Poor House Brewing Company | 4494 30th St, San Diego, CA 92102

I know Poor House Brewing Company has been open for over a year now, and it’s very close to where I live, so I felt this was way overdue.  Poor House is conveniently located on 30th Street and Monroe in the San Diego Normal Heights neighborhood.  As with most businesses in the area, you can find parking on the streets in the surrounding neighborhood and walk about a block or so to Poor House.

At the entrance I noticed there were some hop bines growing from planter boxes up strings, and around the building.  I made my way through the swinging saloon style doors, found a bar stool and ordered a drink.  I had their Mad Monk, which was a strong Belgian ale with hints of cherry, plumb and raisin. The inside of the tasting room has a large bar where you can sit on both sides of the bar.  The decor is very rustic, with a big open beamed ceiling, caged lighting that reminds me of something that could be seen in a 19th century mine.  There is rock music playing and sports playing on about half a dozen large screens.  The ladies that work there are very nice and enjoy chatting with patrons.  I did see a gentleman there with a dog, so I know they are dog friendly.  They are cash only, but there is an ATM there with a service fee.  There is no kitchen but they will give you peanuts and pretzels upon request.

I was quickly greeted by Alanna Scheer, the brewery manager and seems to have a real love of good beer.  We chatted about new and interesting beers we have tried lately.  Alanna told me she does a bit of beer trading and said she just received a case of all four Cascade releases.  I was envious but I had plenty of good beer to try at Poor House.

Chris Finch, the brewer at Poor House came over and I struck up a conversation.  He told me how Poor House is just a part time thing and that he is a full time firefighter here in San Diego.  Before starting up Poor House Brewing, Chris and Alanna came from the now defunct Firehouse Brewing.  It seems to me that Chris is quite busy working as a firefighter full time as well as brewing all of the beer for the Poor House Brewing tasting room.  He says he is able to do it because they do not sell bottles and kegs outside of their tasting room, as he would simply would not be able to keep up with demand.

Chris and I went to the brewing area and I found it to be pretty small.  I noticed stainless steel conical fermenters, boil kettles, mash tuns and a lot of pipe.  None of this is unusual, but the equipment looked a bit different from what I’ve seen in other breweries.  Some of the fermenters were obviously 55 gallon stainless steel drums that had been fashioned into fermenters, complete with blow-off tubes, piping to move the wort and pumps.  I asked Chris about this and he said that he made everything by hand.  I was really impressed by this as I have heard of breweries making some of their own equipment, but this brewery appeared to be completely made from scratch.

After a few beers and some casual chatting I learned that Poor House Brewing Company got it’s name from Chris’ actual experience.  He had hit rock bottom in the past and had even been homeless.  He slowly got back on his feet and is brewing for one of the currently best kept secrets in the San Diego craft beer scenes.

Back to the beer… Poor House specializes in IPAs and Belgian style ales.  Their flagship beer is called Hop 30.  It’s a heavily hopped IIPA that has a blend of 30 different hops.  I asked Chris if he always sticks with the same formula for these hops and he said that he likes to play around with the new hops and it’s always changing.  As a homebrewer myself, I would find brewing at a place like Poor House Brewing to be ideal, as there is lots of creative freedom and you are not stuck brewing the same beers, year after year.

Overall, I would recommend Poor House Brewing to anyone into craft beer.  It’s a much different experience from what you may get from your regular tasting room.  This place feels more like a local neighborhood bar, than a plain looking tasting room with no place to sit.

When in San Diego City, you would be wise to stop by Poor House Brewing.

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