New Brew on Sunday- Burning Beard Brewing Company
Where: 785 Vernon Way | El Cajon, California
Cost: Taster $2.00 | Pint $4.00-$6.00 | Crowler $10.00-$12.00 | Growler $18.00-$19.00
About: Named for a song by one of the brew crew’s favorite blues-rock bands, Clutch, Burning Beard Brewing opened their tasting room doors on Leap Day, 2016.
Founded by two home brewing friends, Mike Maass and Jeff Wiederkehr, the brewery occupies a beautifully remodeled block and steel building just south of Gillespie Field Airport in El Cajon.
The tasting room is cool inside, temperature-wise as well as fashionably. With a solid wood bar and wood furniture, interesting artwork, a high sheet metal ceiling, cozy corner booth, and tall windows overlooking a shady patio and Vernon Way, it is a great place to taste brewery-fresh beers. It’s my kind of place. There is even a jukebox stocked with the brew team’s favorite music. And no TVs!
The brewhouse is separated from the tasting room by a windowed wall, but you can easily view the new 15-barrel Premier system and its 30-barrel fermenters.
There is also a separate barrel aging room to see, with two new foeders and rows of used French oak wine barrels for wild ales.
What I Drank: I tasted a flight of four of the brewery’s “opening lineup” brews: Dankness Visible IPA (7% ABV/62 IBU); Hopmata IPA (7% ABV/70 IBU); Holy The Voyd Stout (6% ABV/32 IBU); and Ingsoc Russian Imperial Stout (9% ABV/82 IBU). The two stouts are available on nitro, which is how I tasted them. My tasting notes follow:
Dankness Visible IPA- Hazy, copper color with a medium white head. Prominent aromas and flavors of citrus, pine, and tropical fruit. Medium-bodied with a smooth texture and nice carbonation; clean, dry finish. Quite refreshing.
Hopmata IPA- Hazy, golden color with a medium white head. Aroma is fruity, herbal, earthy, piney, and citrusy. Flavor is floral and citrusy. It has a strong hop kick, and finishes clean. It is the epitome of a West Coast IPA.
Holy The Voyd Stout- Color of black coffee, opaque, with tall tan head. Roasted coffee, grainy, bittersweet chocolate aromas. Big roast coffee bean flavor with hints of vanilla, sweet cream, and chocolate. Mouthfeel is creamy, silky, and full. The smooth, clean finish makes it a delicious morning stout.
Ingsoc Russian Imperial Stout- Jet black color, opaque, with a medium, tan head. Aromatics are subtle, but coffee and chocolate characteristics are definitely present. Flavor is intensely bitter, with notes reminiscent of unsweetened chocolate and burnt coffee. Mouthfeel is full-bodied, smooth, silky, with a bitter aftertaste.
Likes: Good service (from one of the founders), flavorful beers, and a comfortable tasting room. Shady patio. Parking is right out front. Interesting music. Clean restrooms. Mobile caterers occasionally park out front (MexiCoast Grill was there when I visited the brewery).
The Verdict: Recommended. Burning Beard Brewing is a welcome addition to the San Diego craft beer scene. Open just a few weeks, they are already producing refreshing, easy to drink beers. I will be returning to taste additional beers that are coming available, including a lager and two Belgian-style beers.