Nine months in, Year One has been one of adjustments for Tom Garcia, the owner and brewmaster at Offbeat Brewing Company (1223 Pacific Oaks Place, #101, Escondido). When he launched last fall, he didn’t go with the popular lengthy soft open strategy. Instead, he just opened the doors and began selling a line of beers heavily influenced by English tradition. Because his very first batches went straight to consumers, he played it safe, producing small amounts so he could continue to tweak recipes until they met his full approval before ramping up to full runs.
His prudence, while justified, produced a problem. Because customers enjoyed his beer and kept coming back to purchase it, there were several months where, instead of being greeted by a full chalkboard of on-tap brews, often, there were just two or three to choose from. Small batches and high demand kept him brewing around the clock and failing to meet demand. Fortunately, he’s advanced to the point where, now, he has five to six beers available at all times and has upped production to the point where he’s almost ready to start distributing Offbeat beers to pub and restaurant accounts in North County and some of San Diego’s more craft-centric communities.
When that happens, be on the lookout for an American-style strong ale dubbed Offbeat Grain-Fed Dog. The beer is lovingly named after Garcia’s pet puggle (a pug/beagle mix), who used to lick up every bit of grain off his garage door back when he brewed at home, earning him the nickname “grain-fed dog.” The Grain-Fed Dog I’m focusing on today pours a deep garnet hue and brings on strong aromas of toasted grain (shocking, right?). On my first sip, I was bombarded with complex malt flavors of bread, caramel, and toffee. As with any malt-forward beer, there is sweetness, enough on the front palate that I was concerned it might get too sweet by the time it ran past my taste buds, but just when it could have gone the way of Candy Land, notes of toast and a cocoa powder-like bitterness dried it out. At eight percent alcohol-by-volume, it’s hefty but rather easy drinking.
Sadly, Garcia’s pet is no longer with them, but lives on, not only as this beer’s inspiration, but via the charitable contributions passed on to the Escondido Humane Society through the brew. One dollar of every pint of Grain-Fed Dog Offbeat sells went to the organization over the span of two weeks—considering the small, fledgling nature of Garcia’s business and the fact this beer is one of his most expensive to produce, thus making for the slimmest profit margin of any of his brews, this is quite the humanitarian gesture and one that’s in keeping with his goal of making Offbeat a community-focused brewery. Says Garcia, “Small acts of good are a big deal to us.”