Tater tots and a tipple: Happy hour at downtown’s Beer Co.

Best way to appreciate prize-winners like their “Manhattan Project” beer, is to chomp spudlets, too.

Last time I popped in here to The Beer Company (602 W. 6th Avenue, at Broadway, downtown San Diego, 619-398-0707) I never got beyond their Great American Beer Fest Gold Medal winner, the Manhattan Project.

Man. What a cerveza. Wheat-heavy Scotch ale with cherry purée mixed in. It was more like a wine than a beer. Aged for four months in barrels that had previously been aging Manhattan cocktails (aging’s ragin' in NYC, they say). So the flavor makes a transfer and man you can taste it. Chocolate, toffee, cherry.

But what’s brought me back ain’t da booze. It’s the wicked plate that my neighbor that time was eating: tater tots.

Actually, bacon cheddar tots ($3.95, in happy hour). Man, they looked and smelled so tempting, like a mountain of tots with golden waterfalls of cheddar cheese, and outcroppings of bacon – real bacon, not crumbles – and a pot of ranch dressing you could splurge all over them.

So this time, they're the first thing I order from Lindsay, one of the two blonde barkeeps, when she comes up.

The drink part’s not so easy. I’m kinda impressed at the different beers that their brewer here, Kirk Roberts, an ex-home-brewer himself, is making to keep us coming back. Like the Manhattan, or a pretty nice barleywine, or a powerful cherry stout.

But tonight, I jes’ want something to to go along with the tater tots without trying to grab the limelight.

So I go for their Broadway Brown ($3.50). A good chugger, bit like Newcastle Brown.

It is a great combo. The tater tots are dangerously good. Like, I’ll need three days on nuts and twigs to atone for them, but totally worth it. The cheesy bacony thing of the tots, the nutty flavors of the beer...We're talking chug'n chew city!

I mean: Is this the Beer and Tater Tot Capital of da Woild or what?

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