A craft beer desert received its first rainfall of local ales and lagers when ChuckAlek Independent Brewers opened in Ramona in 2014. Local thirst in that small unincorporated northeast town was enough for that business to spawn a satellite tasting room and beer garden in San Diego proper’s North Park community. And in the minds of Mike Nelson and Natallie Phillips, Ramona is at the point in its sudsy development where it’s ready for a second fermentation interest. They are poised to deliver that this Saturday when they open the doors to their Smoking Cannon Brewery at 780 Main Street, Suite I.
That couple has been together for 20 years—12 of which Nelson has spent homebrewing and winning awards. (Phillips claims only three out of more than 100 recipes have failed to take honors at one competition or another.) They’ve spent the better part of the past year burning the midnight hours beyond their day-job regimens to get Smoking Cannon ready for business. Part of that process was building a three-barrel electric brewhouse to feed a pair each of three- and six-barrel fermenters, and developing recipes for beer as well as home-made ginger soda and root beer.
Non-sarsaparilla brews are largely English and American-inspired. The latter include an India pale ale, cream ale, stout, rye ale and chili pale ale, while British influence comes via a brown mild, pale ale, extra special bitter and various porters. Belgium is also represented, with a strong ale and a pumpkin-infused saison in the works. Sours and holiday-inspired seasonals will eventually figure into the equation, but for now it’s more about introducing more everyday beers.
Smoking Cannon’s grand opening will take place from 12 to 11 p.m. on May 13 and feature live music plus close friends of the owners attending dressed in Civil War-era attire. That nation-shaping skirmish is a focal point of the brewery and where it derives its name. Both brewing and the history of that era will be communicated at the tasting room, which will be open 4:30 to 9 p.m. on Thursdays, 4:30 to 10 p.m. on Fridays, 12 to 10 p.m. on Saturdays and 12 to 9 p.m. on Sundays. Phillips warns that the entrance to the business is actually on Eighth Street, so don’t let your map app fool you. Parking is available in plentitude in a large lot on the corner of Eighth and D Street.