Sometimes my partner and I just want a good beer. No drama, no dancing, no scene. We just want to go out and have a beer. For us, this usually entails roughing it at one of the dozens of craft brewers that dot the LA landscape. A good beer too-often means hanging out with the bros, dealing with loud televisions blaring the latest sports event and even louder arguments over whether the ref that made that last call was blind or an idiot (or both). The food is typically crappy and guys tend to blow chunks instead of each other in the alley.
Needless to say with that type of atmosphere, we don’t often venture outside for a good beer. Imagine our surprise when we discovered a brewery where we really enjoyed hanging out on a recent visit to San Diego. Of course this wasn’t just any microbrewery, this was The Hillcrest Brewing Company, the world’s first “Out and Proud LGBT Brewery” located in the iconic San Diego gayborhood of Hillcrest.
That’s right, a gay brewery. Located right next to the Hillcrest Pride Flag in San Diego, and it’s really good too! The décor is reminiscent of a typical microbrewery except that the huge stainless steel mash tuns and boil kettles reflect the colors of the rainbow flag proudly draped across the rear brick wall. Those sitting at the bar can ogle a 20 foot chandelier made entirely of beer bottles that shines its gorgeous amber glow throughout the venue. Dining spaces are a mix of small and large tables placed in what at first seems an awkward pattern; you quickly discover, though, that tables are actually placed to promote social adventurism. If a table for two isn’t available, don’t be afraid to saddle up to one of the long tables and settle in with another patron, Belgian style. Those willing to brave a crisp San Diego evening can hang out on the patio and watch the gayborhood go by.
This is a brewery though so we have to talk about the beer. Hunky boys behind the taps direct your taste buds to one of the eight microbrews that are created onsite. Ales, stouts and IPAs sport catchy names like Crotch Rocket and Banana Hammock to get and keep your queer attention. Marc found his taste buds singing joyful melodies in a heavy beer named Long and Stout while I found my nectar in a pale ale called Perle Necklace. And yes, it does come with a beautiful set of faux pearls for you to wear. With flavors that range from hoppy to smooth, sixteen local guest ambrosias are also available for aficionados wanting their palettes to venture into the San Diego beer scene.
Those wanting a little something in the tummy while drinking the best of what the Hillcrest Brewing Company has to offer can savor specialty flat bread pizzas. Flavors like the Mother Clucker (BBQ chicken of course) or the Sweet Hot Pig (think ham, jalapeno bacon and pineapple) carry on the nomenclature fun and frolic from the beer to the food. Ordering a custom pizza, like mixing traditional pie ingredients such as anchovy and pepperoni with decidedly more unique item such as asparagus, clams and crumbled feta is also an option. Vegetarians need not cringe, animal friendly chow is available for those who ask, with a number of delicious salads, and some other options even if they’re not specifically mentioned in the menu.
Hillcrest Brewing Company does a great job of offering a laid-back, casual atmosphere devoid of the drama found in a typical gay bar or the hetero frat house mayhem that’s typically endured in most breweries. In short it might be the best of both worlds for beer in San Diego’s Hillcrest gaybourhood.
If You Go:
A portion of this article’s underlying trip was hosted by the San Diego Tourism Authority, Mo’s Universe and the Hillcrest Brewing Company. My opinions, however, are my own, and I was not paid to express any bias for or against a place or product.