Beer Maverick

Pariah Brewing Co., North Park

Pariah Brewing Co. makes high quality and unique variations on traditional beer.  RECOMMENDED

The third and final business in the North Park Brewery Igniter is open!

Located a block east of 30th on El Cajon, Pariah shares a building with San Diego Brewing (the second location for this award-winning company, with a lot more brewing capacity) and Eppig Brewing (a newcomer that has made a big splash already).

Last fall, when I went to visit Eppig, I accidentally walked into Pariah. Jesse was there working to get the place ready and told me about their long wait for permits. I gave him my card and told him I’d be back. He emailed last week to invite me down to see them, and treated me to a flight. I had a good time talking with Jesse and Ryan as they worked the bar. Brian Mitchell, owner and brewer, came to sit at the bar after a hard day’s work; his wife (sorry, I forget her name!) came by for a few minutes, too. They offered some really great insights about their approach to brewing and the beers they make. All of them clearly love what they are doing and their passion comes through in the service and quality, not to mention their willingness to talk about beer.

Brian has a lot of brewing experience (he has worked at La Jolla, Helm’s and Stone) and through that experience he has formed a specific point of view on brewing and how to serve the San Diego market. He has high standards for himself and his team. He is highly self-critical and always looking to improve–a very admirable trait.

As an example of how serious Brian is, he took a brewing tour of Belgium and northern France, where he harvested some of their yeast and had it grown up as a proprietary yeast strain at White Labs here in San Diego.

Brian told me he isn’t interested in just imitating standard styles, he wants to make excellent, creative beers. The six beers I had during my visit live up to that goal.

I was so busy enjoying chatting with everyone that I didn’t take any tasting notes, but two particular standouts for me were the Uni Stout, which is a fresh spin on an oyster stout made with sea urchin roe, and the Off White Wit, which is the first Beligan-inspired witbier that I have ever really liked. Once you know what uni is (that’s what they call sea urchin gonads in sushi restaurants), brewing with it seems pretty adventurous. Don’t let it put you off, though. It lends a subtle sea-flavor without being fishy, and to me it was mostly undetectable as a distinct ingredient in the stout (which is excellent in itself). The Wit is complex, smooth and flavorful. The strong Belgian yeast flavor I normally object to was mellowed and a mere undertone in this beer, which also has ginger, lemongrass, honey and orange. I was very impressed; the subtlety of the use of citrus reminded me of some of Mike Hess’s brews. Brian told me that the Wit evolves rapidly, so it is worthwhile coming to have one every few days if you are into that sort of thing: freshly tapped, the ginger is forward; later, the lemongrass; by the time I had it, the flavors had married to an extent that I couldn’t distinguish ginger and the whole was very smooth and delicious.

Like the other Brewery Igniter properties, the interior design is “polished warehouse” with some nice modern touches. There’s great light and air, and plenty of seating. The small parking lot is pretty much always full so plan to find some street parking (north of El Cajon is usually easier).

With the arrival of Pariah, North Park now has 14 breweries and tap rooms within a 2.7 mile walk from Fall to Thorn; you could hit nine of them in the 1 mile walk from Fall to Rip Current; or if you really want to avoid walking you could hit SIX in just 0.3 miles (Barn, Home, Belching Beaver, Eppig, Pariah and San Diego Brewing Co.). Pariah is already a contender to be in the top echelon of that group; it is definitely worth stopping in for a visit.     3052 El Cajon Boulevard, San Diego, CA  92104