Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Bars V. Tasting Rooms

Here is an article from San Diego Magazine asking whether tasting rooms are hurting beer bars.  The subject of the article, Karen Barnett of Small Bar, thinks so.  Tasting rooms with extended hours and service of full pints are proving competition to beer bars.  The article makes some good points, but I do think there are some neighborhood specific issues.  For the North Park, Normal Heights, University Heights area I'd like to hear opinions from the Toronado, Waypoint, Blind Lady, and Tiger Tiger, in addition to Small Bar.  One thing a tasting room can't replicate is pouring beers from multiple breweries, which is what you can get from a good beer bar.

In Ocean Beach, the best craft beer selections are part of restaurants, and to me the tasting rooms complement more than compete.  The Joint, Ragland, and the two Noodle Houses have superb craft beer tap lists and seem as busy as before the tasting rooms opened.  As for the other bars on Newport Avenue there are many people, myself included, that would never venture in one, but have no problem stopping into a tasting room.  The tasting rooms have expanded Ocean Beach's beer drinking customer base and have improved the atmosphere on Newport Avenue. 

I view the Ocean Beach Pizza Port as its own entity, separate from the other goings on in Ocean Beach.  This money-printing machine serves pizza and salads, and a wide selection of Pizza Port beers and a smaller selection of other craft beers.  It is always busy and would remain so even if a dozen tasting rooms and a dozen bars opened in Ocean Beach.

This issue is not going away, and in a strange case of irony, I suspect bar owners are petitioning planners and town councils in an attempt to limit tasting rooms.  That is not a positive situation.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Sweet Spot For Sale

The West Coaster is reporting this morning that Helm's Brewing is for sale.  Helm's Ocean Beach tasting room, which is located at the corner of Newport Avenue and Cable Street, is included in the assets for sale.  The West Coaster article notes that Ocean Beach is saturated with brewery tasting rooms, but the Helm's spot may be the best tasting room location in Ocean Beach.  It is a visible corner location that sits at the start of the Wednesday farmer's market.  It is next to Ortega's, the best Mexican restaurant in Ocean Beach, and is across Cable Street from The Joint, the best overall restaurant on Newport Avenue.  The space is smaller than the other Ocean Beach tasting rooms, which is no deterrent. 

According to the West Coaster, Helm's "beer quality has fluctuated, leading to something of a hit-or-miss reputation," which I believe explains why the Helm's OB tasting room is usually less crowded than the other Newport/Cable tasting rooms.  Yes, San Diego has plenty of breweries, and yes, not all breweries are going to last, but if a brewery consistently makes good beer success should follow.  Helm's is not shutting, but is for sale, and new owners can improve beer quality.  The Ocean Beach tasting room is a showcase location and should serve as a strong asset for any buyer of Helm's.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Modern Times Expands

Here is a post from Modern Times Beer about its expansion into Portland.  In typical Modern Times fashion, it is not entering into a new distribution agreement or hosting a multi-location tap take over, but a opening complete new brewing operation and tasting room.  Modern Times is going to brew in the two most creative beer towns in the United States, San Diego and Portland.  This is great news.