Friday, August 13, 2010

The Regal Beagle: Tapping into the Beer & Sausage Crowd

Mission Hills has a new neighborhood gastropub: The Regal Beagle. No, you won't find Chrissie, Jack, or Janet -- or Mr. Roper -- there but look around and you will see a Thigh Master.

More to the point, you'll also find a rotating selection of 24 tremendous craft beers and some of the best sausages around in San Diego, made by the very talented San Marcos sausage maker Jacob Kappeler.

The Regal Beagle, owned by Tim Girsch and Matt Guilbert, is a friendly, casual spot that is already picking up a good local crowd. Go and hang out with friends, play a game of darts, watch a game or perhaps old episodes of "Three's Company."

I tried a flight of beers the evening I was there that included the Ballast Point Big Eye IPA, the Belgium Duvel Green, the Brewers Special Brown from a new local brewery called New English Brewing Co., and Scrimshaw Pilsner, a cold-filtered lager. 

Their website isn't really ready for prime time yet, so you can go to Tap Hunter to learn what 24 beers they're serving up on draft on a given night. This week, for instance, you'll find choices that range from A'chouffe Houblon Chouffe and Ballast Point Wahoo Wheat to Lost Abbey Witches Wit and Stone Ruination IPA. They also have another 18 varieties in cans -- including Pabst Blue Ribbon, Oskar Blues Mama's Lil Yella Pils, Maui Island IPA, and Old Speckled Hen.

The chalkboard behind the bar will also give you the full range of their selections. And, if you can't make up your mind, just spin the wheel of indecision!

Now, to be honest, I'm only an occasional beer drinker. I enjoyed the Duvel Green the most and gave the others a good go. But I came alive when I saw the grilled sausages. The choices here change, too, but my friends and I gave most of what was on that day's menu a whirl. All had great bite and flavor, even though none of the sausages has more than 15 percent fat.

The linguica is your traditional garlicky Portuguese sausage. The smoked beer, make with Stone Smoked Porter, was a robust tasting sausage. The Turkey Cranberry was a tremendous surprise; it was moist and tender and tasting just like freshly roasted turkey. The Moroccan-style lamb was herbilicious -- again moist but with lovely Middle Eastern flavors. Finally, there was the German garlic sausage, giving great snap with every bite.

The sausages are enveloped in Sadie Rose rolls -- you have your choice of buttermilk or whole wheat. I enjoyed the buttermilk, but found the whole wheat roll too dense and chewy for the sausages. Topping the sausages can be sauerkraut, grilled onions, grilled peppers, or cheddar cheese. And, of course, there are plenty of mustard choices. All sausages come with hand-made potato chips, but there are also house-cut French fries, sweet potato fries, potato salad, and something I got a kick out of: Tater Tots. Not house made but the real deal.

The night I was there -- a week night -- there was a full crowd so it looks like this little space is taking off. I'm looking forward to a return visit to try some unusual brew and perhaps the smoked cajun sausage. Or maybe the veal bratwurst.

The Regal Beagle is located at 3659 India St. Phone is 619-297-2337.

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