Thursday, October 08, 2009


Thanks to the recommendations of THE BEER ROVER, I can now (finally) legitimately say that I've had a fantastic San Diego, CA beer experience. Stuck at chilled-glass football bars like THE TAP ROOM or at moderately-OK beerpubs like LA JOLLA BREW HOUSE as I have been during my past few visits here, all it took was one evening at the unfortunately-named Downtown Johnny Brown's beer bar to get on board the "San Diego's a great beer town" train and cast off the sneering yoke of my past experience.

What you find down here is really amazing local beer on tap just about everywhere - sushi bars, hotel bars and the multitude of throbbing-dance music, low-brain-wattage "party" and/or sports bars that are absolutely ubiquitous downtown, in the Gaslamp district where I'm staying. I stopped into a cheesy sports bar called THE LOCAL the other night, and get this, they had Lost Abbey, Alesmith and Ballast Point beers on draft, like it was "no big thing", right next to the Corona and Bud Light. So that's all well and good, but what I really wanted was a fantastic beer bar that'd deliver rare & wild beers to me with care, patience and a little bit of knowledge - and not by a 19-year-old mall girl with a tube top, faux tan and bad attitude. Lacking a car, I couldn't make it to the raved-about Hamilton's Tavern or the San Diego outpost of The Toronado (the one where they supposedly don't yell at you), so Downtown Johnny Brown's was where me & my Canadian co-conspirator "Peet" parked ourselves (after getting dinner at - I wish I was kidding you - "Miso Harney Sushi" on Harney avenue), all at the behest and strong recommendation of the aforementioned Beer Rover.

I'll be reviewing the ales I consumed over the course of the next few days, but let me just say in advance that I have never in my life had such a great run of quality, top-end beer in a single night. I had not one beer in the course of the night that I'd rate below an 8.5/10. Whoa. Here's what I enjoyed enough to review (in other words, I had significantly more than a taste):
Russian River Temptation
Alesmith Nut Brown Ale
Stone Vertical Epic 9-9-09
Ballast Point Sculpin IPA

And here's what I got to try in lesser quantities (hey, I still have to go to work in the morning), all of which were amazing:
Airdale Hefeweizen
The Bruery White Zin
Ommegang Rouge
Browerij Bocker Cuvee Des Jacobins Rouge

More to come. This is a town that's starting to become saturated in first-class beer, and as long as you've got a fella like Rational Realist telling you what's what and where it is, you'll find the primo places to drink it in just about every neighborhood with some moderate level of commerce.


Michael said...

This is a good place for food and beer right downtown on G Street.

Rational Realist said...

I am glad you got a decent beer experience here in San Diego. Sound's like Downtown Johnny Brown knew you were coming and rolled out beer carpet. It is a treat where even the regular restaurants have a few decent beers on tap, and almost comical when the servers have no clue how good the beer is.

Derrick Peterman said...

I'll second The Neighborhood as a good place to get a beer in San Diego, but as for the number one place, for me, it is indeed, Downtown Johnny Browns. You'll find the owner, Todd Alexander, sitting at the bar most nights. Interesting guy, he started bussing tables at the place in the 80's and bought the place from John Brown a few years ago.