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San Diego Beer News

A Departure from Ballast Point

Jul 25
Kight (right) w/ Zach Borba: "The final Longfin from my man Zach Borba...all good things must come to end...my last day at Ballast Point...on to the next project (s)...."

Kight (right) w/ Zach Borba: “The final Longfin from my man Zach Borba…all good things must come to end…my last day at Ballast Point…on to the next project (s)….”

Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits’ Chief Commercial Officer Earl Kight posted online that today is his last day with the company.

Kight joined Ballast Point as a consultant in 2008 and became the company’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing in 2012.

In that year, Ballast Point broke into the Brewers Association’s Top 50 craft breweries by sales volume at #46. In the 2015 rankings, the brewery stood at #11.

The San Diego company was acquired by Constellation Brands in November 2015 for $1 billion.

A spokesman for Ballast Point would not comment on this story, and Kight could not be immediately reached.

Beer of the Week: Cellar 3 Natura Morta Boysenberry

Jul 22
Green Flash Cellar 3 Natura Morta with Boysenberries

Green Flash Cellar 3 Natura Morta with Boysenberries

From the Beer Writer: If you’ve never been to Cellar 3, Green Flash Brewing Company’s Poway-based tasting room-equipped barrel-aging facility, then you are missing out. Even with barrel-aged and soured beers on the rise throughout the county and the world, one would be challenged to find as much of it in as much variety at as good of a price-point as what Cellar 3 is offering. Were it in North Park or even Oceanside, it would be flooded with customers, but being out in “the city in the country”, it’s not all that convenient (unless you’re making a Costco or Home Depot run). The current Beer of the Week, Cellar 3 Natura Morta Boysenberry is worth a special-trip all on its own. The latest riff on a series of fruited red wine barrel-aged saisons that debuted during the 2014 edition of Green Flash’s annual Treasure Chest Fest (proceeds of which benefit the Susan G. Komen San Diego) incorporates boysenberries, which boost the tartness of the base-beer. It’s so berry-like you’ll feel like you need to pick seeds out of your teeth after enjoying a positively bone-dry finish. The 5.5% alcohol-by-volume beer is available in bottles or on tap, along with more than a dozen other barrel-aged creations. Don’t venture very far just for beer and need an excuse? Stop by on your next hiking trip to Mt. Woodson or deep East County trek.

From the Brewer: “After over a year at Cellar 3, Natura Morta Boysenberry is our first release that has been completely fermented, aged and blended under the Cellar 3 roof. For all beers released prior to this, we had started the long process back in our Mira Mesa location. The environment at Cellar 3 is controlled to our specifications and thoroughly geared to barrel aging beers. This beer is really outstanding in part because of this elevated level of environmental control. The process we use to make this, and the other Natura Morta beers, has been developed over a four-year period. We ferment our Saison in oak foudres with our house strain of Brettanomyces. This strain comes from the first wine barrel we ever used—a red wine barrel from a San Diego winery—that has been isolated and introduced to our program over the past several years. This house yeast strain is now in everything we do. After doing a 100% Brett fermentation, the beer is transferred into barrels where boysenberry purée is added. The house Brett then ferments out the sugars from the fruit and is allowed to age for between 6 and 18 months. The sugars that are fermented are from not only malt, but also from fruit, resulting in completely different flavors than you would find in a regular beer. What I am trying to do with these Natura Morta beers is utilize the yeast, malt and fruit to make a ‘beer’ that has not only the flavor of beer and fruit but the essence of the fruit.”—Pat Korn, Barrelmaster, Green Flash Brewing Company

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Meet Finest Made Ales

Jul 21

finestmadealesHe went from his own butchery to his own brewery, and now Rey Knight is shining up his stainless steel armor with a revised operation that fuses his culinary and fermentation passions. That business will go by the name Finest Made Ales (9962 Prospect Ave., Suite E, Santee), and aim to produce beers that are ideally suited for beer-and-food pairing.

Work is currently underway to revamp the tasting room of Knight’s former interest, Butchers Brewing Company, to a state befitting its new identity. That space will debut to the public next month during a grand opening launch party. Eventually, charcuterie plates featuring Knight’s handiwork will be available in that sampling space. Prior to delving into brewing, he founded Knight’s Salumi. It was a cult favorite among local foodies that fizzled out far before its time.

