4101 30th Street Suite A, North Park
(Has gone out of business since this article was published.)
To some, it seems like Rip Current Brewing Company’s revamping of the North Park corner spot at 30th Street and Polk Avenue took virtually no time at all. Not so for the people anxiously awaiting the North County interest’s southerly satellite project nor the people behind it. The latter had hoped to have their joint venture with fellow San Marcos-based business Sublime Ale House operational by November (San Diego Beer Week, to be exact). The food component, which will include Sublime’s popular, decadent takes on pizzas and mac-and-cheese, is still a work-in-progress, but as of last Saturday, the taproom portion is up and running.
Rip Current owners and brewers Paul Sangster and Guy Shobe quietly opened the front door and pulled up their stylish garage-style windows. They did so with zero fanfare, merely inviting a handful of friends from local homebrew mega-club QUAFF (Quality Ale and Fermentation Fraternity). It was built as the softest of openings; an opportunity for the bar staff to acquaint themselves with the POS system, work out any kinks with the taps, and acclimate themselves to the venue’s service element without the guaranteed glut of clientele that would have slammed the place had they advertised.
Many Day One visitors’ story matched that of local beer devotee Michael Cardoza, who happened to be driving by (after visiting a few local beer establishments), saw people inside the tasting room, skidded to a stop, and made a b-line for the joint. Even local brewer and entrepreneur Lee Chase (Tiger! Tiger! Tavern, Blind Lady Alehouse) succumbed to the business’ lure. Within an hour, the place was well-populated. Not slammed and surely emptier than the venue figures to be most evenings, but more than busy enough to give servers a taste of what they can expect.
Outside, the business is painted a sunny shade of yellow, which helps the red letters spelling out its name stand out. Entering feels like taking a step into Rip Current’s website. All of the walls, save for the bright red on the east side, are painted from floor-to-ceiling with a panoramic beach scene complete with surfboards, seagulls, and the name of the artist — Robin Golden — painted beside a couple of empty bottles. The mural scene took roughly a week to finish and turned out very nice, as does a long L-shaped bar that, along with the cold box, is covered in multiple shades of wooden planks with nice under-lighting.
A collection of Sangster’s vintage beer cans, on the wall opposite the taps, helps convey the feeling of Rip Current’s San Marcos brewery and tasting room. Ditto the beer, which is taken from the same liquid stock. In the near future, Sangster and Shobe will begin selling draft beer from guest accounts including AleSmith Brewing Company. For now, there are well over two-dozen Rip Current beers available, including a brand new extra special bitter (ESB), black imperial hefeweizen, and a one-time-only quadruple India pale ale (IPA). So even without food and guest brews, there’s plenty of reason to chart a course for what is, even in its youngest form, a nicely executed concept.