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Coronado’s a beautiful place, but unless you live in the Crown City, it’s someplace you don’t likely frequent. The lure of the island’s namesake brewpub, Coronado Brewing Company, has sent me across that big blue bridge a number of times, but despite the fact it’s been in business since 1996, many in San Diego have yet to taste their beer from the source.

Most casual craft beer drinkers are only familiar with CBC’s core line-up of beers—Islander IPA, Orange Avenue Wit, and Mermaid’s Red, to name a few—which are widely available in bottles and on-tap around the county. But some of the company’s best beers are the one-offs and specialty releases that, even though they make it out to some draft accounts, have traditionally been hard to find outside of CBC’s island brewpub.

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Those specialties are now much easier to get a hold of since CBC opened the tasting room at their 14,000 square foot brewery in San Diego proper. Located at 1205 Knoxville Street in the Tecolote Canyon area (across the street from holiday mega-store City Lights for those unfamiliar with this little-mentioned geographical area), the facility sports a brand new brewhouse that allows CBC to produce much more beer and many more varieties of it, all of which are on tap for visitors to try.

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For me, it was my first time seeing and sampling a number of items on tap. Among those were Baby Idiot, a low-alcohol version of the robust Idiot IPA. Lower ABV IPAs are becoming all the rage among brewers as part of the session beer renaissance that seems to be taking place here and throughout the craft brewing industry, and this falls in line as a nice example of why these beers are appealing. All the hops plus it’s low octane enough to enjoy in greater quantities.

Wet Willie XPA was light and refreshing, and Monk-InTha-Trunk was a fruity and effervescent Belgian-style session ale. Bada Bing Cherry Porter, though low in fruit-flavor, had some nice toasted nut and cola nuances. All are far different beers than I’m used to tasting from CBC. The same can be said for an exotically spiced IPA called Loutish Madras, which is part of CBC’s new artisanal line of beers brewed and marketed under the name Tusk + Grain.

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That operation, which was originally going to brew out of Mission Brewery Plaza (now home to the Encinitas Ale House and La Jolla Public House owners’ Acoustic Ales Brewing Experiment), will now operate out of CBC’s existing facilities and provide a different line of beers in much the way that San Marcos niche barrel-aged beer producer The Lost Abbey does for Pizza Port, working in the same brewing facility as the business' West Coast-focused production brewery, Port Brewing. At this point, Tusk + Grain brews are still in their test phases, but those prototypes, like the Loutish Madras, have the potential to make it to the tasting line-up.

As I tasted my way through the brews, I did detect some dullness of flavor here and there. It was explained to me that delays in construction of the tasting room had forced CBC to hold kegs longer than they had planned on. The fresh brews I tasted were just fine, so they would serve as better examples of what to expect from this spot once it’s fully on track.

Other features of the Tecolote Canyon space include an expansive apparel sales area as well as a large cooler containing CBC’s core, seasonal, and barrel-aged beers. And for designated drivers, one of the taps dispenses root beer, something I can’t remember seeing anywhere else. These differentiators and the availability of so many beers makes for a nice—and much easier to get to—craft beer outlet that ups what CBC has to offer San Diego’s craft brewing community.

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