June 5 2015 04:25 PM

Craft brew: Benevolent spirit guide or agent of karma?

Oh, the possibilities...
Photo by Ian Cheesman

With every new brewery or pub that emerges from San Diego soil, discussion of the fabled "bubble" inevitably follows. Economics certainly dictate that the sector's growth will wane once the brewery population exceeds the native human one. But what keeps the whole financial sector from imploding? I Googled "economic bubble," and I have a hypothesis. 

Concentrating as many ale purveyors into one region, as we have, creates a unique set of circumstances. Our bounty of potential venues are as vast as the amenities they provide. Arranging a date night with your favorite brew is practically effortless. Still, convenience is only a superficial aspect of what we have. To fully appreciate it, we must examine the phenomenon of Beer Serendipity.

Every night out that I have a hand in crafting is guaranteed to have tasty beer on the agenda. Regrettably, my wife and friends are not nearly so myopic, which means I am often thwarted with seemingly suboptimal plans. On one such night I found myself in Park&Rec, University Heights' newest craft cocktail dispensary. As someone who is capable of embracing alcohol in any incarnation (especially when it includes a stellar Old Fashioned) this was hardly a punishment. However, Park&Rec had no intentions of limiting me. With 11 highly varied and beautifully curated taps, along with some decent canned options, my options went from bust to boom.

Later that evening, conversation shifted to something tragically unrelated to beer, which was my cue to escape into my Facebook feed. Three mindless swipes at my phone later I received intel that Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout was making an appearance at some place called Craft Kitchen in La Mesa. That stout may not be the white whale it once was, but it was undeniably worth a 3.5-mile trek when the babysitter was still on lock.

After meeting, and thanking, the Facebook acquaintances who informed the deviation from our previous agenda, we settled in at the bar ready to sip our spoils. This proved harder than expected, as the brilliant array of 30 taps were sufficient to divert focus from even our remarkably simple agenda. I discussed the conundrum with neighboring patrons, who, as off-duty employees enjoying the establishment from the civilian side of the bar (always a good sign), had well-informed impressions to share.

To summarize: with virtually no effort on my part, my plans evolved from brew-deprived to brew-centric without missing a beat. I found craft beer where I had no intention of looking for it. A notification from altruistic strangers compelled me to explore a corner of San Diego's suds scene I'd somehow overlooked. In doing so, I met some fantastic folks, and added yet another standout tap house to my stable of options.

All of this was more than simple happenstance. It almost borders on providence. But this was pure Beer Serendipity, an emergent property of a thriving beer economy where enjoyment and opportunity continually bolster one another. The only bubbles San Diego beer needs worry about today are those inside the pint glass.

Write to ianc@sdcitybeat.com and editor@sdcitybeat.com, or follow @iancheesman on Twitter or read his blog, iancheesman.wordpress.com.


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