Council Brewing, Impressive New Brewery

Council Brewing is currently in a soft opening phase but you wouldn’t know it from visiting. They are already offering a good variety of brews that will satisfy the majority of beer fans who show up and have a professional look inside.

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With the gavels for tap heads you’d be excused for assuming it has something to do with the law. When I asked, I was told that the brewers wanted to set up a place for having debate and discussion. It just happened that the name made sense to include some gavels. They also have free Wi-Fi that is properly secured.

Beer wise, I was quite impressed with the lineup at Council. Small breweries come in all shapes and sizes but I think Council is going to become big very quickly. Not only do they have a fantastic stout and IPA but some of the other beers are very solid as well.

I decided to get a flight of six tasters so that I could try every beer currently offered. This meant that I had a taste of the Farmer’s Gold Saison, Lively Banter Hoppy Wheat, America’s Finest Pale Ale, Gavel Drop IPA, Imperial Oatmeal Stout, and Belgian Triple. Even though some of the lighter offerings didn’t blow me away, I was still quite impressed with the lineup on the whole.

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Saison farmers gold
I’m not normally a fan of this style of beer but this is a tasty one. The beer has a little sweet flavor and not too sour. I think the higher alcohol content helps to mellow it out a bit compared to the typical Saison.

Lively banter (hoppy wheat)
Hop flavors come primarily from Centennial. This beer isn’t as insanely hopped as the modern times beer in a similar style. It won’t satisfy those looking for a session ipa style but it has some solid flavor. Flavors of the wheat still hang around, giving it a balanced flavor.

America’s finest pale ale
Delicious crisp flavor and not as heavy as the green flash pale. Great citrus flavor and not too heavy on the malt. The brewers said that this was supposed to be closer to 5.5% but ended up 6.1 by the time it was brewed so future versions should be a little lighter on the alcohol.

Gavel drop ipa
This beer has the quintessential San Diego IPA flavors from the Nelson hops. This beer was so popular that the brewery almost ran out of the first batch before the second batch was done. Hard to say if it is going to last much longer. If you aren’t familiar with Nelson hops this is likely to make you a convert. The grapefruit flavors it offers have become popular among hop addicts like myself. San Diego beer fans who can’t seem to find the Nelson IPA from Alpine Brewing should come by and check this out.

Gavel Drop, Imperial Stout, and Tripel.
Gavel Drop, Imperial Stout, and Tripel.

Imperial oatmeal stout
Thick and sweet this should satisfy fans of stouts and porters. Flavors of milk chocolate are clear and a little caramel. Little alcohol sweetness finishes it out. Very impressive. I left here with a 32oz growler full of the stout because it really impressed me. I think my husband would really like this one.

Belgian triple
Bright citrus flavors and a bit sweet. Not too heavy. Great flavor. Though it is a little sweet like you would expect from a Belgian beer, it isn’t overly so. This beer was also a bit different than the typical beer of the style you might see around San Diego.

In the end, I was quite impressed by Council Brewing and I think they will have great success once they officially open sometime in June. For now you should make your way over to try the stout or the IPA. Both are excellent and likely to draw large followings.

UPDATE New Beers on May 30, 2014
I returned to Council brewing a few weeks after my first visit to introduce some friends to the beers and I noticed they added three beers that weren’t available when I was last there. Here is what I thought of each.

Chazzam! IPA is a lighter colored IPA that uses a number of piney and citrusy hops in a deliciously crisp brew. It is also a little cheaper per glass than the Gavel Drop because it doesn’t use those elusive Nelson hops. The new Imperial Red is not what you would expect. This is not some overly sweet brew but instead a smoky beer with a light hop kick. I really enjoyed it. Finally the Belgian Dubbel was a solid representation of the style with plenty of plum malts and the spice flavors that come from the Belgian yeast. Some time soon they should be debuting their ESB so stay tuned and come back to Council.

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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  • Jeff Crane

    Glad you enjoyed the beers and it was nice to read your detailed descriptions about the beers. Stay tuned as we will start releasing some other hop forward beers, but done a little less traditionally. This week we will be releasing a 100% Brettanomyces version of Gavel Drop. In the future, we will even have some dry-hopped sour beers.

    Cheers,

    Jeff

    • Paul McGuire

      Thanks for your comment. I did see the Bret Gavel Drop announcement on Twitter. I don’t expect I would enjoy it but I will have to order a taster the next time I stop by the brewery. The only previous sour IPA I tried was when Green Flash aged their White IPA in white wine barrels.

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