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San Diego Beer News

Crowdfunding Continues

Jun 27

THREE LOCAL VENTURES SEARCHING FOR FUNDING:

WHAT’S ON DRAFT?
Mount Carmel High School grads Tom Keliinoi & Aaron Mayer are hoping to raise $17,500 for the second season of their San Diego beer-centric TV show. For season one, director Keliinoi realized the best way to tell the story of brewers would be to become one himself, so he learned the trade at Acoustic Ales. Their Kickstarter ends on the 30th, with upcoming screening/raffle events tonight at Burning Beard, tomorrow at Culture Solana Beach, and Wednesday at Groundswell.

A recent What's On Draft? screening at Green Flash; photo by William Garcia

A recent What’s On Draft? screening at Green Flash; photo by William Garcia

INTERGALACTIC
The Miramar brewery is offering a variety of rewards in exchange for funding of their latest goals: a crowler machine, new casks, and a randall. Several of the “perks” focus on the opportunity to collaborate on unique tasting room beers, as well as gift certificates, discounts on beer and merchandise, early access to bottles and ticketed events. The largest perks allow the donator the opportunity to buy the cask ($3000) or buy the crowler machine ($5000), name it, and then receive a number of free pours for five years. Learn more here; the campaign ends in 7 days.

NOPALITO FARM
Valley Center’s Nopalito Farm & Hopyard are working on a plan to build out a 1200 square foot pergola in their avocado grove for a variety of purposes, including a “hop school” where aspiring growers or interested beer lovers can learn what it takes to grow hops. The Brownwood family, who run the eight-acre certified organic farm, are hoping to raise $4,500 for the project via on GoFundMe. Mark your calendars for a summer BBQ on July 9 featuring Amplified Ales, Monkey Paw, and The Heart & Trotter.

North Park Beer Co. open for business

Jun 24

npbc_01This article has been more than three years coming, but finally—after much work from founder and (former) homebrewer-extraordinaire Kelsey McNair and his team—North Park Beer Co. (3038 University Avenue, North Park) is open to the public. Installed in the much-renovated shell of a former mixed-martial-arts gymnasium, it offers a great deal of space. The 9,000-square-foot, two-story tasting room can handle 130 visitors on the first-floor and an additional 80 or so via an upstairs mezzanine. It’s a good thing, because NPBC has been the most buzzed about upcoming brewery project in San Diego for quite some time. It’s a sure bet it’ll be rather packed for the foreseeable future.

npbc_02McNair is most known for his award-winning Hop Fu! India pale ale (IPA), which is currently fermenting away in one of NPBC’s tanks, but the first-draft beer-board currently consists of four offerings, none of which are all that hop-forward. In that sense, they are indicative of what patrons can expect from the operation. McNair’s goal is to brew to-style beers rather than envelope- and palate-pushing oddities. On tap now is a balanced Red called Ray Street featuring plenty of malty toffee and caramely appeal, a Scottish ale that doesn’t rely on wee heaviness to deliver nice flavors (at under 4% alcohol-by-volume it comes in at the 70-schilling classification), a bittersweet and abundantly roasty stout called Beaufort Black, and a crisp and a citrusy pale ale. All four are well-made and what one would expect from such styles. Such straightforward traditionalism is refreshing in a day and age when so many are going against the grain (which, for the record, I have absolutely nothing against).

In addition to Hop Fu!, McNair will soon debut a cream ale, rye-infused Pilsner, double IPA and imperial porter with Baltic characteristics (but no lagering). This will put more of the tasting-room’s 32 taps to use, but only six-to-eight of them will dispense house-beers at any one time. The rest of the taps will be hooked up to kegs of guest-beers and wine once Mastiff Sausage Company installs its on-site kitchen in a space with a walk-up order window located directly beneath the mezzanine. Their license will make it possible to serve beverages from outside entities and further enhance the come-one-come-all feel NPBC already features.

npbc_04A sign above the front-door reads Ales & Lagers, Friends & Neighbors and the floor-plan of the craftsman-inspired, wood-paneled first-floor features seating geared toward the making of new acquaintances over a pint. Wooden chairs line windows looking out onto University, giving way to communal high-tables followed by table-seating like one would expect from a restaurant. Seating options include 100-year-old chairs brought in from an ancient library. A long-bar resembling (to this casual observer) a judge’s bench is furnished with the largest, cushiest bar-stools anywhere. This is the sort of place where guests will feel encouraged to stick around, which seems important in North Park, the craft-beer crawl capital of San Diego. It takes a lot to extinguish an urbanite’s urge to move on, but tasty beer and the polished design of Basile Studio, which includes cool lamppost lighting with globe-like fixtures, just might do the trick.

