Thursdays are a special day at The Brewers Tap Room in Encinitas, California. It’s the day that local brewers deliver fresh kegs of specialty beer. So when manager Travis Hudson invited us to visit on a recent Thursday afternoon, the I Like Beer the Podcast, or ILB, team happily accepted.
There was quite a gathering even by 4 p.m. A mix of locals meeting to chat, a few people extending their workday with a pint, and at least two other beer enthusiasts sampling unique brews.
Indoors, The Brewers Tap Room is designed to look like a working brewery’s taproom with a long bar, TVs, and over 20 tap handles of local and specialty beers from across the country.
The lineup is complemented by an extensive can and bottle selection which includes a number of hard-to-find labels. For the non-beer drinker, wines, ciders, and hard kombuchas are available.
Outside, a beer garden allows for larger gatherings. Both indoors and outdoors maintain the feel of an enjoyable beer-centric experience.
The Brewers Tap Room is owned by Lorie and Chris Duncan, Encinitas residents themselves. Chris met Hudson at the SDSU Business of Craft Beer program and later brought him in to help manage the venue.
Hudson’s experiences with craft beer and desire to be involved in an entrepreneurship venture seem to have well prepared him not only in the curating of beer handles but in being a gracious, cheerful host. During our two-hour chat, Hudson welcomed guests by name and took quick breaks to check in with regulars.
A guiding vision of The Brewers Tap Room is to provide a neighborhood gathering place that serves beers from the many nanobreweries in the area. I enjoyed a Del Martian Amber Ale from Viewpoint Brewing, and ILB Co-host Jeff Riccitelli sipped a Burgeon Brewing Modern Clarity.
The Del Martian is a medium-bodied, malty ale with some bitterness to balance out the slight sweetness. Modern Clarity is a collaboration beer made with Boneyard Beer and Alamont. It’s a full hit, true-to-style West Coast IPA made with Citra, Strata and Cashmere hops.
Five Suits, Eppig, and BattleMage (all from Vista, California) are regularly featured in the line-up. We saw deliveries from Pure Project and Rip Current arrive during our visit. From South County, Thr3e Punks Ale shows up weekly.
Hudson shared, “I really enjoy putting on beers from breweries that people who live in Coastal North County might not get a chance to try.”
We asked Hudson what do the smaller, independent breweries offer as a unique experience with what they are making?
“The styles being produced in San Diego seem to be becoming more and more diverse. As easily as you can find the regular hop bombs everyone loves, you can now find really good lagers and even sours without having to search too far,” Hudson said. “I wouldn’t say there’s beer seasonality in San Diego, so tastes almost change with what little change in weather we have here. IPAs remain king, but exposing drinkers to really good Helles lagers and schwarzbier (black lager) or barrel-aged sours, I think, has challenged the palates of our customers.
“The die-hard hopheads have balanced things out with some crisp German-style lagers, and our bright style beer drinkers have ventured over to the bitter side. Convincing people to just try something different but also knowing what beers to bring in to keep them happy is key to retaining a customer base.”
To see what is currently on tap, check out The Brewers Tap Room beer menu on their website. It’s kept up to date for the convenience of beer enthusiasts chasing down something new or an old favorite.
During our visit, we met Llysia Calverts, an IPA lover, who enjoyed a pint with a friend while waiting for her husband to join them.
“We are Thursday regulars,” Calverts said. “We come every Thursday for the rotating beer choices. I love the IPAs. My husband comes for the hazies.”
They had plenty to choose from. Even with the exceptional variety of beer styles available, Hudson makes sure that the IPAs and Hazy IPAs are well represented. I tried the El Fremonto IPA, a collaboration between Fremont and El Segundo, upon recommendation. While billed as a West Coast IPA, it was more my style of IPA: balanced, fresh, citrusy, and a bit green–but not overly bitter.
The Brewers Tap Room boasts several nearby eateries and encourages patrons to enjoy a meal while visiting. The easiest–and team favorite–is Los Tacos right next door. Tacos and beer — a no-brainer, right?