Rough Draft had a bit of a rough start. I almost didn’t want to go back after that first batch of beers. Thankfully, I heard that they had stepped it up and returned six months later to find a nice impressive selection of beers. I went back today to see how things were going and get some photos for this post.
To start with I had a taster of the Weekday session IPA. It drinks like a pale ale but is dry hopped like an IPA. The smooth taste will seem light if you are used to IPAs but it is perfect for those all-day drinking sessions where you might not want to start off with some IPA. It is also very popular at parties because it doesn’t have the bitter taste people associate with IPAs. It is one of the better session IPAs out there, along with Green Flash, and is a great one to drink if you want to have a few pints.
To move things along, I tried the Southern Triangle and Eraser IPAs. I stuck with tasters for these two and they were a bit lighter than I remembered. They had a nice crisp taste although weren’t too bitter like a Sculpin or the IPA over at New English. At a later visit I was able to distinguish the differences a little more. Though they are very close, the Southern Triangle has a bit more of the nelson hop flavor with heavy grapefruit while the Eraser is a bit more of a traditional west-coast style IPA. Both are beers that I return to quite regularly.
I moved on to the barrel aged strong ale. At 10% I stuck with just one 8oz pour. It had the smooth bourbon flavor you would expect. I think the strength of the beer kept it from getting an overpowering bourbon flavor like lighter beers tend to take on. The base beer has a bit of a syrupy caramel flavor and it works nicely with the bourbon.
Rough Draft is a nice place to hang out as well. It is one of the only breweries where they have couches and soft bar stools. The tasting room has a nice modern look to it and is usually at least half full. They also have a really nice lighter stout that my friends all love and a big hearty double IPA that I enjoy. They bottle most of the beers as well so you might find them in stores or pick up a bottle when you are at the brewery.
It’s been a while since I was last at this brewery. A while ago they had four or five solid beers and an ESB that I really liked but I wasn’t excited enough to head back for a long time. Thanks to a friend suggesting I try them, I stopped in for a pint after an evening bike ride and got to try two amazing beers that were up there with the best San Diego has to offer.
I got to try a 12oz of the Zumbar chocolate coffee imperial stout on cask to start. It impressed me from the nose alone and then once I got to taste it, the coffee was mostly overtaken by the bitter chocolate flavors. It had a nice bitter chocolate flavor that came through even on cask but was very mellow. I’m looking forward to coming back to taste it on tap some other time.
If you have never tried a stout or porter on cask, you are in for a treat. Both styles of beer tend to have a nice mellow flavor but the cask really smooths everything, leaving you with a creamy flavor that you can’t re-create anywhere else.
After the imperial stout on cask I went straight for the west coast style IPA called Humbly Legit. And damn, this was a legit west coast IPA. Immediately the grapefruit from the Nelson hops just hit me and I liked it. The color was in the middle between the more malty IPAs and the really hop-forward like you see from Societe’s Apprentice and Intergalactic’s Perseus. You can barely taste the malts though, and it really comes at you with that heavy hops flavor.
If you expected to be disappointed by the English style ales here, you will not find anything to hate from the Humbly Legit and the Zumbar. I also remember really enjoying the ESB the last time I was here, although I didn’t give it a fresh taste this time around. The Troopes Tipple is an English style IPA so it has a lot lighter taste than you might expect in San Diego and almost tastes like drinking a lager. Still, it has a good flavor to it that impressed the friend I came here with. Hop heads should absolutely check out the Humbly Legit.
Do you have a favorite beer at New English Brewing? Share with me in the comments.
You may not have heard about this smaller brewery out in Poway. I didn’t visit them for a long time because they had some strange hours initially. Now that I have been there I realize why the hours are not like your ordinary tasting room. They don’t serve pints. You can only order tasters and then pick up bottles of beer to take home. I have no problem with this though because the beers I was able to taste this time were quite good. It isn’t very obvious from these pictures but there is really no bar to speak of and no areas to sit down. You might even wonder if you are in the right place at first because there are offices you pass on the way inside.
I biked over so I didn’t try very many tasters. I was quite impressed with the barrel aged red ale. It reminded me of a bourbon barrel aged scotch ale that Ballast Point made years ago and I have been craving more of ever since. The double IPA was nice and balanced without too much malt flavor that can sometimes destroy a good double. The electrostatic was a solid Belgian Trippel. If you don’t like Belgian beers stay far away. For me it was not too sweet and had a nice smooth taste that really masked the higher alcohol content. The porter was not on tap but they gave me a taste from the bottles. It had a wonderful thick flavor and fit nicely in between your ordinary porter and an imperial. The chocolate flavors were really nice.
As you can see they bottle most of their beers. You might be able to find them at your local liquor store or it might be worth the trip to the brewery to buy some direct. Hop heads should check out the Imperial IPA. If you know someone who loves chocolate in porter, this one is the perfect present to share.
I’ve been visiting Ballast Point for quite a while now. IPA fans in San Diego don’t last long until they try Sculpin, what I consider one of the go-to IPAs. The Fathom India Pale Lager is also quite delicious. Today I had to visit the tasting room to try the fresh 2013 version of the Coffee Victory at Sea Imperial Porter. San Diego Beer Week was in full swing and the place was pretty crowded. I got to have a taster of the Victory at Sea 2013 as well as the Peppermint Victory at Sea on cask, the Habanero Sculpin, and the double Belgian IPA.
The coffee flavors really come through from the 2013 Victory at Sea. It is almost like drinking a shot of espresso. The peppermint version is thankfully not too overpowering on the mint and mellowed out by the cask. I bought a 22oz Victory at Sea 2013 before I left because the flavors really satisfied me. If you like the Sculpin but haven’t had the habanero version, it is an interesting beer experience. The beer is probably the hottest beer you’ll ever have but it has all the different flavors of habanero that you might expect. I don’t recommend having more than a taster though because it will really do a number on your stomach even if you are used to spicy. I had the double Belgian IPA with the habanero sculpin so I won’t try to review it at this time. I didn’t really get a good taste of it.
Sometime soon I hope to try the new Ballast Point restaurant down in Little Italy but until then I will enjoy bottles of Sculpin, Dorado, and Fathom at home.
I first tried Societe because I heard some guys telling me how amazing it was while I was over at New English Brewing. Despite it being around for a while I had never heard of it. I immediately loved the Apprentice IPA and the Widow dark Belgian style beer. Today I went back there with my Uncle who was visiting because he had never been there. We had to try some of my favorites and some beers that weren’t there the last time I was around. This is one of those breweries that doesn’t bottle stuff so you are only going to find their beers in other beer bars and at the brewery itself.
Since I was hitting up many different places today, I only had a few tasters before moving on. I had tasters of the Apprentice, Scrapper, Roustabout, Widow, and Butcher. This time what stood out to me the most is the Butcher. I really love the darker chocolate flavors it has. For hop heads, the Apprentice and Roustabout are worth trying. Both pour nice and yellow and have those up front hop flavors.