Tag Archives: Oceanside

Midnight Jack Brewing – Oceanside, San Diego

Midnight Jack 01

Midnight Jack Brewing is in the inland portion of Oceanside or, as some might say, the valley. They have quite the large number of beers on tap. They have a large indoor space with plenty of seating. When I started, I tasted their helles, saison, IPA, porter, and stout on nitro. The helles was fruity and had a nice kick to it, a solid beer for the style though lacking the lager character that makes a few local breweries stand out. Still it was one of the better beers from my visit.

Midnight Jack 02

The saison was completely infected with acetaldehyde and tasted like astringent apple juice. I brought this to the brewer’s attention (who happened to also be pouring the beers) and once he tasted he agreed and pulled the keg. Surprisingly this is not a common response at smaller breweries so I respect his integrity. I was told that other kegs from the same batch were quite popular and sold fast so I want to give him the benefit of the doubt that this beer is normally really good and something happened with this keg.

The Lucky 7 IPA had some mild fruit but intensely harsh bitter finish that made it un-drinkable. It didn’t have much aroma or resinous hops to balance out the bitterness. The porter was smooth and roasty with notes of coffee and chocolate, while mildly sweet at the finish. I really enjoyed this one, probably the best of the bunch. They also had a version available that is blended with half cold brew coffee brewed in house. My friend ordered that version and really enjoyed it. The chocolate stout had some strong fruity alcohol notes and was quite thin, overall it didn’t taste like a stout.

Midnight Jack 03

I was ready to leave it at this point and not try anything more but when I went up to close out my tab, the brewer suggested he wouldn’t charge me because I wasn’t satisfied. I respect that and accepted that. Then, when he came to tell me I was right about the saison, I figured I would try a few more of his IPAs so he poured me tasters of the session IPA, Vermont style IPA, and 3Cs IPA.

Midnight Jack 04

The session IPA was crisp and smooth with strong grassy hops. I asked the brewer whether he dry hopped this one and he said he didn’t. It is an interesting take on the session IPA though the grassy hop character is not something I’m used to locally. The Vermont style IPA was not representative of the style. It was a darker red-orange hazy color that is unusual and despite using plenty of mosaic, citra, and amarillo it didn’t taste like it at all. It had a salty finish that I haven’t experienced with this kind of beer before. I ended with the 3C IPA that he describes as his West Coast style IPA. It was bitter and mildly piny and had a dry finish but it didn’t taste anything like a west cost style IPA to me. Then again I’m not generally a fan of piney IPAs.

The brewer at Midnight Jack clearly knows what he is doing. The porter was fantastic and the helles was quite good. Sadly he still needs some time to get the IPAs dialed in to meet with local standards.

Top 2:
Porter
Helles

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 focusing on serving the San Diego LGBT community.

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Bagby Brewing Company Oceanside

Bagby Brewing Company drew in local craft beer lovers from the very beginning thanks to head brewer Jeff Bagby’s history brewing with Pizza Port for 6 years and brewing many award winning beers. He is well known both among brewers and locals as a brewer with talent who knows what a good beer should taste like.

Bagby Brewing 05

With that in mind, when I visited Bagby I had high expectations, which generally leads to disappointment but not this time. Thankfully, there were many impressive beers available such that I can say it is worth the drive up to Oceanside. All of the beers I tried packed in a lot of flavor and really let all the different ingredients complement each other.

Bagby Brewing 06

Bagby Brewing Company has a large facility, much larger than you would expect with a newer brewery. A big focus there is on the food, which I didn’t get to try in this visit. But there are also two large floors with two bars both pouring the full array of beers. Considering the drive up to Oceanside and the number of house beers available it would be difficult to try all the beers in one trip and safely drive back so I only got to taste seven of their beers. However, hopefully at some point I will update this review to include some guest reviews of the rest until I can get back to try what is left.

First flight left to right IPA, Strong Pale, Rye Pale, Extra Pale.
First flight left to right IPA, Strong Pale, Rye Pale, Extra Pale.

I started off my time with the wet hop extra pale on nitro. As usual, the nitro really mellowed out the beer so this is not a sipper. Despite the light body, there were some intense pine flavors that were very enjoyable. Next up was the rye pale ale. Rye beers are very difficult to do right and many in this style get the balance of flavors all wrong. Thankfully, this hits all the right notes. It has a solid spicy bite from the rye that balances nicely with mild bitterness and caramel flavors.

Second flight, left to right Scotch Ale, American Stout, Double IPA.
Second flight, left to right Scotch Ale, American Stout, Double IPA.

The strong pale is a whopping 6.4% and the higher alcohol adds some additional sweetness to balance out the malts. Hop flavors came through mostly in the way of floral hops. Next I tried the IPA. This is a very powerful beer that manages to bring out all the signature West Coast style grapefruit and citrus while balancing that with caramel malts. This is a great example of how you make a balanced IPA without knocking people over the head with the malts.

Bagby Brewing 02

After the IPA, the double IPA was certainly on the sweet side but it had plenty of tropical fruit flavor, primarily pineapple to balance it out. I had a hard time believing that this was a 10% beer because it really hid the alcohol very well. After the hoppy beers I went on to some of the stronger dark beers. The American Stout is a strong 7.7% and really blended together the flavors nicely. It had plenty of thick caramel and coffee flavors countered by a mild smoky flavor. Finally, I tried the scotch ale, an 8.4% dark beer that packed in tons of flavor. I really enjoyed the mix of dark fruit and nutty coffee for a satisfying beer.

Bagby Brewing 01

Though most of the beers were very good, I was especially impressed by the rye pale, IPA, and American Stout. I wasn’t the only one enjoying the rye pale as I could hear other people around the bar area talking about how much they enjoyed that one.

Though I didn’t get to try any of the food I have heard great things about it. So if you are looking to try out a new brewery, I suggest you make a day of it and visit Bagby for lunch followed by some beer. And if you like to enjoy the sun, there is some outdoor seating available upstairs. Just be careful you don’t let your beers sit in the sun.

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 focusing on serving the San Diego LGBT community.

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