A few months back, I made my first visit to Acoustic Ales as part of a San Diego Beer Week marathon day. My intentions were to include it as a highlight and capture notes for a subsequent article where I could share my insights in greater detail. This was something of a tactical misstep on my part. This wasn't my first beer stop of the day and my capacity for conscientiously taking notes was fairly diminished. Here are a couple of the more brilliant insights I captured that day:
"Witte Snake-hahaha "
"I like eggs"
Of course, owner Tommaso Maggiore wasn't exactly helping things by continuing to stack new beers in front of me, but I feel it's incumbent on me to return his generosity by unearthing whatever disjointed recollections I can summon up.
Despite the liberal application of sheet metal in the Acoustic Ales tasting-room decor, it retains the cozy feel of a neighborhood coffeehouse. That's partly because sizable windows draw revitalizing sunlight that urge you to lounge in one of the adjacent loveseats rather than camp out at the bar. It imparts the sense of visiting a café rather than stepping into the belly of a brewery, and it simply feels more inviting.
If you arrive at Acoustic Ales needing to shake off those "I had too much beer for breakfast" doldrums like me, I strongly urge you start with the Willow Wolves IPA. It has a moderate touch in ABV but delivers an invigorating hop wallop to kick-start your palate. In fact, if you had to choose one guidepost to steer your Acoustic Ales experience, I would say to favor the hoppier offerings. The sweeter ales are where Acoustic tends to do the most of its experimentation suggested in its logo. I'm by no means a proponent for adherence to Reinheitsgebot, but I imagine beers including marshmallows, ginger or Oreos are likely to draw reactions on either extreme.
I particularly enjoyed that Acoustic had three casks and two nitro lines available in its taps. It's always pleasant to experience the same beer with varying textures and nuances, but often the only window to do so is the odd cask night at a brewpub. I happened to be there while wet-hop season was taking off, so the casks were rife with hop-augmented versions of core beers, some of which the website surprisingly indicates are still available. I'm not sure how those would fare this many months later, but without tasting them, I can't really comment.
The Acoustic Ales tasting room is oddly positioned between larger activity hubs in San Diego, but being adjacent to the Green Line trolley stop (in Mission Hills, west of Interstate 5) makes it uniquely suited to include on any trip in or out of downtown. Granted, it's probably better for pre-partying, given that it closes at 9 p.m. most nights, but if you tend to wrap up your drinking before street lights come on, as I do, there are far worse last calls.