Brewery Stop: Nickel Beer Co. in Julian

Here's To The SuperBloom! Cheers To The SuperBREWS!

March 22, 2019

After being dragged out to Anza Borrego by the missus for the umpteenth time to see the flowers, there’s a few things I’ve learned over the years:

  1. One of the least crowded spots to get calendar worthy shots of the desert lilies is along Pegleg Road.
  2. Traipsing around amongst the rocks, sand and chollas in sandals is NOT a good idea.
  3. The freshly brewed ales at Nickel Beer in Julian make the whole botanical odyssey well worth the trip.

And that’s exactly where we stopped this week. So glad we did. Tom Nickel is no stranger to those who seek out the best of the best craft beers. As the proprietor of the famed O’Brien’s Pub and West Coast BBQ, beer geeks have been standing in line to shake his hand for years. But there’s no need to stand in line to drink his beers at his roadside oasis on the east side of “downtown” Julian. To be sure, you’ll always find the locals out on the patio, along with a few net-savvy tourists. You can easily strike up a conversation with anyone (you’ll be glad you did), play cornhole, and take in some gorgeous views—all while enjoying some of the freshest, bestest beer in the county. The dry and dusty desert sure works up a thirst, and this is a great way to slake it into submission.

  • Start out with the Back Country Gold. It’s a thirst-quenching, lightly hopped cream ale that’ll disappear from your pint glass in the blink of an eye. You might want two…4.7% abv
  • Next, if it’s chilly outside (and it was today), try the Filthy Paws Porter. This richly bodied brew has a hint of smoked caramel and cocoa nibs, and is superbly balanced. It’s always been my go to after a hike when the temperature starts to drop. Plus I had my dog Koda with me today, whose paws are definitely filthy after that tramp up Volcan Mountain. No brainer. 5.5& abv
  • Now to brighten things up a bit and enjoy the sun with the absolutely outstanding Bruce Banner Grade double IPA. Blasting, beautiful citrus, stone fruit and tropical aromas, it’s almost like eating a peach—except it finishes clean and you won’t need handy wipes. 8.0% abv
  • Can’t promise this one will be around much longer, as it was brewed for St Paddy’s Day. The Whiskey Soaked Oak Chip Irish Red perfectly blends notes of vanilla whiskey spice with the toasted caramel red malts. Jay-zus, Mary and Joseph! What a perfect way to end a perfect day! Slainte!

Oh yeah, and then there’s the flowers. Cheers!

Raising a toast to one of Ken & Koda's favorite hiking spots, Volcan Mountain. Cheers!