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.
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.
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.
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.
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.