Helm's Brewing, Ocean Beach [CLOSED--Replaced by Two Roots Brewing]
[NOTE: This location was purchased in 2018 by, and in June 2019 rebranded as, Two Roots Brewing.]
The Ocean Beach tasting room of Helm's Brewing Co. has only been open since May 2016, but Helm's itself was founded (by SD ship builders who built their own tank system!) in 2012. They brew out of Kearny Mesa, where they also have a tasting room (see you soon, Kearny Mesa location!). OB has 16 taps (two had sold out today). A flight of five 4 oz tasters was under $15. They sell pints for $5-6.50, 32 oz growlers for $15-20, and offer a good selection of merch. They bottle and sell five of their best brews, too.
Wicked as Sin IPA (Rye IPA, 6.6% ABV). This is a good Rye IPA, one of my favorite styles. 3.75
OB Fresh X Pale Ale (4.7%). A very light pale ale with a smooth, medium mouthfeel and subtle malt flavors. Golden in color. Good drinking on a hot day. 3/5
Ocean Beach has quite a few tasting rooms. Together they make a nice little collection for a craft brew tour. It would be easy to walk between them, but then please take an Lyft home! See my Ocean Beach Beer Tour here.
Batten Down Brown (American Style Brown Ale, 5.6% ABV). This is true-to-style and tasty. Nicely toasted malts, slightly sweet, easy to drink. 3.25/5
The room is fairly small, with just nine seats at the low-top counter under the big open garage door/window along the street, eight seats at the bar and four narrow high-tops that seat six each. The place is nicely decorated, has loads of light from the open front wall, is clean and well-maintained, and the art makes it fun. I got here after 3 pm on a Wednesday; by 4:20 pm it was nearly full. There's one smallish TV, making this a good place for conversation with friends while keeping an eye on the game rather than a place to watch sports. The music they played was upbeat and tended to indie rock for the most part. The vibe was relaxed and the service was great. The bartender spent quite a bit of time describing the beer, telling the history of the brewery and location, and pouring me samples even before I bought my flight. She clearly feels pride about what they offer here, which is great to see and bodes well for the experience you will have here.
Black Pearl (Black IPA, 6.8% ABV). A very good black IPA (also a favorite style of mine). Full flavor, medium to thin mouthfeel, gently hopped. 3.75/4.
Sitting here watching the world go by is fun. There's quite a bit of traffic on Newport, which can be loud, but this is a prime people-watching spot. You'll see the full gamut from local hippies and surfers to grannies on vacation with their little dogs. (Well, the full gamut of white folks; I didn't notice a lot of diversity.) I just saw an older woman in full clown makeup and purple hair (heading for the street fair just down the block, I presume/hope).
Beerucino (Coffee Porter, 7.2%). Excellent. Deep coffee with chocolate notes, good base beer (not trying to hide anything with the coffee). A coffee beer that tastes like beer first, as it should. 4/5
Overall, the friendly service, quality beer and fun location make this a tasting room worth visiting, especially as part of a beer tour of Ocean Beach.
http://www.helmsbrewingco.com/ 4896 Newport Ave, San Diego, CA 92107