11 in ’11 is our cover story for the January 2011 issue. Scroll down on the editorial page to see where you can pick up a copy.
We recently overheard someone liken the San Diego Craft Beer Community to a Gold Rush-era Boomtown. We think it’s quite fitting. Instead of prospectors coming to stake their claim in search of gold, talented individuals and businesses in San Diego are grabbing their piece of the craft beer action by providing a resource, organizing local events or, well, making beer. Here’s our 11 that will define 2011 in San Diego Beer.
Born alongside San Diego Beer Week 2009, TapHunter.com is the product of marketing maven Mel Gordon & husband/tech whiz Jeff “Flash” Gordon. TapHunter’s crowdsourced website & iPhone application help local beer lovers find where they can sip their favorite brews on tap. Their 2010 SD Brewery of the Year Awards were a hit as AleSmith came out on top; we’re looking forward to see who takes the prize in 2011’s vote. What will set TapHunter apart in the new year is their Straight From the Tap program. A weekly online service that will team up with a local business to provide a special coupon/voucher deal, Straight From the Tap is geared to bringing the consumer substantial, targeted savings on the beer they love. Great deals on local beer? Yes please. Signing up is as easy as having an email address and visiting their website: taphunter.com/straight-from-the-tap
Stone Brewing Co.
The local behemoth of arrogance and innovation, Stone Brewing Co. is planning to open the Stone Company Store South Park sometime in 2011. This brilliant move will bring their palate-destroying beers closer to the greater San Diego population, while also helping define the already craft-beer saturated South Park end of 30th Street. Never satisfied or stagnant, Stone is simultaneously scouting a location in Europe to open brewing facilities. The last that West Coaster heard, Stone had narrowed the list of cities down to two: Bruges and Berlin. To feel what it’s like to be courted by Stone, or if you’re hankering to open the next big thing in Europe, check out their Request for Proposal online at stonebrew.com/rfp/
Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits
No heavy-hitters list would be complete without Ballast Point, and San Diegans should expect more big things from both brewery & spirits departments in 2011. “We are not a one-trick pony, instead [we are] driven by the roots of home brewing,” assured Director of Sales Earl Kight. “We create and create again and again.” Nowhere is this more true than Home Brew Mart in Linda Vista, where it all began in 1992. Watch for HBM’s GM and BP Specialty Brewer Colby Chandler to continue producing interesting variations of the award-hogging Sculpin IPA, including ghost and habanero pepper versions. More key developments: bottle labels are being designed for both the highly-coveted Fathom IPL (India Pale Lager) as well as the Sour Wench Blackberry Ale. Longfin Lager, “that easy-drinking, warm-weather favorite, has a 12oz label and six-pack holder almost ready to go.” Let’s not forget that demand for the Pale Ale and Big Eye IPA continues to grow in the local market. With all of this planned production, the need for increased capacity is inevitable; rumor has it that the main brewery in Scripps Ranch will be gearing up for another serious expansion this spring.
Founded by homebrewer Dan Brown, SD-native foodie/teacher Eric Martin and local church pastor Josh Carter, BrewDiego.com launched back in November as an intuitive and easy-to-navigate resource for San Diego Craft Beer. Their main 2011 focus: producing high-quality videos that delve behind the scenes of the craft beer industry. Whether it’s interviewing brewers, taking brewery tours, or documenting events, BrewDiego will put faces to big industry names. Their blogging and social media outlets are also being developed because, according to Dan, “we really enjoy the relationships and conversations we’ve had with the people who are brewing here. We want to help bridge the gap between those brewing the beer and those drinking it.” More specifically, their target audience includes enthusiasts eager to learn more, those locals who previously found getting into craft beer overwhelming, and beer tourists looking for creative local resources.
Lee Chase & Automatic Brewing Company
The talented UC Davis & Stone Brewing Co. Alumnus keeps his laboratory quietly secluded in the inner sanctum of Blind Lady Ale House. We’ve seen some deliciously clever beers from Lee. Examples include Automatic’s ginger & coriander’d #1 Belgian Ale, Chocolate Rain Oatmeal Stout, Sex Panther Strong Ale, and most recently, a duo of Belgian White Ales – Light Whitening and Thank You Mamm (which was actually pink!). Lee’s been covertly scouting and purchasing new equipment, but has been careful not to let slip what exactly he is up to. Whatever it may be, it’s going to rule. Blind Lady Ale House has redefined the dinner scene in Normal Heights, and Automatic Brewing is the first licensed brewery in the craft beer-saturated uptown neighborhoods. West Coaster will be watching him from behind an Honest Pint-certified brew & a slice of Napoletana-inspired pizza.
