Groundswell Brewing Company, Grantville
There's something really attractive about this tasting room that is hard to put my finger on. Perhaps it is the dimensions and colors and horizontal salvaged-wood wall accent, but it is making me think of Scandinavian architecture and design. There are about 24 seats plus two cushioned L-shaped bench in corners. The bartender, Stefanie, was immediately welcoming and friendly, and clearly has good relations with her regulars (of which there are many: always a good sign). There's no official flight price, but she recommended four tasters.
Tropical Hefeweizen (dry hopped hefe with galaxy hops, 5.2% ABV, 12 IBU). Crisp, slightly sweet with Belgian yeast flavors that are present but not overly strong. It is a pretty, cloudy golden color with a persistent head. 3.25/5
Prices here are remarkably good. $1-2 for 3 oz taster, $3-4.50 for a half-pint, $5-7 for a full pint, and most beers are at the low end of the price scale. They serve in style-appropriate glassware, too. Growler fills are $6/8/12 for 32 oz depending on the beer (handily color-coded on the chalkboard), and $10/14/18/22 for 64 oz fills. There's a $1-2 discount for growler fills on Mondays, and M-F Happy Hour from 3-6pm offers $1 off pints. Besides being remarkably well priced, the beer is remarkably good. Pizza on Wednesdays, a few snacks available all the time. And house root beer on tap.
Piloncillo (American Brown with Mexican raw brown sugar, 5.2% ABV, 22 IBU). Robust toasted malt, slightly sweet but the brown sugar isn't dominant, deep brown, nicely carbonated and acidic. Reminiscent of a porter. I could drink several of these. (Actually, I did.) 4.25/5
They were out of their most popular beer, the Hubba Hubba (Double IPA with Galaxy hops, 8.3% ABV, 86 IBU) but the bartender gave it high marks and two guys at the bar told me they love it. They were also out of Pogue Mahone (Red ISB, 5.7% ABV, 27 IBU). The explanation is that they had been brewing in the URBN space in El Cajon, and have now purchased a location in Santee (the former Twisted Manzanita Ales and Spirits location, which shut down in March 2016) that will become Groundswell's brewing location. In the meantime, they are running on their stockpile and they are considering reviving the old 3 bbl system that they used to brew out of and which now adorns the tap room as decoration. The taproom will stay open after they establish brewing operations in Santee.
Quattro IPA (West Coast IPA with Equinox, Mosaic, Summer and Magnum hops, 6.5% ABV, 65 IBU). A good IPA, nicely hoppy, very drinkable. 4/5
RIS (Russian Imperial Stout, 11.0% ABV, 70 IBU). This is a big beer, and at 11% it tastes pretty boozy, almost as if it had been aged in a bourbon barrel, with notes of toffee and raisin. The heat of the alcohol is interestingly contrasted by a very soft mouth feel. The bartender pointed out that this one improves if you let it warm up a bit, and she was right. 3.75/5 Interestingly, they are in fact bourbon-aging some of this RIS for the upcoming San Diego Beer Week.
http://groundswellbrew.com/ 6304 Riverdale Street, San Diego, CA 92120