By Dr. Ink
A redesign plus new beers and a revised menu have turned The Brew Project into the kind of establishment it was probably meant to be for nearly the last two years.
Until recently it operated under a dual concept, as a full-service restaurant and drinking joint. Now you order at the bar and then hang out wherever you want – inside or outside the multi-level structure, which was built in 1902 as a Craftsman house.
Beer aficionado Beau Schmitt, who launched The Brew Project in 2015 with business partner Mike Sill, said customers are less confused when walking in.
“We transformed into more of a fun and laid-back neighborhood bar instead of a restaurant,” he said while pointing out copious beer handles hanging from the ceiling.
The redo also included the repainting of white walls to black, adding barrel tables and banquette seating to the patio, and turning the former retail section into a cozy nook featuring shuffleboard. And for those who lost track of San Diego’s proliferating breweries, a chalkboard listing all of them has gone up. (The tally is at 154, and growing.)
The Brew Project is all about supporting those brew houses. Hence you’ll find many of their products on tap for only $5 per pint or chalice during happy hour, as well as a few ciders and kombuchas. In addition, most wines are $5 per glass and premium spirits by Grey Goose, Bulleit, Patron and others are $7 a pour.
The lengthy beer list also spotlights a rotating sour beer and an IPA that are $5 any time of the day.
I tried the newest addition to the lineup, called Brew Project IPA. It’s produced expressly for The Brew Project by Mason Ale Works in Oceanside, and offers crisp tropical-fruit notes and wisps of grapefruit. It’s an ideal palate refresher that effectively sandblasts any residual fats off your tongue after eating.
Confit-style chicken wings show up on the revised menu of beer-friendly bar food. And they’re stupendous. Priced normally at $13 a basket, they’re half-off during happy hour.
The kitchen marinates them overnight, bakes them for a few hours and sends them briefly to the deep fryer when ordered. The result is meat that slides off the bone when it practically touches your lips.
There are several flavor choices. The “hop sauce,” which was sold out when I visited, blends actual hops with a red pepper sauce. I opted for the whiskey-porter BBQ and creamy garlic-Parmesan sauces. Both were viscous and addicting, especially the latter, which was speckled with chives and rivaled any newfangled wing sauce I’ve had from anywhere.
From the regular menu you’ll find a variety of burgers, grilled cheese sandwiches and more.
In addition to the happy-hour deals, there are specials every weekday such as bottomless wings for $20 a person, from 6–10 p.m. on Mondays; discounts on tacos, Mexican lagers and El Jimador shots from 3 p.m. to close on Tuesdays; and $5 pints and well drinks from 6 p.m. to close on Fridays.
The Brew Project also serves brunch from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
Expect lots of the latest and greatest beers from local breweries, plus wine, premium spirits, ciders and kombuchas.
With a refreshed menu in place, the ultra-tender chicken wings dressed in various house-made sauces are showstoppers.
Certain beers run about $2 below regular cost, although you’ll save up to 50 percent on spirits and chicken wings.
The bartenders are attentive, and since the space was remodeled, they’re equipped to take food orders.
A roomy front patio ascends to a converted Craftsman house, offering the character of a classic neighborhood bar similar to those in Chicago, Seattle or New York.
Sara is the editor of San Diego Uptown News.