BLONDES ON BEERS:
Yep, you read that right, Hodad's — Ocean Beach 's iconic home for jaw-unhinging, bacon-laden burgers — has expanded into the craft beer market. Starting slowly with four styles, the first beers hit the taps in late 2018.
And it all started with a former manager named Marlow Myrmo, who would bring in his home brew for the Hodad's crew to enjoy.
"It was actually really good," said third-generation co-owner Shane Hardin (who shares ownership duties with his sister Lexi). "He did that for a while and we eventually put it all together and thought about doing something bigger for the restaurants.
"We already had the name and notoriety and a system to pour beer, so we wanted to build on the brand and make something that works with our food and works with our philosophy."
Over the next two years, the crew built out a 10-barrel brewery system in Kearny Mesa, and brought on Josh Ferracioli from Bolt Brewing. Now, Myrmo and Ferracioli manage the brewing program full-time.
Their four creations thus far are: The Boss Brew, a Kolsch; the Ho-Daddy Hef, a hefeweizen; the Throwback brown ale; and The Local IPA.
"We're not trying to do anything super funky or out there," Hardin said. "Just like our burgers are straight-up, classic sloppy burgers; these are just nice beers, any one of which would pair well with any one of our burgers."
And pairing with the burgers, it would seem, is paramount. "We didn't want to brew something that you wouldn't be able to eat a burger with, so nothing that will fill you up too much," Hardin said. "You have to be able to eat our food, too! So we wanted four solid styles that would work with anything on the menu."
According to the history page on its website, Hodad's first opened under the loving care of Byron and Virginia Hardin, Shane and Lexi's grandparents, in 1969 at the end of Santa Monica Avenue in Ocean Beach (it settled at its current OB location in 1991, after several moves).
In 2011, Hodad's opened its second location in downtown San Diego, and a third in Petco Park a year later.
The Kearny facility does not have a tasting room, so the only place to get their wares is at one of San Diego's three Hodad's locations.
As for whether the beer program will continue to expand,
"Oh yeah," Hardin said. "We're talking about trying out some new styles. But the way that we've always done things — since my grandfather started the place and then my dad (Mike "Bossman" Hardin, who passed away in 2015) and now my sister and I — is we try to do everything in-house so for us, that means baby steps.
"We don't want to spread ourselves too thin because we want to be involved in everything. We figured four was a good start, but we are definitely considering some new styles."
• First impressions of the venue:
Ashley: This place is the quintessential local burger joint. There are novelty license plates all over the walls, community tables and high-tops, and the intoxicating smell of burgers in the air. Yes, it's always crowded, but that comes with being a legend, and I love that they have their own beers now.
Crystal: Hodad's is always an experience. You wait outside in line to get to a coveted seat inside (how many of us dream to sit inside the two-seater VW inside?) There are so many fun things to look at while you enjoy a burger and fries — and now beer! Hodad's is lively and oozes a friendly, community vibe.
• The Beers:
The Boss Brew (5.5 percent ABV)
Ashley: I think Kolsch beers go really well with burgers because they don't compete. This one has just enough body to stand on its own, but still be crispy, slightly sweet and refreshing.
Crystal: A light beer with nicely balanced malts and hops. Crisp and refreshing, the Kolsch is the perfect pair for a burger because it's not too filling.
Ho-Daddy Hef (4.5 percent ABV)
Ashley: Hefeweizens, being unfiltered, have more body than your other lighter beers, and conventionally have banana and clove flavors. This one has more bright fruit notes on the nose, followed by those banana flavors, with an afterthought of clove. As someone not a fan of Hefeweizens, I appreciate that it is lighter and less aggressive than most.
Crystal: This hef has a sweet, malty aroma and taste with a medium body. The flavors are more subtle than one expects from hefeweizens, which make it easier to drink with Hodad's food offerings.
Throwback brown ale (5.5 percent ABV)
Ashley: This is not one I would generally pair with a burger, because it finishes with a roasted quality that I think would compete. It's also more medium-bodied than beers I would eat a large meal with, with less hop bitterness and more burnt chocolate bitterness. But on its own, there is a nice progression of a slight aroma, medium body and full finish.
Crystal: The brown ale smells and tastes of sweet roasted malts and caramel. It has a medium body and thick head, quite filling on it's own.
The Local IPA (6.6 percent ABV)
Ashley: This IPA — which has some intense competition in the area — has some tropical, citrus and possibly herbal notes. It's just bitter and full bodied enough, but is also balances really well. It finishes dry, which I would pair with food no problem.
Crystal: This is a very well done IPA. Delicious fruity hops, a lemony pine aroma with a balanced bitterness.
Hodad's By the Numbers:
• Number of taps: 12
• Hours: Open daily: 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
• Address: 5010 Newport Ave., Ocean Beach
• Contact: (619) 224-4623
• Website: hodadies.com
• Coming Next Month: Blondes on Beers check out Culture Brewing in Ocean Beach.
• To contact the Blondes on Beer: E-mail Ashley Mackin-Solomon at firstname.lastname@example.org