Downtown El Cajon may not be the next, Next North Park, but if you look across the parking lot from the Ross Dress For Less, you will spot the city’s newest brewery.
110 Magnolia Ave B,, El Cajon
Creative Creature Brewing Company may also be accessed from the restaurant next door, an URBN pizza parlor. Fans will remember URBN used to keep its own brewery in this space (URBN St. Brewing). Creative Creature isn’t related, and has a different, smaller brewhouse, but if you’re hungry for pizza while drinking at Creative Creature, URBN will send it over for you.
But if your priority is pizza, there’s more seating inside the restaurant, and a full bar. The point to being on this side of the wall is to be drinking at Creative Creature. And that’s reason enough, if you ask me.
It’s a tiny operation: a trio of homebrewing friends working to capitalize on the hobby they love. Its best structural feature is a pleasant drinking patio with a view of the aforementioned Ross store. Inside, there aren’t many seats, and the most compelling view is a mural of green monsters and calavera skulls grinning from a wall behind the bar.
On the bar, I’m enjoying the house lager, El Cajones, which can be made into a michelada for an additional $1.50. The brewers contend the lager tastes like Kix breakfast cereal; I get more of a raised donut without the glaze. Either way, the crisp, light colored lager achieves a pleasant bready flavor.
Another standout is a Berliner weisse flavored with cucumber, lime, and mint. I got so caught up in the idea of a tart beer with cucumber and lime that I forgot about the mint, so the mojito-ness of the beer took me by surprise. I could see this pairing well with the sort of hot days they see in El Cajon all summer.
My favorite is the beer that pairs well with the cold and rainy weather outside while I drink: the El Cucuy Imperial coffee stout. It’s a hefty, slightly boozy 10.25%, flavored with roasted coconut, cacao, vanilla bean, and whiskey soaked oak. I get a big roasty whiff of chocolate and coffee ahead of whiskey and vanilla. The coconut makes a graceful appearance, blending into rather than dominating the rich concoction.
I’m already liking this place, and I haven’t even gotten to the litany of IPAs among the dozen or so beers on the board. In addition to the obligatory West Coast IPA, there’s a brut, a SMASH, a hazy, and even a couple of sour IPAs (you’ve got to be a fan of the style).
These guys seem to be hard at work backing up the Creative label, and doing a good job of it. Might want to settle in and order that pizza after all.