Mikkeller Brewing San Diego, Little Italy
With the addition of Mikkeller San Diego's tasting room in Little Italy in the summer of 2018, the Danish "gypsy" brewery now has at least five locations in California, including tasting rooms in San Francisco, Oakland, and Downtown LA. Worldwide, Mikkeller operates close to forty tasting rooms, bars, and concept kitchens. It is actually a little hard to get the exact number: they are growing so quickly that even the company's own website does not include some of the most recently opened locations, including San Diego's Little Italy tasting room. And they don't yet list the bar they will be opening later this year in London with Rick Astley, but I sure want to go there. Earlier this spring, Mikkeller opened their second North American brewery in New York, next to the ballpark where the Mets play.
The Mikkeller San Diego brewery and tasting room in Miramar, in the original AleSmith location, has been open since 2016, and it was immediately popular with the local craft beer community. I've been there a few times now, and I like it. I feel like I should like it more than I do, but I like it a lot.
On my visit to the new Little Italy location, I had the pleasure of the company of my best friend, Dennis, who was in town for a conference. He is also really into craft beer, so we were doing a little beer tour of downtown. We noticed that the new Mikkeller tasting room is spare with clean lines, as befits Scandinavian design. We also noticed that there was very little seating, just a few tables and some seats along a rail under the windows. On a weekend, you'll definitely be standing--if you can get in.
They have 18 taps; 17 were pouring during our afternoon visit. There is a decent variety, though 9 of the 17 were NEIPAs of various sorts which seems a little out of balance. My favorite Mikkeller beers are their interesting stouts, and there were five of those on the board--including the iconic Beer Geek Breakfast stout and several barrel-aged stouts. The list was rounded out by two keller pils (one fruited) and a Berliner Wiesse with raspberry and coffee. There's a double fridge filled with cans to go, as well.
Dennis loved his Pink Petal Pushers, a 5.9% ABV NEIPA with hibiscus. Its beautiful pink color, persistent white head, floral hoppiness and medium mouthfeel make it tasty and refreshing. He rated it 4.25/5
I had the outstanding Brandy Barrel-Aged X, an imperial stout aged in brandy barrels that clocks in at a whopping 15% ABV. It was rich, deep, flavorful, and the alcohol didn't overpower the flavor. The brandy was a perfect complement to the stout--brandy over whiskey for barrels, brewers! I rated it 4.5/5, putting it in the top 3.5% of all the beers I have ever tasted.
Mikkeller Little Italy is just a few steps from Bolt Brewery and a few blocks from Ballast Point Little Italy. Both of those locations have food, which you might need if you have the 15% beers at Mikkeller!
http://www.mikkellersd.com/tap-room/little-italy 2021 India Street, San Diego, CA 92101