Just to the northeast of San Diego lies the town of Ramona – a small-town, quiet burb in the foothills, existing far both geographically and mentally from the hustle of modern San Diego life. A (mostly) two-lane highway that follows a historic California Gold Rush-era stagecoach trail connects Ramona to the outside world, and as you pull into town one of the first businesses you pass is a very welcome sight to behold – ChuckAlek Independent Brewers. As close as it may be, we city folk don’t often get a chance to get out to towns like Ramona unless the opportunity presents itself. After a recent hike up the backside of Mount Woodson, we took the chance to head a short 5 miles up the road and drop into ChuckAlek Independent Brewers for a post-hike recharge.
The first thing you notice about ChuckAlek is that its inside vibe nicely matches the town just outside its doors. The tasting room is quite small, and has a lot of rustic decor and charm. The brewery is named after the owner’s grandfathers – Chuck and Alek – and their brew line-up is self-described as “Old School Beers for New School Palates.” This is definitely not your typical San Diego IPA factory. One look at the beautifully crafted tasting menu
(done on oak barrel staves) and you can see how they are using their 1-barrel brewing system to bring historical beer styles to life in a modern brewing style.
They offer almost all of their beers in $1.50 sample form, so we got a chance to drink almost all of the offerings on tap during our visit. Our picks of the day were quite varied in style, from the Ginger Bread Spiced Ale, to the deep and complex Conductor Baltic Porter, and our personal favorite of the bunch, the Trading Co Quadrupel – a Belgian-Style dark strong ale aged in Sangiovese wine barrels. On a cold and breezy January day, this heavy ale got better and better with each sip, slowly releasing the barrel aromas and flavors as it warmed.
Our bartender Will (a Ramona local) was highly knowledgeable about each beer he poured, and one of the nicest guys we’ve come across in a tasting room bar. He talked us through each style, and mentioned some others that we should check out on our next visit – which might be a little easier with an upcoming ChuckAlek Biergarten
opening very soon on University Ave in North Park, just behind Tostada’s.
Step outside of your regular San Diego drinking zone, both in distance and in flavors, and give ChuckAlek a visit! Cheers!
ChuckAlek Independent Brewers
2330 Main Street, Suite C