One of the first bars that we visited when we were in San Diego this past July was The Hopping Pig Gastropub in the Gaslamp Quarter of downtown. The bar was quiet as it was mid afternoon when we walked in, but we were hot from the combination of the long day of travel and wandering around the Seaport and Gaslamp areas of town in the beautiful hot California sun.

Image adapted from my Untappd Checkin 

The first beer I enjoyed there was a delightfully refreshing wheat beer called Hipster’s Wit by Thorn St. Brewery. This beer was so delicious that I didn’t even pause to write any comments during my Untappd check in — I simply rated it (a 4.25) and posted it, wanting to get back to drinking it. The Hipster’s Wit hit the spot and was perfect timing for that beer; it’s definitely one I look forward to again. (Liz, not being a wheat beer fan, wasn’t as thrilled about it as I was, but she did enjoy the slight citrus and spice finish to it – and when she says she doesn’t mind a wheat beer, that’s almost the equivalent of giving it 5 stars)

We enjoyed a number of beers at that fun bar; being two of less than a dozen customers at the time, we were also able to enjoy a fun conversation with the bar-tender. Though he was initially a little shy, once he realized we were true craft beer lovers, he shared great beer insights with us, including a few different local spots in town that we should include on our explorations.

Historic BuildingOne of the tips the friendly bartender offered was in response to the question that I usually pull out when I get the chance:  Are there are ghost stories from this bar or this building? He said that while he’d never seen a ghost, he relayed an odd tale of one time when it was just him another staff member from the kitchen who was working at a time when there were no customers in the bar when he could have sworn that he saw someone move through the back corridor towards the exit. When he he poked his head around the corner in that direction, wondering why the kitchen staff member was leaving the building, he heard a noise behind him and was startled to see that the staff member was still in the kitchen. Who, then, was the figure he’d spotted? While he couldn’t explain what he’d seen he said, based on the building’s history and the fact it used to be a theater company (he brought me outside to show me the historic plaque), it just might be possible that there were presences still wandering the site.

Image adapted from Untapped check in

After a half dozen different beers, and some fun conversation with the bartender, the final brew we enjoyed there was a Six Killer Stout by Ironfire Brewing Company. Both Liz and I marveled at this incredible beer. On my Untappd checkin I left the note: “Hearty, smooth, beautiful coffee notes. Absolutely delicious.” And I gave it a very rare 5 star rating.

That was the perfect beer for us to finish off our visit. But we didn’t just leave with having enjoyed some fine beers and great conversation from a fellow beer enthusiast.

The bartender, learning that we would be in town for a few days and had a hotel room with a refrigerator, wrote down directions to a local shop called Krisp, a Fresh, Natural and Organic food shop. He told us that Krisp contained one of the most authoritative and amazing selections of beer available via their Best Damn Beer Shop brand.

And sure, enough, having followed his directions, we ended up discovering that this shop, which boasts somewhere in the realm of 1000 to 1500 different hand-selected craft beers, was a Mecca of craft beer for us.

Best Damn Beer Shop
“This is indeed the best damn beer shop I’ve ever been to. Pardon me while I stand here amazed and speechless.”

We did recover from all the giggling and drooling and the half dozen failed selfies we tried to take in front of the multiple aisles and giant wall of beer, and managed to purchase just a small selection of both personal favourites (Liz was thrilled to find a bottle of Thai Chili Wahoo from Ballast) as well as ones that we thought would be fun to try. Among the haul we purchased that day were:  Drew Curtis / Wil Wheaton / Greg Koch Stone Farking Wheaton w00tstout (2016), Acoustic Ales Run For The Hills, Divine Hammer by Yeastie Boys and Me So Honey by Belching Beaver.

Perhaps it’s a good thing that we don’t have shops like this in Southwest Ontario.