Beers by the Bay
By Brian Riehm
Our family made a Sunday afternoon outing to Societe Brewing (pronounced society) in Kearney Mesa at 8262 Clairemont Mesa Blvd. This has been one of my favorite breweries for some time, as I am partial to Belgians. Societe divides their brews into three categories. The first, “Old World,” consists primarily Belgians, but they also have two lagers on tap now. They have gone to the expense to install refrigeration necessary for the colder fermenting process that lagers require. Their second category is “Out West.” These are primarily West Coast IPAs, with the full hopping you would expect from a San Diego brewer, although they also brew one English style IPA. Their last category is “Stygian” for their stouts, referring to their dark and dank character.
We sampled a decent variety of their offerings. My favorite was “The Madam” a golden Belgian Ale. It is crisp, spicy, and surprisingly light tasting for a beer with 9% alcohol. It compares well to offerings from Belgium like Piraat. One of my all time favorite dark Belgians, the Widow was excellent as usual, but I was more partial to the golden Belgian on this trip. I seldom sample San Diego lagers, but gave the Heiress (Czech Pilsner) a try. (A Pilsner is a style of lager.) It is an excellent beer that would go great on a hot afternoon with a BBQ burger, but with enough grain and hops to hold your interest. The Bachelorette was a hoppy lager that defied easy characterization, being less hop forward than other beers in this style.
The stouts did not disappoint either. The Bellowsman had an incredible smoky flavor, but was still easy to drink. The Butcher is a boozy, smooth Stout with some of the clove and banana notes we expect from Belgians. These are great stouts, but if you are looking for bitter chocolate notes in your Stout, then these aren’t your beers.
My wife, Michele, is the hop-head in the family, so she stuck with one of her go-to IPAs, The Pupil, regularly featured at Luce Bar & Grill on Morena. This is a nice piney IPA with a little extra sweetness that balances it out. It is above average in alcohol content at almost 8%. Sample sizes come in 3 oz pours, so you can sample a wide variety over a few hours, or you can order 6 or 12 oz. glasses. They also offer 1 and 2 liter growler fills to take home your favorites. Unfortunately, they don’t bottle for the store yet.
While Societe is located in an industrial park, the interior character is sort of turn of the century Western, not exactly “old west” like BNS in Santee. They have a regular rotation of mobile food vendors. On our visit, the BBQ from Grill Fellas Catering featured mouth-watering wood-smoked pulled pork and tri-tip that was the perfect pairing with great beer.
Brian Riehm is a long-time Clairemont resident and follower of the local craft beer scene. You can keep up with all his beer reviews by following @BrianRiehm on Twitter and reading his blog (brianssandiego.blogspot.com)