Beer Maverick

Chula Vista Brewery, Chula Vista

There is good #craftbeer in #SanDiego’s South Bay.

If you have never looked at the City of San Diego’s weird boundaries, open up Google Maps and click on the “San Diego” label. You’ll see how big it is for one thing, but also that it is discontinuous: Between downtown and the areas right next to the border there is a slice that is not part of the city, including most of Coronado, Imperial Beach, National City, and Chula Vista. If anyone knows why those areas aren’t part of the City of San Diego, I’d be interested to hear about it. In any case they ARE in San Diego County, so I get to include them in my brewery quest.

Chula Vista Brewing, which just opened in May on Third Avenue, was recently joined by its new neighbor across the street, Thr3e Punk Ales. (Here’s the announcement.) They seem both slightly out of place among the cinciniera stores and yet perfectly at home in their neighborhood. Although it is just four miles to Bay Bridge Brewing, the only other craft brewery in the immediate area, it seems a world away. On Third Avenue you are in a bustling “main street” sort of area that has life and energy, rather than tucked away in an industrial park.

Chula Vista Brewery is in an older building, to which they have added big windows opening to the street. There is quite a lot of seating at tables, though the bar only has six or seven stools. The brewing system is slightly hidden away in the back but is still visible from the main room. It isn’t the most polished place I’ve seen in terms of interior design but it is perfectly comfortable. They aren’t trying to be anything more than a tasting room.

And they do the tasting room thing really well. Customer service is excellent: I had a nice time chatting with Liz, the beertender/assistant manager, and she gave me a free bag of pretzels (not to mention a couple of extra splashes of beers I didn’t include in my flight). The beer menu includes ten varieties at the moment. Flights of four are served in a metal basket to which they clip a list of the beers you ordered.

I enjoyed the beer. Since the place is new, there is room to dial in a few things still, but you can tell the brewer has plenty of experience (he has formerly worked at Rock Bottom and Ballast Point) and that the beer quality will be high. Some of the brews were so new I had to create the entries on Untappd.

J.J. Pale (English Style Pale Ale, 5.2% ABV). An homage to the rock legend J.J. Cale. This was on the board as an ESP (English Style Pale) and on Untappd as an English Mild; I’m not sure it is strictly either of those things. It is highly malty and lightly hopped with toffee and cereal notes. 3/5

Ruby Red (Red Ale, 5.2% ABV). Malty, flavorful, but a little thin. Not quite dialed in I think, but pretty good.  3.25/5

3rd Avenue (Robust porter with cold press coffee, 6% ABV). The coffee was dominant but balanced with the porter. Quite good.  3.5/5

South Bay (Brown Ale, 6% ABV). A solid brown ale. Oats give it a round mouthfeel. It has nicely malty flavors and a slight sharpness.  3.5/5

I also tried an Imperial IPA that was quite good, and a Lemon Ginger Wheat Beer that would be very refreshing on a hot day. Broadway, a Belgian table beer (5% ABV), was brewed with Benchmark Brewing‘s version in mind; it is a very good beer, with just subtle hints of Belgian yeast. (Using Benchmark as a benchmark means you are setting very high standards.)

I look forward to seeing how this neighborhood and this brewery develop as craft beer destinations. Things are off to a good start.     294 3rd Ave, Chula Vista, CA 91910