Fall Brewing, North Park
The Fall Brewing Company brewery and tasting room is two-and-a-half blocks north of El Cajon on 30th, putting it at the northern end of North Park and perhaps "out of sight, out of mind" for some folks making the rounds of an evening in this craft beer nexus. And with such an embarrassment of malt-and-face-it-mostly-hops richness in the area, you could be forgiven for missing this place. Fall Brewing is one of ten (soon to be twelve!) craft breweries/tasting rooms/brew pubs in North Park, not to mention the plethora of top-rank craft-friendly bars such as Tiger! Tiger!, Waypoint Public and Underbelly. Even so, it would be a mistake to miss this one.
Magical & Delicious (Pale Ale, 5.5% ABV). It doesn't quite live up to its name, but it is good! A balanced pot-pourri of hoppy goodness. 3.5/5
One advantage of being out of the fray is that Fall, unlike most places in North Park, has plenty of parking--both in a small lot out front and on the street. That also makes it possible for them to have guest food almost every night (here's the food schedule).
Green Hat IPA (7.3% ABV). This lives up to its billing as a "hops forward San Diego IPA." It is strong, strongly herbal, acidic and crisp. 4/5
As you walk in you will notice that the space is huge and has high ceilings. Your eye will be drawn to the row of large, gleaming silver tanks (I think I counted twelve) and the wooden barrels on racks that tantalize you with the possibility of future barrel-aged liquid goodness. Then you will remember why you are have come and will turn your attention to the tasting area, which is spacious and has plenty of seating. It was home to some fun punk-rock themed art during my visit; I'm not sure if that is a permanent or a rotating display (see the title photo for this review). The music was mostly punk, too. It was interesting to come to this large, open place after the cozier experience of Barn Brewing earlier; in contrast, Fall felt a little colder, less personal, more corporate, but I think that was mostly an illusion of proximity. This would be a great place to come with a big group.
Nervous Breakdown (Imperial IPA, 8.5%). This one is too funky for me; the taste reminds me of skunky dope. Er, I mean, what I speculate skunky dope would be like. 3/5
If I counted correctly (this was my second stop of the afternoon...), they were pouring 17 different beers on the day of my visit. Prices are reasonable: $2-3 for 3 oz tasters, $4-6 for 0.25L pours, and $6 for 0.5L; 64 oz growler fills are $18-21. They have a "thumbs-up" shaped platter for serving up to five tasters in a flight. The bartender helpfully recommended her favorites and the most popular beers for my flight.
2am Bike Ride (Coffee Stout, 5% ABV). This is smooth, with a comforting, soft mouthfeel. There's coffee flavor but it isn't overpowering, making this a well-balanced brew. 3.5/5
Overall, Fall Brewing serves good beer in a nice setting. It seems to have ambitions to be big a big player, if the size of the brewing operation is any indication, and the quality of the product supports that ambition. Check it out on your next trip to North Park. (Poor House Brewing is just a block south, so they would make a good pair when you don't want to walk far.)
http://fallbrewing.com/ 4542 30th St., San Diego, CA 92116