Harland Brewing Company

Harland Brewing Company in San Diego, California

Harland Brewing’s Story

The beginning for Harland Brewing Company began in 2013, when then owner Josh Landen opened Saint Archer Brewing and two short years later, became the first San Diego Craft Brewery to sell to a major beer conglomerate, Miller Coors.

Miller Coors included in the sale a “Two Year No Competition Clause” for Mr. Landen, but as time passed he grew to miss brewing beer. So once the two years were up, he cobbled together 47 investors and established Harland Brewing Company with the company’s mantra being, “A Labor of Beer”.

Initially, Mr. Landen, in 2017, leased brewing time from Bitter Brothers Brewing while Harland’s brewing facility was constructed. In tandem, with the brewery’s construction, Mr. Landen gambled by also constructing a Satellite taproom.

In my opinion, there is a different ‘vibe’ associated with Taprooms. Whether those Taprooms are at the Brewery or Satellite locations. Harland Brewing’s establishment of this Satellite Taproom in Carmel Valley is, in my opinion, an Oasis in a craft beer desert.

I should clearly identify my bias as this Taproom is less than a 5-minute walk from my condo.

The Taproom

A Labor of Beer

Upon walking into the Taproom there is a “Brick & Mortar” feel in the ambiance. Two large front doors wide open and welcoming. Right beneath the Harland Brewing Company sign. I can remember going to many local bars in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego, many of the them had pool tables. I can’t think of a single taproom I’ve been that had pool tables.

My First Taproom with a Pool Table.

Well, there’s a pool table in Harland Brewing Company’s taproom. It also has an old school, shoot ‘em up video game complete with plastic rifles. I didn’t check this out personally, although I wouldn’t be surprised if all it took was a quarter to play the game. These additions to me make this feel like a neighborhood hangout.

There an interesting, ‘mural’ of a man on a Motorcycle on one of the walls. Based on discussion with a few of the employees, this may be an homage to one of the investors who refurbishes and rebuilds motorcycles.

The Taproom has 5-Large Screen TVs at various locations in throughout the Taproom. Since I was there on a Saturday afternoon. Each TV had a different College Football game playing. I got to the Taproom around 12:00, by 13:00 there were 30 -40 people in the Taproom. By the time I left around 14:00, there were easily 50 plus people there. My initial concern was the location in One Paseo would make it difficult for people to find the Taproom. That was clearly not the case. I guess it’s easy to find an Oasis in a desert.

Enjoying Life in a Blue Collar Fashion

Harland Brewing’s Taproom does not serve any food. I did see several bags of Tortilla Chips that I assume are available for purchase. That is not going to be a negative impact on this Taproom. Within the One Paseo shopping complex there are multiple restaurants. Harland has menus from those restaurants. Some of those restaurants will deliver to Harland Brewing, others are available for carry out. All within 2-3 minutes from the Taproom.

A final thought on the location of this taproom. Currently there are 600+ luxury apartments and two large office buildings under construction right at the edge of Harland Brewing’s property. Speaking with several of the employees, I found that once construction of the office buildings is completed, the taproom intends to increase the outdoor seating area. This will significantly increase their capacity allowed. With San Diego’s beautiful temperate climate, outdoor seating should be very popular.

The Beer

I know I’m long winded, I think what you want to know about is the beer.

I started off with a flight of four beers. You get your choice of any four beers. 6-oz pours for $12.00. The beers I tried were their Japanese Lager, IPA, Oktoberfest, and BOOBerry Pastry Stout.

From Left to Right: Japanese Lager, IPA, Oktoberfest, BOOBerry Pastry Stout

Japanese Lager- This beer was crisp and clean with a short-lived white soapy head which provided nice lacing on even a small glass. The beer clocks in at 5% ABV. The surprise for me was a bitter finish to the beer. I asked the beer tender to confirm the bitterness. I think because most of the beers I drink are IPAs or Hoppy Pale Ales my tongue is permanently contaminated with hoppiness and bitterness. He confirmed that bitterness is intentional. I really liked this beer.

IPA-American- The beer had the expected fresh hoppy aroma. It was not Hazy or Translucent. The hoppiness continued into the flavor joined by a citrusy addition which I assume is from the Nelson & Cashmere hops. This beer clocks in at 7% ABV. In my opinion, a ‘Textbook’ San Diego IPA.

Oktoberfest- This beer had a toasty aroma to it. The mouthfeel was effervescent. For me this was unusual for a Marzen. The higher carbonation I felt was getting in the way of the typical malty sweet smoothness of a Marzen. It was still an enjoyable beer. This beer clocks in at 5.6% ABV.

BOOBerry Pastry Stout- My first reaction was WOW! Deep black color brewed with Blackberries and Vanilla beans. Short-lived creamy tan head. At 12% ABV, this beer is boozy as it gets. I was impressed enough about this beer to get a 32-oz crowler to bring home.

Mexican Lager

The next two beer I bought were each Pints.

Mexican Lager- This is not a Vienna Mexican Lager. A solid gold translucent color. Sweet aroma is present. Not just from the malt, also from the addition of corn. Highly carbonated, with a white soapy foam. Effervescent mouthfeel. Crisp, clean, and crushable. As usual with Mexican Lagers, I wondered how it would taste with lime and salt. The beer was excellent by the way, without lime and salt. I guess I will have to buy a sixer next time around to bring home and try it out with lime & salt.

Kenchiro Pale Ale

Kenchiro Pale Ale- I was told by the beer tender that this beer does not have rice in it. Kenchiro is simply a pseudonym for the brewer who made this beer. This beer is styled as a San Diego Pale Ale. This beer is an excellent representation of that style. Taking the hoppiness right up the edge of being an IPA without crossing the line. Tony Gwynn would be impressed.

The prices for beers are typical for the San Diego area. A pint going for $6.50 – $8.00 depending on ABV levels. As required in San Diego, any beers over 8% ABV will be shorter pours for similar prices.

All beers under 8% can be purchased in 32-oz crowlers for $10.00 – $13.00. Over 8% beers are $13.00+ depending on ABV and seasonal availability.

In conclusion, if you ever visit San Diego, head North on I-5 towards the Del Mar Racetrack. Take the Del Mar Heights Road exit, turn right. You’ll find Harland Brewing in the One Paseo shopping complex off El Camino Real. Believe me, it’s worth it.

Regis Schmerheim

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