Groundswell Brewing Company, Santee
I was a big fan of Groundswell's Grantville location when I reviewed it in October 2016, so I had high hopes for the Santee location. I am sorry to report that I was a bit disappointed. The room is nice enough if a bit bare, with plenty of high seating at tables around the outside and a long bar. There's just one TV, which is a good thing. The big arched window to the back room where the huge brew tanks are located is a nice touch--the tanks are impressively large. But overall the room felt empty and cold, which is a big contrast to the warm and welcoming design at the Grantville location.
This Santee location once belonged to Twisted Manzanita, which went out of business last year, and it has only been serving beer as a Groundswell location since February--all of which is to say, maybe they are still in the "growing pains" phase in this new space and the interior design might improve over time.
Although they have been brewing in Santee since January 2017 and serving in the tasting room there since February (here's the opening announcement from SanDiegoReader.com), the groundswellbrew.com website so far (mid-April 2017) makes no mention at all of the new location. The Yelp page for the Santee location remains unclaimed by the business owner, too. I hope this doesn't mean they are struggling to keep up with the new, much larger brewery.
(Aside: If you were a fan of Twisted Manzanita and miss their beer, as of just a few days before this review the Kwik Shop liquor store in North Park has a shelf full of TM's double IPA. It is guaranteed to be at least a year old, so buyer beware!)
On the day of my visit they were pouring six IPAs and a handful of other things (including a good brown ale called Piloncillo, a Hefeweizen, a cherry sour, and a pale ale). I enjoy Groundswell beer, but the IPA-to-other-beer ratio felt a little unbalanced to me; my girlfriend is an adventurous non-IPA/non-sour drinker and she didn't see anything she wanted.
The main reason for my disappointment was the service. It wasn't bad, just very disinterested. The bartender was involved with a TV show she was watching on her phone rather than being engaged with the customers. (It was a fairly slow Saturday afternoon. There were perhaps eight people in three small groups when we got there.) We tried to get the bartender to talk about the beer and the brewery but didn't get much back. I got the feeling she didn't know a lot about the beers. It's a shame because it is the exact opposite of the wonderful, engaged, knowledgeable service I had at Groundswell's Grantville taproom a few months ago.
Maybe on a different day, if I came with a group or during a busier time and there was a different bartender, my impression would be better. I'm still a fan of the beers and this brewery in general, and I believe in their future.
By an interesting and entirely unplanned coincidence, Groundswell Grantville was my tenth posted review, the first one after the official launch of CraftBeerInSanDiego.com. This is my 80th brewery review, and there are about 80 left to go. If the timing works out, Groundswell's planned third location in Chula Vista could be open around the end of my quest, so they could end up being the bookends! Of course, more and more breweries are opening all the time, so we'll have to see: my current count is 180 operating brew houses and their tap rooms (including 14 non-craft), plus 29 more in planning for a total of 209 in San Diego County.
Over the next few months my girlfriend and I are planning to increase our hiking fitness and complete the 5-Peak Challenge at the amazing Mission Trails Regional Park, just a few miles from Santee. So, we will be back this way to check out the other Santee breweries soon.
groundswellbrew.com 10151 Prospect Ave, Santee, CA 92071