Poor House Brewing Company, North Park
The sign over the door says, "Con Cerveza No Hay Tristeza." Clearly they haven't met my ex-wife.
The sentiment is good, sad drunks aside; like Tom Hanks' line in A League of Their Own, "There's no crying in baseball," it is an exhortation, a statement of principles, an expression of an ideal. Beer means happiness. There's no sadness here. Let's have fun!
And fun is to be had in plenty at Poor House Brewing Company in North Park.
The beer, first of all, is very good. That is, after all, the most important thing about a brewery. But there is more to being a great brewery than just making good beer. (Quick note: This is a three-barrel system, so it is impressive that they had more than 15 brews on the board, though it also explains why three of them were sold out.)
The atmosphere is fun. As a completely unpretentious venue (almost dive-bar-like), Poor House stands out among some of the overly-precious tap rooms you sometimes see. Pretty much every surface is dark, including the very rough wooden bar (in one of the photos I took, all my glasses were pointing in different directions!). They even have a pool table, which is one indication that they want you to have a good time when you come here.
The bar pretzels they offer are high quality. Too few tap rooms make an effort on snacks. That's a mistake for a couple of reasons. One is that snacks impress and make customers want to come back. They also help people stay longer and drink more beer. Both of those things are good for profits, so I'm surprised more craft places don't offer snacks.
My bartender, Monterey, was really good. She was enthusiastic, welcoming to everyone, really knowledgeable about the beer, and fun to talk to. She helped me choose a flight of five beers based on what I usually drink, and I liked all of them. Throughout the night I noticed that she was able to find beers for everyone who came in, whatever their tastes or experience level with craft beer, and she never made anyone feel like they didn't know what they were doing. When I mentioned I wanted to take a picture of my flight, she took a lot of extra time to carefully write out the names of each beer and made a sign to accompany the picture of my flight.
The crowd that flowed in and out of Poor House was very diverse, with a mix of regulars and new folks exploring the amazing North Park craft beer scene. The crowd was also more ethnically diverse than you usually see at San Diego breweries, too, which is great.
30 Hop IPA (with 30 different hop varieties!; 7.4% ABV). This is a really interesting beer. With all the different hops, you get a lot of different flavors and aromas. Funky/dank dominates, with a bit of sweetness lingering with the bitter finish. It's the sort of IPA you want to crush and crush. 4/5
8.6.11 Black IPA (Cascadian Dark Ale, 8.6% ABV). Black IPAs are a favorite style of mine, and this was an excellent example. The name commemorates the downing of US military helicopter in Afganistan and 25% of the proceeds are donated to the 31 Heroes Project. 4/5
Little Dubliner (Irish Dry Oatmeal Stout, 4.3%). This one surprised me after the black IPA. It struck me as a non-traditional Irish stout, but that could have been just the contrast with what I'd had before. It is dark and roasty, but not as thick as I associate with Irish stouts; it was a little sour, too. 3.25/5
Dark Minds (Imperial Stout with coffee, 9% ABV). This is slightly boozy but overall smooth, deep, dark and roasty. The coffee is subtle but adds a lot to the overall impression. 4/5
Filber (Coffee Hazelnut Brown Ale, % ABV). To be honest, by this time I had had enough to drink and was so busy chatting with bar mates that I forgot to take notes. I remember liking it. This is blogging thing is a hobby, after all!
I noticed some photos and comments on Yelp indicating that Poor House is "cash only"; that's no longer the case, I paid with my credit card.
Poor House is just south of Fall Brewing on 30th St, and not far north of the intersection at El Cajon--where a plethora of craft breweries, tap rooms and craft-centric bars are waiting to tempt you. You can't beat North Park for a craft beer crawl. With two new breweries due to come online soon in the North Park "brewery igniter," there will be FOURTEEN breweries in this neighborhood. Hitting all fourteen only requires a 2.7 mile walk; you could hit twelve of them in just 1.6 miles (from Fall Brewing to ChuckAlek Biergarten). On top of that the neighborhood contains some of the best craft beer bars in the city (Tiger!Tiger!, Toronado, Waypoint Public--plus Blind Lady Ale House is just outside the northeastern boundary of North Park). Hillcrest Brewing, South Park Brewing and Hamilton's Tavern are not far away, either. If San Diego is "The Capital of Craft," North Park is "The Craft Beer Nexus": Its 2.7 mile strip contains about 10% of all the craft breweries and tap rooms in the whole of San Diego County!
http://www.poorhousebrew.com/ 4494 30th Street San Diego, CA 92116
Don't Just Take My Word For It (Links to Related Beer Writing)
Here's what San Diego Brew Review says about Poor House.
And here's the brief write-up from San Diego Magazine's Brewery Guide.