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Beer Touring: Oceanside Ale Works

The next stop on the tour was to a place I hadn’t been in ages. Back in 2007, when I visited my uncle-in-law in Oceanside, we would regularly head to a nearby business park to visit a small brewery that, were it not for the stainless steel tanks, could have easily been mistaken for a bar. There wasn’t one time I didn’t have to wade through a sea of people to get a glass stein of Oceanside Ale Works beer.

The brews were never the main reason I went. They were OK, but nothing to write home about or venture all the way from my Rancho Bernardo domicile for. What was enjoyable was the setting: everyday people, many of them regulars, knocking off on a Friday night or going at it hard mid-day on a Saturday. Their events often featured live music as well as local food vendors (and this was way ahead of the food truck thing).

Best of all, owner Mark Purciel, who is a very nice guy beloved by his patrons (quite a few of whom he taught in his former life as a teacher), was almost always there, making the rounds with a beer in hand, chatting with nearly everybody, and making sure they were having a good time. Meh beer or not, I couldn’t help but want this guy to succeed.

And succeed he has. In 2010, Purciel and company moved Oceanside Ale Works from their out-of-the-way business park to another, much larger out-of-the-way business park with tons more space (1800 Ord Way), but the same basic MO: Make beer, but more than anything, provide a bar-like party atmosphere in which to down that beer.

It’s hard to go from packing a tiny, narrow, standard-issue suite to capacity (or often overflow), to replicating that high level of patronage in a space over double that size, but I’ll be damned if they haven’t. When I showed up, the place was packed and in full swing.

None

The strangest aspect of this steadily increasing patronage—the beer hasn’t improved. Their Buccaneer Blonde, a simple, low-alcohol refresher that was always inconsistent, but sometimes really good, tasted heavy on the palate with pronounced canned corn notes, which are often associated with DMS (Diamethyl Sulfide).

An oatmeal stout was alright, and the first colder sips of an imperial porter made me think I could probably make it through the entire 12 ounces, but as both warmed up they became progressively worse. The stout remained drinkable, but the imperial porter went from having faint malted milk ball nuances to tasting a bit like dark chocolate-covered aspirin. A good portion of that beer and the Buccaneer ended up walking the plank.

On the brighter side, the IPA and and an “extreme” pale ale tasted better and more to style. When put up against similar beers from other local breweries, they would come in as only OK, but that's better than poor and far from unacceptable. An instance that registered as the latter is what caused me to stop going to Oceanside Ale Works back in 2009 when my uncle-in-law, who was by then a fervent regular, purchased a growler of their red ale and returned home with it to find he had a glass jug that was mostly full of unpalatable sediment.

None

From a beer perspective, things could have been better, but it was hard to feel bad for anybody at Oceanside Ale Works, patron or employee. Clearly, the company is making plenty of money. Best of all, Purciel and his colleagues are doing it in the exact manner they want to—by having fun. That was one of the happiest tasting room crowds I’ve ever seen, and these days, that can’t be discounted.

None

So, while I can’t recommend the beer to those for whom it’s all about the beer, if you really don’t care about the technical merits of your brews, but like having a pint or four with your buds, you won’t be disappointed by the atmosphere Oceanside Ale Works provides. In fact, you’ll probably have a really awesome time. It's hard to say anything negative about that, especially when there's clearly a market for it.

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The next stop on the tour was to a place I hadn’t been in ages. Back in 2007, when I visited my uncle-in-law in Oceanside, we would regularly head to a nearby business park to visit a small brewery that, were it not for the stainless steel tanks, could have easily been mistaken for a bar. There wasn’t one time I didn’t have to wade through a sea of people to get a glass stein of Oceanside Ale Works beer.

The brews were never the main reason I went. They were OK, but nothing to write home about or venture all the way from my Rancho Bernardo domicile for. What was enjoyable was the setting: everyday people, many of them regulars, knocking off on a Friday night or going at it hard mid-day on a Saturday. Their events often featured live music as well as local food vendors (and this was way ahead of the food truck thing).

Best of all, owner Mark Purciel, who is a very nice guy beloved by his patrons (quite a few of whom he taught in his former life as a teacher), was almost always there, making the rounds with a beer in hand, chatting with nearly everybody, and making sure they were having a good time. Meh beer or not, I couldn’t help but want this guy to succeed.

And succeed he has. In 2010, Purciel and company moved Oceanside Ale Works from their out-of-the-way business park to another, much larger out-of-the-way business park with tons more space (1800 Ord Way), but the same basic MO: Make beer, but more than anything, provide a bar-like party atmosphere in which to down that beer.

It’s hard to go from packing a tiny, narrow, standard-issue suite to capacity (or often overflow), to replicating that high level of patronage in a space over double that size, but I’ll be damned if they haven’t. When I showed up, the place was packed and in full swing.

None

The strangest aspect of this steadily increasing patronage—the beer hasn’t improved. Their Buccaneer Blonde, a simple, low-alcohol refresher that was always inconsistent, but sometimes really good, tasted heavy on the palate with pronounced canned corn notes, which are often associated with DMS (Diamethyl Sulfide).

An oatmeal stout was alright, and the first colder sips of an imperial porter made me think I could probably make it through the entire 12 ounces, but as both warmed up they became progressively worse. The stout remained drinkable, but the imperial porter went from having faint malted milk ball nuances to tasting a bit like dark chocolate-covered aspirin. A good portion of that beer and the Buccaneer ended up walking the plank.

On the brighter side, the IPA and and an “extreme” pale ale tasted better and more to style. When put up against similar beers from other local breweries, they would come in as only OK, but that's better than poor and far from unacceptable. An instance that registered as the latter is what caused me to stop going to Oceanside Ale Works back in 2009 when my uncle-in-law, who was by then a fervent regular, purchased a growler of their red ale and returned home with it to find he had a glass jug that was mostly full of unpalatable sediment.

None

From a beer perspective, things could have been better, but it was hard to feel bad for anybody at Oceanside Ale Works, patron or employee. Clearly, the company is making plenty of money. Best of all, Purciel and his colleagues are doing it in the exact manner they want to—by having fun. That was one of the happiest tasting room crowds I’ve ever seen, and these days, that can’t be discounted.

None

So, while I can’t recommend the beer to those for whom it’s all about the beer, if you really don’t care about the technical merits of your brews, but like having a pint or four with your buds, you won’t be disappointed by the atmosphere Oceanside Ale Works provides. In fact, you’ll probably have a really awesome time. It's hard to say anything negative about that, especially when there's clearly a market for it.

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Oceanside Ale Works’ sour surprise

Oceanside brewery’s walk on the wild side is a pleasant stroll
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Oceanside Ale Works returns — see Apr.4 update below

New owners swept up in ongoing partner dispute
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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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