A second chance is something rarely afforded in this day and age, especially in the San Diego craft-beer industry. It’s not that people don’t want to go back to a brewery that registers as lackluster on first taste, but with so many options and more popping up all the time, there’s no reason to continue to solicit a business that’s not making good beer.
In my case, all breweries deserve a follow-up visit, especially if they weren’t that good the first time around. Issuing a negative review isn’t something I take lightly, and if a business that gets panned makes improvements, I want to let the public know. This is what motivated me to recently revisit a place I once referred to as “San Marcos’ house of diacetyl."
When I first tested the wares of Dos Desperados Brewery (1241 Linda Vista Drive, San Marcos), everyone in my party of four (consisting of a beer bar owner, a brewing industry professional, and a certified cicerone) easily picked up heavy buttery flavors, diacetyl’s calling card, in the majority of the beers. This was true mostly of the lighter-colored brews, mostly because roastiness from dark malts tends to help cover such “off” flavors. So, this time around, all of the beers I ordered ranged from golden to amber in hue, offering little shelter for defects to hide behind. And it would seem the “big D” has left the building.
While I wouldn’t call the beers I drank masterful, the main problem appears to have been addressed. My biggest knocks on Dos Desperados’ beers this time around are that some are a bit thin, a number of them (particularly the hoppier varieties) lack aroma and, almost to a brew, they come across as slightly sweet, most likely due to low attenuation. But as far as crimes against beer go, these Desperados have worked their way down from serial murder spree to jaywalking.
A hefeweizen is brewed to style, its extra sugariness giving it a banana-cream-pie profile. India pale ales Jailbreak and Pancho Villa (a double IPA) have a sharp bitterness in the finish that helps refresh one’s palate. The house saison comes across with a great amount of citrusy fruit flavor, as does a Belgian-style tripel that also features some bubble gum character. The darkest beer of the day, an Irish-style red ale, was grainy and a bit flat, but again, this is worlds away from the horrors of the past.