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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.