Wild Barrel Brewing surprised me as I hadn’t heard a ton about the brewery until a short time before opening. With a brewer who used to work at stone and a keen eye for what the market wants, they launched out the gate with some IPAs, massively fruity kettle sours, and a coffee stout with barrel aged stuff to come in time. You can tell when you walk in that they spent a lot of time on the layout of the space including their choice for the acoustics because it doesn’t get as loud as many breweries do when crowded.
Wild Barrel serves tasters in larger glass to give room for aromas to come through. In the crowded San Diego brewery scene this is fairly uncommon but always welcomed. I was not really that excited when I saw three fruited Berliner Weiss style beers on the board (called here San Diego Vice) but was soon glad i tried them. San Diego breweries regularly make fruited versions of this style but often with minimal amounts of fruit. Not so here. All 3 of them, cherry, blackcurrent, and guava were massively fruity with a light tart bite on the back.
These may be the most fruit flavor I’ve had in any beer of this style, surpassing my previous favorite at Georgia based Creature Comforts. If their crowlers were available I might have left with a couple of crowlers. It is hard to pick a favorite of the three because they were all so delicious.
The two IPAs available were both in the modern style though staying away from the thick hazy style so far. The single IPA was nice and citrus forward with a light bitterness and a dry finish. The double IPA was a bit more dank and resinous with a slightly thicker body and still not a ton of bitterness. The IPAs remind me of the style brewed at Protector in many ways.
The coffee stout had notes of popcorn and coffee on the nose with a fairly thin body and a nice mix of light roast, smoke, and coffee notes. I found the coffee to be a bit more subdued than I tend to enjoy but it is a nice balanced beer.
I am looking forward to see how Wild Barrel develops over the coming months and expect I will be back again regularly to see what flavors of San Diego Vice come up next. They have excited me about a style that has generally been enjoyable but not particularly exciting for me before now.
Blackcurrent San Diego Vice
Cherry San Diego Vice
Stumblefoot looks very similar to most local small breweries at a glance. It is located in an industrial park and has a fairly bare bones interior. Thankfully, they have a solid lineup of beers including a few sours and a solid coffee stout. Though IPAs aren’t as impressive as others around they have a few IPA offerings as well.
When I visited I tried their black lager (traditionally known as a schwartzbier) Red Dress porter, Back to Black IPA (a black and tan, blending the porter and the pale), San Elijo sour, Questhaven sour, Apollo double IPA, and Moho Stout.
The black lager was very nice with a light body and good roasty flavors. This was the closest I have had in San Diego to the traditional ones in Prague. As it warms up it starts to taste like root beer a little. The Red Dress porter is a bit on the fruity side with a hint of cherry in the background. I didn’t taste much chocolate like they described and it was closer to a doctor pepper or cherry coke.
The Back to Black IPA was solid considering it was a black and tan. You may like it more or less depending on who blends it for you. The version the server made for me at first was quite overpowering in the floral hop department. When one of the owners blended me one later it was a bit more balanced and tasty. It should satisfy anyone who is looking for a black IPA.
Both of the sours were quite nice. The San Elijo sour would make a great introduction to sours and the brewer described it as such. It is mostly malt forward with a fruit background. Though nice I preferred the Questhaven sour, a barrel aged variety that has some strong apricot flavor that blends nicely with the oak flavors. I almost picked up a bottle before leaving.
The Apollo double IPA was a solid double with a good combination of floral, citrus, and tropical fruits. It didn’t wow me but it should satisfy hop heads who visit this place. I ended with the Moho stout, which was a bit more traditional than the Red Dress porter. The flavors presented a nice mix of coffee and chocolate with plenty of roast on the back end.
I was most impressed by the sours here, though they seem to be doing an all-around solid job with the beers. This place is also dog friendly and we had no problem coming by with a friend’s dog we were taking care of at the time. I liked having an alternative style of sour here compared to Toolbox that didn’t do as much with the fruit flavors.
Quest Haven Sour
Apollo Double IPA