As part of a software user group conference, my work and sleep time were at a hotel on Coronado Island. I did not have a rental car, so choosing a brewery was restricted by the distance (taxi cost) from my lodgings. I checked out the San Diego Brewers Guild website and looked over the long list of members. (I never realized there were so many breweries in the San Diego area.) I picked 3 of the closest that interested me and paid each of them a visit. I did manage to snap some pictures and take some videos with my phone, but was disappointed to find them missing from my device when I returned home. Oh well, I'll make do with some pictures from their websites.
- Coronado Brewing - Located in Coronado, this brewery was nearest to my hotel. Of the three facilities I visited, it felt the most like a modern brewpub (because it is one, although they do bottle their beer for liquor stores as well). I had already eaten, so I did not partake in their tasty looking food menu. However, I did order myself a sampler of their beers: Coronado Golden (pilsner), Orange Ave Wit, Islander Pale Ale (IPA), Mermaid's Red, and Idiot IPA (Double IPA). I also purchased a pint of their Blue Bridge Coffee Stout. The beers were all good and well-made, but nothing that wowed me. I would drink them again, but wouldn't necessarily seek them out.
- Mission Brewery - Just across the bay from Coronado, Mission is near downtown San Diego. I would have never guessed by the exterior of the building that there was such a cool brewery space inside. The brewing and fermenting equipment are located in the same large open space as the taproom. I bought $1 samples of the 7 beers they currently have available: Pilsner, Blonde (Kolsch), Hefeweizen, Amber, IPA, Shipwrecked (Double IPA), and Dark Seas (Russian Imperial Stout). Every single one was extremely tasty. I wanted to stick around longer, but unfortunately didn't have time. I enjoyed the brews so much that I asked if they had any plans to make it up into Minnesota. The guy behind the bar was unsure, but I'll keep my fingers crossed and hope they eventually distribute here. You'll want to try these beers if that happens.
- Monkey Paw Pub & Brewery - Not too far away from Mission Brewery, Monkey Paw is a craft beer bar and brewery. They have an excellent tap list, which includes a number of beers they brew themselves. I tried 5 during my visit: Oatmeal Pale (pale ale), Sweet Georgia Brown (English-style brown), Mandrill IPA, Monkey Stones (unclassifiable), and Rich Man's IIPA. While I really enjoyed all the brews, the most intriguing was Monkey Stones. It was a collaboration recipe created with Stone Brewing and it really doesn't easily fit into any beer classification. (In my mind, it's pretty cool when that happens.) A strong (7.7% ABV) black lager with plenty of citrusy, piney hop aromas and flavors and a bitter finish, it was a memorable beer. While at Monkey Paw, I was lucky enough to chat with Head Brewer and Certified Cicerone Derek Freese. A very friendly man with a lot of beer knowledge, he was more than happy to sit and talk beer with me for a while. After tasting the beers and meeting the brewer, I wish Monkey Paw continued success.