I recently found myself back in yet another nondescript industrial office park that seem ubiquitous in this area and ended up at a great little place named Arcana Brewing Company. This is a very small, slightly hard-to-find place in Carlsbad, about and hour north of San Diego. Driving through the parking lot, I came to a place called On-The-Tracks Brewery, but that must wait for another time to visit. Arcana was quite hallway-like and had no windows. In fact, the front door was in an entryway that was blocked off from the rest of the place by walls and another door. It made it very dark inside compared to most breweries I have visited. On the walls were bookshelves of games and little trinkets, display cases of artifact-looking things, and shelves with more objects in the steampunk style. Behind the tasting bar to the right was a huge display on the wall with shelf upon shelf of handcrafted, custom glazed mugs for visitors who join their Mug Club. Pretty slick.
Moseying up to the tasting bar, I was shocked at how many holiday beers they had on tap so late in Spring. Never one to pass on an opportunity to celebrate the holidays early, I got the Dark Christmas Ale. It poured very dark (duh) and cloudy, though it was hard to tell from the low light level in the brewery. It had a thin cap of tan head that stuck around for an appreciable time. Spicy and caramelly aromas met with a light fruity note on the smell. The taste was sweet up front with very little carbonation and medium body. The middle of the drink was a little disappointing, with an almost tasteless mildness, finishing dry with equally little taste, except for a token amount of malt.
I had hoped for more from this beer:
I moved on to something I thought would have decidedly more taste: the Barrel Aged Voyager English. Though I do not have a picture, it poured clear and deep red, with very little sticky white head on top. Sugary sweet aromas defined this one, with some cinnamon and light caramel notes. The taste was mild, with little carbonation and medium-light mouthfeel. Sweet up front with some melon-like fruitiness, the middle was a little mild. It finished a little overly-sweet with some melon afterward.
This one was equally ‘just ok’: