Our first night in San Diego we visited Karl Strauss Brewing Company for dinner. They have several locations, and the one we went to was their downtown one, which is something like four blocks from the water. It’s a picturesque building too—but stupidly, I didn’t take any photographs. Hey, I’d been driving all day, I was a bit frazzled.
So instead, I grabbed their own image from their site:
It’s very cool, with the ivy growing all over the building like that.
Inside the decor is very "modern brewpub" (lots of natural-colored wood), with plenty of seating (tables and booths) and a full bar. Clean, nice, comfortable, well-lit. It was a Sunday night, and it wasn’t too busy; we were seated right away, and the service was good.
Naturally, I ordered the sampler, and took notes on each beer as I tasted:
Woodie Gold (4.6% classic Pilsner): Wheaty, a tad sour. Fairly clean, a bit grainy. A bit hoppy—spicy.
Windansea Wheat Hefeweizen (5.1% Bavarian-style hefeweizen): Spicy and clovey up front—phenol aroma. Good weiss. Sour, a bit.
Amber Lager (4.2%): Biscuity, sweet malt. A noticeable lager character—ok but not terrific. Their notes say "caramel" and there’s a little… roasted. Neutral hop.
Red Trolley Ale (5.8% American red ale): Oooh, not bad—mild and malty and a hint of toasted malt. Very drinkable, a good mild amber ale.
D.A.D. Brown Ale (5.3%): "Downtown After Dark"—black malt is prominent. Some biscuit. Creamy and dark—darker than I’d prefer for a brown. Otherwise light in body and drinkable. (Bitterish—astringent—burnt from black patent.)
Stargazer IPA (4.9%): Resin-hoppy up front… nice spicy hop. A little low in alcohol for an IPA, but good. Nicely malty but the hops dominate. They’re not citrusy… spicy and twiggy.
In addition, I had their seasonal Oatmeal Stout: Dry and burnt roasted malts… nitro tap based on the creamy head. Light in body but very much an Irish stout character here. Heavy on black/roasted malts.
The food was very good. I had that staple of brewpub food, fish and chips, which were quite tasty. The slaw that came with them was really good. Everyone else (including the kids) enjoyed their meals quite a bit, too.
And the bread pudding dessert was great. You won’t find it (or any desserts) on their online menu, but my wife ordered it and I shared a bite or two, and wow. Really, really good.
Our waitress was helpful and personable; when she saw that I was writing notes on the various beers, she gave me a handy info sheet covering their standard brews.
All in all, a good experience, one that I would repeat.
Karl Strauss Brewing Company – Downtown
1157 Columbia Street
San Diego, CA 92101