The Original 40 opened just East of North Park brewing company, not far from the tasting room where Chuck Alek was before they closed. They have a large indoor space with a full menu though at least initially the food is not available until 5PM. The brewery gives Chris Gillogly a chance to explore new styles after coming from a stint at Mikkeller San Diego and Groundswell before that. From the few beers I tried, it will be a welcome addition to a fairly crowded neighborhood.
I stopped by on a Saturday afternoon and it was quiet enough to be peaceful to enjoy a pint. But as it got later into the evening and the place started filling up, it became uncomfortably loud as many places in the area tend to get. Thankfully they didn’t have any loud music to make things even more intense. I started with their German style pilsner, which was crisp and well made. The beer had notes of orange blossom honey and a crisp dry finish with a light bitterness. This lager is offered along side a Mexican style lager that I didn’t try.
There were lots of hazy IPA options available but I went for one made along with Pure Project Brewing based on input from friends who had visited recently. The beer had a nice thick creamy body for 6% and tons of juicy papaya, mango, and orange peel to round it out. I hope they manage to add a similar beer to their rotation. They also had a big imperial stout when I visited that was made along with Horus Aged ales and so dosed with incredible amounts of cacao nibs and vanilla beans. Though delicious I don’t know if I would have ordered more than one at $7 for a 4oz pour. Other tasters were the now standard price of $3 each.
I was overall impressed by the beers I had and hope that The Original 40 is successful. Along their house beers they had a few guest taps including something from Burning Beard and Societe and a few alcoholic kombucha options. I didn’t eat any food during my visit because the kitchen wasn’t open yet and they didn’t seem to have a lot of vegan options.
Mason Ale Works is a brewery I haven’t covered mostly because when restaurants add in a brewery after the fact, it seems like an after thought. I saw that they had opened a new tasting room not far from New English Brewing company up in a residential area of Carmel Valley that I had never visited before. I made my way out on a warm Summer day to see if the space was worth returning to.
First off, a note on service. Regular readers know I don’t usually say much about service because beer is what matters. But the person serving me during my visit to Mason Ale Works seemed to really hate my questions about the beers. One question I asked was how their flagship beer was different than the Rye IPA and I got a curt reply that “It is an IPA with Rye.” He either really wanted me to buy a flight or didn’t know his beers enough to give serious answers. Either way, this is not typical in the San Diego beer scene. As some of you may know, I stopped ordering flights once $3 tasters became common. Even with the slight discount, 4 tasters here is $10, which is more than I want to spend for that much beer.
Beer wise, I started with a pint of their session IPA which thankfully kicked (I got the last of the keg). At first I thought great, a free half pint. But I couldn’t even drink more than 1/4 of what I was served before going up to pay for a pint of something else. While I generally complain about San Diego session IPAs being overly bitter, this one was just overly tasteless. Or to put it another way, completely lacking in any hop character at all. They might as well have simply called it a session ale but even then it was overly sweet and extremely generic. Thankfully the other beers I tasted were good.
I was with my mom on this visit and since she has been avoiding hoppy beers lately I ordered her a pint of the Mexican Lager. While not the best lager I’ve had, it was still quite good, and had a lot more flavor than the session IPA I started with. The beer had a nice dry finish and a light hop kick. I finished with a pint of their core IPA. While described as a typical West Coast IPA it was thankfully a more modern take on the style, meaning less bitterness than was standard when the style first became popular. It was a nice example of the style and had prominent grapefruit notes with mild resin in the background.
As for the space, they had air conditioning inside and a nice shady outdoor area in the back. The breeze was cool enough that the outdoor seating was perfectly pleasant. If I lived within walking distance I could see myself returning but since it is a bit far from anything else, I likely won’t return very often. For those of you who don’t like beer, they also serve wine and spirits.
Grimm is one of the more hyped Brooklyn area breweries, almost to the level of Other Half. They are also the one brewery I visited that we get in distribution in San Diego, often for their pop series of beers, fruited kettle sours made with lactose for sweetness. The tasting room was a moderate walk from KCBC and while busy was not excessively so. Knowing now how busy Threes can get, I would have preferred to have stayed a bit longer before moving on.
I wasn’t in the mood for hazy IPAs at the time so I skipped the hazy double IPAs and went straight for some barrel aged sours. I had previously had only their kettle sours. I started with William of Okham, a nice oak aged golden ale that had notes of lemon and white cake with nice restrained acidity. I finished with a taster of Spooky Action, a beer inspired by the Belgian Oud Buin style, a sour red ale often brewed with cherries. It was much more mellow than most versions, lacking the intense acidity or strong vinegar taste that it often exhibits. The beer was a lovely blend of caramel malts and mild cherry notes.
I left Grimm with a bottle of one of their pastry stouts, a beer inspired by pecan pancakes. I am excited to share this beer with my Husband. Like Other Half, Grimm appeared to have a variety of beers left over from prior releases so there was a wide selection of beers available to go.
Known for: Come for fruited kettle sours, big pastry stouts, and hazy double IPAs.
Threes was the closest brewery to my Airbnb. What I didn’t expect was just how slammed it would be on a warm sunny day. Because they have an outdoor seating area, they get especially crowded on a warm sunny day. Perhaps this time was more so because rain was forecasted for the next few days. This was one of the most crowded brewery experiences I’ve had. It was standing room only and even more crowded in their outdoor area. A few lucky groups with tables were also those who had ordered food.
