Coronado Brewing gains solid footing

Island brewery’s mainland system dialed in nicely

Coronado Brewing — Tecolote Canyon

1205 Knoxville Street, Bay Park

A period of adjustment accompanies nearly every brewery expansion. Going from one system to another, particularly a much larger brewing apparatus, requires some getting used to. Recipes need to be ramped up, efficiencies tested, recipes further adjusted. In the meantime, beers are bound to deviate from the consistent flavors and stats produced on the previous system. Typically, brewing companies will rebrew a few core beers over and over to get things dialed in. But when Coronado Brewing Company (1205 Knoxville Street, Bay Park) moved its primary production to a much larger facility and brewhouse on the mainland, its brewers went hog-wild, producing more styles at one time than at any previous point in the company’s history. They had their reasons.

The new facility included a large tasting room equipped with 20 taps—not the type of setup a handful of everyday beers will sufficiently stock. So, in addition to mainstays like Orange Avenue Wit and Idiot IPA, CBC’s brewers crafted over a dozen specialty beers, including lower-alcohol versions of staple ales and first-time-ever brews as well as prototypes from the company’s now-defunct Tusk and Grain artisanal line. It made for an appealing beer board with increased variety, but sadly, much of the beer came in below expectations. However, with each subsequent visit, I would sample a half-dozen beers, old and new alike, and each time, there would be a bit of improvement. Just not enough to merit an update piece…until recently.

My last progress check of CBC turned up easily the best beers I’ve had since the Knoxville Street facility opened its doors. The core beers tasted much as they did back when they were exclusively produced at CBC’s island brewpub. Particularly impressive were lighter specialty beers like a nicely mineralic lager called Helles Awaits and an easy-drinking cream ale called Cream of the Hop. And Island Fever, an American wheat beer brewed with pineapple, was light, refreshing and delightfully tropical despite being a departure from traditional styles. Other more out-there varieties like a (not-overly) smoked rye stout dubbed Beechy Keen also showed well. The only semi-disappointment was a milk stout that was too low in lacto character, but Stupid Stout, CBC’s robust, viscous Russian imperial stout, made up for it. It also made me extra excited to try out the bourbon barrel-aged version of that brew, which will be released at the tasting room on January 23 along with bourbon barrel-aged Old Scallywag Barley Wine.

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