Beer in Carlsbad: Rouleur Brewing Company and More

We drove up to Carlsbad over the weekend to check out a few breweries in the area. We hit four in total, and both my wife and I agree that although each had something to offer, one stood out among the rest.

Rouleur Brewing Company

According to Wikipedia, rouleur (pronounced "ruler") "is a type of racing cyclist considered a good all-rounder." I know nothing about the world of bicycle racing, which is the brewery's theme, but I can tell you that the beer at Rouleur Brewing Company is quite good.

The key, according to the brewery's web site, is a "proprietary Amero-Belgo yeast blend, which is a clean fermenting strain that adds hints of dark fruit, spices and a faint tartness." Having sampled all seven beers on tap at the time, I'm happy to vouch for the claim. If I had to use one word to describe the flavor profile of the brews in Rouleur's portfolio, it would be "clean."

If I had to use another, it would be "balanced," which makes for a nice change from the stereotypical San Diego hop bomb. Although this might disappoint some who are searching for the latest in-your-face IPA, it suits my palate just fine. I enjoyed the entire flight, but the three standouts were the Grimpeur, the Soloist, and the Super Clydesdale.

The Grimpeur, classified as a dark ale, drinks like a porter with a Belgian twist. It has notes of chocolate, plum, and dark toast, with a medium-full body that makes this a pleasure to drink. At 6.8% ABV it's packed with flavor and almost sessionable.

The Soloist is a golden strong ale that tastes of honey and spice, with gentle hints of green apple and banana. It's crazy smooth for 8.8% ABV, drinking more like something in the 5-6% range. Enjoy, but be mindful that this deceptively strong beer packs a surprising punch.

The Super Clydesdale (seasonal) is a DIPA that might not work for everyone thanks to its strong malt backbone and yeast presence. It has the tropical fruits and dankness expected of the style, but its 100+ IBU is extremely well hidden. Juicy and full-bodied, this drinks almost like a barley wine.

We also enjoyed the Domestique (blonde ale), the Sprinteur (red ale), the Clydesdale (IPA), and the Randonneur (saison, seasonal). All were solid, and I would gladly drink any of them again.

The tasting room, which opened in April (we were drinking their first batches!), is clean, comfortable, and well-lit. The brewery itself is in full view. Bicycle artwork adorns the wall, and an HDTV behind the bar was showing bike races. The beertenders are friendly and helpful.

Arcana Brewing

Nestled in the corner of an unassuming industrial park, Arcana Brewing boasts a very cool tasting room, with dartboards and couches complementing the steampunk theme. Of the five brews we tasted, our favorite was the Passionate Monkey braggot mead, which burst with fresh fruit flavor but wasn't cloying. It drank a little like Champagne.

The staff also get high marks for courtesy and attentiveness. If that isn't enough, the industrial park hosts a variety of intriguing shops within walking distance, including a coffee roaster, artisanal baker, sauerkraut maker, and homebrew shop.

Wiseguy Brewing Company

Wiseguy Brewing Company is another new brewery and is literally next door to Rouleur. Although none of the five offerings we tried blew us away, I'm glad to see them cranking out styles that aren't always easy to find in San Diego, such as the underappreciated altbier.

The service was super friendly, the space very relaxed. They have an assortment of board and card games that guests can enjoy while drinking (we played a few rounds of Uno), as well as a record player that guests can spin their LPs on (someone fired up Joe Cocker's Greatest Hits while we were there).

Burgeon Beer Company

We stopped by Burgeon Beer Company on the recommendation of an impeccable source who advised us that Citra Smella was a must-try. The dank and hazy New England pale ale (not IPA) didn't disappoint.

The taproom here is much larger than the others we visited and was packed on an early Saturday evening. Grill Fellas served up scrumptious tri-tip sliders (among other things) while a live band played hard rock from the '80s and '90s.

The overall vibe was a little loud and busy for my taste, but I'm an old guy who just likes to sit and talk while sipping beers with friends. If I were 20 years younger I'd adore this place.

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