Don Bauder 9:40 p.m., May 21
Any tour of multiple breweries carries with it both the possibility of discovering the next big thing or the next big disappointment. Sometimes a brewing company you had little to zero expectations for shocks your taste buds into standing up, taking notice and turning you into a lifelong fan or vehement hater. Other times, a place turns out to be everything you thought it would be and possibly even more. That was the case for me with Wet ‘N Reckless, which came across to me as every bit the train wreck I feared it would be…and more.
Despite hearing multiple negative reports, I forced myself to leave them all behind as my companions and I made our way through the Mira Mesa business park labyrinth to Wet ‘N Reckless. Objectivity is not only important, but something it’s my duty to maintain until given firsthand evidence to abandon. Entering the small, mashed together, juvenilely decorated tasting room did little to foster encouragement, but no brewer should be judged on their interior design skills. We ordered a eight-beer taster flight, took our seat at a flimsy wooden table and sampled away.
Rather than spend paragraphs dissecting the individual problems we found in each beer, I’ll mercifully sum up the general problems we found across the line in as brief a manner as possible. Overall, the beers were syrupy (you could probably lacquer your woodshop creations with Hells Belg), suggestive of large amounts of diacetyl (too many to individually note), tasted awful (all of them), were the wrong color (the most unidentifiably dark IPA I’ve ever seen), and terribly named (Genocide IPA, Pop My Cherry Ale).
Speaking of ill-conceived names, “wet and reckless” is a term used to describe a type of DUI plea in the State of California. Wet ‘N Reckless owner Dave Hyndman claims the name of his business has nothing to do with any of that and refers to his “reckless” (you can say that again) brewing style. Further driving all of that what-not home is a handful of laser-printed signs posted up in the tasting room encouraging people to consume responsibly and drive safely. My favorite was the one taped up next to a poster of sobriety spokesmodel, Jeff Spicoli.
The total cost for our shared misery was nine dollars—over a buck per plastic cup (because, really, nothing maintains the temperature, flavor and integrity of an artisanal beverage like plastic, right?) of subpar suds. Despite the three of us reluctantly taking second and third sips, trying to find redeeming qualities to note, not one of those beers got finished. I’m still reeling at the fact our hard-earned money was exchanged for lazily manufactured, extract-infused shortcut beer.
That’s right…extract is used. That in itself is not the worst thing in the world. I know many homebrewers—you know, beginners just getting their feet wet (but not necessarily reckless)—who produce totally drinkable extract brews. When given encouraging compliments, they typically smile before shrugging and saying stuff like, “thanks, but it’s just an extract brew…I’m working my way up to all-grain brewing.”
What’s the point in going to all the work when you can just take extract recipes, open up shop and join the ranks of San Diego’s rich pantheon of award-winning, top notch brewmasters? I suspect Hyndman is about to find out.
I don’t presume to be clairvoyant or have the end-all opinion where craft beer is concerned, but I possess a pretty solid understanding of San Diego, our drinkers, and the rest of the local beer industry playing field. Not only can Wet ‘N Reckless not hang with the likes of heavy hitting Major Leaguers like AleSmith, Ballast Point and The Lost Abbey—they’ll be hard pressed to sustain a meager life treading water in the minors, especially with Green Flash Brewing Company’s grand scale facility occupying the intersection giving way to Wet ‘N Reckless’ obscure, darn-near-hidden digs. It’d be like passing up The French Laundry and driving a longer distance to get to Jacque dans le Boîte (Jack in the Box).
Wet ‘N Reckless (by the way, I’m not the one who thinks the apostrophe use on this name is correct) is located at 10054 Mesa Ridge Court, Suite 132.