San Diego Brewpubs

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Situated in the downtown La Jolla area, La Jolla Brewing Company was filled to capacity with a young weekend crowd. The contemporary interior design featured TVs, a full-length bar, one dart board, indoor and outdoor seating, a busy kitchen, and rock music played at a volume comfortably under the pain threshold. The outside deck is quieter and during the cooler months gas heaters keep the temperature just right for year round drinking.

The Little Point Ale had a light head, deep red color, good body and hops everywhere. The Red Rooster was a deep red color, approached full-bodied, with a hoppy aroma, palate and aftertaste. The head was light but carbonation was noticeable. The Sea Lane Steam was clear, light-bodied, and refreshing. The Big Rock Bock had a strong malty flavor with a bitter aftertaste. Dark brown in color, there was a light head and a subtle sweetness. the Pump House Porter was not available, looks like another trip is in order.

Downtown San Diego is the site of Karl Strauss' Old Columbia Brewery & Grill. From the long bar and raised dining area the brew kettle and shinny fermenters are clearly visible. The modern brass and wood interior also contains the occasional photo of brewmaster Karl Strauss, well known for his tenure at a big-name U.S. brewery. Since the weekend times for public tours fell during prime beach hours, I decided to let tasting suffice.

The Lighthouse Light was a light gold color, well carbonated, yielding neither aroma nor aftertaste, but possessing a slightly hoppy palate. The Gaslamp Gold Ale had a pronounced head and carbonation, and was light gold in color. The mouthfeel seemed full but was not accompanied by any malt or hop presence. The Old Columbia Amber Lager was a deep amber color with good head retention and an even malt/hop balance. I found it light yet enjoyable. The Downtown After Dark Brown Ale was a brown color with a light malty aroma, very carbonated, and offered a smooth body, even flavor balance and no aftertaste. The Jef & Jer's Hootch was amber, medium-bodied brew with a full body and a sweet, malty aroma. It was noticeably carbonated and left a pleasant alcoholic aftertaste.

At the extreme northeast end of the city lies Callahan's Pub and Brewery. Nestled in a busy shopping mall, it was one of the more unconventional settings for a brewpub that I've come across. Their Mesa Pale Ale was very clear, with light head and a slight hop aroma. It was a very light gold color, revealed good conditioning and combined moderate carbonation with a light hoppy palate. The Black Mountain Porter displayed a light head on its black, medium body. It had an even balance and went down easily. With its food, darts, TVs, 10 tap handles, and bottles ranging from Corona to Tooth Sheaf, Callahan's offers an enticing refuge for thirsty shoppers desiring a reprieve from the rigors of mall walking.

Callahan's Pub & Brewery
8280-A Mira Mesa Boulevard
San Diego, California 92126

Karl Strauss' Old Columbia Brewery & Grill
1157 Columbia Street
San Diego, California 92101

La Jolla Brewing
7536 Fay Avenue
La Jolla, California

Reviewed by Tom Ciccateri - August, 1992

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