The North Park neighborhood in San Diego is home to a ton of cool shops, eateries and breweries. One brewery that had a tasting room in North Park was Rip Current Brewing. Based a little less than an hour north in San Marcos, their tasting room was a small corner shop with roll up doors on either side of a very small entry door. A long tasting bar ran the length of the place with both low- and high-top tasting tables scattered at both ends. There was a kitchen with an order window at the back behind the tables. Unfinished wood behind and underneath the bar helped carry the beachy/driftwood theme of the place. The walls were covered with a beach mural, with a display case on one wall containing vintage beer cans. The counters facing out of the roll up doors to the street had cool neon blue accent lights underneath.
It being the Christmas season and I never being one to spoil an opportunity to get into it, I decided to try a flight of dark, roasty beers I thought would warm me up on a cool night. I ordered four and they came in a plastic surfboard-shaped holder. First up was the Palomar Chocolate Porter on Nitro (6% abv): This poured a deep, dark crimson-brown color with thick off white head. It smelled chocolaty and rich. The taste was mild at first, with some chocolate coming through. There was a tiny bit of smokiness that surprised me. It was light into the middle. Light-bodied and lightly carbonated, it finished smooth and light with a hint of bittersweet chocolate. Good, but a little underwhelming.
Next I tried the Barrier Reef Nut Brown (5% abv): It poured rich amber in color with barely any head, but what there was stuck to the glass. It smelled malty sweet, with a touch of barley and lots of roasted malt aromas. The taste was mild and malty. There was a little bit of bitterness, but the malts completely buried it. The middle was light-medium, with light carbonation. It finished light-medium with the same heavy dose of roasted malts.
Then came the Deep Crimson Imperial Rye Red (8.3% abv): This one poured bright amber-red in color with persistent white head. It smelled somewhat sour and bitter with only a little maltiness. The taste was malty and slightly sour at first. Light carbonation kicked in toward the middle, which was malty and bitter. Medium body lead to a light finish with the sourness returning.
Last, I tried the Delaminator Smoked Doppelbock (7.8% abv): It poured dark brown with tan head that left moderate lacing on the glass. It definitely smelled smoky, though not overpoweringly so. There were also malty, chocolate and molasses aromas. It tasted boozy, malty and a little sweet. Some of the malt flavor turned to roasted malt flavor toward the middle. Light in both carbonation and body, it finished sweet, warm and malty. Even though I don’t normally care for sweeter beers, this s just what I needed to end my night.