Located just a stone’s throw from Stone Brewing Company’s main location in Escondido I wondered going in how Offbeat Brewing manages to compete with the giant brewery. After tasting things it was clear that they have a very different approach to their beers, especially the hoppy ones, and they fill a completely different niche than the aggressive hoppy beers from Stone. I’ve talked to people who normally don’t like West Coast style IPAs who like the beers here.
Though Offbeat has been open for nearly three years they don’t have the same level of experimentation you see at other breweries. Instead they have a core set of five beers that they typically have on tap that all have a similar mellow English hop flavor going. I tried the Session Pale, Brown, ESB, IPA, and Sagecat IPA while I was there.
The Session Pale was a light golden color beer with a good fruity flavor from the hops. This is an interesting comparison to the typical bitter citrus-forward San Diego session IPAs. The brown ale was a bit more dark and roasty than the average local brown. Both color wise and flavor wise it is closer to a porter than a brown. The roast flavors are balanced nicely by some mild earthy hops.
The ESB was surprisingly flavorful for a 3.4% beer with lots of earthy and fruity flavors from the English hops. The IPA is 7.7% but isn’t very bitter and tends to be more apricot flavor with a smooth malt background. The flavors balance very nicely and there is very little of the signature west coast hop bitterness. Considering the mellow flavor, it was a perfect choice to add the peppercorns for the Sagecat IPA. Peppercorns add a nice mild spice kick and a sweetness in the aftertaste.
With a limited lineup and a very different selection than its neighbors it is easy to stop by Offbeat on your way to your favorite brewery in the area for a taster or two. If you haven’t yet explored the English style of IPA this is a great place to do it.