When California Wild Ales was founded in 2015, former chef Cameron Pryor took the lead in production of beers in the Sorrento Valley interest’s all-sour portfolio. Late last year, Pryor and co-founder William DeWitt parted ways, leaving the latter to take overriding control.
“We have been making big changes in the tasting room. Already this year we have added more barrels and are currently aging and fermenting ninety-three barrels, with plans to add an additional twelve in the upcoming months,” says DeWitt. “We have also updated our tasting room, adding comfortable seating and new interior-design changes. A new mirror installation and couch grace the wall opposite the reclaimed wood wall, making our tasting room seem larger and brighter.”
Barrel-aging and blending are now the task of DeWitt and co-founder Zack Brager. Production of wort is contracted out to North Park’s Mike Hess Brewing.
“All of our beer is aged in oak for a minimum of nine to twelve months. We use French, American, and Hungarian oak, and a combination of barrels including red wine, white wine, whiskey, and bourbon,” says DeWitt, who is also sourcing rum and tequila barrels. “We use fresh fruit on the majority of our beer and source locally whenever possible through backyard fruit-exchange groups. We recently sourced blood oranges, pink lemonade lemons, Persian limes, tangerines, and loquats through those networks.”
When California Wild Ales opened, it did so with a brewery-club model and no tasting room. The business opened its tasting room to the public on a one-day-a-week basis last April. It wasn’t long before public hours expanded to six days per week. The tasting room is now open daily.
DeWitt and Brager keep ten sours on tap at all times in California Wild Ales’ tasting room. Beers currently in the business’ pipeline include Salted Starfruit, Triple Berry, Loquat, Berry Lemon, and Grilled Pineapple. They are also working on a cocktail-inspired series of sour ales that will feature a Margarita wild ale, whiskey sour, and Mojito wild ale.
California Wild Ales will hold a May the Fourth Be With You event on May 4, featuring a handful of specialty beers like Han So-Loquat, The Death Star(fruit), Mango Fett, C3POrange, ChewBoocha, and more. All guests wearing a Star Wars-inspired costume will get a full pour for the price of a taster.
“We are proud to be creating barrel-aged sours and wild ales in a city that is predominantly occupied by West Coast IPAs. We are happy to be able to provide something different for those who are seeking out a new flavor,” says DeWitt. “We make this style of beer because we love it. We are thrilled when people who love sour, funky ales find us. We are here for them.”
California Wild Ales is located at 4202 Sorrento Valley Boulevard, Suite L/M. Its hours of operation are 3 to 8 p.m., Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 12 to 8 p.m., Thursdays and Fridays, 12 to 7 p.m. on Saturdays and 12 to 5 p.m. on Sundays.