Photo illustration by Andrew Dyer
IPAs are easier to catch at Thorn St. Brewery
I only downloaded Pokémon GO because of my kid. At least, that's the story I've been telling myself for the last two weeks. In the past I would stare blankly and nod when my eight-year-old described the attributes of various pokemon. But when I started playing it, a great truth became clear. With the release of this game the nexus of two of man's greatest obsessions—drinking beer and staring at our phones—had been realized.
The geographic hunting aspect of the game is perfect for brewery hopping. Many San Diego breweries are indexed in the game as one type of landmark or another. Pokestops are where players load up on gear and gyms are where the characters do battle. But not all breweries have their Pokemon game on point. I went to find the ones that do.
Modern Times (3725 Greenwood St.) is one brewery fortunate enough to be the site of a Pokemon gym. I am not one to brag, but I held that gym on lock for a good three hours. It also has a slew of new summer IPAs to recharge after swiping those screens for minutes at a time. Underworld Dreams is the standout in this latest round of releases that also includes last year's Galaxy-hopped Protocosmos. But without a Pokestop in range the action at the Lomaland Fermentorium is limited.
Monkey Paw (805 16th St.) is also a pokemon gym but has the additional benefit of a pokestop nearby. Unfortunately for me, and my perpetually confused and frenetic cell signal, the app could not determine for any length of time whether I was at Monkey Paw or across the street. At least it always has great stuff on tap. Gibbon Back IPA, a 9.5 percent ABV beast, was brewed for San Diego Pride and is one of the better high-ABV IPAs I have had recently.
One brewery stands above the rest in my arbitrary Pokémon GO hierarchy—Thorn Street Brewery (3176 Thorn St.). From the tasting room there is easy access to both a gym and a stop. The kid-friendly brew house is adjacent to the incredible Grand Ole BBQ Y Asado restaurant and Coronado Ice and Tea, where they serve ice cream inside warm donuts. Thorn Street also has a new session IPA called "OG HighPA," a beer brewed with cannabis extract. While it lacks the loopy and couch-locking effects of weed (no drug test risk here) it does deliver a wallop. The 4.20 (get it?) percent ABV has a robust and full flavor that many session ales lack. Gimmicky as hell? Yeah. Delicious as hell? Again, yeah. Through the end of July Pokémon GO players can also score a $1 pint.
White Labs, Societe, Mikkeller, Helms are just a few of the other breweries I found with gyms. Even though I imagine myself as the kind of person who bucks trends, this one is pretty fun. It is also a good distraction for kids cursed with beer geek parents who drag them to breweries every weekend. It could be a passing fad, but they also said that about craft beer.