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hess grand opening

hess grand opening

Hess Brewing had three sold-out Grand Opening events this weekend at their new North Park brewery, and we attended the first one on Friday. It was a full house in the tasting room from first pour at 7 PM right up until we left a few hours later:

The tasting room has a set of long, angled tables reached via a catwalk between the gleaming vats rising up from the floor below, with the bar on the back left.

Court, who does the brewery’s graphic design, pointed out the beer-specific prints on the room’s northern wall:

Barry Braden of Local Habit/Pizza Fusion fame took us on a tour of the lower floor, describing the brewing operation and various pipes and valves that feed into the vats for brewing. All of these are controlled by a large status graphic screen. The scale of the operation is impressive, like the sheer number of kegs that run up to the taps upstairs:

Of course I neglected to take a picture of the bar so here’s a shot from the previous week during their soft opening. Notice the taps are in front of the servers, a nice touch:

And here’s the list of beers that were on tap that night – not a bad one among the half dozen I tried. I’m partial to the Grazias Cream Ale and Torulus Barrel-Aged Stout, but it’s hard to go wrong here.

North Park has a reputation as a craft beer hot spot, so it’s great to have an actual brewery operating in the neighborhood now. While there were food vendors for the Grand Opening, Barry mentioned that folks are welcome to bring food in from the neighboring restaurants to enjoy with their beer. One suggestion – as a sometime-cyclist I’d like to see space set aside in the parking lot (lots being a rarity for bars/restaurants in the neighborhood) for a bike rack or two.

As I biked up to Hess I noticed the rapidly-progressing Foundation for Form project in the old North Park post office lot, which is currently sporting a rather unique roof line on its north side. It’ll be interesting to see how this turns out – I haven’t been able to find any renderings online.

– Meanwhile there’s been a bit of a pushback over the parklet added in front of Caffe Calabria on 30th. I didn’t get a chance to snap a picture yet, so this will have to do for now:

I’ve been reading a lot of negative comments about converting a single parking space out of hundreds in the neighborhood to a mini-park:


There was also a good exchange on the North Park Facebook page criticizing the removal of “much-needed” parking, and one resident demanding that no new construction occur in the city because he can’t park in front of his house (we don’t own the street parking in front of our homes, and all residential construction has [unfortunate] parking minimums in the area).

The argument that there’s “no place to park” in North Park is absolutely ridiculous. There’s a huge parking garage right down the street from Cafe Calabria. The real issue is that there’s often no *free* parking available on the same block as the business. Because of this, the logic goes, we can’t convert .01% of our parking spaces (which dominate nearly all curb space) to much-needed mini-parks, there should be no more growth in dense, walkable neighborhoods served by public transit, and we should tear down existing structures to put in surface parking. All so these folks can always have free, convenient parking.

Look, communities featuring ample free parking exist all over San Diego (Mission Valley, Grantville, Allied Gardens, Santee, Eastlake, Clairemont, Kearny Mesa, Tierrasanta, Scripps Ranch, Rancho Bernardo, Poway, Mira Mesa, Escondido, Liberty Station, etc), they’re just usually not as interesting as denser, walkable neighborhoods like North Park. And there are plenty of top-tier world cities like New York and London where you likely won’t find free on-street parking anywhere. Sure, they offer much better public transit, but they created the density first to justify it. So why can’t some neighborhoods in San Diego be like these top-tier cities, instead of boring, car-dominated remakes of our suburbs?

I don’t think I’ll ever get the logic of the me-and-my-car-first crowd. Maybe it’s an entitlement thing among many boomers and my generation (X) where we’ve been raised in a car culture and expect parking everywhere, regardless of how dense or popular a neighborhood is. And this sense of entitlement is way more important than the quality of life for the rest of us who live there. At least millennials appear to be rejecting this philosophy.

– On a more positive note: Young Hickory will be serving up canned beer and hot Bird Rock Coffee Roasters coffee come September in the former Filter space on 30th:

– And finally, it’s been open for nearly a year now, but we finally visited Buona Forchetta in South Park, which has one of the most inviting front patios in San Diego:

(August heat lamps in action)

Our Neapolitan-style pizzas were excellent – the highlight was a salami version – and our appetizers (beef and pork meatball, calamari) were gobbled up quickly. When I asked to have half my pizza boxed up, our Italian server exclaimed “Hey – the girl over there, she eat her whole pizza, see?”. So I’d say it was a pretty authentic Italian experience by San Diego standards.



pubcake pledge

pubcake pledge

PubCakes is looking to expand on their current cramped quarters (they share a space with Treehouse Coffee Co. in the College Area) so they can serve up a wider variety of cupcakes, and provide 12 taps of beer, along with bottles. Financing isn’t easy in this economy so check out their pledge pageHess Brewing is coming to North Park, with a tasting room, brew house and canning line set for the Evangelical Bible Store at 3812 Grim, says the West Coaster… Tourists who like to eat the same dessert no matter what city they’re in will be pleased to hear Cheesecake Factory is coming to the Old Police Headquarters renovation downtown, according to Troy Johnson… And in another victory for tourists over anyone with taste, the Unconditional Surrender statue on the waterfront will be permanently unconditionally surrendering in bronze form, while members of the Port of San Diego’s arts committee hand in their resignations. (The arts committee had recommended ending the statue’s run, which was supposed to be temporary – similar to duplicates of the piece in other cities). Unfortunately the unelected commissioners of the Port have a long track record of approving laughable public art.

Meanwhile in Chicago, where their giant, derided Seward Johnson statue is thankfully temporary, plans are afoot to makeover kitschy Navy Pier, which has lost tourist traffic to Millenium Park:

Initial designs seek to create a sequence of appealing outdoor spaces along the promenade, including tilted lawns for recreation, a fountain that could spout jets, mist or a reflective sheet of water, and hanging gardens inside the pier’s Crystal Gardens pavilion. The plan also adds a swimming pool with a sand beach and an amphitheater that would slope down to Lake Michigan level on the east end of the pier, with cantilevered overlooks offering views back to the city

Makes you wonder what Broadway Pier could have been if someone other than the Port of San Diego determined its fate – probably more than just a cruise ship terminal with a missing a bait-and-switch park.

And finally (and less grumpily), on the heels of the recently-announced Tokyo route, rumor has it that the airport has been in discussions with Singapore Airlines to bring their Dreamliner to San Diego. Direct flights to southeast Asia anyone?

Wait, one more – if you want that direct flight from SAN to Reagan National to happen, you actually have to sign a petition? San Diego may be the largest unserved market for Reagan, but you’re going to have to write the DOT for that to change.