Sunday, 25 May 2014

California day three

Another 9 am pick up by Grant and we head off to Balboa Park. Heading for a museum, though there is a beery connection.

The museum only opens at ten leaving us some time to kill. Walking around the park slits time's throat pretty well. It's a fantastical place, filled with exotic museums and massive, contortionist trees. Many of the museums are housed in extravagant Spanish-style buildings left over from the World Fair of 1915. Including our destination, the Museum of Man.

It's currently hosting an exhibition called BEERology. About beer, obviously. Mostly beer in Latin America. Grant knows the curator and he gives us a little private tour.

There are impressive drinking cups - I'm surprised the golden one didn't get melted down by some conquistador looter. But best are the crazy South American growlers, in all sorts of highly-decorated forms.

The modern head-hunter beer drinkers sound even crazier. They have the longest word for beer the curator has found. Don't ask me what it is. It has about a dozen syllables and, as I keep telling you, I'm not taking notes. The head-hunter's beer is made from cassava roots and they get the majority of their calories from it - 80%. Each adult male gets through four gallons a day, women two gallons, kids one gallon. Just like Newark.

Next stop is Coronado Island. Which isn't quite an island, being connected to the mainland by a narrow spit of land. It's home to a big military base and some rather swanky housing. The approach - across a dramatically humped and curved bridge - reveals a perfect panorama of the city.

Our first beer of the day will be in Coronado Brewing's brewpub. Grant knows the brewer and, as he's not busy, we get a tour of the brewhouse. It's very cramped, in contrast to Liberty Station, though both are 10-barrel units. And built from copper rather than stainless steel. It's clearly seen a lot of use. In a separate extension out the back there are rows of conical fermenters.

We head back to the bar for a sampler flight and a chat with the brewer. There some pretty nice beers, especially their regular IPA. Very tasty. The food looks very tempting, but we need to move on. Back over to the mainland.

Next is Monkey Paw, a low black box with a corner location. It's just after noon and boiling hot. Which is why it looks closed. On closer inspection, there's a note on the door saying they are open. They've just closed the door to keep out the heat.

It's very dark inside. Rather like a dive bar, which is what Grant tells me it used to be. A pretty unslaubrious place, from his description. Now it's both a beer bar and brewpub. The brewing kit is hidden in another part of the building. Unfortunately, the brewer isn't around, so we can't take a look. He's off judging somewhere.

I get a sampler flight of Monkey Paw beers and a cheese steak with waffle fries. I thought cheese steak was a Philadelphia thing? As they have malt vinegar, I finish all my strangely-shaped chips.

San Diego Museum of Man
1350 El Prado, Balboa Park
San Diego, CA 92101
Tel: +1 619 239-2001

Coronado Brewing Company
170 Orange Ave
Coronado, CA 92118

Monkey Paw
805 16th St,
San Diego, CA 92101.
Tel: +1 619-358-9901


Gary Gillman said...

That's a great picture of that bar. Reminds me of similar low boxes in Las Vegas, where it sits in the brilliant hot sunshine and inside all dark and icy cool with taps. The blackboard list is a good summum of the American beer scene since the late 70's, e.g. you have Chimay White - Chimay was a big influence on early brewers, then Sierra Nevada Stout (what does it say under the listing on the left side, it looks like, "it's unsung"!), to all those Monkey Paw versions of current styles and derivations, to an orange wit.

Wit was an early hit in Southern California. One of the best I ever had there was in Santa Monica, at Your Father's Office, it was made with white sage. I don't usually go for flavoured beers but this was outstanding.

Funny about the cheesesteak thing, in the last 10 years or so you see it everywhere: a specialty house opened on Yonge Street not far from Bar Volo, the best beer bar in town.


J. Karanka said...

Wow, I just looked at the prices and what surprises me is how homogeneous they are. You pay the same for almost anything, even when the mild should be cheaper in terms of production costs and taxes. You really can't compare the price of a 4% mild with just some hops and a hop-packed 7% IPA, the mild should logically be at least 2/3 of the price if not cheaper.

Ron Pattinson said...

J. Karanka,

it's because of the US tax system. There's a flat rate of tax, no matter what the strength. The ingredient costs are only a tiny fraction of the price you pay in a bar.

J. Karanka said...

Hardly surprising that dark milds can't get universal momentum then!