Suds County, USA will be shown at White Labs’ tasting room Friday night starting at 6 p.m. Here are four voices from San Diego’s early beer scene that appear in the film.
“At that time ninety-percent of the people were brewing beer with three pounds of extract and four pounds of corn sugar. It was cheap and easy and truly not all that great.”
Paul Holborn was another early homebrewer who founded Bolt Brewing in Fallbrook in 1987. In 1985 he went to raise capital for a brewpub in the then-redeveloping downtown Gaslamp area, but did not receive a positive response from potential investors:
“The first question out of their mouths was, ‘Is that legal? Can you actually do that? What do you use, bath tubs?’”
“I lived above the brewery on 4th Street and at the time it wasn’t the nicest of streets. I arrived under the impression that I was going to have some resources to help build this brewery, and once I realized (there’d be no help), we were jack-hammering concrete, doing everything!”
Skip Virgilio was perhaps the first person to start brewing Belgian-style beers in San Diego. As head brewer at the now long defunct PB Brewhouse (closed Oct. ’95), Virgilio’s Belgian Strong Ale won the first GABF gold medal for any San Diego beer in 1994. That beer became the foundation for AleSmith’s Horny Devil when Skip and fellow QUAFF member Ted Newcomb opened AleSmith in 1995/1996 (construction/first batch). His reaction to the first AleSmith batch:
“Ted and I were standing and looking at this tank and Ted said, ‘Wow, we did it…’ and I was like, ‘Holy crap, we got to sell this stuff. Who are we going to sell it to?’ It was a pretty tough sell. There were places like O’Brien’s and Pizza Port where we were friendly with those folks and they were going to take it from us whether it was good or bad. But then we got outside that small group of folks and we had to start knocking on doors and talking to people who had no idea what craft brew was and certainly didn’t care.”
Screen grabs courtesy of Sheldon Kaplan (Director/Producer) and Jeff Troeber (Assistant Editor)