many breweries). We stopped in this time as well. Not to go on another ice cream rant, but - sorry - I'm going to. Much like my pet peeve of customers who hold up a queue by sampling multiple beers before finally making a selection, the same can be said of ice cream samples. I mean, do you really need to try chocolate? Pick a fucking flavor and move your family out of the way. There are two dozen other people waiting to order who know what they want. Jesus! This is why I hate it when places have "too many" selections. #firstworldproblems

Pleeps in action!

Afterward, it was back to Modern Times Flavordome for additional lubrication. I've already rambled on ad nauseam about our infatuation with Modern Times in previous blogs, so I'll maintain some semblance of brevity this time and only mention the beers I consumed during this visit. (That took a long time for me to say I'll be brief.) We had visited so many times between two years ago and this trip that we pretty much had tried everything on the beer menu. So it was time to revisit some favorites. I decided to get my own pour of Fruitlands, which I enjoyed quite a bit at Lomaland earlier in the week. This is a variation of its refreshing Gose, a tart wheat ale with passion fruit and guava. Following Fruitlands, I opted for Orderville, an IPA with predominantly Mosaic hops for a peachy, piney flavor. I'd had both of these beers only a few days prior, but when in Dome...

Overall, it was kind of a chill day. We only hit a few breweries today compared to the rigorous itineraries of the previous few days. Perhaps we needed a breather. Either way, it was nice to hang with Dano for a bit and just relax and chat over a few beers. Until next time...

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The Pour Travelers thank you for reading about our beer travels!