Jan. 15 2016 04:28 PM

Second Chance Beer delivers big flavor from a small batch

Beer flight at Second Chance Brewing Company
Photo by Beth Demmon

Despite a beer menu numbering in the single digits, five-month-old Second Chance Beer Company (15378 Avenue of Science, #222) in Rancho Bernardo has already claimed a highly sought after—and well-deserved—spot in the upper ranks of the San Diego craft-brewing scene.

Part of its success is thanks to brewmaster and co-founder Marty Mendiola's excellent reputation, dedication to the industry, decades of brewing experience and numerous industry awards. But most of it can be credited to its already stellar output of beers that range from 4.7 to 8.8 percent ABV. With instantly revered sessionable creations like the front-running favorites Tabula Rasa toasted porter (6.2 percent ABV) and Seize the IPA (6.5 percent ABV), it's no surprise that Second Chance's first impression is nothing short of stupendous.

However, it's Second Chance's Small Batch beers that tip the scales from skilled foreplay into orgiastic ecstasies. Each one of them provides hedonistic pleasure to a variety of beer enthusiasts, but of the three Small Batch creations, it's the coconut-forward variation of Tabula Rasa known as Coco Rasa that has been voted Most Likely to Drop Your Panties by a survey of one—me.

Coco Rasa's biting, back-of-tongue sweetness provides bigger washes of cocoa and vanilla than coconut right off the bat. Its luxuriously thick mouthfeel is reminiscent of espresso-laced dark chocolate rather than syrupy stickiness, and while its opaque color doesn't quite make it to a midnight black, we'll call it an even 11:30 p.m.

Coco's smooth pour and malty aroma starts off strong and carries through the entire perfectly carbonated draught. Forgive me if I wax poetic, but to achieve this level of balance and flavor in a beer still in its infancy is a revelation. It's lascivious but not crass, cloying but not crude. Even casual drinkers who aren't blessed with an advanced palate will recognize this as an ambrosial triumph.

As it slowly inches its way down, Coco (we're on a first name basis now) clings ever so slightly to the glass like a silken robe slithering southward during an erotic striptease. Its mouthwateringly authentic decadence comes solely from the coconut, cocoa and vanilla infusions in the original Tabula Rasa porter, keeping it at the original ABV without tipping the sugar scales into a higher alcohol content. This polyamorous union of chocolate, vanilla and coconut harmonizes beautifully with roasted malts and light hops.

For now, Second Chance brews are only available on draft at places such as Bottlecraft in Little Italy, Urge Gastropub in Rancho Bernardo and URBN Street Brewing Company in El Cajon. But with a mobile canning line on the way, locals can count on four 16-ounce canned selections (including the original Tabula Rasa) to hit bottle shops soon. Plus, with a gigantic space to grow into and an eye for expansion, a barrel-aging program can't be too far behind.

You don't have to be a self-indulgent beer geek to appreciate the art coming out of Second Chance. You just have to be willing to close your eyes and swallow.


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