Beer Maverick

Belching Beaver Brewery, North Park

The Belching Beaver Brewery tasting room in North Park serves great beer and offers excellent service in a rustic/modern space that attracts big crowds.  RECOMMENDED.

This place makes me happy.  The beer is excellent, the service is great and the room is very pleasant.

The North Park tasting room of Belching Beaver is nicely laid out, with four distinct seating areas: two bar-height counters along the big open garage-door-windows on either side of the door, a row of 4-tops along the rough brick wall on one side and a large, low, leather sectional on the other. There are also about 14 seats at the bar (divided into two sections by the walk-up ordering stand). There’s a huge photo of the brewing tanks on the wall by the sectional, which ensures that the de rigeuer industrial aesthetic of a trendy tasting room is referenced here. There are lots of tans and browns in the rest of the décor, which creates a warm, comfortable impression. The beer barrels scattered about as drink resting places are a nice touch for when the place is standing-room-only (which it was when I drove by on a Friday night).

Dammed! (Double IPA, 8.8% ABV). Clean, fresh, smooth, delicious. There’s a bit of a citrus flavor on the end, not strong but definitely present. It has a slightly cloudy golden color with little head. This beer won a gold medal at the 2014 World Beer Championships.  4/5

A flight of four 4-oz tasters was $12.  They serve pints, of course, as well as “Beaver Bombers” (32 oz) for take-home.

Me So Honey (Honey Wheat Ale, 5.5% ABV). Also a slightly cloudy golden color with little head. Smooth, slightly sweet and with a very slight spiciness. According to the website, the honey is made in nearby Poway from wild flowers and cloves. The honey and floral flavors linger nicely without being cloying or too sweet.  4/5

There are 16 beers available on the day of my visit, including duplicates: There are four stouts available on nitro. A place after my own heart!  On a Tuesday, it was happy hour all day with $1 off pints.

Peanut Butter Milk Stout (nitro, 5.3% ABV). I tried this at Bayside Landing last week, non-nitro, and it was just as good. In this case I didn’t notice much effect from the nitro.  In fact, the head had faded to nothing by the time I finished the first two beers in my flight. This one tasted a little more thin than the last one I had, but the fragrant smell of peanut butter was still a pleasant introduction and the sweet, smooth, creamy flavor was a delight. It is definitely a stout, but the kind of stout that many people who don’t like stouts will love. When I first saw it on a menu I was worried it was a “gimmick beer” but it is not; it is a good, approachable, flavorful and fun beer. I’m not surprised that it is their biggest seller. It reminds me a lot of an ice cream float–and what do you know, they sell beer floats here, too.  4.5/5

The bartender I had deserves special mention. He is super-friendly and nice, and seems to love what he is doing. That makes coming to a place so much better. There’s nothing worse than surly service. There are 140+ breweries in San Diego, so to compete staff need to make people feel welcome. The good vibe this bartender helped create this Tuesday afternoon (the music is chill and relaxing, too) makes the mixed crowd of young couples, two retired guys, a group of 30-something work friends and a few of your (beer-)garden-variety solo-drinking males seem like a happy (hoppy?) little family.

Beaver’s Milk (Milk Stout on nitro, 5.3% ABV). The base beer for the Peanut Butter Milk Stout is an excellent beer by itself. Perhaps just slightly sweeter than I prefer, the robust flavors balance well and the mouth feel is medium, perhaps just slightly less full than I prefer in a stout. There’s a bit of smokiness in this version that is masked in the peanut butter version. This beer won gold at the World Beer Championships in both 2014 and 2015.  4.5/5

If you know North Park, you know that parking is almost always a challenge.  Clearly, the “park” in “North Park” is not an automotive reference.  Take an Uber or Lyft on a weekend night and save the hassle. And then you can have another beer, too! There’s a small (pay) parking lot next door and street parking all around, if you are lucky enough to grab a spot.

Hop Highway IPA (7.3% ABV).  I tried this on the recommendation of a knowledgeable and enthusiastic regular with a very nice beard.  He was right: this is a great beer.  Nicely floral aroma and opening notes, a good level of bitterness and a smooth finish that leaves a warm feeling in your belly.  I predict that this beer will be winning medals, too.  4.5/5     4223 30th St, San Diego, Ca 92104


Don’t Just Take My Word For It (Links to other articles)

San Diego reader did a write up about Belching Beaver Brewery’s recent expansions.