Stone’s 24 Carrot Golden Ale and 2Kids Brewing’s Winning Chocolate Stout
Photo by Beth Demmon

I like to wait a few weeks before visiting newly opened beer spots. That way, they at least have a sporting chance to get everything sorted out before I cast judgment upon them, with little-to-no hope of me ever changing my mind. In the case of Hillcrest's The Brew Project (3683 Fifth Ave.) it was about a month after Opening Day when I took the "San Diego brewery tour under one roof."

Offering an extensive overview of the San Diego beer scene is a lofty goal, but my inaugural visit started off right with one of the sharpest hostesses I've ever come across. She was followed by a server so on top of her game that when she overheard me mention that I had yet to try Stone Brewing Companyís 24 Carrot Golden Ale, a taster of it arrived in front of me within a minute.

The Brew Project's robust draft list ensures there are always plenty of local beers to choose from. Owner and resident beer expert Beau Schmitt makes sure that at least two lines are always dedicated to nitro, and the list is even kept up to date in real time via its Facebook Live Beer List.

When visiting The Brew Project, your best bet is to focus on breweries you haven't tried yet. Considering the rate of new breweries opening by the day, even seasoned beer drinkers are sure to find a few new to their palate.

For me, that was Winning Chocolate Stout by 2Kids Brewing Company (8680 Miralani Drive, #123). If I'm being totally honest, I wasn't expecting much, solely based on its graffiti-styled branding, but the creamy 6.2 percent sweet stout offered a hefty explosion of robust chocolate and coffee with the perfect amount of luscious mouthfeel. I've never been so happy to be wrong, and it just goes to show that you really can't judge a beer by its label.

Unfortunately, when followed by Colemans Stout on nitro (4.8 percent ABV) from Half Door Brewing Company (903 Island Ave.), the self-proclaimed "light body" Irish stout was practically nonexistent. Nice color for a stout, but its thin flavor left me wanting much more.

If you've been jones-ing for that great new beer release from a brewery across the county, chances are The Brew Project has it—and probably 10 more than you don't even know about yet. Once you arrive, you'll have your pick of an outdoor patio, second-story lounge (available for private parties) or bar area in which to settle back and knock back a few.

With almost 30 taps and 100 percent local beer, it's hard to believe no one has pulled off this exclusively local-centric concept before. If you're looking for a decently priced, extensive local beer selection with good food, comfortable indoor/outdoor seating, big screen TVs tuned on sports, an online bottle shop and a revolving list of taps curated by a craft beer expert, The Brew Project fits the bill.

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