There are plenty of reasons you may have already heard about Beach Grease Beer Co. Aside from having a website and social-media presence, the company has sales feet on the street and, as a result, has had beer on tap at roughly 50 San Diego County accounts over the past three weeks. That initial offering is Surf Reaper Golden IPA. But this interest has been mostly a mystery to those in the local brewing scene and easily the business I’ve been asked about the most over the past several months. Finally, there are answers and details about this upcoming entrant into North County’s fermentation field.
Beach Grease is the brainchild of James Banuelos, who comes to beer-manufacturing following a successful career in the fashion industry. He founded the clothing brands Us Versus Them (which is licensed to Stussy), City Fog Surf Co. (which was acquired in 2013) and Trustworthy, Ltd. Those brands paid homage to California subcultures including surfing, hot rods and custom motorcycles. A fan of craft beer, Banuelos never felt like the people in his social circles—those into the aforementioned Cali cultural sects—were authentically engaged by any brewery. Beach Grease is the vehicle he hopes to use to accomplish that.
Currently, Surf Reaper is contract brewed at Mission Brewery in downtown San Diego’s East Village, but that will not always be the case. After an extensive search, Banuelos has decided to set up his company’s headquarters at 3125 Scott Street in Vista. Easy access to major highways was a key attribute leading to his decision.
Over the next four-to-six months, he will be working to install a 10-barrel brewhouse (which will be manned by a professional brewer, the identity of which Banuelos is not at liberty to disclose at present). That apparatus will produce what Banuelos calls “climate-driven beers” that are “poundable.” Surf Reaper is a 6.9% alcohol-by-volume West Coast IPA hopped with Citra and Mosaic. It will be joined by a hoppy pilsner called Piston Palm, a hazy IPA, black lager and double IPA. Beach Grease’s beers will be bottled and canned within the next two or three months.
As far as the tasting room goes, expect a “modern art gallery” feel that incorporates surf, skate, automobile and cycle components. This will include classic car chassis and plenty of recognizably SoCal aesthetic elements. It’s Banuelos’ intention to primarily service visitors to his home base as well as people and accounts nearby, while bringing something he feels doesn’t already exist to Vista. He says it’s also important to him to respect the breweries that paved the way for new guys like him who, as a result, are able to enter the craft-beer community.