HOPTOLOGY

San Diego Beer, Local & Independent!


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Ritual Tavern – My home away from my old home.

Today I want to share one of my favorite places in San Diego. This is a place that has played a vital role in my development as a craft beer enthusiast. It’s not a secret how much I love this place, so don’t even think this is a review, it’s a glowing endorsement of a place that people should check out immediately.

I am referring to Ritual Tavern.

Located on the northern end of the pinnacle of all beer corridors in town, 30th St, Ritual Tavern is a multifaceted bar, able to accommodate the craft beer crowd, the wine lovers and fans of good food. A hat trick for any who enjoy treating their taste buds.

When we moved back to San Diego four years ago, we were lucky enough to live two blocks off of 30th St and Ritual was the bar right on the corner. Our first visit there was something of an eye opening experience. I was keenly aware my craft beer knowledge was at a pretty amateur level, but I had no idea just how deep the pool I was jumping into was. I found the experience to be utterly fascinating and intoxicating…on multiple levels.

Mike and Stacey, the owners, are incredibly friendly and very knowledgeable when it comes to describing the qualities of a beer to anyone who asks, and as they have gotten to know, my fiancee loves to ask questions. They are great people to get to know, and they take a lot of pride in what they do.

This is the place where I had my first Bear Republic, Duvel, Shipyard, Mission, Alesmith , and so many others that I don’t even have a count. Every time we went it with a mission to keep trying new things and Ritual never disappointed with its constantly rotating selection of drafts and bottles.

Going here was a near weekly experience and probably one of the places I miss the most after we moved out of North Park. Our visits back have been sporadic at best, but that something that I’m working to rectify, especially since my most recent visits have really reminded me just how much I love it.

Walking inside still gives me the sense of walking into a place that knows it’s beer. The whole place has a very cozy feel, and the hospitality that you get almost makes you feel like you are a guest at your long lost Bavarian Uncle’s house. Steins line the ceiling and bottles line the back wall of the bar. When you’re there at night, the lighting is low and adds to the cozy vibe. The only thing missing is a fireplace.

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An aspect that I find personally appealing, most especially when I’m out with the fiancee, is the noise level in Ritual is at a level where we don’t always need to shout at each other in order to have a conversation. Also, the crowd is of a friendly sort, always happy to strike up a conversation if you find you’re drinking alone for a bit.

Probably the biggest addition to Ritual Tavern since we moved out of the neighborhood is the Beirgarten/Patio around back. It’s a nice open area with tables, plenty of sunlight and a real good energy to it that I found conducive to drinking beer on a Saturday afternoon. My visit included such delightful beers as Socitete’s Scrapper Dark Ale, Rough Draft’s Emboozlement triple finished off with another from Societe, The Harlot. Three wonderful beers that I plan to talk about more in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!

I’ve not eaten often when here, but when I have, the food has always very good. I appreciate the fact that they use chemical free ingredients and that the condiments are made in house. It’s a great touch. In fact, the new brunch menu looked great so I’m thinking that another visit is right around the corner.

Also would like to note that Ritual participates in the Drink About San Diego – a free bus service that has 8 bar stops in South Park, North Park, Normal Heights and University Heights. Drink About is the 3rd Wednesday of every month.

So whether you feel like pulling up a chair at the bar for a draft, sitting on the patio with a glass of wine, or dining in the cozy atmosphere, Ritual Tavern is a place that is sure to take care of you and treat you well. It should be a destination for any beer or wine lover, no matter how discriminating your palate may be.

Ritual Tavern is located at 4095 30th St, San Diego CA 92108 – It’s on the corner of 30th and Polk. Check out their website for upcoming events and other info.

Cheers,
Tom
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Getting crazy @ Crazee Burger North Park

When we moved back to San Diego after two years on the east coast, the choice was made to move to the North Park neighborhood. Initially, I had some concerns. Before we left town, North Park wasn’t exactly a great part of town to spend your time in. A friend we had in the area had said thing were changing, the neighborhood was evolving into something new. While I still had my reservations, we picked our apartment and become residents of what would become one of my favorite parts of town, full of fantastic food and even better bars. Oh, and 30th street, the Mecca of craft beer bars, are all here too.

Sadly, we would eventually move out of the neighborhood for a bigger place. However, that has not stopped me from going back and spending many of my weekends roaming the various bars in the neighborhood.

This past Sunday, we made our way back to one of the first places we ever went to eat and drink when we moved in, just around the corner from us – Crazee Burger.

As you may have read on this blog in the past, I’m a bit of a burger fiend. Generally, I live by the rule that if you can’t make a decent cheeseburger there is no point in me trying anything else on your menu.

At Crazee Burger, I have to put that rule aside.

Getting a basic beef burger is a mistake. Not because it’s not a good burger, but because that’s missing the point of the place. There are so many other burgers you could be checking out.  From meats that have started to become more common, like bison and salmon all the way down to alligator and kangaroo. They even offered rattlesnake a few years back, but the Food and Drug Administration thought that was a bad idea, just another example of ‘the man’ keeping us down!

This past Sunday, the misses and I split the blue crab & surimi burger with chili cilantro sauce and the antelope burger with smoked chili sauce. Both burgers were very good, I had thought that the antelope might be too gamey, but with the chili sauce, it all went very well together. As for the crab, well, it’s not going beat anything from Baltimore, a town where I lived for a very long time, but something about this burger works very well for me.

I can also whole-heartedly recommend any of the sausage dishes as well. They are great!

But what about the real reason we are all here? The Beer.

Oh the beer.

It’s a nice selection of drafts and bottles. It’s not going to set the world on fire but, the choices they give you are nice and go very well with the burgers and sausage meals they prepare for you. If you love Stone brewery, you’re going to love it here, as Stone IPA, Pale Ale, Smoked Porter and Levitation were readily available on draft, along with Trumer, Spaten and a few other German selections. I would have more names for you but I already had my nose in my beer.

Are you ready for the best part?

Happy hour is everyday from 3pm-6pm and all drafts are just $2.99

So in theory, you can just go, pull up a stool and drink a pint of Stone IPA for $3

That’s not too shabby in my estimation. The thought of sipping on a cold IPA for $3 and munching a basket of fries if I’m not in the burger mood is a pretty appealing way to spend a few hours in the afternoon.

I think it’s fair to call it a dive, but in the good way.

So if you want something a little different to eat, check out the menu, but I do believe the happy hour prices make this a stop worthy of your attention next time you find yourself on El Cajon Blvd & 30th Street and you need a little beer in your life. After all, who doesn’t need that?

Cheers,

Tom

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