A year or so after discovering Coronado Brewing Co., I finally went to its birthplace. In the interest of full disclosure, there are two locations: a restaurant on Coronado Island proper and the tasting room on the mainland. After consulting some of the local opinion around here, I decided on the tasting room. I was given the impression that the restaurant is a little like a Marie Callender’s that happens to serve Coronado beer. “Fair enough,” I says and off I went.
This place is in a pretty industrial area right off of the 5 freeway. One building looks like the next and I had never driven down in that area, so I drove past it a couple of times before I saw the bigger-than-life sign you see at the top of this post… It also has a very large flag on the top of it, but unless I was looking up (I wasn’t), I wouldn’t have seen it.
Walking in, it is much larger than I thought it would be. Other than that, it is much like any other brewery: lots of concrete and stainless steel. Then there is the tasting bar just to the left of the door. They built a sort of patio area out of rough-hewn wood beams that sets it off against all the beautiful sterility surrounding it in the production area.
Coronado Brewing is very into branding. Every single one of their tanks is emblazoned with their mermaid logo. Of course, they have all of their merchandise for sale in the gift shop/tasting area, as well.
Behind the tasting area by the bathrooms, they have refrigerators that house almost every beer from their Core Series, as well as some from their specialty beers. Much of their selection is dominated by IPAs, but a few of my very favorite beers are hiding in there.
I decided to just have tasters today, so I tried four: Ricky’s Malt Liquor, a session IPA, Blue Bridge Coffee Stout and Piccadilly Porter.
I didn’t get pictures this time, but I’ll do my best to paint some with words. The “Malt Liquor” was a light golden color without much head or carbonation. It did not have much of a smell, except for some sweetness from the malt. It was surprisingly mild and easy to drink, especially given the 9.1% abv. I am not sure I got a ‘malt liquor’ feeling from drinking it, but I enjoyed it.
I then moved to the session IPA. This was a pale golden, very clean-looking beer, with tiny bubbles and a mat of somewhat frothy head on top. The hoppiness coming off the top of it wasn’t enough to knock me back from the glass, but it was definitely present. Otherwise, it smelled only slightly fruity, with just a hint of grains. The first taste out of the glass was the hoppiness. Again, it wasn’t enough to fry the senses, but rather a pleasant flowery, slightly sweet flavor moving through my mouth. It felt thicker in my mouth than it looked in the glass, which was also a pleasant surprise.
Third was the Blue Bridge Coffee Stout. I have had this before in the bottle, but when I have a chance to get any beer from the tap, I am going to jump on it. This was no disappointment, either. It poured a deep, dark brown, though without much head, surprisingly. It definitely smelled like coffee and lots of toasty malts. The taste was lighter than I might have expected, given its stout-ness, with all the coffee flavor dominating the whole way through. It finished clean, with just a hint of the coffee that was so prevalent throughout.
Last, but not least, was the Piccadilly Porter. This one was not that different from the stout, with the pour, smell, taste and finish all remarkably similar. Especially surprising was the coffee flavor that seemed to overtake the toffee and chocolate flavors porters usually have.
Overall a pleasant experience. Tours are available, so I might just have to make a return trip to take advantage.