San Diego Beer, Local & Independent!

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Becoming a contributing member of Societe

I had been hearing about Societe Brewing long before I’d ever even taken my first sip. They had been gaining a devoted following quickly and had a lot of people in social media buzzing about them. Tickets to their grand opening earlier this summer had sold out crazy fast only adding fuel to the fire. They were the hot new brew in San Diego. So I must have been jumping out my skin to get up their and sample the brews right?

As Lee Corso says “No so fast my friend”

I can be a little dense sometimes. Anyone who has met me has probably figured that one out. When things get that label of “the next big thing” I tend to chaffe on it. Not every time, but more often than not. It’s that little part of my brain that is still 16 year old and annoyed when the Black Album came out and all of a sudden it was cool to like Metallica, even though I’d be wearing a Master of Puppets t-shirt for six years and getting made fun of for it. I’m kooky that way I guess.

I knew I’d go and have the beer eventually, I just decided I’d go at my leisure, this has been a crazy, hectic summer as we plan a wedding and all that goes along with that, so when I went, I wanted to enjoy it. A few weeks back, Ritual Tavern put all of Societe’s beers on tap. After only trying two, I decided it was time to get my ass up to Societe. Here’s the best part – It’s less than 10 minutes from my house!

Located at 8262 Clairemont Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 9211, this is one of the few breweries in the county that can call itself centrally located.

Walking in, you can’t help but be impressed by the large wooden bar and the very impressive use of the space in the building. It’s freaking gorgeous inside. Lots of wooden, olde tyme style decorations along the wall with tables a plenty. If you get the opportunity, I recommend checking out Societe’s blog page where you can get the history of it’s two founders – Travis Smith and Doug Constantiner and their impressive credentials. The fact that Travis alone helped make beers like Pliney the Elder while brewing at Russian River should be enough to get even a casual hophead over to check them out.

Now, onto the beers.

On this fine Saturday afternoon, I headed over to Societe with the future Mrs. Hoptology in tow. We were going to discuss more of our wedding plans…but my interests were more in beer area on this day. Shocking, I know!

Before we get started I’d like to let you know that the word “coiffable” is probably the best word you can use to describe Societe’s beers. All of them are immanently easy to drink. Over and over again!

We started on the IPA side of the menu and worked our way over to the Belgium’s.

The Dandy- IPA 6.9% ABV – Golden color medium hops easy to drink. I really enjoyed this, it’s light and crips for an IPA almost a perfect introduction for those who aren’t accustomed to the big hops of other IPA’s

The Pupil – IPA 7.7% ABV – Bright, golden color that stands out. It has a light, clean aroma and a very light head to it. Bright, citrus-y flavors abound and this is another insanely easy to drink IPA.

Every Man’s IIPA 10.0 ABV – Special note, I had to track this down this past Saturday a special trip to Societe was made just for this beer and oh boy was it worth it! Great hoppy flavor, with more citrus and maybe some grapefruit flavor as well. IT’s incredibly smooth and might just be my favorite thing they are currently brewing.

The Apprentice – IPA 7.9% ABV – Bigger hops and malty flavors with an excellent aroma and a gorgeous color. Very tasty. This is more to my personal liking and was my favorite of the day. Just couldn’t get enough of it.

The Butcher – Imperial Stout 9.8% ABV – This beer is pitch black! Dark roasted coffee flavor with hints of chocolate. It’s enjoyable and I believe any fan of stouts would enjoy this a great deal. For me, however, I’m still not crazy about getting that coffee flavor in my beers. Not my personal favorite.

The Harlot – Belgium extra 6.4% ABV -Light, fruity notes with noticeable spices. It’s delicious easy to drink. In a way it reminded us both of Duvel, which we mean with the highest compliments.

The Widow – Strong Belgium 9.2% ABV – Dark malty flavors, slightly boozy but not overwhelmingly so. Pours nicely in the glass and settles quickly so you can get down to business. Again, a strong beer that I was more than happy to drink.

Also as a side note I’m going to throw in a critique of The Scrapper which I had several weeks back at Ritual Tavern and took a few notes.

The Scrapper – American IPA 7.9% ABV – The is a dark IPA and honestly I love the color of the beer to cream colored head. It’s was almost too pretty to drink…but I did anyways. Good balance of light citrus hops and roasted malty-ness. I found this to be very flavorful and really enjoyable to drink. I’m usually not wild about dark IPA but this one did right by me.

So all in all, it was another great outing at a San Diego Brewery. Now that I finally made the trip out to see what these guys are all about, I can say with all honesty that I’m looking forward seeing what else they can brew for the masses here in San Diego. As if they haven’t made enough of an opening impression, I suspect that Societe will continue to grow a nice fan base here in town as their reputation for quality beers continues to spread. I also hope they continue to be social media savvy and keep the high standards that I have seen in action so far. And did I mention that awesome location? I can be there in less than 10 minutes! Hard to beat that any day of the week.


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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.

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