Half Door Brewing Co., East Village
My first visit here a few months ago was focused on meeting some new people, so although I had a couple of beers and thought they were good, I didn't have an opportunity to thoroughly explore the offerings here.
#Buzzwords Super Dank Pale Ale (8.7% ABV). This is a cloudy/hazy experimental-type beer that pushes the boundaries of the definition of a pale ale. With six or eight different hops, it was a little confused if you ask me (and not especially dank, despite the name), but it was interesting and worth trying. 3/5
Today, on my second visit, I was even more impressed with the beer than the first time. The venue is great, occupying multiple levels of an old (Victorian?) house including a covered balcony. The 20' wall of cabinets behind the bar containing whiskey and old bottles is very cool. The L-shaped bar is comfortable and there are neat little seating areas all around (pro tip: there are good nooks and crannies for getting cozy on a date). I loved the Victorian doorknobs used as signs for the beer on the taps. Overall, it is a lot like an Irish pub, and that's what they are going for: Their coasters even say "Where the west coast meets the Emerald Isle." They offer a variety of beer styles (they pouring 14 different beers during my visit) with some good sours, hazy IPAs, and others.
#Hypermachine IPA (6.7% ABV). This beer was so fresh I had to add it to Untappd. They had just kegged it that day--it doesn't get much fresher than that! This is a new single-hopped IPA in their lineup; each new batch will feature a different hop, this first one being Nelson. 3.5/5
The bartender I had was friendly enough and very knowledgeable about the beer and their brewing process. That adds a lot to the experience. I ordered 5 and she gave me a taste of a sixth that was not yet on the menu.
English Strong Pale Ale (6.7% ABV). This has kind of a muddy orange-brown color. The flavor is fresh/clean on the opening, malty sweet, with a dank/citrus finish. It is way more hopped than any traditional English Strong or English Pale Ale. Still. It is good. 3.5/5
And kudos for an excellent "flight system": Tell them you want to do a flight and they give you a special, nicely printed menu with all the beer names and brief descriptions and you put a check mark beside the ones you want. They leave the menu with you and you can even take it with you as a souvenir/notepad.
Roark Red Ale (5.2% ABV). I thought this was a fantastic red ale. Clean, sharp. Beautiful amber color. Apparently people tend to have extreme opinions about this one. It is not quite a traditional red, but it is very drinkable. 4/5
They offer a nice-looking set of options from the kitchen but having just eaten before I arrived I didn't get to try anything.
Bean Bar Collaboration Red Rye Coffee IPA (6.5% ABV). The color on this one is unusual, resembling watered-down chocolate milk, but the taste is great. The espresso and rye flavors meld nicely. The coffee bean & hops bitternesses on the end complement each other rather than clashing. 3.5/5
A word to the wise: DO NOT attempt to park in this area when the Padres are playing, you will be sorely disappointed. The ballpark is a block away. Just Lyft it.
Imperial Stout (9% ABV). The bartender seemed surprised when I asked if there were any smoked malts in this one (and she confirmed that their weren't any) but it really tasted a lot like a rauchbier to me. It was quite delicious. 3.5/5
Half Door is one of the better breweries in the downtown area, most definitely worth stopping in.
http://www.halfdoorbrewing.com/ 903 Island Ave. San Diego, CA 92101