Perpetually dressed in black and looking like a tad like a lord of the gothic underworld, Brian Mitchell cuts an imposing figure. Back that up with the fact he isn’t scared to speak his mind about his beer or anybody else’s and one might expect him to be a bit of an outsider among local brewers. Quite the contrary. He’s made a great many friends in the industry who admire his frankness, because its rooted in a love for the craft of brewing and desire to see the industry remain innovative and artistic versus revenue-focused and cookie-cutter. Those in his inner-circle get him, but as one might expect, companies chasing trends (e.g., fruit-extract beers, session-for-the-sake-of-being-session beers) simply peg him a curmudgeon. So, it’s fitting that, in staking out to build his own business, he’s gone with the name Pariah Brewing Company (3052 El Cajon Boulevard, North Park).
Mitchell’s interest is the first of three brewing companies that will lease space at Brewery Igniter’s upcoming North Park, ready-to-brew facility. Developed by H.G. Fenton, Pariah’s 2,000-square-foot combined brewery and tasting room suite will be outfitted with a 10-barrel Premier Stainless System. Completely customizable, it will be up to the Pariah team to breathe life and personality into. Mitchell says they’re going for a place where Jack the Ripper and Louis Carroll can both feel comfortable enjoying a pint. Not exactly conventional, but that’s the point…and that’s Mitchell.
“Pariah really speaks to how I’ve gone about my life. I’ve never made decisions based solely on what others believed to be correct and that’s something I feel strongly about…even if it does get me in trouble from time to time,” says Mitchell. “Being called crazy or a moron never really bothers me because I’m just doing what I believe to be best at that moment. It will translate to the business ethos as our team is both comprised and surrounded by ‘morons’ who are equally individualistic.”
Mitchell recalls being called a moron, literally, when he brewed 10 barrels of Gose in 2010 when a previous employer asked him to brew a “German wheat beer.” At the time, no local breweries were producing the kettle-soured, salt-infused Gose beer style. Now, kettle-sours are one of the fastest growing styles in the brewing industry with Gose and Berliner Weiss (both Germanic wheat-based beers) leading the charge. Recently, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company released its own mass-distributed take on Gose to rave reviews. This puts Mitchell a half-decade or so ahead of the country’s second-largest independent craft brewing company. Not too shabby.
Mitchell, who previously brewed at La Jolla Brew House, Helm’s Brewing Company and, most recently, Stone Brewing Co., plans to be similarly unconventional at Pariah, where he says he intends to push buttons and attempt to break new ground. Like most local beer enthusiasts, Mitchell loves a good India pale ale. He intends to brew several spins on the style, but he and his team are looking forward to exploring different ingredients and processes to make special beers that aren’t so much like those already available throughout the county. One he is particularly excited about is a beer exclusively fermented using a yeast culture captured from a flowering tree in his own backyard. Not “backyard” as in North Park or San Diego…his actual backyard. Bone-dry, hoppy and “funky fresh,” it’s like nothing he or the veterans he’s shared it with have ever experienced.
The aforementioned beer is bound to elicit interest from beer fanatics, but they’ll need to wait until the third quarter of 2016. That is the current debut estimate for Pariah, which will aim to produce 1,700 barrels per year once up and running. And if your interest is particularly high, as in you might be interested in taking part in the business, Mitchell and partner, Dennis Schoenwald are actively seeking strategic partners and can be reached via email.