White Labs Tasting Room
Located in the central San Diego area, the White Labs facility totals about 13,720 square feet and is situated in what has become a popular area for San Diego breweries.
I had heard a lot about the new tasting room that they recently finished and was excited to have the chance to check it out. I didn’t know much about the concept and was surprised to see so many taps and a long line-up of beer styles fermented with a wide variety of yeast strains.
The iphone camera I was using definitely did not do any justice for the pictures, but when you walk in and step up to the tasting bar, I was impressed with all the high end contemporary finishes and a large LCD TV with all the styles on tap. Each style is also labeled with the yeast strain used for that particular fermentation.
For example, if you like porters, you can get a flight of 4-5 tasters of the same porter, but each one was fermented using a different strain. This is a great way to get a first hand taste into how each variety of yeast affect fermentation based on its profile and characteristics.
Sean happened to be behind the tasting bar and was very knowledgeable and helpful when I was deciding on which flight of beer style to go with. I chose the red ale that included a flight of 5 tasters. He laid out a dry-erase place mat and labeled each taster with the corresponding number from the menu board. This way, I didn’t have to think much about remembering which one had which yeast.
The yeast strains for this flight included Pacific Ale, Cry Havoc, East Coast Ale, American Ale and European Ale. I consider myself to have a terrible palate with craft beer that has improved and is still improving the more styles and flavor profiles I taste. With that being said, I didn’t think I would be able to pick apart the differences in each yeast strain.
Fact of the matter was, I did pick them apart and although I’m not one to have several creative adjectives to describe what I’m drinking, each of these red ales had very different and some similar characters to them. In the end, it got me fired up to try strains I normally might shy away from because of unfamiliarity.
I would estimate the tasting room to be approximately 2,000 square feet. In addition, the tasting bar includes 3-4 barrels for resting tasters and two displays of White Labs gear and their new Test Kits – all available for sale. There is also a window from the tasting room looking into a very labratory-like room where the company completes the evaluations of the test kits.
Finally, the building has a large training room that is set up like a classroom with several tables and chairs. On my visit, it was empty except for one “student” buried in a laptop.
Again, White Labs is perfectly located in an area of San Diego that can be described as the “bulls-eye” for local breweries. After stopping in for a flight or two and perhaps a tour, craft brew enthusiasts and home brewers can also visit commercial breweries in the immediate area that include, Ballast Point, Alesmith, Green Flash, Societe and Hess. Also, within a 15-20 minute drive, you can reach other breweries including Karl Strauss, Stone, Pizza Port, Mission, New English and Iron Fist.