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Early-bird beer tapping

By Dr. Ink

If you’re a nine-to-fiver, the happy hour at South Park Brewing Company isn’t for you because it ends by the time weekday rush hour begins. But for the self-employed, unemployed and retired, they get to drink the company’s signature brews for $4 a glass, over the course of four hours, starting at noon, five days a week.

South Park Brewing Company beerweb

Finest City IIPA (Photo by Dr. Ink)

When meeting up with a friend, our work schedules caused us to miss happy hour by a long shot. But this was “tostada Tuesday,” which means you can land a beer at the bargain price with the purchase of a tostada for $2.75.

The long work day had thrown me in the mood for something strong and dry. So I ordered a glass of South Park’s Finest City IIPA, boasting 9.3 percent alcohol. Bingo. After several sips, my brain swell quickly diminished and I succumbed to ordering four tostadas from the fish counter that sits opposite the bar.

Fresh seafood from Catalina Offshore is part of the draw at this hip, neighborhood brewery, which shares ownership with Hamilton’s Tavern next door. The fish is displayed in a traditional market case fronting a busy kitchen that prepares sandwiches, salads and entrees, none of which receive happy-hour discounts.

Shrimp tostada at South Park Brewing Company. (Photo by Dr. Ink)

On the other side of the room are big, shiny tanks looming over the bar. They’re used for brewing about a half dozen beers that include orange roughy, IPA, stout and a spunky, peppery saison I savored (at happy hour price) in a subsequent visit on a precious day off.

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 11.46.52 AMThe tap list also includes beers from other craft breweries, such as Grapefruit Sculpin from Ballast Point Brewing Co. and Livin’ the Dream Farmhouse Ale by ABNormal. For those you pay regular price.

The tostadas we chose were cute and crispy. They’re served in little cardboard vessels. The ones topped with ceviche and shrimp were bright and tangy, but the bean and cheeser tasted bland until dousing it with hot sauce from the condiment counter. With nearly 10 tostadas to choose from, each lists a recommended beer match.

South Parkers who drop in regularly know the general system of operation. First timers, however, might get confused by the lack of wait service. Basically, you pony up to the bar to order and pay for beer, and then bounce over to the fish station to order and purchase food.

Open seating extends mostly to large communal tables, both inside and on the dog-friendly front patio. Unlike so many San Diego breweries that operate in sterile office parks, this is a tasting room filled with community spirit and ocean-fresh chow that isn’t sold from a food truck.

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