Beer Maverick

Oggi’s Pizza and Brewing Co., Mission Valley

One of SD’s original craft brewpubs, Oggi’s has lost their way.

Oggi’s has lost their way.

Oggi’s played an important part in the history of the craft beer movement in San Diego. Starting out as a pizza joint and adding brewing in 1995, they were the eighth craft brewing location in the county, along with Karl Strauss (x2), San Marcos, Pizza Port, Coronado, and San Diego Brewing.

Two paths diverged in a wood, as they say. Oggi’s “OG” location (sorry, couldn’t resist) started brewing the same year as AleSmith opened. AleSmith has gone on to have a huge production facility and wide distribution, with a reputation for excellent beers. Oggi’s has become a large chain, with 18 locations (8 in San Diego County). Oggi’s has a legacy in beer, too: Their website claims, “With 45 medals in international, national and regional competitions, Oggi’s is one of the most decorated breweries in the world.”

Well, maybe, but what have you done for us lately, Oggi’s? When I visited the Mission Valley location, six of the eight beers on the menu had won awards, with a collective total of 24 medals listed. But only eight of the medals were from the last five years; one from 2016 and three from 2015. Is there a statute of limitations on claiming that a beer is award-winning? Especially when brewers, equipment, recipes, suppliers, etc., may have changed?

Oggi’s beer legacy may be officially over, in any case. The brewing system has been removed from the Mission Valley location (sold to a Canadian company, I’m told), and now they are contracting with Left Coast to produce all their beers. Green Flash brews Alpine, so contract brewing doesn’t always mean bad beer. But certainly Oggi’s should stop calling themselves a brewery. New management took over the Mission Valley location in November 2016, and a major renovation/refresh is in the works for later in 2017. The plan is to expand the bar area and add up to 30 taps. So they’ll still be all about pizza and beer, just mostly beer that is not their own brand.

Speaking of the pizza, it is mediocre at best. For a sports bar that specializes in pizza and beer to have an average Yelp rating of 3 out of 5 stars means that something is seriously wrong. People like sports, and pizza, and beer. Common Yelp complaints include low quality ingredients and poorly cooked meals. My toppings were quite undercooked, probably due to the fact that the thin, cheap crust cooks too quickly so they can’t leave it in the oven long enough. There is an Oggi’s on the campus of SDSU that makes even worse pizza, however.

I must give Oggi’s kudos for flight presentation. Samples are placed on the appropriate spots on a laminated card with beer names and detailed descriptions. Samples themselves are poured into pilsner-type glasses that look large (I was told 4 oz but I would have guessed larger) and look good. I wish every tasting room would do it this way.

The bar staff I interacted with were friendly and helpful, so the new management seems to have fixed the service problem that Yelpers had been complaining about.

I’ll wait until the remodel is done and then give them one more shot. If the pizza doesn’t improve, and if the beer doesn’t get a little better, I see no reason to go back after that. It will be the end of an era in San Diego.

California Gold (Cream Ale, 4.5% ABV). Mouthfeel, taste and aroma of a pilsner. Drinkable but not special. Five medals but most recent was 2013.  2.75/3

Sweet Spot Hefewiezen (5.2% ABV). Very strong banana/bubblegum esters, sweetness and carbonation make it like a shandy. Clear straw (barely cloudy, contrary to description). 2.25/5

Hoppily Ever After (IPA, 6.3% ABV). My only note was “okay.” In a sea of high quality IPAs, that doesn’t cut it. 3/5

Black Magic Stout (6.7% ABV). This is a quality stout. Three medals in the last two years, and a consistent award winner for almost a decade. It might be just a little too roasty. 3.75/5

Double Up IPA (DIPA, 8.5%). I didn’t think much of this one. 2.75/5

Barrel Aged Double Up IPA (BBA DIPA). Barrel aging certainly does not help this beer. The sour/whiskey flavors fight the base beer, and almost all the hoppiness is gone. 2.5/5     2245 Fenton Parkway, Suite 101, San Diego, CA 92108