A Southern California legend said that mythical Mermaids lived in the rocks at Point Loma, the entrance to San Diego Bay off the coast of Coronado. Normally in these ancient stories, mermaids were bad omens to be avoided. In some tales, Mermaids were said to sing, much like the sirens of Greek myth. These beautiful, yet haunting songs would lull sailors into steering their vessels onto rocky shores where the mermaids would capture the occupants and devour them. Contrary to these myths of destruction, the Mermaids of Coronado were thought to sing songs of warning, to heed the dangerous Point Loma rocks, thus providing safe passage for ships into San Diego Bay. Today the Coronado Brewing Company has a Mermaid for their logo to honor these helpful legends. The brewers believe their beers have a similar call drawing in locals and travelers alike with the welcoming scent of hops as their beacon.
I found myself wondering the small seaside town of Coronado, CA, on a cloudy Sunday afternoon. An American vacation paradise, Coronado isn’t actually an island, even though it looked like one from our downtown San Diego hotel window. Coronado is a peninsula separating San Diego Bay from the Pacific Ocean and is connected to the mainland near the Mexican border. Also like an island, the best way to get to Coronado is by ferry boat from downtown San Diego, which is how I arrived that morning.
Coronado Brewing Company began back in 1996 when two brothers, Ron and Rick Chapman, wanted to make a living doing what they loved. The craft brew industry was in its infancy back then and no one could have foreseen the boom the industry would now have, which meant the brothers took on a huge risk. However, Ron and Rick had their hometown of Coronado to fall back on crafting brews with a seaside flair and a West Coast-style. It made their beers unique and soon the entire city of San Diego embraced what the brothers created. They now have nationwide distribution thanks to a new 22,000 sq. ft. production facility that opened on the mainland just this year. Through it all, the brothers haven’t lost that small coastal town feel.
I spent my midday walking along Coronado Beach, followed by a relaxing hour sitting on a rock reading a novel. Then I walked the beachside path from the famous Hotel del Coronado to Star Park. Even with the cool ocean breeze surrounding me, I worked up quite a thirst from all that walking. A cold beer would sure take care of that. Lucky for me the Coronado Brewing Company was on my way back to the ferry dock.
To quench my thirst my first instinct was to choose the Orange Avenue Wit. I chose wisely. The beer honored the main street of Coronado, which used to be lined with orange trees, and contained orange zest, coriander and orange blossom honey. With all those spices, I was expecting something sweeter, but this was a strong Belgium wheat with just enough spice to give it a beautiful orange color. I didn’t mean to, but I drank this beer rather fast. However, I still had 40 minutes to the next ferry, so I decided to order another beer and I prudently paired it with their Brewmaster Pretzel. This time I chose the Islander IPA since I was sort of on an island. I sipped the Islander between bites of my giant wood-fired pretzel to keep me from drinking it as fast as I drank the Wit. The menu said the pretzel came with house-made spicy mustard. Spicy was not the word. Hellfire was more like it. Fortunately I had the IPA to calm down my tongue.
Speaking of hops, at 75 IBUs the Islander was hoppy, but it’s not their hoppiest beer. That would be the Idiot IPA at 90 IBUs. Heck even their Red Ale has 64 IBUs. And they have not one, not two, but THREE IPAs. Along with the Islander and the Idiot, they also have the Frog’s Breath IPA at 70 IBUs and a hint of lemon and lime.
Still needing something more to tone down the spicy mustard, I requested sample of the Coronado Golden, an American-style lager. A lovely light golden color it was also quite easy and enjoyable to drink, which was a good thing because I only had 15 minutes before the next ferry left for the mainland. But wait, did I really need to get back San Diego? There would be another ferry in an hour. I sent a text to my husband to see if there was any reason for me to return to the hotel. He was still recovering from the San Diego Rock and Roll ½ Marathon with a post-race nap. He suggested we meet for dinner instead, so I no longer had to rush through my remaining beer and half pretzel.
Since I now had time for one more beer, I wanted a good one so I asked for another sample. This time I requested the Blue Bridge Coffee Stout. If this beer didn’t have alcohol in it, you could easily drink it first thing in the morning, it was that caffeinated. Then it occurred to me, why am I filling up on all these other beers when my first choice was the right choice. I ordered a second Orange Avenue Wit, with souvenir glass, and sipped slowly while discussing the future outcome of the Heat/Celtics Game 4 with one of the bartenders. When I finished I still had plenty of time to walk the three blocks back to the ferry dock.
Do not fear the Coronado siren’s call. Coronado Brewing Company is located at 170 Orange Avenue, on the corner of 2nd Street and Orange. Get your growlers filled Sunday through Thursday from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Happy hour is Monday through Friday from 2-6 p.m. Their kitchen serves up a full complement of sandwiches, burgers, pizzas and calzones along with some San Diego surf and turf.