Located in University Heights, Small Bar offers patrons more than 40 different beers to choose from, all with a different taste. Looking behind the bar at the vast array of taps, it becomes obvious what a misnomer the bar’s name is.
Small Bar is home to many interesting and unique choices for the adventurous beer drinker. Reminiscent of trying ice cream flavors at a creamery, customers can taste multiple beers until they find the flavor that speaks to them. There is no limit to the sampling of each kind, but tasters beware: If the beer has a star in front of its name, it is not available to taste. These are typically the more expensive brews.
There is no shortage in the variety of beers to try here. Carlow Brewing’s O’hara’s Irish Red is full-bodied with lots of flavor. Packing a hoppy punch, this beer is slightly bitter but largely enjoyable.
Lighting Brewing’s Thunderweizen Ale is an unfiltered German hefeweizen that smells faintly of whiskey. Almost tasting like a stout, this will be enjoyed by people who like a dark brew.
For those who don’t choose beer as their primary drink, there are some surprising alternatives. The Ballast Point Sculpin is an apricot-flavored India pale ale that has a citrusy hoppiness. Similar is the Maui Brewing Coconut Porter, which is flavor-packed. This banana and coconut tasting beer is a vacation in a glass. It has been known to cause full stomachs and empty glasses, even for non-beer lovers.
As if this bar didn’t have enough to offer, a selection of sour beer is also available. Yes, sour beer. Brewed in Belgium, Liefmans’ Cuvée-Brut will pucker any mouth and have drinkers enjoying this liquid sour apple.
Small Bar offers one other notable selection: selections from BrewDog brewing company. This Scottish brewery has broken the world record for alcohol content in its beers. With content ranging from 36 to 41 percent, these are considered by some to not even be beer. They are worth a try but should be consumed with caution.
Small Bar’s atmosphere is worth noting as well. There are posters, pictures and even figurines mounted on the walls to admire from any perspective. An ornately carved wooden doorframe draws the eye and welcomes drinkers, adding an old, Irish feeling to the modest room.
Looking around, patrons can be noticed from all walks of life. The after-work crowd huddles around the old-time jukebox while college kids sit at the bar and test new beers. The average Pacific Beach and Ocean Beach crowds won’t be found here, a refreshing change for San Diego State students.
The bartenders seem right at home in this hole-in-the-wall. Helpful and easygoing, they are more than happy to suggest their favorite barley pop. Don’t know much about beer? One question about a brand or beer company turns these bartenders into educators, spilling their extensive knowledge of everything from stouts to hefeweizens.
Although this bar will not offer the typical SDSU night out, this local bar’s charm and eccentric buzz is worth a try for those looking for a good brew with good company.
The Small Bar
4628 Park Blvd.
San Diego, 92116