Highland Park Brewing resides inside a bar called La Hermonsillo that you might quickly ignore as you walk past wondering why anyone would want to be seen inside. With a logo that could easily be mistaken as relating to a strip club or seedy dive bar, a friend I met with there had never gone inside despite living very close. The neighborhood doesn’t have the best reputation either. The night before visiting the brewery I mentioned my plans to some people at another brewery around town and they cautioned against my stepping foot in the neighborhood, though when I assured them that I occasionally visit Tijuana they thought I should be fine.
Like many breweries, Highland Park Brewing can get quite the crowd during the middle of a Sunday. Some people may be visiting to pick up a few bottles from an online release. Like many breweries that offer sours, the tasters are not very cheap. Some can be as much as $4 or $5, though for a sour that is fairly typical. I tried a total of six tasters while I was there plus a larger pour of another beer. I tasted the Beer Spaceship session IPA, Partly Cloudy IPA, pumpkin porter, Griffith J. Griffith, Pushin Carts, Raised Eyebrows, and Wakeup Coffee Beer.
The Spaceship session IPA was a flavorful session IPA with flavors primarily of pineapple and tropical fruit. It made for a nice contrast with the Partly Cloudy IPA that tasted more of grapefruit and tangerine. Both beers were light colored and low on the malt bill. I almost filled a growler with the Partly Cloudy IPA but I decided against it. The pumpkin porter was nice and balanced with some mild pumpkin flavor and subtle spices. The beer’s light body contrasted nicely with the thick, sticky, and sweet Griffith J. Griffith, a 13% monster of an imperial stout. Bottles of the imperial stout had been sold online and were no longer available but I was tempted to pick up one if I could. The beer was quite sweet and had a nice intense coffee flavor.
Pushin Carts, a tart saison, was very tasty with a light body and mild tart finish. The beer is subtle yet flavorful, with the familiar saison flavor and hints of fruit. In contrast the Raised Eyebrows, passion fruit sour, was intensely bitter, showcasing the passion fruit and guava while still tasting like beer. I really enjoyed both of these beers and was tempted to pick up a bottle of Pushin Carts. I ended with the nitro Wakeup Coffee Stout, a thin, creamy, coffee-forward beer that could almost be mistaken for cold brew coffee. It had all the delicious characteristics of a coffee beer, without getting too bitter on the back end.
Though the tasters were a bit expensive, the beers were quite delicious and the sours weren’t overly expensive for the style. The bar also has a few guest beers as well as a fairly solid menu of food. We ended up ordering some sliders, polenta bites, and the charcuterie and cheese board and they were all quite well-done. Because they are located in a neighborhood with a lot of Mexican food you could easily stop by a place nearby for a bite before visiting the brewery. They also surprisingly have some parking behind the place, which was great to see.
Partly Cloudy IPA