Finest Made Ales’ launch party will take place on Friday, August 19 from 4 p.m. until closing. Ten taps’ worth of beer will be available along with food (that’s pairable, one would presume) from a variety of food trucks.

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Local & National Hop News

Jul 21

In San Diego, August, September and October bring the release of beers brewed with freshly-harvested hops. This year, more than a dozen farms in the county are providing hops to pro brewers and/or homebrewers. As of today, we know of a few brew plans; stay tuned to WestCoasterSD.com in August for more details from farmers and brewers.

– Star B Ranch is again providing hops to Tom Nickel’s Nickel Beer Company for a brew day in the first week of August. The farm, which doubles as a buffalo ranch, is likely to work with local breweries ChuckAlek, Burning Beard and Latitude 33 as well.

– SD Golden Hop Farm is hosting multiple “picking parties” for groups like Pink Boots Society (August 14), Culture Brewing (August 21) and the Women’s Craft Beer Collective (August 28). They’re also providing hops to these local breweries: Coronado (Cascade and Chinook for a San Diego Pale Ale); Reckless Brewing (Golden Boy); Pure Project (100% Californian ingredients collaboration with Everyday California); Culture (Cascade hops for a wet-hopped IPA); Ballast Point (Cascade and Chinook varieties for GABF entries); and Amplified Ale Works. A big collaboration beer— “Fallbrook Homegrown 2.0” — is in the works, featuring Cascade, Chinook and Galena hops with North County natives Chuck McLaughlin (Fallbrook Brewing), Ryan Brooks (Coronado), John Maino (Ironfire), Lucas Nelson (Green Flash) and Bradley Miles (Firestone Walker).

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Monkey Paw’s Cosimo Sorrentino checking out the hops yesterday with Nopalito Farm’s Jordan Brownwood; via Facebook

– Monkey Paw is planning “Same Day XPA” utilizing Nopalito Farm hops, specifically Cascade and Centennial varieties. As the name implies, those hops will be harvested on the same day the beer is brewed, either the second or third week of August.

– Nickel Beer Co. is crafting four wet hop beers this year. Besides the aforementioned collaboration with Star B Ranch, Nickel is making My Way IPA with fresh Chinook and Cascade from Nopalito Farm, Green Truck Double IPA with fresh Columbus from Nopalito, and a fresh hop brown ale with Scot Blair and hops from SD Golden Hop Farm.

– For homebrewers interested in picking your own hops, Hopportunity Farms just outside Julian is opening its gates for select dates in August and September: August 6 and 7, August 13 and 14, August 20 and 21, September 4, and September 11. Priced at $2 an ounce or $20 a pound, the farm grows Cascade, Nugget, Brewer’s Gold, Magnum, Centennial, Goldings, Willamette, and a local variety brought to Julian by gold miners in the 1890s. Contact Phil Warren for more details: prwarren46@gmail.com, or 858-735-2977.

– San Diego is now home to more than a dozen hop farmers in the northern and eastern parts of the county: Vista (Red Alpha Hops, Goat House Hops); Ramona (Big BoulderHops, Star B Ranch, ZZ Hops); Alpine (Hopatul Farms); Valley Center (Renquist Farms, Vine Ripe Farm, Bear Valley Organic Farms, Nopalito Farms); Julian (Hopportunity Farm); Fallbrook (ZP Growers, Mission Hops, San Diego Golden Hop Farm).

Note to brewers and farmers collaborating on wet hop beers: please e-mail ryan@westcoastersd.com with details so you can be included in the next web post.


On a national scale, hop acreage has grown for the fourth straight year. After a 15.4% increase in acres harvested in the US in 2015, a 10.2% increase in 2014, a 10.3% increase in 2013, and a 7.2% increase in 2012, acreage has jumped up once again, this time a whopping 18.5% from 2015. Total acres strung for harvest in the U.S. this summer is 53,213, or 8,303 more than last year.

According to a report from the Hop Growers of America, the Pacific Northwest represents the vast majority of domestically-grown hops, with 51,115 acres a new record for the region. That number is a 17% increase, or 7,482 acres, from last year. Washington’s Yakima Valley leads production with 37,475 acres, or more than 70% of the country’s acreage. Oregon and Idaho follow with 7,669 and 5,971 acres, respectively. Michigan is top dog outside the Pacific Northwest, with an estimated 650 acres in production and more in development. The total acreage outside the PNW increased by 64% this year, with 26 states reported 2,098 acres in production, collectively.

