Second Chance Beer Company, Carmel Mountain Ranch
This is one of the better tap-rooms-in-an-industrial-space that you’ll find. The big shiny brew tanks lurk in the background, while in the foreground the room is divided into several seating areas (high, low, sofa, etc.) and three corn hole “courts” (or whatever they are called). There’s long bar that is not actually a bar but makes a great place to sit and survey the whole scene (though you have to go up to the register to order). There isn’t a lot of decoration but there is enough (plus good enough lighting) that you don’t feel like you are in an empty warehouse as you do in so many tap rooms.
I visited on a Wednesday after work and it was PACKED: there must have been at least 100 people there. The corn hole intensity was high, which makes me think they run a league or something. I also saw a lot of couples on dates, and regular folks just gathering to have some beers. The impression is that there are some steady regulars and that everyone who comes has a relaxed attitude and is there to have fun. All the various games help promote that, but the best part is really just that it is easy to find a comfortable space to sit and socialize. The only caveat to that is that there is a “bro-tastic” element to this tap room as there is to most brewery-related things. A friend I ran into said he used to think of it as “Man Diego” because bars, breweries, etc., seem to skew very male in their clientele. That said, there were a lot of women present and they seemed to be enjoying themselves–the corn hole league just tipped the balance male.
The beer list is large, and they offer three curated flights: smooth/malty, specialty, and (the one I had) IPA/hoppy. I was impressed with the IPAs, and I talked to other people who were drinking other things that they also liked. The vibe here completes the experience–lots of people out to have fun, and good music to help that happen.
Legally Red (Red IPA, 7.2% ABV). I always like red IPAs, and this one is especially good. Nice balance, good flavor, very drinkable. 4/5
Seize the IPA (6.5% ABV). Seven hops = muddy flavors. There’s a hop in it (Centennial perhaps?) that literally tastes like dirt to me. I definitely wouldn’t order this again. That said, it seems to be VERY popular. The average Untapped rating is 3.7, with many people at and above 4. For me, it was only 2.75/5.
Seize the Coffee (6.5% ABV). The coffee flavor is really dominant (not quite as dominant in the aroma), and that works very well with the hop profile of the base beer. Surprisingly well–this is much better than the base beer (assuming the base beer is the same batch of Seize the IPA I tried). 4/5
Fool Me Twice (Imperial IPA, 8.8% ABV). More subtle than most IIPAs. It has a light body and flavor, and a really interesting grape/perfume taste/aroma at the back of the palette. Neither the hops nor the alcohol overpower. This would probably be my go-to here. 4/5
I should note that it is VERY unusual for me to be able to rate three of four beers in taster flight at 4/5. That tells me that this brewery is really doing something right. I’d like to go back and try some of the darker, maltier offerings.
They had a food truck out front (it was good–I had a couple of sliders and some fries). The schedule of food trucks is posted online; when they don’t have a food truck you can bring in outside food, and the website lists nearby restaurants that deliver.
Parking is good–though with weekend crowds I can imagine it filling up. Driving up, it is a little hard to see the small sign, so trust your GPS.
http://www.secondchancebeer.com 15378 Avenue of Science #222, San Diego, CA 92128