Thank goodness someone is doing something different in San Diego craft beer. Deft Brewing makes almost only European-style beers, which is a nice change from super-hopped American IPAs (and from my least favorite, the haze craze).
Set in what looks like but isn’t officially a Quonset Hut (one of those semi-circular sheet metal buildings), they have gone to some effort to make it look modern and pleasing inside. There are plenty of low tables, a good-sized patio on the side, and a longish bar. You can see the smallish brew system (they told me 3 barrel, if I remember correctly) as you walk in the front; there is plenty of room for them to expand the brewing system if needed in the future.
Located in a quiet and somewhat hidden commercial/light industrial area of the Morena neighborhood (south of Bay Park, north of the Friars Road), Deft Brewing is near an intersection of major highways but probably few people will find it by accident. It is just 0.4 miles from Ballast Point’s original Home Brew Mart location, and only a mile from the University of San Diego campus.
Deft is family and dog friendly, and friendly in general. I chatted briefly with the assistant brewer who was on bar duty as well as the owner/brewer. It was the owner’s homebrew success that led to the creation of this business venture. He lives in the area, too. Quite a San Diego craft beer story.
Although European styles are generally not my favorite, I liked everything I tried here. I stayed away from the Belgian-style beers (of which there were several) and had mostly Germanic- and British-inspired beers. Apparently, Europeans who have visited have given their seal of approval to the beer.
The Shanagary Summer (4% ABV) is a nice light red ale inspired by an Irish coastal town: 3.5/5. DeftHop Red (6.5% ABV), is one of the rare IPAs on the board: I thought it was good IPA with a nice red ale bite. Well balanced malt, hop, spice notes. Not spectacular but very solid: 3.5/5. Dussel-Deft Secret (7.5% ABV) is not like any of the alts I had in Dusseldorf, but it is decent. It is a little sweeter/maltier/more floral than I expected. Light tasting but very drinkable: 3.5/5 The other IPA on the board was also not a standard variety for San Diego: DeftHop Golden (6.5% ABV) is an English IPA with a floral/earthy tone on top of a malty backbone. Well balanced. It will please west coast hop heads even though it is not a WCIPA: 3.75/5. Finally, the oatmeal stout, Day of the Deft (5.5% ABV) is a very nice though unremarkable stout. The chocolate and coffee don’t come through for me: 3.75/5.
All in all, this new operation is off to a good start. They picked a good theme and have a good line up of beers that aren’t just copies of things you can get anywhere else. They still need to dial in a few recipes, I think, but they are already good. The service and vibe are excellent, and the tasting room is fun and comfortable. They should do well.
deftbrewing.com 5328 Banks St, San Diego, CA 92110