Gravity Heights, Sorrento Valley
Many people don’t think “beer” when they think Sorrento Valley. The area east of the 805, west of Mira Mesa and north of Miramar is home to Qualcomm and a plethora of tech and other companies. Maybe Sorrento Valley is just a bit too far north for some people, and a bit too far south for others. Maybe the mass of beer in Miramar is just too great, and beer lovers are inevitably drawn there instead. Gravity Heights might be a big enough attraction, now, though, to get more people into the Sorrento Valley orbit. Check out my beer tour of Sorrento Valley to explore the six breweries and one satellite tasting room in the area.
Gravity Heights is the newest of the seven craft beer locations in Sorrento Valley, having opened in January 2019. In terms of setting, design, and vibe, it is unquestionably the best of that group, and one of the best in all of San Diego. Owned by the same restaurant group as Catania, Whisknladle, and Park Commons (coming summer 2019), it is clear that a lot of thought—and money—went into creating the venue.
In addition to a large brewing area (visible through large windows from the parking lot) and the kitchen, there is a main interior dining room, a covered garden dining area, an uncovered outdoor patio with various seating areas, a covered outdoor bar, and an astroturfed area with a few games and some lawn chairs. Finishes are elegant and comfortable. Every place you could sit is bright and airy, most have good protection from the wind, half are covered, and those that aren’t indoors have heaters. On the hottest, coldest or rainiest days of the year the patio or the bar wouldn’t be the best places to sit, but for the vast majority of the year this sort of outdoorsy venue is a perfect fit for San Diego. I’m already looking forward to spending a summer evening on the patio there.
In terms of food, the only real competition from other Sorrento Valley breweries is the Karl Strauss tasting room location, which also competes on setting (and nearly wins because of its koi pond). That the food is good is no surprise given the owners; by the same lights, it is also not-unexpectedly generally a little on the expensive side. That said, you can find good options from veg to meat at several price points. The $10 pizzas on the happy hour menu are apparently very popular. I had a delicious grilled chicken sandwich that tasted smoky and came on a perfect potato bun with avocado. The shoestring fries were acceptable, though they are my least favorite potato-and-oil delivery system.
In terms of service, Gravity Heights gets it exactly right. They have plenty of staff, all of whom seem to be well-trained and do a great job interacting with customers. My impression is that they all like each other and work as a team, which is a sign of a good operation.
In terms of beer, it also will be no surprise to long-time San Diego beer fans that Gravity Heights has a large, diverse and excellent set of offerings: Skip Virgilio, original co-founder of AleSmith, is in charge of the beer program, and the head brewer is Tommy Kreamer, who cut his teeth at Lost Abbey/Port Brewing. Further evidence of the sense and good taste of the brewing team, should it be required, can be found in the fact that when one of the Gravity Heights assistant brewers got off shift and came for a bite to eat at the bar, he brought with him a Benchmark Brewing growler to fill and take home with him.
On the day of my visit they were pouring thirteen house beers, four Gravity Heights collaborations with other excellent local breweries, and one guest beer (a dry-hopped lager) from North Park Beer Co. They offer three curated flights of tasters or any combo you want. They also offer seven hard kombuchas on draft and an extensive wine list.
I sampled five of the beers and thought all of them were good. My two favorites were:
Torrey Porter (American Porter, 6.7% ABV). Thick, rich, deep-roasty—almost gritty/burnt, but in a delicious way. It has a soft, thick mouthfeel with a very persistent latte-like tan head. It several ways it reminded me of a more sophisticated version of Guinness. I would love to try it on nitro. 4/5
Red Tide Ryesing (Double IPA with Rye, 8.3% ABV). Bright amber and clear. Persistent beige head. Hoppy/dank on the nose, add bitter and pine/earth on the palate with a red/rye bite. Overall a well balanced beer with a clean finish. 4/5
Parking immediately next to Gravity Heights can be tight on Fridays or at lunch times, but there is a large lot immediately adjacent plus on-street parking to take up any overflow. During those busy times, reservations are strongly recommended: I tried to drop in for a late lunch on a Friday and couldn’t even find one empty seat at the bar, the place was so full.
It will be very interesting to see how the beer at Gravity Heights evolves over time. They are not yet at the level of New English, Green Flash or Karl Strauss, but even after just three months in operation they are already very good. Given the food and the setting, it won’t be any hardship to return again and again to keep an eye on things.
https://www.gravityheights.com/ 9920 Pacific Heights Blvd., San Diego, CA 92121