Pete Mahoney, Vice President, Supply Chain/Purchasing at John I. Haas, a hop supplier based in the Yakima Valley, said that, “The US hop industry has been in catch-up mode in recent years as the supply of craft-popular US aroma hops has lagged behind the dramatic growth of the craft brewing sector in both domestic and overseas markets. The 2016 acreage expansion is once again a direct response to market demand and does not happen overnight. It requires significant planning and commitment of industry resources.”

According to the USDA National Agriculture Statistics Service, craft-popular Cascade continues to hold the lead with 7,371 acres, and Centennial overtook bittering hop CTZ this year for second place with 5,009 acres.

“We’re very pleased with the U.S. hop industry’s ability to respond to the demands of a burgeoning craft brewing industry,” said Kevin Riel, fourth generation US Hop Grower and Hop Growers of America President. “However, we caution growers and brewers alike to remember the cyclical nature of a mature hop market, and the fine line between ample and over-supply which causes instability in supply and prices. Given the permanent nature of planting additional hops and the significant investment required to do so, restraint and an understanding of long time partnerships will be required from all involved to ensure a steady supply in the near and distant future.”

In California, the hop grower’s association (CHGA) is hosting an annual meeting on July 30 in Paso Robles. There, they’ll formalize bylaws and elect an executive team, as well as set a strategy and direction for the next year of hop growing.

Meet Northern Pine Brewing Company

Jul 20
The future home of Northern Pine Brewing Company in Oceanside

The future home of Northern Pine Brewing Company in Oceanside

In April, I named Northern Pine Brewing Company (326 North Horne Street, Oceanside) as one of the North County work-in-progress breweries I was most greatly anticipating. At the time, I had to admit that there really wasn’t much to go by, but a commitment to helping out charities via their business seemed a good reason for added faith. Recently I had the opportunity to learn more about this operation and am able to provide more detail—of which there’s quite a bit.

The owners of the business, Bobby Parsons, Aaron and Anne Ortega recently signed a lease on a 6,100-square-foot building located on the corner of Horne Street and Civic Center Drive, several blocks east of Oceanside Pier and close to Interstate 5’s Mission Avenue exit. They are currently filling out applications for permits and licenses, but still hope to be up-and-running before the end of 2016. Their newly acquired one-story digs are fairly non-descript, but will be designed to convey a “modern-farmhouse vibe” through natural elements that help to convey the trio’s love of the outdoors.

But Northern Pine won’t be the only business occupying that farmhouse. That Boy Good Southern BBQ Joint, a downtown Oceanside business fostering a downhome Southern motif, will share space with the brewery. This will be a satellite space to the original location, go by the name That Good Boy Po’ Boy Shoppe, and serve menu items that differ from the flagship eatery. Northern Pine plans on brewing beers to pair specifically with that cuisine, and the team’s interior designer will work to incorporate the themes of both businesses for a north-meets-south rusticity.

Location_2Bobby and Aaron will handle the brewing for Northern Pine. Both are former Marines, and their devotion to the Corps fueled a noteworthy endeavor in 2012 when they brewed a beer to honor seven fallen Marines. The project was supported by Mother Earth Brew Co., which allowed the duo to brew the beer on their system in Vista. At Northern Pine, they will preside over a six-barrel brewhouse that was built on the Discovery Channel program, Monster Garage featuring former Stone Brewing brewer Lee Chase (now the owner of Automatic Brewing Company and its pair of restaurants, Blind Lady Ale House and Tiger! Tiger! Tavern).

That unique apparatus will be used to produce a 30-deep catalog of beers, spanning traditional and newer American beer-styles. Some initial beers that will be brewed include a cream ale, saison, Czech-style Pilsner, a pineapple dry-hopped India pale ale (IPA) and series of SMaSH beers (single malt and single hop). A bourbon whiskey barrel-aged porter will also find its way into the mix. Currently, annual production is estimated at 600 barrels. Though all early product will be kegged, Northern Pine plans to “aggressively pursue bottling and canning.”

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