Mason Ale Works Tap House and Kitchen, Carmel Valley
Located in a new and stylish strip mall in front of a condo development in the otherwise-residential neighborhood of Carmel Valley, this newest addition to the Mason Ale Works line up is bound to be a hit.
While not as impressive as the huge San Marcos location, this tasting room is sleek and modern, with a sophisticated vibe. Distressed wood and metals accent the concrete floors and wooden walls. A large beer fridge offers a wide array of Mason beers (mostly in cans), both core beers and specialty releases, "to go" or to be served on premise. In addition to several high tables and a curved bar, there is a comfortable patio that is partially screened off from the street.
The big sliding wooden door in the middle of the wall opposite the bar opens onto the Barrel Room restaurant, owned by the same group. Note that the Barrel Room has different hours, and a different menu, than the Tap House and Kitchen.
Service was very good. Though, since it is open seating, the hostess near the door seemed superfluous.
The food menu is smallish but solid; there are some expected items and some innovative items. We grazed on some very tasty "crispy olives" (lightly battered and deep fried) while enjoying a pint of I Just Want to Cuddle, (Dry Irish Stout, 5.2% ABV). Like Mason's Cash Imperial Stout, Cuddle is a very good stout, and it has a lot of coffee in it. I think this one is good with coffee, but it would be better without. I rated it 3.5/5. I was itching to try the barrel-aged Cash but I didn't pull the trigger on the four-pack of cans for $18.
In addition to 17 house beers across a range of styles on tap, they also offered 11 guest beers. The style range on the guest beers seemed off to me--two big stouts (AleSmith Speedway and Belching Beaver Peanut Butter), three ciders, and then mostly Belgians and sours.
Parking in the garage under the adjacent building (far end of the parking lot from the entrance) is the best bet, but it is very narrow. They offer valet parking during evening hours.
http://www.masonaleworks.com/tasting-room/ 5550 Carmel Mountain Rd. Suite #113 San Diego, CA 92130