Rip Current’s San Marcos brewery occupies a corner location in its commercial strip mall, which gives it floor to ceiling windows on two sides. The interior isn’t high art but it is just fine. On my visit they had fancied things up a bit with small fabric Xmas trees on the tables and a few other decorations. It was nice. This is the sort of place you come for the beer, not the atmosphere, anyway. (Though honestly, breweries, why can’t we get both?)
The beer, I am happy to say, *IS* high art. There’s a reason Rip Current won Small Brewery of the Year at GABF 2015. The beer I tried on this visit leaned dark, and I think it was even better than their beer when I had it at the North Park location just over a year ago near the beginning of my brewery quest.
Java Storm (Imperial Porter, 11.5% ABV). Coffee melds perfectly with the deep malt. 4/5
Vanilla Storm (Imperial Porter, 11.5% ABV). Maybe even better than the base Java Storm. The vanilla lends a cream ale element to this robust stout. 4/5
Hazardous Hazelnut (Porter, 6.9% ABV). Another stunner. Hazelnut comes through perfectly. End of mouthfeel comes out a little thin, holding back my rating. 3.75/5
Bourbon Barrel Aged Black Lagoon (BBA Scottish Ale, 13% ABV). Usually BBA on an already-alcoholic beer is a gimmick. Not here. BBAging here adds depth, mellowness, toffee, raisin. Just beautiful. 4.5/5
Coconut Barrel-Aged Rescue Buoy (Russian Imperial Stout, 13% ABV). I only made one note on this: “Crazy good.” 4.25/5
Another reason to come here is the service and the crowd. The bartender was friendly, helpful, fast and attentive. Can’t ask for much more than that! And the other folks enjoying the beer were mostly locals who love the place. Interactions were fun. I happened to sit at the bar near another massive Star Wars fan; he was six and I was seven when we saw the original in the theaters and the whole world changed. We chatted about our hopes for the new movie, which we were both going to see the next day. (For the record, I was not at all disappointed when I saw it.)
Getting to the location is a bit of a hassle (it one of those places you can only get to by going past and doing a U-turn, unless you happen to be coming from the one good direction). There is plenty of parking.
You definitely need to drink Rip Current beer.
ripcurrentbrewing.com 1325 Grand Ave #100, San Marcos, CA 92078