If the San Diego brewing scene provides constant proof of anything, it’s that there is strength in numbers. The foundation of the success of the local beer industry is rooted in would-be competitors working together to raise the collective tide. Of late, that method is being applied on a micro-regional scale, with companies in two brewery-dense communities banding together to brew special beers. On the surface, it seems simple, but when you look at the diversity of the breweries involved, these beers tell a story of not just brotherhood, but acceptance.
The first geographical collaboration took place in Ocean Beach, with Kilowatt Brewing bringing together nearly every brewery operating a venue within that seaside neighborhood. Staff from Belching Beaver Brewery, Culture Brewing, Helm’s Brewing, Mike Hess Brewing and OB Brewery converged at Kilowatt’s Kearny Mesa facility to brew “OB Session IPA,” a 4.8% alcohol-by-volume (ABV) India pale ale with Columbus, Simcoe, Azacca and Citra hops. That beer debuted at the 14th annual OB Oktoberfest over the weekend and is currently on-tap at Kilowatt’s OB tasting room.
“Once we all got together in a room, we quickly decided to brew a sessionable IPA,” says Kilowatt co-owner Steve Kozyk. “We came up with a basic recipe, passed it around between the breweries, collected everyone’s input, and then got together and brewed it. We’ll certainly do another collab in the future.”
Last week, the East Village’s Mission Brewery went a similar route, having an ever-growing list of neighboring interests together for a collaboration. That list was substantial, and included Amplified Ale Works, Duck Foot Brewing, Half Door Brewing, Knotty Brewing, Melvin Brewing, Little Miss Brewing and, again, Helm’s. Amplified and Duck Foot recently opened kitchen-equipped satellite tasting facilities, while Half Door and Knotty Brewing (the latter, built into bar and restaurant Knotty Barrel) have been brewing in the area for years, and Melvin is less than a month from opening its latest brewpub. Meanwhile, Little Miss is in the process of constructing an East Village tasting room. By virtue of being involved, Helm’s must have some stake in downtown’s eastern expanses, but responses to inquiries have not been received.
The East Village beer is a 7% ABV West Coast IPA brewed with Citra, Azacca and Hopsteiner experimental hop #09326. According to Mission head brewer Cody Morris, it’s hopped at about five pounds per-barrel between whirlpool, active dry-hop and terminal dry-hop. The beer will debut on Friday, November 2 at its collaborators’ East Village venues to kick off San Diego Beer Week, which takes place from November 2 to 11.
While it is always good to see members of a shared community come together, it is even more significant in the case of the East Village collaboration. Not only are newcomers to an increasingly saturated market being welcomed into the fold versus cold-shouldered or fought back behind the scenes, but established San Diego breweries are embracing an out-of-state newcomer that has faced its share of opposition in Melvin, not to mention Helm’s, a company that was purchased and now primarily manufactures beer that is de-alcoholized for use in making cannabis beer under the Two Roots Brewing brand.
“The collaboration came together with Melvin originally leading the charge to brew a beer with their East Village neighbors and soon-to-be neighbors,” says Morris. “A portion of proceeds will benefit the Alpha Project in East Village.” That non-profit human services organizations assists homeless individuals by providing work, recovery, and support services to San Diegans in need.
Collaboration remains a primary source of fuel for San Diego County’s rising tide. These regional iterations are not only strengthening connections and good will, but providing sources of pride and philanthropy for local communities.