AwesomeBeerDrinkers.com started with Michael Bowen and Alex McKee. According to Michael, the mission of ABD is simple: “To bring the gospel of good beer to the masses, and help support the growth of the craft beer scene in any way we can.” How’d they choose their name, you ask? “The name was simple: Mike said ‘we have an Awesome idea’ and Alex said ‘we need more Beer to Drink.’” Aside from a well-put-together website that is developing into a fine resource for all things craft beer in San Diego, what will set Awesome Beer Drinkers apart in 2011 will be their monthly tastings. The next ABD Tasting will be January 22nd @ The Beer Company in Downtown from 4-8pm. To quote them: “We will be featuring a ridiculous assortment of hand-selected craft brews provided by the Best Damn Beer Shop for your tasting enjoyment.” For more details and to RSVP, visit AwesomeBeerDrinkers.com
Iron Fist came out swinging when they opened their doors in October of 2010. Their revolutionary theme lends itself well to the line up of beers offered by this family-run brewery, as well as the brewer himself. Their brews are crafted by the youngest Head Brewer in San Diego – Brandon Sieminski. At only 21, Brandon’s come up with quality brews such as the bold Dubbel Fisted and the crisp Spice of Life. His newest creation, The Gauntlet Imperial IPA, is unlike anything we’ve ever tasted (in the best way). Adrian Sieminski, Iron Fist’s sales representative & brother to Brandon, reports that the beer is spreading across the county. We expect Iron Fist to continue pummeling palates in 2011.
San Diego Beer Week 2011
Ready or not, SDBW is back in just ten months. Simply considering the sheer number of events held during 2010’s countywide ten-day festival (close to 500), it’s difficult to predict what will come during the Week’s third incarnation in 2011. What we do know is that the only way is up; unknowing San Diegans will begin to learn what the beer tourists already know, and the promotion of locally-produced beer will serve to strengthen the local economy. SDBW is an all-around win for all businesses that believe in the power San Diego Craft Beer.
Manzanita Brewing Company
A member of the class of July 2010, Manzanita has been growing faster than anyone expected. After spreading into the adjacent industrial suite off Prospect Avenue in Santee, Manzanita expanded their tasting room from 90 sq. feet to 550 sq. feet. There’s now a 9 ½ foot full-size bar, a ~30 ft. standing bar surrounding the tables, and barstools that fill up the room. Manzanita will begin bottling 22oz bottles in 2011, and their production ability will expand with the upgrade from a 7-barrel system to a 20-barrel system. “We’re going to start bottling 1000 (bombers) a week and see how it goes, and expand our system as soon as we find equipment,” says Jeff Trevaskis, CEO of Manzanita. Head Brewer Garry Pitman is looking to begin entering Manzanita brews into local and national competitions in 2011 as well. Watch as the unique trademark handmade Manzanita wood taphandle carves a space in draft lineups around the county.
33rd Annual American Homebrewers Association National Homebrewers Conference
Former San Diego Brewers Guild President Colby Chandler said it best last month: “2011 is the homebrewer’s year to shine! Now is the time to learn how to make beer San Diego!” Whether you’re a new-comer to the homebrew scene, or a seasoned veteran, the National Homebrewers Conference is the place to be in June. This year will mark the first time the conference has come to San Diego. Another first: an opening-day Pro-Am Competition featuring San Diego’s best brewery/homebrewer teams vying for bragging rights in a free-for-all, no-style-guidelines match-up. As of press time, several big San Diego names are scheduled to speak at the conference, including Port Brewing Co./The Lost Abbey’s Co-Owner and Brewmaster Tomme Arthur, Stone Brewing Co.’s CEO & Co-Founder Greg Koch, Owner of O’Brien’s Pub Tom Nickel, White Labs’ Founder & President Chris White, and AleSmith Brewing Company’s Owner Peter Zien.
Let there be no doubt, Hess Brewing convincingly anchors the western end of the Miramar brewery circuit with a nano-system that proves the merits of quality over quantity, producing 1.6 barrels, or just 51 gallons, per batch. Expect that to change in 2011. Hess just bought four new 3-barrel fermenters and is looking into some opportunities on a 15-barrel brewhouse to get beer into the marketplace. Whether that means a re-design of their current space or a new Miramar location altogether, Propietor & CBO Mike Hess told us, “I expect that we’ll have around 200 barrels brewed in our second six months. From there…who knows? That’s up to our fans!” Other 2011 plans: a new growler, CU Boulder (Mike Hess’ alma mater)-style FAC (Friday Afternoon Club) festivities, and more limited release beers