New English checks off all of the boxes on my “What I want out of craft beer” list. I don’t actually have a physical list anywhere, but if I did, the boxes would include items such as “Is the brewery in some random, obscure industrial park?” Yes, it is. “Is the ‘tasting room’ really just eight square feet of space that they carved out of the brewery area so they could sell beers on site?” Yes. Yes it is. “Is the normal crowd in the brewery full of everyday people and beer lovers, without pretentiousness or any unnecessary snootiness?” Yes, it is. “Is it possible that you’re overusing this self-question and self-answer gimmick in this profile?” Yes, of course I am.
If I haven’t yet painted a clear picture, let me do so now. You enter through a raised garage door on the side of a building sitting below the 5 freeway. There are brewing supplies on racks to your left, random brewing detritus along the wall to your right, a small bar straight ahead of you, and big, serious looking brewing things in the far right quarter. There are a handful of barrels and tables for people to sit their beverages on and that about summarizes everything inside of the bar. The staff is always congenial but tends to be less chatty and more business, likely due to the fact that this place is always packed. Being surrounded by the multitude of biotechs, software companies, and Qualcommness that make up the Sorrento Valley area, coupled with the fact that there are really no places to get a beer in the immediate vicinity (outside of the Sorrento Valley Racquetball/Yoga80 building or AJs Cave, and of course, Karl Strauss when it reopens), this seems to be the place to go. As well it should be. The sum total of the place is convivial and inviting; a great place to go with a few coworkers or friends after a long day of work. Or a short day of work. Whatever floats your boat.
As for the beers, they pour good stuff. While I haven’t yet tried either of their stouts, I’ve had everything else that is currently on tap in either draft or bottle form. You’ll find the individual beer reviews elsewhere on this blog, but they’re generally balanced and full-flavored. I know that sounds vague, but what I mean to convey is that you feel like you’re drinking a craft beer, not a generic tastes-like-everybody-else’s-beer beer. When I say balanced, I mean that the beers taste thoughtful, considered, and complete. You know that the brew master didn’t say “Just put more hops in it and it will be fine,” at any point in the brewing process. Even though I wasn’t particularly crazy about the Dragoon American Red Ale because of its heavy earthy taste, I knew that it wasn’t just an issue of being over-hopped, but a choice that the brewer made to give it that full taste.
Another thing that I really like about this brewery is that they stick with their theme. Since I’m an odd duck, I always like to see breweries stick with their themes very closely. While they do give some nods to their roots (Sorrento Valley with the Zumbar Imperial Stout and So Cal in general with their Humbly Legit IPA) New English has a British solider thing going on, and they slap it on several of their labels. The names like Dragoon, Trooper’s Tipple, and Explorer give me that complete, my-OCD-is-satisfied feeling.
This is a good brewery that you should certainly check out.