Conversations You Want to Have at the Bar

Location: Ocean Ale House

Sandwich: Local Grilled Cheese

Almost every time I’ve had a great conversation with a stranger, it has been at a bar. A gentle beer buzz has taken away enough inhibition or perceived awkwardness to let normal conversation flow. There is something on the tv (sports) or something flowing from a tap that people can talk about (usually opinions on IPAs), and everyone is holding a drink so they have something to do with their hands. Conditions are perfect. Every time I’ve been to Ocean Ale House in San Francisco, I’ve found what has seemed to be the friendliest group of drinkin’ folk to talk to. My first time in, I sat next to a couple of college football scouts (or were they odds pickers for Vegas?) watching a game, taking notes on legal pads, and having a few drinks while they told me about which up and comers were going to be impressive and who they thought was bound for an NFL bust. I had three pints by this point so I don’t quite remember the finer details of their story.

Incredible ocean mural that covers the side wall inside.

Fresh off beer week, with kegs stacked high and hang over set in, I visited Ocean Ale House again in search of a sandwich. Owners Miles and Daniel were chatting with patrons, pulling pints, and making some delicious brined fries which I ate while I decided on a sandwich and drink to order. The place has a killer selection of local beers displayed on a surfboard sign which fits right in with the sea-side vibes and ocean mural on the opposite wall. As with my first visit, I had a couple of interesting characters next to me at the bar who happened to be two beer distributors who brought samples for Miles to try in the hopes that he would order a few kegs. The generous man that he is, he cracked open the samples, poured some out for himself and the two men, then poured me and the other man at the bar a sample as well. I took mine as if they were shooters, while the others dipped their noses in. They talked to me about notes and aromas, telling me about hop characteristics and style specific to each brewer. I nodded along, probably looking like an idiot to the beer sommeliers. They were sour beers, so I suggested that the one from Avery Brewing Company reminded me of lemon. They did not seem to agree.

I finally decided to get a grilled cheese, after much deliberation and two pints. The goal of Ocean Ale House is to showcase the local creations, both beer and food, and that’s exactly what I got with Cowgirl Creamery cheeses inside, including a brie that was money. There was pleasant mustard slab surprise on the plate, and I asked Miles what was going on because it tasted so crazy and delicious. He said was made by soaking the seeds in beer and fermenting them for three months. “Shit’s good, right?” he said with a smile. Yes, that shit was really good. That small, spicy dab on my plate was just enough to last for the whole sandwich.

If you are ever looking for a great drinking spot, new people to talk to, and a tasty sandwich menu to go with it, Ocean Ale House is sure to not let you down.


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