San Diego is indisputably one of, if not THE beer Capitol of the U.S. Whatever your thoughts on Stone, they were pioneers that paved the way for Green Flash, Ballast Point and many others including AleSmith.
You are going to AleSmith because you need great beer and don’t mind sitting in an otherwise average taproom to get it. AS has been rocking it for the last twenty years gathering up medals and accolades like seaweed in a swell. GABF’s Brewer of the Year in 2008 and RateBeer.com’s #1 brewery in the world based on customer reviews in 2014, a reputation driven by quality beers anchored by the legendary Speedway Stout (seek out the bourbon barrel-ages version), Wee Heavy Scotch, and obviously a West Coast IPA.
But San Diego means more than IPAs. Despite being a smaller market, the locals love their sports. In honor of Mr. Padre, the late baseball great Tony Gwynn, AS worked in collaboration with Tony right before his death to develop HID beer, a Pale infused with SoCal staples grapefruit and oranges. Labelled .394, after the best of his 8 batting title seasons, this APA is a perfect tribute to the man and the town he represented.
AleSmith has been so focused on becoming masters of the craft that they have not put much into the experience of enjoying their product at the source. The taproom is adequately comfortable and perfectly clean, but lacks some of the creature comforts found at other establishments. The room is cavelike in its lack of natural light, and little in the way of art or decor is available to stimulate your eyes with the same intensity as the tantalizing liquids rushing over your tongue. They are apparently moving into a much larger production facility soon. Hopefully they spare a little capital to embrace that most vital of California ingredients, the Sun. One word for you Team AS…. patio.
San Diego is meant for embracing your inner laid back beach bum. Cruise around the many craft beer crowd favorites. Park it in the sand, and make sure that you have a bottle of AleSmith to share.