By Cody Thompson | Suds in the City
It is no surprise that San Diego loves its hoppy beers. In fact, calling our city “bitter” might actually be seen as a compliment in most circles. In a city that has been dry-hopped to the bone, the North Park neighborhood is getting a whole lot sweeter as they celebrate the opening of ChuckAlek Biergarten.
Located at 3139 University Ave. as a part of the Art Produce building, ChuckAlek brings its Old World-style beers to North Park’s already amazing lineup of local breweries.
ChuckAlek Independent Brewers, started by Grant Fraley and Marta Jankowska, has operated in Ramona since 2013. They have been passionately serving “Old School Beers for New School Palates” to hordes of thirsty locals and craft beer fans willing to venture into a small, lesser-known community. After building a solid reputation in San Diego’s vast craft beer community, Fraley and Jankowska saw an opening to grow, planting roots in the thriving area of North Park.
“Marta and I are North Park residents and love our neighbors, community and the opportunities for entertainment: the parks, restaurants, coffee houses, boutique shops and of course breweries and beer bars,” Fraley said on why they chose North Park for their new location.
“North Park has been an epicenter for innovative local food and beer that’s been growing rapidly for over a decade now. There’s also a strong sense of community that dates back much further,” he said. “We developed ChuckAlek Biergarten to bring beer, culture and community together in the way we’ve experienced in travels around Europe. You’ll see our family regularly enjoying the Biergarten when we aren’t working.”
Fraley, who serves as owner and head brewer for ChuckAlek, has been brewing on a small one-barrel brewing system to serve the original Ramona tasting room. That is, until the inevitable opportunity presented itself to grow into the big city. To expand production, ChuckAlek acquired the four-barrel system from Butcher’s Brewing, which allows them to produce four times the beer at one time to supply both tasting rooms as well as expand its distribution throughout San Diego County.
The Biergarten space is about 3,600 square feet with a 300-square-foot bar area including cold beer storage.
“We have an intimate indoor bar space with 22 faucets pouring our range of ‘Old School Beers for New School Palates’ produced at our brewery in Ramona, California. We’re also pouring house-made root beer on nitro, lemon soda, Modern Times cold brew coffee, and we have a hop soda in the works. Bottles and growler fills of ChuckAlek beers are available to-go,” Fraley said.
The Biergarten seating and congregation area will be primarily in the garden area behind the Art Produce building. Community tables, strung lights and fireplaces set among the planters of growing herbs and vegetables create a perfect setting for sampling suds either on a sunny afternoon or a perfect San Diego summer evening. The space is managed by the nonprofit Art Produce, which runs arts and culture events regularly on-site.
ChuckAlek brings a new take on local beers to North Park. Some beer drinkers will be shocked not to find your typical hopped-up West Coast style IPA on the menu. Instead, visitors will be welcomed with their take on some historical and, until recently, rarely seen styles.
Some of those beers will include their Dowser — a Düsseldorf Altbier that presents a crisp sweetness from special malts and a herbal hop presence from the use of German hops. Another favorite, which is a take on a historical style, is their 1850 Runner — a brown porter boasting flavors of chocolate and hints of oak. You can also expect to see other styles including sours, crisp lagers, rich stouts and other German- and British-inspired ales.
ChuckAlek has also been ramping up its barrel-aging program and beer drinkers can take part in these special releases at both locations, and through joining their Bottle Club (limited spaces) to ensure they can get their hands on bottle releases as they become available.
Food is available on-site through a partnership with Tostadas, which is located within the same building that houses ChuckAlek. Tostadas, owned by the same people over at City Taco, serves up, you guessed it … tostadas, as well as fresh San Diego ceviche! Luckily for you they are located right next door and will deliver orders directly to the table for patrons to pair with the fresh local beers.
It is also important to note that the space is not only family friendly, but also pet friendly! Luckily in San Diego, most places understand that there is more to the experience than just the beer and ChuckAlek’s new Biergarten fully embraces this sentiment.
ChuckAlek Biergarten North Park is open Tuesday-Sunday 11 a.m. — 10 p.m. and just in time for the sunny San Diego weather to begin. Save me a seat and order me a Dowser.
—Contact Cody Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org.