Photos courtesy of Fall Brewing Company
Kegs at Fall Brewing Company
Over the past year, thirsty patrons have gathered in a cement-lined, yet warmly cozy auto repair warehouse turned tasting room near the northern end of 30th Street. Here, they sip craft creations from Fall Brewing Company (4542 30th St.), a brewery well known within county limits but generally absent from the list of San Diego's major players.
With a space decked out in clashing designs ranging from neon punk rock posters to artfully polished reclaimed wood and metal, it's hard to pinpoint the desired clientele. But this subtle anarchy tends to leave drinkers with a sense of inclusion rather than snobbish exclusion. This oddly comforting duality of identity carries over to the branding itself. With multiple logos adorning shirts, growlers and pint glasses, mods and rockers alike are sure to find something that fits their fancy at Fall Brewing.
Perhaps that's the beauty of Fall. It's not quite sure what it is, which lends an unusually high level of flexibility when it comes to brews. Like any self-respecting San Diego brewery, Fall has its fair share of pale ales and IPAs, but with a consistently revolving cask list and usually at least one semi-offbeat draft, such as nose-hair-burning "Mittens" Smoked Schwarzbier (5.3 percent ABV) or tartly biting "Jazz Hands" Berliner Weisse (3.4 percent ABV). You won't have to flip through the same selections every visit.
Fall Brewing's success can be traced back to its world-class team, spearheaded by co-owner/brewmaster Ray Astamendi, formerly of Left Coast Brewery, St. Archer, Mission Brewing and Maui Brewing Company. As far as the first year went, Astamendi says, "We were not prepared for the reception that we received from the [local] community, as well as San Diego as a whole. In our first 11 months, we sold over 1,600 barrels of beer."
As per Fall's beers, I generally find myself opting for the "2 a.m. Bike Ride" coffee and vanilla bean stout, made with coffee from local favorites Dark Horse Coffee Roasters. At 5 percent ABV, it's always a seductive surprise (especially on nitro, it's liquid velvet). For days when I prefer a yang to the yin, the nimbly named "A Beer Named Sue" California Common (5.3 percent ABV) satiates me pint after pint. However, I can't heap endless praises to the entire catalog. I found the "Unicorn Stampede" red ale to be a bit muddled in comparison with other beers in that style. But overall Fall tends to deliver solid representations of styles across the board.
Plans for 2016 include a potential barrel-aging facility and new tasting room in South County as well as the kickoff to a bottling program. With a palatable portfolio and an address on Beer Street, Fall Brewing will likely not repeat its first year's success. Rather it's poised to dominate the mid-city drinking market and beyond. Feeling inspired by patron saint Joe Strummer, I'm letting fury have the hour to give myself time for a pint of what it has on cask.