I’ve been to the craft beer bar Tiger!Tiger! several times over the past few years, but somehow I’ve forgotten to review it as a tasting room for Automatic Brewing. So here we go!
Automatic is based at Blind Lady Alehouse (BLAH) in Normal Heights, the owners of which also own Tiger!Tiger! You’ll see similarities in the relaxed atmosphere with long wooden tables, a menu of fancy-fied comfort foods, and the proliferation of bearded hipsters. Maybe that last part is just North Park in general. BLAH had skateboards hanging on the wall as decoration when I was there last; Tiger has bicycles. Speaking of North Park, check out the beer tour of that neighborhood that I have put together here.
It is dark inside Tiger!Tiger! even during the day, partly from lighting design, partly from the dark woods everywhere. A hint of wood smoke from the brick oven seems to permeate the place every time I’ve been there—I always worry I’m going to smell like a campfire when I leave, and I think it has some effect on how beers taste. If the dark and smoke are not to your liking, check out the back patio. During limited weekend hours, the bar out back serves a small selection of local craft beer. At other times you can take your drink and food back there just to sit on the partly covered, also-wood-themed patio. And you can always go inside to the main bar to order from the extensive and very well curated list of craft beers available on draft and in bottles. And I really mean it when I say the craft beer list is good: both Tiger!Tiger! and BLAH have been included on Draft Magazine’s list of the nation’s 100 best beer bars every year they have been open.
On this visit, only four house beers from Automatic were available. (On one visit in 2016, there were ten.) I’ve previously been somewhat unimpressed with Automatic beers, but they seem to have stepped up their game. In fact, two the three beers I tried on this occasion were very good. The other two were not my favorites but only because I’m not really a fan of saison. It is a bit odd to have two “sour saisons” (that’s how they are listed) on a menu of just four beers, but it is a chance to compare two different preparations—one with grenache blanc grapes and the other with zinfandel.
More Barke (Dortmunder Lager, 5.5% ABV). Fruity/malty lager with a malty sweet backbone and a very clean finish. Slightly hazy straw yellow with a very persistent fine white head. 3.5/5
Lil’ Luci (Dark Lager, 6.6% ABV). This is very good. Roasty, slight smoke (or is that just the kitchen here?), clean finish. Deep brown with a persistent tan head. Could have several. 4/5
There was a beer in Canada when I was growing up that used the slogan, “People who like it, like it a lot.” I think the same can be said of Tiger!Tiger! And Automatic Brewing is pretty good, too.
https://www.tigertigertavern.com/ 3025 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA 92104