npbc_03The upstairs area is currently unfurnished and nondescript, but offers plenty of space for stand-up imbibing. The entire downstairs is visible from the mezzanine, which also features a crow’s-nest with a clear view of the 15-barrel brewhouse and cellar below. Very soon, a four-tap bar will be installed up there along with furnishings that will deliver a “North Park residential feel”. Once complete, the area will be leasable for private events. On the official NPBC events front, classes of sorts revolving around certain types of beers (English, German, Belgian, etc.) will be offered. They will be an extension of the considerable beer-education program disseminated to NPBC staff. Emphasis is placed on beer-knowledge here. Every NPBC employee has already earned Beer Server status care of the Cicerone Certification Program, and three of them are fully certified Cicerones (the beer-industry equivalent of the wine world’s sommeliers).

NPBC is open seven days a week, closing at 10 p.m., Sunday through Thursday, and midnight Fridays and Saturdays. Mastiff’s estimated time of arrival has yet to be finalized, but the mezzanine area should be completed in late-summer or early-autumn. Still, there is plenty in place to put NPBC within the upper-echelon of North Park beer tasting spaces, which is saying something for a business that’s just a day into its lifespan in such a vibrant, suds-geared community.

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Beer of the Week: Novo Brazil Karina’s Lager

Jun 24
Karina's Lager by Novo Brazil Brewing Company

Karina’s Lager by Novo Brazil Brewing Company

From the Beer Writer: I received an email a few months back from a friend of mine who was working with Mexican-seafood stalwart Karina’s Restaurant Group. An institution preparing to celebrate its 35th year in business, it was looking to go beyond typical offerings and embrace local craft-beer. In doing so, ownership wanted to challenge a quintet of San Diego breweries to come up with a beer meeting their exacting flavor and body specifications. I made some recommendations for some brewers that might be interested and, shortly thereafter, they had willing combatants for Karina’s Cerveza Showdown—Aztec Brewery, Bay Bridge Brewing, Coronado Brewing, Mission Brewery and Novo Brazil Brewing. Their goal was to create an easygoing lager that would appeal to the Dos Equis crowd while simultaneously exposing that demographic to the fact that quality beer is being made right in their backyards. Fan’s blind-judged Novo Brazil’s entrant the champion, and that beer, Karina’s Lager, is now on tap at all six of Karina’s locations. I tasted it earlier this week and it reminded me of a trip to Cancun beating the heat with Bohemia after my supply of smuggled craft-beer ran out. It is crisp, clear and carries with it a bit of the limestone-ish lager yeast flavor one expects plus a spike of bitterness that hangs out in the finish. Definitely a beer to please newcomers’ palates, but a pretty good one that makes for a nice first-step for a quality San Diego family of eateries.

From the Restaurant: “We were very pleased by the top brewers who chose to compete in our Cerveza Showdown. We especially like that the association with Novo Brazil not only allows us to serve our guests a unique, ours-alone beer, but puts us together with a fellow South Bay enterprise. It proves how dynamic Chula Vista, our home-base, has become.”—Arnulfo Contreras-Curiel, Principal, Karina’s Group

From the Brewery: “Events like Karina’s Cerveza Showdown are the kind of stuff we pay lots of attention to. First, it’s real-time, real-life feedback, without any prejudice, pre-established brand popularity or opinion. The beer gets to speak. Social media is out there, and can distort views, both positively and negatively, so we like situations when final-result is objective, when the beer gets speaks for itself on a neutral field without any pre-established preferences. Secondly, we were up against other great local breweries, it could have been anybody’s game. To me, that elevates it even further. We have to celebrate each and every victory in this competitive beers business. What a better way to celebrate than to come up with their own beer! So, we listened to Karina’s group very closely, we ate some of their great ceviches and decided to create Karina’s Lager. We captured the ‘Mexican Lager’ character, but we kept it with it’s own personality; very drinkable and smooth. Perfect to complement their food style. We also have it in our tasting room, and it’s selling fast.”—Morise Gusmao, Brewer/General Manager, Novo Brazil Brewing Company

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Beer Touring: Bear Roots Brewing

Jun 23

bearroots_01It’s only been open since December, but already the husband-and-wife founders of Bear Roots Brewing and Home Brew Shop (1213 Santa Fe Street, Vista) are convinced enough by early success that it’s time to take a plunge into the deep-end of the brewing industry. During the last stop of a day of beer-touring, I conversed with brewer Terry Little, who is pushing all of his chips to the center of the table, expanding his fermentation space to match the growing demand for his liquid wares. With only six months under his business’ belt, you’re probably wondering what I was—is the beer good enough to warrant such faith? My answer is yes.

