Culture Brewing, Solana Beach
The production facility for Culture Brewing in Solana Beach is also a tasting room with a back patio. Its on one of the main streets, surrounded by other business, restaurants and bars--its a happening scene, especially on a weekend when the weather is nice. That means parking is at a premium, so be prepared to circle to find something. Caution: Do NOT try the alley behind the building, all those spots are reserved.
As you walk in, the polished dark concrete and metal/wood aesthetic is impressive. The bar is small but had two bartenders serving the steady crowd. There were quite a few people standing around in the tasting room and outside. It is clearly a popular place.
Unfortunately, "standing around" is what you have to do. Like the Ocean Beach satellite tasting room (my review here), there is almost no seating inside or out. There are a few barrels to use as places to put down your beer, but that's it. Out back, it is more or less a loading dock. We ended up standing around a set of pallets. The lack of seating is more than a little baffling given the care and attention that clearly went into the rest of the design, and the obvious desire people have to hang out in these tasting rooms. Lack of seating--like the lack of a tasting flight tray--makes it awkward and uncomfortable, which in turn means people are less likely to stay for several beers. I'm not sure why a small brewery would want to discourage people from staying and buying more beer.
The beers, though, more than make up for any of the flaws I've mentioned. I reviewed several when I went to Ocean Beach. This time I tried a Black IPA (7.2% ABV), which has a prominent pine-y nose that is a surprise given the deep brown color. The bitterness is tempered by the deep roast malt; I rated it 3.75/5. I also tried the Brown Ale again (5.6% ABV), and again thought it was excellent: 4/5. My girlfriend tried the Milk Stout (6.2% ABV). While it was a little sweeter this time than I remember from previous tastings, it was lovely: velvety smooth with a persistent tan head; 4/5.
I would say that Culture Brewing in Solana Beach is a "must try" when you are already in the area for other reasons, but the fact that it is not comfortable enough to stay for any length of time means that it doesn't make a good trip just for its own sake. The beer is unquestionably good, though. Stay tuned for their new Encinitas location, due to open in summer 2017.
https://culturebrewingco.com/ 111 S Cedros Avenue, Suite 200, Solana Beach, CA 92075