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In some ways it felt like nothing had changed. There I was on the patio of the brewpub on Fay Avenue, drinking beer with my dog. But that was the extent of any real similarity. That patio had been renovated, as had the rest of the brewpub. The beer in my glass was house-made. Heck, the place even had a new name: La Jolla Brewing Company (LJBC). Granted, the name was pretty close to the venue’s former moniker, La Jolla Brew House (LJBH), but from an aesthetic, atmospheric, and quality standpoint, the two businesses are night and day.

Of course, it’s easy to be confused as to the identity, not just because the names are so alike in their community-driven spirit, but because the former owner of LJBH is maintaining a death grip on the defunct business’ website and social media accounts. Several posts go up per day from the LJBH Twitter feed and a check of LJBH’s webpage turns up the message: “We are currently under construction and the Restaurant & Brewery is CLOSED at this time. We apologize for any inconvenience. Check back soon for updates and reopening times.” Sadly misleading, this has surely kept would-be visitors from discovering the new LJBC. It’s a shame, since it looks, feels, and tastes so much better.

Brewmaster Brett Stampf played a large role in revamping the brewpub’s interior and improving the brewing operations. A veteran of Green Flash Brewing Company, Stone Brewing Co., and numerous brewpubs outside of San Diego, his experience shows up in the initial beers of the two-month-young business. LJBC’s dry Irish-style stout (which, like the brewpub’s golden ale and IPA, is served on nitro) is true to style in its dry, drinkable deliciousness, and its pale ale, while a bit of a work in progress, has great aroma and a nice malt backbone.

The beer I indulged in with my pooch (who is named Pangea, not after the continental landmass, but instead the beer from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery) was LJBC’s Big Time Stout, a rather complex, multi-layered 9% ABV imperial stout that came on strong with flavors of bittersweet chocolate, roasted barley, earthiness, and even a touch of anise. It’s a specialty beer that will rotate out, but is worth savoring while it’s still on tap. Even if you miss it, at least you know that the old LJBH isn’t coming back, no matter what the Internet may lead you to believe.

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