Beer Maverick

Coronado Brewing Co., Imperial Beach

A very busy restaurant/pub across the street from Imperial Beach Pier.

My normal modus operandi when I do a brewery review is to order a flight and give an account of my entire experience, from parking to service to the beer. “Plan B” is to have a single pint (or two) if I have had the beer before in other contexts. This time I didn’t do either of those things: I struggled to park, took some pictures while walking in, found the restroom, saw that every table and bar seat was full, thought about getting in line to order but saw that the line was at least fifteen deep, and walked out.

I have, of course, had quite a bit of Coronado beer–for example, when I visited their Bay Park brewing facility. In fact, I had just imbibed a can of Easy Up Pale Ale (5.2% ABV; very drinkable, nicely hopped, 3.5/5) at the end of a long day of sailboat racing on San Diego’s South Bay when I decided to check out the Imperial Beach location of Coronado Brewing.

Parking in Imperial Beach is a pain at the best of times; on a beautiful mid-summer Saturday at around 5pm, well, as they might say on the Jersey Shore, fuggetabowtet. The whole area is packed. Count on having to park several blocks away from the beach. I got lucky to find a 20-minute parking spot on the street near the pier. The parking lot at Coronado is laughably small (six spaces, I think).

The inside is nicely if modestly turned out. There’s a cash register to the left of the bar, which is where you order (as far as I could tell; they could use some “order here” signs) before you take a seat. If you can find a seat. There were booths and tables along the windows, but not many.

Clearly they are doing good business, as much or more than they can handle. If it were my place, I would immediately renovate to add more seating. I’d also train my bar staff better, who seemed (from my brief observation) to move very slowly and to not be very attentive to customers. They could be pouring a lot more pints while people wait for a table.

The result of my in-and-out experience is that I can’t comment on the food, or the service, or the beer. I guess I’ll try again the next time I’m in Imperial Beach. On the up side, they are clearly drawing crowds so they must be doing something right (or at least, their location across the street from the pier gives them a guaranteed crowd). On the downside, the place is too small to meet the demand. Coronado’s beer is generally good, though it typically skews fairly “middle of the road.”

You may have heard that Coronado just bought the East Village’s well-regarded Monkey Paw Brewing. Monkey Paw is now a sub-brand of Coronado, in the way that Alpine Beer Company is a sub-brand of Green Flash. You may also have heard that Coronado is opening a second location in Imperial Beach at the new Bikeway Village development–it sounds awesome and I look forward to checking it out.     875 Seacoast Dr., Imperial Beach, CA 91932