Groundswell Brewing Company

For round two of my brewery visits on Saturday January 4, 2014, I stopped by Groundswell Brewing. Groundswell is less than 1/4 mile from Benchmark Brewing.

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Groundswell Beer selection as of 1/4/14.
Groundswell Beer selection as of 1/4/14.

I ordered a taster flight to share at Groundswell. The selections were a nice compliment to what I had at Benchmark earlier. The Irish Special Bitter was an interesting choice to start the flight. The brewers start with an ESB recipe and add a special kind of yeast in order to give it that distinctive flavor of an Irish Red. The malt flavor really comes through here. It is a nice flavor and slightly stronger than the typical Irish Red.

Taster flight.
Taster flight.

Next up was the Hefeweizen. Though it drank well it could have used some stronger fruit flavors. I tasted what seemed like a lemon flavor but it was not heavy at all. It was still interesting to see a Hefeweizen on tap because so few San Diego breweries offer one. I went next for the brown ale. This one had a great multitude of flavors with a nice caramel taste. I could see this one being a big seller once they are able to bottle or can it.

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Next up was the Honey Amber. I didn’t find the honey to be a good combination here at all. The honey flavors seemed to overpower the amber flavor so that it was all I tasted. I’ve noticed that honey beers tend to be very polarizing. Usually half of the people hate it and half of the people love it. Another patron really enjoyed the honey flavors. I ended with the Hoppy Amber. If I hadn’t just had the Modern Times version of this style I might have rated it higher. I couldn’t help but compare this to what is now one of my new addictions and so I was a bit let down. The Hoppy Amber has some nice malt flavors at the front but the hop flavors were so far in the background I almost missed them. Though I can understand why you might want to avoid the bigger hop flavors Modern Times does with their Hoppy Amber, I think the hops could have been increased a little bit while still retaining the unique flavor.

Pint of Irish Special Bitter.
Pint of Irish Special Bitter.

I finished off the day with a pint of the Irish Special Bitter. Though I enjoyed it, I think the brown ale would have been better for enjoying a full pint. I was a bit disappointed to see that Groundswell didn’t have any really hop-forward beers or any stout or porter. I look forward to seeing the beers that Groundswell comes up with in the future.

Update September 2014:

When I returned to Groundswell some months later, I was surprised to see a much expanded tap list. Not only were there now more core beers, there were also a lot more specialty beers. They now have six core beers and six specialty beers at once. One of the core beers is an IPA and there were a few specialty IPAs as well. This is a welcome improvement to the selection when I visited the last time.

The new core IPA is 6.8% and is nicely balanced with citrus and pine and a malt background that doesn’t overpower the rest. It is a solid IPA that should satisfy most hop-seeking visitors. The White IPA says it is hopped with Citra, though I stupidly tried it after the regular IPA so I couldn’t taste it. It certainly has a lighter body. Then the Double IPA at 8.3% was quite juicy with some melon flavors. Everything rounded out with a solid level of bitterness that made this my favorite of the night.

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney serving clients in San Diego California.

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