A fresh out-of-the-box craft beer jamboree, the tasting room at Rough Draft was filled with beer tour roisterers upon arrival. One party bus was leaving the lot, another pulling in. I found the strategic waiting/sitting area that preceded the tasting room a good place to gather my beer muse. Sampling rich potions with names like Frontal Labottleme and Freudian Sip calls for a mental feinting couch in the best of situations.
Despite the crowd inside, I found room at the wrap around bar and ordered up tasters. The beertenders, gratifying and informed, could speak to me of differences between the three IPAs on tap. The solid, flowing chalk work on the board clued me in to free wi-fi. Score! My afternoon was now booked.
Rough Draft’s room feels finished, yet unstructured and open. Fermentation tanks and mash tuns stare at you behind the seating area and bar. Overturned barrels provide respite for your taster-weary digits. The back pull-down door is wide open, providing a refreshing shaft of openness. No one shows any concern about today, tomorrow, or the next wage-earning, school day. You, the brewery, the crowd, all feel at that moment like a work in progress.
The brews are entrancingly devised and offer something for both the hop head and the malt advocate. For malty, do try the Belgian Vanilla Stout, unique, with good acidity cutting the vanilla sugariness. And the Freudian Sip Strong Ale will grow hair on your growler. I tasted four beers, all with a strong reach into the San Diego pantheon. There were also four barrel-aged beauties, available by bottle only. I took one home for further research.
Rough Draft is solid therapy for the masses, a beguiling enclave tucked away in the office parks of Miramar. Just like a reputable, 50-minute-hour shrink, you’ll find yourself going back. I’ve done so twice already. Nothing is easier than talking yourself into bliss.