Southern Grist had some of the best beers I tasted out of the breweries I visited. They had a wide variety of options with tons of interesting flavors. This isn’t a spot for purists though because almost all of the exciting beers were made with tons of adjuncts added.
The berry cobbler sour was delicious and tasted like berry cobbler with a mix of caramel pie crust and jammy berry notes. It had a dark pink and purple color and had very little tart bite on the finish. The Key Lime Pie gose was also excellent with a sweet pie base and a hint of lime at the finish. Again, this was not particularly tart but a good balance of flavor. The Cherry Limeaid Saison had a strong lime finish and otherwise not much going on. I got notes of chlorine but it could have been just the mix of cherry and lime.
The Zero IBU IPA was creamy and grassy with a light bitter finish. While well-made, I didn’t care for the herbal hop character that dominated. The strawberry upside down cake DIPA was delicious with notes of strawberry and vanilla, a creamy mouthfeel, and a sweetness that didn’t overpower or become cloying. The standard double IPA was creamy and mellow with light tropical fruit notes and a sweet finish. It was a decent double IPA but lacked the intense hop punch that makes the style so delicious.
The coffee maple stout had a medium body with maple flavor dominating and subtle nutty coffee notes on the finish. I found this a bit too sticky sweet for me and could have used more intense coffee flavor. The imperial stout with cinnamon and chocolate had a strong cherry malt character with cinnamon and fudge notes on the finish. Some of the sweetness lingered on the tongue.
While I enjoyed the over-the-top flavors available at Southern Grist, many purists would complain that they don’t have any excellent base styles. I might have brought home a crowler of their berry cobbler sour if they were selling it to-go and came back the following day to enjoy more of it.
Berry Cobbler Sour
Strawberry Cake DIPA
Smith and Lentz
Smith and Lentz is known more for being a stickler to traditional styles though they still had quite a few interesting offerings on when I visited. It was also their second anniversary so they had a few options they rarely have like the barrel aged schwartz. They had a good spacious tasting room and plenty of seating.
The Vesethius Pale was hazy yellow with a citrus forward aroma and light herbal hop finish. It was a decent hazy pale but the hop flavors were fairly muted and the herbal bite overpowered it. The cheer beer was a strange one with cinnamon and cherry added. It had mild notes of caramel and cinnamon with a hint of cherry and a light acidic finish. This is one sort of holiday style beer I don’t generally care for but it was recommended to me by the server.
The smoked porter was nice and balanced with mild smoke and notes of dark fruit and a smooth finish. The barrel aged schwartz was thin and packed tons of bourbon flavor. The Brokedown Pallet was good and juicy with notes of tropical fruit hops and a light mineral finish. Like other beers I could have used a more intense hop aroma on this one.
If you are coming for flights, keep in mind Smith and Lentz doesn’t allow you to order individual tasters so you have to get 4 at a time. The smoked porter indicated to me that these guys know how to make more subtle styles of beer. By the time I was done with my first flight though I didn’t care to order a second so instead I got two half taster splashes.
When I visited, Bearded Iris had nothing but IPAs on tap. Even the festbier they had was heavily hopped. They had three beers available for cans to-go but I didn’t taste anything so impressive that I wanted to bring IPAs back to San Diego. The locals seemed to quite enjoy their beers. They don’t order flights so you can either order half pours or full pours.
The homestyle IPA was soft and flavorful with notes of citrus, tropical fruit, pine, and some overripe fruit on the finish. The epicenter IPA was dank and acidic with a cloudy orange appearance. It had notes of tangerine and low bitterness on the finish. The Chasing Rainbows had notes of melon, a light acidic finish, and a soft mouthfeel. Both IPAs, though hazy, were lacking in the intense aroma that makes the style so enjoyable.
The Attention Please DIPA had an intense citrus punch with a mild dank resin base and an acidic finish. The Chief of Chiefs DIPA had a soft body and notes of citrus. Like the IPAs above, teh double IPAs lacked the intense hop aroma punch as well. They weren’t bad but they were fairly muted in flavor. None of them really stood out as significantly better than the other.
Bearded Iris is a good stop for hazy IPAs though they still have some way to go before they are worth traveling for from much outside the area. As far as breweries making hazy IPAs go, they are fairly average compared to breweries nationally. This is not a stop for someone who is not a hop head as they seem to be doing little else besides IPAs.
Come for soft modern IPAs. They don’t seem to be brewing much else.
Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney serving clients in San Diego California.