From the Beer Writer: When I first visited Escondido Brewing, it exceeded my expectations big-time. Keep in mind, it was billed to me as the smallest brewery in the county. While that may be true from a square-footage perspective, when it comes to ambition and innovation, that couldn’t be further from the truth. From the beginning, co-owner Evan Smith has applied the same envelope-pushing business sense that made a widely-renowned success out of EBC’s parent company, Escondido Feed & Pet Supply (of which the brewery is an enclave) to his fermentation operation. I remember hoping that this tiny yet charming, somewhat-hidden side-street spot would be embraced by locals with the likes of powerhouse Stone Brewing two short miles away. I’m happy to say it has, because every community–even those outfitted with gargantuan, tourist-ready beer playgrounds from one of the biggest craft brewing interests in the world–needs a neighborhood brewery, and this is a good one. The beers taste good and bear names referencing their hometown, the most popular of which is Hopcondido, an India pale ale (IPA) based on an award-winning homebrew recipe from head brewer Ketchen Smith. Exhibiting tantalizing citrus scents and flavors from modern-day hops (Mosaic, Citra), plus pininess and a delicately tacky bitterness from Centennial and Columbus, Hopcondido tastes like IPAs from 2006 and 2016 had a love child, and it’s a sterling introduction to a business built, in every sense, for Escondidians.
From the Brewer: “Hopcondido was my continued pursuit of a balanced West Coast IPA as a homebrewer. It won seven awards, including second place out of 436 entries in the IPA category at the 2017 American Homebrewers Association‘s National Homebrew Competition, and contributed to the QUAFF (Quality Ale and Fermentation Fraternity) Homebrew Club of the Year medal count. I did rename it for the last three homebrew competitions I entered to pay homage to my dog who passed away during that brew batch, so it was called ‘Marshall Nose,’ but it was the same recipe. As I scaled it for the brewery, there were some tweaks to dial it in and it has become our best-selling beer. It is a balanced IPA done in true West Coast style at 7.5% alcohol-by-volume with Columbus, Centennial, Mosaic and Citra hops. We do some limited distribution with it at some local spots like Burger Bench and Churchill’s Pub and Grille, but we try and have it on all the time at the brewery. It’s hard to keep up with demand, but we are hoping to start limited canning of it in the upcoming months, which is very exciting!”–Ketchen Smith, Co-owner & Head Brewer, Escondido Brewing