When plotting out a brewery marathon, it's tempting to look at the paltry distance between two and gauge them as walking distance. This line of thinking is sadly typical of a mind clouded by sobriety. The problem is that Sober Me is the sort of optimistic rube that believes Less-Sober Me will care about things like physical fitness or fresh air after a couple tall, cool glasses of apathy have passed my lips.
That said, my recent foray to Miralani Drive in Miramar uncovered a rare exception to that rule. Even at my most lethargic, I can hardly justify the 100-foot cab ride between 2kids Brewing and Pacific Brewing Co.
The "kids" tend to favor a lighter hand with their flavor palate, embracing more of a British motif in their style selection and intensity. That's a harder sell in San Diego and, frankly, with me, but craft brew is a big tent. As my liver will eagerly testify, we cannot live on triple IPAs alone.
This philosophy actually made for some surprisingly satisfying beers. The Unusual, an amber lager (5.4-percent ABV), offered a notable grainy and bready character that still managed to finish pleasantly crisp, making it a wonderful accompaniment to the toasty day. In the same way, the cereal and subtle apricot fruitiness of the One Twenty Three cream ale (4.6-percent ABV) was highly quaffable. I was even a convert with the Winning chocolate stout (6.2-percent ABV), whose blend of chocolate, coffee and licorice flavors made me overlook how unmistakably lean it was. However, other similarly tuned offerings (Pirlie Winkie Scottish ale and Obligatory Too American IPA, for example), felt anemic relative to their styles.
The only head-scratcher of the 2kids bunch was the Belgian golden ale Asterix (8.9-percent ABV), which seemed to be having a bit of an identity crisis. Its aroma was bright with lemon and floral notes that I would expect, but the flavor was more reminiscent of a Belgian pale ale. Between that and the slightly sour finish, this one may need a little more dialing in.
Pacific Brewing Co served as a something of a counterpoint to 2kids, favoring styles more aligned with West Coast sensibilities. This was no more apparent than in the Sticky Icky strong ale (7.8-percent ABV), a brew as mighty as its redwood hue suggested. Its spicy nose and hefty stickiness in the mouth gave it real presence, a solid stage for its boozy, pine-y flavors. In a similar vein, the Rodan Red IPA (7.3-percent ABV) adeptly melded disparate styles from its caramel popcorn and red-pepper aromatics to the bready and flowery flavors that emerged from it.
Of course, with big flavor comes big responsibility. The Bombora IPA (7.2-percent ABV) wasn't shy with the dank hop character, but the finish had a vegetal bitterness that was a little abrasive. I much preferred Pacific's Cook's IPA (7.5-percent ABV), a fruit-forward IPA without tons of resin to it.
All my nitpicking aside, there's no denying that this corner of the northern San Diego brewing ecosystem not only provides ridiculously convenient proximity for brew touring, but also merges complementary brewing philosophies and tremendous variety on a small stretch of blacktop. In either direction, it's worth the walk.