Category Archives: Pub Review

Hamilton’s Tavern: A South Park Beacon

This is the place!

The story of Hamilton’s namesake is as follows:

“Our tavern was named after Mr. Herman Hamilton, a South Park resident for over 35 years and an American patriot, having served his country as a member of the storied Montford Point Marines. Although he does not drink, you can find Mr. Hamilton at the Tavern nearly every day and he always has a kind word or classic story to share! Herman is our dear friend and we could not think of a better person as the namesake to our treasured alehouse then this remarkable man.” 🙂

For most craft beer loving San Diegans, Hamilton’s Tavern is that nice little place in South Park at which all the locals can hang out and not have to worry about tourists finding them. As I walked in for the first time, I felt very comfortable; the bar is a nice, antique looking wood with no taps to interrupt eye contact between the bartenders and their customers.

If you raise your eyes to the ceiling, you’ll find twinkle lights and tap handles … at least a hundred, all retired and many from local breweries. To the right, there are two pool tables and booth seating, and the window to order food from the restaurant next door is tucked into the far corner, out of the way of everything.

The bartender was very helpful when I asked questions about the different styles. I noticed that others who didn’t have quite as much of an understanding about craft beer could be educated and helped to find the style that was right for them in a two minute conversation. How’s that for service?

To start off, I ordered an Edgar Ale from Craftsman Brewing Co. in Pasadena. It is a Russian Imperial Stout ringing in at 8.2% ABV and has a nice, heavily malted flavoring with toffee and coffee notes coming through on the front. Mix that together with an overall smokiness and you have yourself a pretty complex brew. A chewy thickness gives the beer a heavy mouthfeel, which matches its black pour. Definitely a good choice! Next, I went with a White Rascal from Avery Brewing Co. which is quite a contrast to the Edgar Ale. If you like Belgian Witbiers, you’ll love this one: very nice and light with barely noticeable citrus and coriander tastes on the finish. The yeast, citrus and spice qualities are all supported by a nice pale malt base. There is lots of character and it is very drinkable.
My final choice of the evening was the Barbar Winterbok Belgian Strong Ale from Brassiere Lefebvre in Belgium. It’s a dark amber pour and a honey aroma is evident, but doesn’t contribute to too much sweetness, with orange there, too, and a nice drizzling of coriander. If you like any belgian strong ale, you will appreciate this 8% ABV winter warmer from our Belgian brothers.

Look for our next post about Irish New Year at The Field Irish Pub in the Gaslamp Quarter!

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Atypical Brewery Is Claremont’s Main Event

It has been awhile since we’ve posted, and Marisa was in Claremont on a day trip this weekend, so she decided to pay a visit to the Back Abbey Brewery on Oberlin Avenue. The Back Abbey is a unique pub located in the Village Expansion area of Claremont. The pub, which opened in the summer of 2008, is located in a small California mission style building next to the Hotel Casa 425. When you first walk up to the brewery, it doesn’t look like much, but this place is packed almost every night of the week, according to the locals. The interior exudes warmth with natural dark wood flooring, reconditioned leather bar stools and matching bench-style seats that line the sides of the bar. Outdoors, you’ll find a more casual setting that consists of low couches and coffee tables, retro automobile chairs, and soft lantern lighting. Many of the patrons are faculty and students from the Claremont Colleges swinging by for a study break or an after class night cap with friends. If you’re planning on going Saturday night, get there before 6pm, otherwise you’ll be waiting for at least 30 mins, and you don’t want to delay on sampling this tap list!

From what I can remember, here it is:

St. Bernardus Abt 12, St. Bernardus Wit, Saison Dupont, Moinette Brune, Moinette Blond, Foret, Glazen Toren Saison, Glazen Toren Tripel, Scaldis, La Chouffe Golden Ale (delicious!), Leffe Brune, Delirium Tremens, Tripel Karmeliet, Lindeman’s Framboise, Chimay tripel, Stella Artois, Kwak, Piraat, Augustijn, Spaten Pils, Ayinger Celebrator, Unibroue Maudite and Trois Pistoles, Aventinus Weizenbock, and Fuller’s London Pride.
The Back Abbey’s website link doesn’t work, so we can’t direct you there for a menu, but Marisa had the most delicious burger there called the Winter Banana (incidentally, no banana is present) with her La Chouffe Golden Ale. On the Winter Banana were havarti cheese, bacon, sauteed apples, and field greens all nestled between two halves of a warm brioche bun. Be sure to try the pommes frites as well, which are double fried in duck fat, crunchy on the outside but warm and soft on the inside; the perfect combination.

Parking for the Back Abbey is on the street outside, which is metered, or in the free parking garage across the street in the square. As we mentioned earlier, the place fills up by 6pm on the weekends, so if you want to park for free, get there early. Whether you’re in Claremont for business or pleasure, this little place is worth the trip, and you’d better believe I’ll be returning! 🙂