I ordered a pint of the table beer, a delicious session saison with mild citrus notes. I quickly finished the beer and bought two four packs to go, one of the pilsner, and one of the foeder fermented pilsners. I was eager to get out and sit somewhere. I had a can of each of the two pilsners back in my room and enjoyed both of them, especially the foeder fermented one.
Given you can find cans from Threes at grocery stores around the city, I may not visit the brewery directly again. It gets quite crowded, even more than Other Half.
I had not heard of Folksbier before the day I visited Other Half. I had planned to meet up with another beer fan. While things didn’t work out, he suggested Folksbier for after Other Half. Since it was just a short walk down the street and not as hyped, I happily stopped by after leaving Other Half.
Folksbier serves food and has more of an upscale vibe to it than Other Half. I immediately ordered the Berliner Weisse, as I have been craving a satisfying version for some time. This particular version was made with a blend of multiple citrus fruits. The citrus gave it a lovely tart flavor but didn’t overpower the complex base beer, which was a nice mix of funky and tart. I enjoyed this beer so much that I ordered two pours before I left.
After the first beer I was ready for a lager and trusted the Helles would be excellent. The helles was so good my only disappointment is I didn’t immediately order a full 14 ounce pour. The beer was soft and delicious with notes of hay and citrus. The only other beer that came close in flavor during this trip was the Foeder aged pilsner from Threes brewing.
Since I didn’t get to try their IPAs during my stop, I don’t know if they were any good but I would especially recommend this spot to those looking to try traditional styles, the opposite of Other Half’s hyped hazy IPAs and pastry stouts.
Known For: Come to Folksbier for classic German styles done well. They also have a few hoppy beers.
KCBC is short for Kings County Brewers Collective. I made the trek out because they came highly recommended by a friend and were not far from Grimm. (It is about a mile walk between the two). I started with their lager, which was fairly standard but good enough. The beer had a nice soft body but didn’t have the same level of flavor as the helles the previous day, perhaps due to a lower amount of hops used.
I next ordered their beer called Iceberg Zombie, a Berliner Weisse with tons of berry character. I found this the more impressive of the two. The beer had prominent berry acidity and a nice dry finish. It had just the right amount of fruit so as to not overpower the base beer but also not so subtle you barely notice it.
I liked the fairly open tasting room though even at half capacity it got quite noisy. They had a wide variety of cans available. Though I could have gotten a crowler of Iceberg Zombie, I’m glad I didn’t because I had quite a bit of walking ahead of me.
KCBC is known for their big double IPAs but they also can make an excellent fruited Berliner weisse.
I previously visited Other Half during a visit to NYC during June of 2017 in which I also visited Kane and LIC Beer Company. Since that visit I have had Other Half beer at a few beer festivals. I have been impressed every time both by the incredible triple IPAs and barrel aged stouts. Most recently I enjoyed Other Half’s beers at a festival organized by Horus Aged Ales and Hop Culture. This introduced me to the triple daydream series, which I did not realize at the time meant they added lactose to the beer. It was much more subtle than the usual addition.
I was glad to see that during the time I was going to be in Brooklyn this year Other Half was likely to have cans available of Triple Mosaic Daydream and DDH Citra Daydream. I was not surprised one bit when the tasing room was packed on a Friday night. It seems to be packed most nights but especially around the weekends. Prepared for that, I ordered tasters of two triple daydreams that I did not plan to pick up in cans (Nelson and Citra) and enjoyed those tasters before leaving with my four packs of cans. Though I generally avoid tasters at breweries now, Other Half is one of the few spots where the triple IPAs are priced the same per ounce for tasters as for half pours.
Both Nelson and Citra triple daydreams were incredible and burst with hop flavors that I expect when I hear of those two hops. Triple Nelson Daydream reminded me of some recent Nelson hop beers from Cellarmaker. Triple Citra Daydream was similar with a slightly more citrus forward character. Both beers were thick and creamy with just a hint of sweetness from the lactose. Note: from rumors I have read, it is difficult to tell if the lactose used in beers is from actual cow milk or simply synthetic sweetener. The amount used in these beers is fairly minimal compared to other big stouts that use the same type of lactose. If the addition of any amount of lactose bothers you, then you might want to avoid visiting Other Half.
Though Other Half had a few stouts available, none of them were barrel aged so I stuck to the two daydreams I ordered and left shortly after that to another nearby brewery. I could only stand so much of the boisterous and somewhat claustrophobic atmosphere. Despite the crowds, I was glad to see that the limits of the cans had gone up since my last visit, though I would be unlikely to leave with more than 4 four packs from a spot unless I planned to uber back.
After leaving the brewery, I have enjoyed cans of both of the beers I picked up. I also shared a few cans with friends, including one who resisted the idea of wanting to try a triple IPA. Both beers lived up to my expectations. This is the one brewery whose triple IPAs I crave and jump at the chance to try. The triple mosaic daydream was similar from the can to the other two mentioned above but tended more towards notes of ripe melon.
Other Half remains one of my top 5 hazy IPA breweries in the country years after my previous trip. It is no wonder that their beers are still regularly traded. Their beers deftly highlight the flavors of hops that drew most people into the hazy/juicy IPA style in the first place.
Known for: Come to Other Half if you love hazy IPAs or big pastry stouts. Those are the two styles they excel at the most.