July 18 2014 04:10 PM

An Oceanside keg-rental joint that also delivers beer directly to your liver

Ziggy beer
This was the most work Ziggy did all day
Photo by Ian Cheesman

In the pantheon of all possible weekend plans, I can be fairly certain that I've never suggested that my friends meet me at a super-happening keg-rental store. That's going to change.

I understand if you're a tad skeptical. That was my reaction when my buddy tried to convince me that we should head over to Tap That in Oceanside (3207 Roymar Road, Suite E) rather than a brewery or pub. Were it not for his very compelling argument that they had beer, I might have skipped it entirely.

Curiously, Tap That welcomes patrons by impeding their entrance with a small kiddie fence propped against the door sill. It was unclear if it was to prevent toddlers from fleeing captivity or crashing the party. Either scenario seemed oddly terrifying. And as frightful an image as that was, my inner-nurturer was most concerned that this fetal horde was so anemic that a fence secured only by gravity was sufficient to keep them at bay. Who was neglecting the nutrition of this toddler army? Anyway, it turns out that, despite all the evidence, there isn't a baby uprising; the gate only exists to quell the lackluster escape plans of Ziggy, the lethargic bulldog mascot of Tap That.

The foyer seems unassuming, but that narrow strip of real estate is actually home to a demilitarized beer zone. This is the consequence of a treaty signed with the California Legislature that allows Tap That to possess licenses for both on- and off-premises alcohol sales. That duality mandates that an invisible line of death separate the lobby's bottle shop from the main tasting room. Rumor has it that attempts to transfer a pint or bottle out of their respective geographies will summon an array of laser cannons to deploy from the ceiling, instantly vaporizing violators. Even if that's not true, Ziggy could very possibly grunt in your direction. You don't want to chance that.

Should you cross the checkpoint unscathed, the tasting room greets you with a shrine to San Diego craft brew. The walls are adorned with the emblems of every brewery Tap That works with, numerous enough to wallpaper a strip around the perimeter. That diversity is further represented in the 20 draught options, which showcase offerings from all corners of the local brewing empire and a broad array of styles (usually including at least one cider or mead for those who swing that way). This place knows San Diego beer, and it wants to make sure you do, too.

Far and away my favorite feature of Tap That was its keg-clearing discount. Much like the time-honored tradition of nagging your friends to help decimate the hoppy remnants of the previous evening's shindig (a "brewtenanny," perhaps?), Tap That urges patrons to return every Sunday and help empty select draught lines with $3 pours. Sure, they have other sorts of discounts through the week, but nothing that bolsters the esprit de corps of pitching in and making new beer options happen.

Tap That nests an unusual tap room with unusual rules in an unusual corner of Oceanside and somehow makes it work. It's a warm and friendly place to enjoy San Diego craft brew. Just mind the lasers.

Write to ianc@sdcitybeat.com and editor@sdcitybeat.com. Ian blogs at iancheesman.wordpress.com and you can follow him on Twitter @iancheesman.


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