Bear Roots Brewing owner and brewer Terry Little

Bear Roots Brewing owner and brewer Terry Little

The beer is good enough. In fact, the day I was there, the beer was of better quality from top-to-bottom than most of the newer breweries I’ve visited in 2016. Quality alone won’t dictate whether early expansion will pay off, but it’s the most important factor for a brewery-owner to consider. And it will be interesting to see how (the currently aptly named) Little does ramping things up with the little brewery he’s installed within his homebrew shop. The new operation has nearly eclipsed the original after installation of a bar and abutting cold-box plus enough seating to accommodate the steady flow of patrons coming in mostly for beer as opposed to the ingredients and mechanisms for producing their own.

bearroots_02On my visit, a half-dozen beers were available. Others had sold out, a common occurrence at Bear Roots, where the house-beers are produced in small, two-barrel batches after double brew-days on Little’s one-barrel system. Fortunately, a house favorite, Bear Cookie, was up for grabs. A chocolate-peanut butter stout brewed with raw cocoa, naked oats, English malts and noble hops, it’s a dessert-lovers beery dream come true. Nutty, chocolaty and coating, it’s soothing like a glass of warm milk, but at just 6.66% alcohol-by-volume (ABV), it won’t put you to sleep like that moo-juice.

bearroots_03Beers on the non-roasty side of the spectrum were also very impressive. I particularly enjoyed Rooted in Nelson, a bone-dry American India pale ale (IPA) with Nelson Sauvin hops added at every stage of brewing and fermentation. Passion-fruit with a touch of toastiness best describes its aroma, while the flavor profile is Sauvignon Blanc grapes with watercress-like bitterness and a touch of pink-peppercorn spice. Brewed with Mosaic and Simcoe hops, Bear Roots American pale ale had a similarly peppery finish, a nose of fresh-cut grass and a light-body that made it incredibly crushable.

bearroots_05Less satisfying was Edinburgh, an English-style pale ale that was to-style, but pretty dull—a typical San Diego beer-fan lament. For my money, I preferred Bite the Bullet, a Belgian-style tripel aged multiple months on bourbon whiskey-soaked oak-chips. At 12.6% ABV it’s big and sweet, as one might expect, but not overly boozy. Orangey yeast esters mesh well with a honey sweetness and light vanilla notes.

There’s no telling what the future holds for Bear Roots, but with beer that not only exhibits zero defects but tastes good while offering substantial diversity (provided not too many kegs blow during service), the basis for a brighter tomorrow is there.

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CCBA, SDBG Voice Opposition to SB-1426

Jun 22

A bill making its way through the California Senate is being opposed by trade organizations such as the California Craft Brewers Association (CCBA) and the San Diego Brewers Guild (SDBG).

The bill, SB-1426, would essentially legalize compensation to retailers for alcoholic beverage promotion and marketing activities. Tom McCormick, executive director of the CCBA, sent this statement to West Coaster: “As it is written, SB-1426 raises obvious concerns about the creation of payola in the marketplace, essentially allowing manufacturers to legally engage in pay-to-play practices for the first time since the Prohibition. This would be devastating to the craft brewing industry and would dramatically reduce the variety of craft beers on the shelf that consumers now enjoy.”

SB 1426--Oppose Letter--SD Councilman Chris CateMcCormick continued, saying “the CCBA is opposed to this legislation as it is currently written, however, we have suggested amendments to the bill that would solve the issue for DIAGEO’s celebrity spokesperson without opening the door to additional erosion of tied-house laws in California. These amendments have not been accepted so we remain strongly opposed to this bill.”

Mike Sardina, SDBG President, furthered by saying that “per the directive of the CCBA, members of the San Diego Brewers Guild are in active opposition to SB-1426.” He added that citizens can “call your Assembly Member and let them know that you are an enthusiast of craft beer and the breweries in San Diego, and that if passed, SB-1426 will be very bad for craft breweries in the county.”

San Diego’s Councilmember Chris Cate, of the city’s sixth district, was originally contacted by 32 North Brewing about the bill and has sent his letter of opposition to Adam C. Gray, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Governmental Organization, where the bill currently sits and is being heard soon. His letter is posted above.

Senator Joel Anderson of California’s 38th District, which includes large portions of eastern San Diego County, voted in opposition to the bill on the Senate floor on June 1.