Tom Nickel... the man, the myth, the legend. You can't talk about the San Diego craft beer scene without his name coming up. Perhaps I gush too much, but I am just so excited that his new brewery, Nickel Beer Co., has finally opened up in Julian. Just over a week old, I am confident that this young brewery will be a permanent fixture in the small mountain community. Busy as a bee, caring for his new "baby", Tom was right at home tending bar the day of my visit. With 3 beers available, a Pale Ale, an IPA, and a Stout, I was eager to try each one. Try, I did, and disappointed, I wasn't! I inadvertently sampled the Chinook IPA first, thinking it was the Pale Ale. Once I tried the Pale Ale I realized my mistake. Hoppy and easy to drink, a bit of smoke in the finish made for a unique IPA experience, a must if you want to stand out among all the other IPA's San Diego has to offer. The Julian Pale Ale was exceptional. Tom said it was "almost" where he wanted it, but I wouldn't change a thing! Light and crisp, the hops are present but not overly so. Given the choice between a Pale Ale and an IPA, I always choose the IPA. This beer has me questioning that decision. Finally, I tried the Stonewall Stout. While I am not a huge fan of Stouts (like you didn't already know that) it was an excellent representation of the style. I can imagine sipping this roasty brew while watching the snow gently fall outside the cozy brewery walls. I was impressed, but not surprised, by the quality of each of the beers, and am anxious to try more as they become available. Julian is a great place to go for a day trip, and now you have another reason to go besides pie!