Latitude 33 Brewing Company – 1430 Vantage Ct #104 – 92081
We seem to be getting into a habit of referencing the fact there’s still a lot of other work on the site which remains undone, but careful prioritization demands we remain true to the most important part of the equation: Getting out and sampling product. That’s the real work and on that, we’ve been puttin’ in time.
Set the autopilot to 33º latitude and 117.2º longitude; food and beverage service is about to begin. Feel free to move about the cabin and mingle with the crew…
Would we go back? We (two middle-aged males) both agreed that we would not hesitate to recommend Latitude 33 Brewing Company to any demographic who’s into the craft beer tasting room experience. If you’ve read previous entries in our First Flight series, right about now you might be thinking, “What a surprise. Another glowing report, as if you’re actually going to say anything bad about anyone.”, which is a perfectly legitimate concern. Allow me to respond directly:
We’ve consumed a lot of beer, in a lot of breweries here in San Diego, but only in nine of them have we gone in with the primary goal of documenting the experience. Since then, twice we’ve been put-off by some turbulence. That said, everyone can have an off day, so when we do encounter a lackluster performance, we go back for a second look before pointing any fingers. If we’re dissatisfied a second time, you’re going to hear about it. <digression />…
Full disclosure: Honey Hips was already legend with us before we ever set foot in the place. It’s so dangerously tempting in your mouth as a session beer, but at 8.3% ABV, you’re living in a fool’s paradise if you think you can pull it off and still remain functionally viable for an extended period. Enjoy responsibly, unless you’ve got a designated driver… In which case, go for it, we ain’t yer Momma.
The First Flight
Boom, another picture worth a thousand words… Diego provided a welcomed photobomb, which is the kind of interactivity we like from skilled tap handlers. It’s always great to be around people who enjoy their work.
Starting from the left:
Thirty Three IPA – 7.3% ABV – This was the first taster of the day and it did not disappoint. This brew is right in the sweet spot of the West Coast-style IPAs, and if you’re familiar with a certain New Zealand hop common to many of San Diego’s local craft beers, you’ll recognize the fruity-but-not-too-sweet effect combined with a bitter-hoppy finish that isn’t as bold as some of it’s competing counterparts. From the perspective of “easy drinkin'”, if the Rip Current White Caps IPA is truly the entry point for the novice into the world of IPAs , the Thirty Three is one of a few we’d consider “the next logical step” in the journey.
Honey Hips Strong Blonde Ale – 8.3% ABV – In hindsight, I maybe should have skipped this one because A LOT of people already know how good this beer is, and as their most famous brew, you can find it on tap all over San Diego. If you are unfamiliar, this beer’s appeal has got to be the way the scent of honey hits on the nose without being as sweet as it might sound. Honey Hips feels pretty light and finishes really clean for a brew with such a lofty ABV, and therein lies the danger. This honey is easy to love, but show her too much and you run the risk of ending your session prematurely. However; if you’re in hurry to reach your destination, this is the non-stop express…
Vanilla Porter (Nitro) – 6.5% ABV – If you’re already immersed in the craft beer experience, you’re probably well-aware of the difference between nitrogenated beers and their CO2 powered counterparts, but since we’re trying to attract more folks to The Craft, we’re gonna go ahead and explain it anyway. When you see a brew “on Nitro”, it generally carries about a 70/30 mix of nitrogen/CO2, which results in finer carbonation. Smaller bubbles create an almost creamy mouthfeel, and in some beers, also has some effect on the actual taste. Stouts, milk stouts and porters are some of the varieties often available on Nitro, and we like ’em, and this was no exception. Based on a traditional English Porter but higher in ABV, I’d almost call this a dessert beer, as it’s both chocolately and vanilla at the same time, with just a little hoppy bitterness at the finish.
Smoked Porter – 7.9% ABV – I should have asked more questions, but this may have been a new brew for them as it’s not found on their website. I tend not to be a big fan of smoked beers in general, but am always trying them in an attempt to change my own mind. This one actually furthered that goal because the smokiness wasn’t as pronounced as the Smoked Doppelbock I sampled recently. At the end of the day, I don’t know how much I’ll ever be on board with smoke in my beer, but I’m going to keep trying until I find one. I’m thinking something of the pork-belly variety might do the trick.
After a few outings, we decided that we’re going to take a more detailed look at food if it’s being prepared onsite in a dedicated kitchen, but like many of the tasting rooms around town, Latitude 33 relies on various outside providers who all do an incredible job providing craft nomz fit for pairing with craft-beers. You can find a list of Lat’s food partners right here.
Classic San Diego tasting room… Grab yer beers and set up shop next to the thanks (or at the bar) while the reggae coming over the stereo provides the perfect cover for your conversation. It’s a small, fairly intimate setting, but the music was just loud enough to give you some privacy, without being so loud you had to lean in to your fellow craftophile to discuss your choices. On beer, and in life…
Once again I failed to get a crew specific shot, but you can see the two crafticians on duty in some of the pics above. Everyone was totally cool, including one of the Cellarmen, who stepped away from his post for a few minutes to converse with yours truly about the aforementioned, as of yet to be mentioned plans we have for the San Diego craft beer community. Don’t worry, you’ll hear more on that soon.
To sum up, this was another win all the way around for us, so if you’re looking for the small-scale tasting room experience, or just haven’t tried the Honey Hips, you’ll want to make sure you book at least one of your next flights at Latitude 33.