Ketch Grill & Taps (Point Loma) and Ketch Brewing (Kearny Mesa)
After 202 other reviews, this is my first two-for-one review! I first visited Ketch Tap & Kitchen in Point Loma, and then a couple of weeks later dropped into the brewery and tasting room in Kearny Mesa. Both are still very new.
The Point Loma location is gorgeous. The elegant and modern interior design creates a sophisticated yet relaxed atmosphere. There’s a large rectangular bar and a lot of table seating, including on a gorgeous patio over looking a marina that is accessible through retractable walls. The light and view comes into the whole room, making it an extension of being out on the water. It has the feel of the sort of restaurant you’d visit on vacation. The food menu looked excellent though I didn’t eat. They have an extensive guest tap program, including good local craft options. Then the question is, why should you drink the house beer? In this case, love of trying new beer is the best reason. The Ketch beer I had was competently made and tasted good, but it wasn’t special. It struck me as beer for drinking while eating and/or talking with friends–i.e., where the beer isn’t a focus of the experience, just a complement to it. There is clearly a place for that sort of beer; smooth, crisp, refreshing and unobtrusive is sometimes exactly what you need. That said, come here for the food and the location. A special trip just for the beer may feel like a let down. I did notice kitchen staff coming to the bar to stock up on the house beer for their beer-battered fried things, which means the house beer will pair well with those items.
The Kearny Mesa “Brig HQ” location is nice though not as large or as impressive. Parking is extremely difficult and the hours are very limited (11am to 2pm on weekdays and that is it). They offer a small food menu and a slightly larger number of beers than I saw in Point Loma, and no guest beers. The large tanks and brewing area are visible from the tasting room. It is a fairly typical tasting room, but dialed up a few notches with good design and finishes. There isn’t a much seating, and there is no seating at the bar. You can think of it as a spot for a quick lunch with a beer. Service was good (though unsurprisingly for a new place, the bartender was not perfectly at ease yet with the menu or describing the beers).
Ketch will also be the house beer at the seven Brigantine restaurants as well as an additional Ketch Grill & Taps planned for the Embarcadero in 2019.
Brig Brew (Golden Ale, 4.8% ABV). Described as an easy drinking golden ale. And it is. This is the flagship beer of the San Diego seafood chain Brigantine, formerly contract-brewed by Karl Strauss now brewed in house by Brigantine’s new brand, Ketch Brewing. It is very like a macro lager but has a bit more flavor and a medium mouthfeel. It pours clear golden with a thin white head. It’s most distinctive feature, perfect for pairing with food, is a palate-cleansing sharpness. The more I had, the more I liked it. 3.5/5
Alta Mar (Vienna Lager, 4.8% ABV). This has a sweet, almost citrusy, biscuity nose and palate, and a soft medium mouthfeel. It is brownish/reddish gold in color and perfectly clear with a small white head. It has a remarkably clean finish and feels refreshing. 3.75/5
Kolsch (4.8% ABV). Clear pale yellow with an aroma like macro lager and a taste to match. Decent of its kind, just not my kind. Others seem to like it better than I did: It has a 3.78 average rating (though from just 26 ratings) on Untappd. 3.25/5
Celestial Navigation (IPA, 7% ABV). Stone fruit, light citrus, light earthiness on the finish. I like the way it tastes different through the different parts of the swallow. Amber color, balanced maltiness. This one shows the most promise to develop over time into something distinctively good. 3.5/5
http://www.ketchgrillandtaps.com/ 2614 Shelter Island Drive, San Diego CA 92106
http://www.brigantine.com/#locations 7889 Ostrow St, San Diego, CA 92111