I crew on a sailboat for Wednesday evening races down on Coronado Cays. Traffic can be pretty bad getting over the bridge at 5 p.m., so last Wednesday I went down in the early afternoon and parked my laptop at a table at the Coronado Brewing tasting room in Imperial Beach.
I had been to this location before, but that other time I was unable to get a seat because it was so crowded; in fact, I couldn’t even get to the bar to order a beer. It turns out Wednesdays in June are a lot less crowded than Saturdays in July. The place was about one-third full when I arrived and it started filling up around 4pm, once people were done at the nearby beach or had gotten off work.
Coronado doesn’t brew at this location, just at the Bay Park production brewery and at the original Coronado Brew Pub. They were pouring only about a dozen of their beers, mostly the core offerings. Coronado has carved a nice niche for itself making flavorful but approachable beers for a wide consumer base interested in easy-to-drink and refreshing “beach beers”, many of which they package in cans. They also make some excellent smaller batch beers. One of my favorite Coronado beers is Stingray, a double IPA (7% ABV) that I think gets better and better over time: I had it in a six pack a few weeks ago and rated it a very flavorful 4.25/5. On this occasion, since I didn’t want to be too toasty for the race, I went with an Easy Up Pale Ale, 5.2%. It is hoppy for a pale ale, in the west coast way; refreshing, not challenging. Just the ticket for a hot day at the beach where beer is an accompaniment, not the focus. I rate it a 3.5/5. I had a similar reaction to Coastwise IPA later on at the yacht club: It was kind of ordinary, for lack of a better term. But it was well made and refreshing after the sailing race. 3.5/5 Plus, we won!
The interior of the Coronado Brewing IB tasting room is clean and comfortable; it is nothing fancy but there are large tables for groups and lots of light from the front wall of windows. There are just a few seats at the bar. The bathrooms are nice.
Service was a little weak. There is no signage to explain that you have to order at the register and then they deliver food to the tables, and the waitress seemed a little put out to have to explain it to me. The bartender was also apparently uninterested in talking about the beers (at least to me; the young woman at the other end of the bar seemed to get friendlier service, imagine that). I guess there isn’t much incentive for staff to go the extra mile when there is an automatic crowd, most of whom are tourists who won’t return soon anyway. It is interesting that I noticed this sort of problem last year, too, and things are still the same.
The relatively small food menu is pub fare with some Mexican offerings. I tried the chicken strips. It was a larger portion than I had anticipated for an appetizer, so they are definitely shareable, but I wasn’t too impressed with the flavor and they came out a little overcooked.
The parking lot is very small; I ended up on the street even though they weren’t very busy when I arrived.
https://coronadobrewing.com/locations-new/imperial-beach-restaurant/ 875 Seacoast Dr., Imperial Beach, CA 91932