The same afternoon that we went to Rouleur Brewing in Carlsbad, we dropped by Arcana Brewing, only about half a mile up the road. The difference in signage was apparent: Arcana was tricky to find given the layout of the parking lot in this commercial center, and there were no signs that we saw to guide the way. Plus, the logo outside says “Fezziwig’s Brewing”–“Arcana Brewing” appears beside it in large letters. I’m not sure if that is honoring their history, or thumbing their nose at Sam Adams for the cease-and-desist letter that forced them to change the name. (By the way, that sort of behavior by a large brewery really cheeses me off. Fezziwig is a Dickens character from A Christmas Carol–why should the fact that Sam has a seasonal beer called Old Fezziwig Ale mean that they own that name for all time and uses now?)
Arcana has made some efforts at decorating, mostly along the steampunk line, but to my eye it comes off as just another brewery in a commercial space. A little dark and messy, with decorations looking cheap or incomplete in the end. I guess they tried a bit, which is better than you can say of some places.
The “only halfway” feel of the room unfortunately also continues to the beers, in my opinion.
Sage Against the Machine (Farmhouse Ale, 7.2% ABV). This is brewed with sage, sagebrush, coriander and orange peel. It is sweet and lightly yeasty. I did not detect any sage. In fact, it didn’t taste like much. Insofar as it does, it seems confused, kind of like the name. 2.75/5
‘Merica Bacon Ale (Rauchbier, 5.5% ABV). Way too smoky, even for a rauchbier: as Sarah put it, “Like drinking a campfire, a salty campfire.” There is actually a meaty background flavor which is kind of off-putting. It gets better as you ease into it, but there is no way I could drink more than one. A gimmick beer rather than a good beer. 2.5/5
Newton’s Graff (Apple Ale, 6% ABV). An unusual style to find around San Diego. It is very like a cider, with some malt and hops elements. It is very refreshing. 3.5/5
I also ordered Infinity Stout, but I forgot to rate it. That means we were unimpressed and were heading for the door. On Untappd, though, Infinity Stout gets some very high ratings.
The bartender was very friendly and helpful, and from what I saw of the regulars this would be a comfortable place to hang out, if you find a beer you like.
arcanabrewing.com 5621 Palmer Way, Carlsbad, CA 92010