Acoustic Ales Brewing Experiment, Mission Hills
[Note added March 2018: Acoustic Ales has ceased operations in Mission Hills and is building out a new brewery and tasting room in Carlsbad. Latchkey Brewing will take over the Mission Hills space, with a mid-April projected grand opening. While Acoustic is under construction, Latchkey is contract brewing their beers.]
Acoustic Ales Brewing Experiment is in a stand-alone building in the Mission Brewery Plaza, on the south-west edge of Mission Hills, very close to the airport. Somewhat confusingly, Mission Brewery is not located here; this is the historical location of the brewery that was founded in 1913 and went out of business at the time of Prohibition. The new incarnation of Mission Brewery, started in 2007, is in the East Village. More on them another time!
Acoustic Ales has built a beautiful tasting room. With its overstuffed dark brown leather sofas and armchairs, it makes me think of a high end country club or cigar lounge. The dark woods in the bar and walls are set off with some nice art, including a mural photograph of what looks like gold rush-era old west tavern customers (with some very impressive moustaches). There are plenty of seats around the bar, too, as well as some high tables in the main room and a second room in the back (which I forgot to look at so I can't tell you about).
Acoustic Ales makes some beautiful ales, too. I had a flight of four and liked them all.
Bad Rye-ligion (Rye Beer, 6.5% ABV). A lovely Rye IPA. Funky hops. Nicely bitter and slightly spicy from the rye. Clean. Light amber. White head laces the whole glass. 3.75/5
India Pale Lager (5% ABV). This one surprised me with how much I liked it. It's really good. Spicy, bitter, with floral/funky hops on the nose and palate. It is clear golden in color and has a persistent white head. 4.25/5
The Verve (Stout, 5% ABV). Also very nice. It has a thick and smooth mouthfeel and tastes creamy. It is a touch sweet, though not to the level of a milk stout. There's a slight gritty bitterness on the finish, which I liked. The malts are nicely roasty. 4.25/5
Barrel Aged Jim Bean Unplugged (Imperial Stout, 12%). A little too sweet. Makes my stomach feel sour. Flavors of brandy and root beer. It is okay, but not the best I've had. 3.25/5
There's a good vibe here. Regulars and beer tourists mix fluidly and the brewery staff (including some who had knocked off work and were sitting at the bar enjoying the fruits of their labors) were open and eager to talk about what they make.
When you exit off the 5 South, park along the street or duck into the parking garage before you get to the brewery ($2 per hour, $20 max). If you miss it, it is a real pain to get back because of the way the streets and highways run. Don't try the alley behind the Mission Brewery Plaza, you can't get into the parking garage from there or even legally get out of the alley again because of the one-way arrow. (Yes, I'm speaking from hard-won experience!) Alternatively, the Washington Street Station trolley stop is directly behind the brewery.
Acoustic Ales could become my regular hangout. It's excellent.
www.acousticales.com 2120 W Washington St, San Diego, CA 92110
Don't Just Take My Word For It (Links to Related Beer Writing)
San Diego Magazine's entry in their Brewery Guide for Acoustic Ales Brewing Experiment.
From the San Diego Brew Review blog.