For beer enthusiasts, hard-to-find beers are called “whales.” The rarest of the rare, “white whales,” are an allusion to Herman Melville’s classic novel, “Moby Dick.”
The quintessential American whale tale features a crazed captain, Ahab, on a relentless quest that takes him across seven seas in search of his white whale.
In another sea adventure, “The Sea Wolf” by Jack London, Captain Wolf Larsen, is consumed by his obsessions. It’s an unlikely allusion for an alehouse. Unless, of course, that alehouse mirrors the obsession and passion of such literary models.
On my recent visit to Wolf Larsen’s Alehouse in San Diego’s Miramar neighborhood, it only took a few minutes to realize that General Manager Laura Anderson was indeed driven to find and showcase the best beers. And her quest for great beers stretches far and wide.
Located in the former Thunderhawk Alements location, Wolf Larsen’s Alehouse offers indoor and outdoor seating in a relaxed, nautical themed venue. The space is open to the public seven days a week and private event options are available.
I had a chance to sit down with Laura Anderson and enjoy a pint of Ogopogo Nachtkrapp Schwarzbier, a delicious black lager brewed in San Gabriel. The beer was light-bodied, dark in color with a mild roasted malt character and a clean, dry finish.
Over the pint, we talked about beer, Anderson’s journey in craft brewing, and the Wolf Larsen’s Alehouse story.
ILB: Why Wolf Larsen’s Alehouse?
LA: Wolf Larsen’s is owned by three lifelong friends who love beer: Jeremy DeCocini, Jason Adams and Justin Noblin. They were tossing around names, and Jeremy DeCocini threw out Wolf Larsen because he [Larsen] was sort of a bad ass, [DeConcini] loves the novel and it fits the nautical theme they wanted.
ILB: What’s your role here?
LA: I am the General Manager and resident beer nerd. I curate the beer selection. I enjoy finding the beers and creating a creative taplist. I don’t want our tap list to be like a tap list you see anywhere else in San Diego.
ILB: You used the word curate; that’s interesting.
LA: Yes. There are so many fantastic beers, so I really take this on like curating an art gallery. I am hunting down each beer individually and considering why it’s special and why [patrons] need to taste it.
ILB: How do you make decisions about what to offer?
LA: One of the things that’s really important to me is consumer input. We are the beer nerds taproom. They come here and they know beer. So, I have a running list of special requests. People ask, “can you get this?” And the answer is, “Yes, I can try.” And then I hunt it down!
ILB: What are a few of those rarities you’ve hunted down and have available now?
LA: We have several beers from Toppling Goliath in Iowa including Dragon Fandango; Habitual Line Stepper from Weathered Souls in Texas; Luminus Five from Great Notion in Oregon; Liquid Gravity from San Luis Obispo; and Puff the Magic Hydra, a collab beer from Mortalis and Trippin Animals. There are even more, but that’s a few of the recent arrivals.
ILB: Where did you develop your craft beer expertise?
LA: I moved to London when I was 18 and started bartending. I was learning about beer the right way, cutting my teeth on the best Czech Pilsners and real Belgians while my friends were back home drinking Natty Ice. I love the esters and richness of the Belgian and French styles.
ILB: I noticed another rare sighting in the San Diego beer scene: $5 pints.
LA: Yes, we have $5 beer specials. Right now we have Calidad Mexican Lager and Port Brewing Surf Report Red Ale.
Whether you are looking for a great venue to enjoy a selection of craft beers or on the hunt for a white whale, Wolf Larsen’s Alehouse is an excellent spot to grab a pint, nerd out on specialty beers, and enjoy yourself.
To listen to the entire interview, check out our podcast: I Like Beer the Podcast. You can follow the ILB adventures at ilikebeerthepodcast.com and on Instagram: @ilikebeerthepodcast. Wolf Larsen’s Alehouse is located at 8675 Miralani Drive #100 in San Diego, California. For hours and other information, check their website www.wolflarsensalehouse.com or on Instagram: @wolflarsensalehouse.