Second Chance is one of the newest breweries to open in San Diego, and only the third in the small area of Rancho Bernardo, joining Abnormal Brewing and a recent addition to Karl Strauss. The head brewer spent 15 years brewing at Rock Bottom brewery locally before going out on his own. The tasting room is just off Caramel Mountain Road, a quick hop for me, and easy to find. There is plenty of space inside, with many different tables set up for people to sit and/or stand while enjoying their beers. I tasted everything that was available on October 24, 2015 except for the blonde ale. I started with a flight of the English Brown, Red IPA, IPA, and Toasted Porter. I finished with the two specialty beers, the mocha porter and coffee IPA. Tasters are a little expensive, with the specialty beers a whole $3 a taster, but the beers are overall solid.
The English Brown pours a dark amber colored brown. It is very smooth and roasty with a nice dry finish. It has a medium amount of English hops there as well along with some caramel malts, giving it an overall balanced flavor. The Red IPA was quite hop forward, and medium bitter. The hops present grapefruit and apricot with a bitter aftertaste. The beer has a nice clear amber color and malts aren’t overpowering. I found the bitterness a little too strong for my tastes, though it has a nice caramel malt at the back.
The IPA had a nice fruity mango and peach on the nose, nice golden yellow color. Mango and peach come through nicely on the taste without too much bitter. This is more mellow than the Red IPA and fits right in with other local San Diego IPAs. The Toasted Porter had a creamy head and pours really dark. This porter has a nice roasty flavor with a mild coffee blended in nicely.
The Coffee IPA had a mellow coffee flavor that blends nicely with the IPA. I assume it is the same underlying IPA as they had on before. I can still taste the peach and mango from the IPA with it. Though I wouldn’t have thought the flavors would go together they really do. The Mocha Porter has a strong coffee and chocolate flavor but it isn’t particularly balanced. The beer is a little too bitter and doesn’t have much sweetness or roasty. I prefer the regular Toasted porter to this one.
I was impressed by the size of the tasting room and the quality of the beers when visiting Second Chance. They are still early in their operation so they have a ways to go before they get to their full potential. The brewery has a nice open area with plenty of seating and tables for people to set the beers and hang out. They also have a few couches in the front area. There is no air conditioning so it could get hot if it is a really hot day but the brewery generally has nice ventilation when they open both the front and side doors. I will certainly keep up with their progress as they grow to see what they do next.
Update November 2015: I visited Second Chance Brewing again on November 28, 2015 because I heard they had a few new beers. I was able to taste their double IPA and imperial stout that were not previously available. Both were very impressive.
The double IPA was thick and tasty with a juicy mango/tropical fruit flavor. The imperial oatmeal stout was available on nitro and was a nice mix of roasty flavors, a hint of bitter chocolate, and caramel. It is great to see that they continue to come up with new beers. I hope the double IPA will stick around as a core beer.