I'll admit that I set my expectations pretty high when first entering Kearny Mesa's Quantum Brewing (5375 Kearny Villa Road). The name inspired fantastical visions in me of brewing taken to its most futuristic ends. Perhaps there would be a beer-particle accelerator, smashing IPA ions to model bitterness on the nanoscopic scale. At the very least, there had to be lots of Tesla coils scattered about. Can't make science without Tesla coils, right?
The reality was not as ornate as hoped, but not without its charms. The interior is relatively bare, save for a massive chalkboard bearing everything from random scribbles by patrons to equations representing drunken stabs at Grand Unified Theory. The remainder is appointed with sufficient counter space and stools to fill the place without cramping it, making for a very serviceable tasting room.
The room is bereft of visible brewing equipment, making it feel more akin to a retail storefront. All the production happens behind drawn curtains adjacent to the bar. That was disappointing to me, until I realized that that essentially rendered the brewery a secret lab. No low-rent science ever came out of a secret lab, which bodes well for the drinking experience.
Side bonus: Quantum possesses the only tasting room I've visited where one can experience urinating while Einstein watches. Just remember: He's probably too busy pondering the mysteries of the universe to even notice you.
Despite only having its soft opening in late June, Quantum Brewing is already offering up to nine different beers. The selection is diverse and representative of most staple styles. It generally favors moderate alcohol content, which enables sampling most, if not all, of the wares in one sitting and identifying a favorite without drunkenly declaring each of them to be your best friend.
It's not too often I'll say this, but, in general, I favored the maltier and less-bitter options on the menu. The Hadron Wheat Collider had a nose of applesauce and offered flavors reminiscent of banana-nut bread and the lightest hints of pear. It was somewhat sweet in the finish but maintained a high level of drinkability. The Uncertainty Red was a little more full-bodied and produced slightly more assertive floral and toffee flavors, but it was still suitably mild overall.
The bitter beers were a bit more of a mixed bag. The Pale's Constant pale ale had a pleasant balance of citrus and floral flavors, even if they weren't particularly boisterous ones. However, the Project 919 Double IPA (a recent release from the test lab) and Chain Reaction session IPA both seemed to overshoot their intended profiles. The boozy cherry and herbal notes of the DIPA reminded me of an oddball Swiss cough drop, and the session IPA, despite its tantalizing tropical-fruit aroma, produced only the merest citrus and seltzer flavors.
Quantum Brewing, like all worthy scientific endeavors, doesn't concern itself with extraneous variables. It delivers classic, easy-drinking beer styles in a streamlined yet welcoming environment. It's easy to find, the service is thoughtful and prompt, the beers are fairly priced and it's kid- and dog-friendly. I'd like to see a couple of the beers revisit the lab, but know that this place has real potential for breakthrough discoveries.