I probably wouldn’t have gotten out to visit Home Brewing Company, located next door and connected to The Homebrewer in North Park off El Cajon Boulevard, if it wasn’t for the Groupon they offered. Just like White Labs, one of San Diego’s major yeast sellers, you might not know they serve beer if you don’t regularly visit them to buy brewing supplies. But also like White Labs, they have a lineup of beers that can be educational and tasty at the same time. I found the beers at Home Brewing Company to be more approachable and generally more tasty than anything I ever tried at White Labs in my few visits there. While I understand why White Labs offers four different versions of each beer they serve, to highlight differences in yeast, their main product, I found the base recipes to be a bit lacking. Home Brewing Company does some similar variations but not as numerous and in many ways the beers they offer attempt to show what certain lesser known styles should taste like.
Though I will be describing the beers I tasted when I visited, keep in mind that the lineup of beers tends to change pretty regularly because they don’t have any core beers that you can expect to find each time you visit. The first three beers were all very similar lighter alcohol beers except the first one had a red malt and the second and third had the same pale malt but different yeasts. Other beers after that generally attempt to showcase one or another part of the underlying beer. I really enjoyed comparing the first three beers, all using the same hops, but which were different from various other changes in ingredients. The amber version had a more pronounced malt flavor while the two pale versions were both good for showcasing the hops though slightly differently. The difference between cali ale yeast and English ale yeast was subtle yet clear and it can be fun to try to distinguish on your own.
The other beers in my tasting were each unique, ranging from a hoppy brown ale that at times tasted like chocolate and at times orange to a Belgian style stout, a gose, an alt beer, and an imperial stout. Out of these the gose was both the most interesting of the bunch and one of the more interesting variations of the style I have had locally. Simultaneously mildly salty and super fruity I got notes of pear and doughy malts in a delicious combination. The alt beer was also impressive with a smooth malt flavor that had notes of tasty caramel. The tasting notes provided with each beer are detailed and on point and would provide a nice basis for someone new to tasting to learn the various flavors a beer can have.
Home Brewing Company is also extremely minimalist in decor because it is not meant to be a full on brewery. There is no board listing all the beers on tap and the bar doesn’t attempt to showcase some exotic tree. There isn’t much room for a lot of people to hang out but the few standing tables make great places to discuss the differences in the beer. They are also right in the heart of North Park’s growing brewery scene and so easy to stop at on your way to Belching Beaver or Fall Brewing. You shouldn’t feel you need to try everything but it is worth stopping by regularly to see what new styles you can discover or what differences of ingredients you can learn. You may even end up feeling inspired to brew your own.