South Park Brewing Company, South Park
This is my second visit. I came about ten months ago and had a very disappointing experience--poor service and nearly undrinkable beer. This time was markedly better. However, the venue and the beer are not my favorites. And with 140+ craft beer breweries and taprooms nearby, we can afford to be choosy.
The menu includes 12 house-brewed beers of various styles. I tried four beers on this occasion. They were all fine, but none rose to the level of what I would call "good." This place is run by the same folks who own Monkey Paw, so they have had the same turnover of head brewer recently. $2 for a 4 oz taster is a good deal.
I really don't like the room. It is dark and seems dirty, the interior design is lousy and it is fairly uncomfortable. This is surprising since the room at Monkey Paw is so great--the folks who created this place should know better. In the last week of January, they still have Christmas decorations up--a symptom of what I would describe as a general lack of commitment to creating a good experience.
My recommendation is to take the short trip into North Park and try any one of the 14 craft breweries and tasting rooms there. All of them are better than this place.
Cosplay (IPA, 7% ABV). Big and fruity on the opening, a little funky in the middle, and on the end bitter and sweet battle it out for supremacy. It is clear golden in color with little to no head. 3.25/5
Grassmarket 80 Shilling (Brown Ale, 5.2% ABV). This starts with some nice caramel and toasty malt flavors but the middle tastes thin and the finish is a bit too acidic. I wouldn't want more than one of these (and I generally like browns). 3/5
Shakermaker Coffee and Cookies Samoa Version (Coffee Stout, 5.5% ABV). This is a new variation on Shakermaker (I know because I was the first to enter it into Untappd). It is subtle and balanced. The coffee comes through more clearly than the other flavors, with sweetness and cookie notes in the background. The roasted malts are nice, too. I would guess that this recipe will get better and better as they refine it in future iterations. 3.25/5
Scripps Pier Oyster Stout (5.5% ABV). This just seemed like an ordinary stout to me, a little on the thin side. Fine, but unremarkable. 3.25/5
http://www.southparkbrewing.com/ 1517 30th St, San Deigo, CA 92102