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.
This is the third in a four-part series examining work-in-progress brewery projects throughout San Diego County. This component shines a light on the most promising businesses in the North County expanses. Click the following links to take a look back at assessments of WIP brewery projects in the south and east, then check back next week as we close out with a look at future East County venues.
Julian Brewing Company | 2315 Main Street, Julian: Pizza Port co-founder Vince Marsaglia is reopening and reimagining this business, turning it into a mountain farmhouse brewery, offerings from which will include lambics and saisons using fruits, vegetables and herbs from an on-site two-acre garden. The five-barrel system will also be used for pilot brews of experimental beers from sister business The Lost Abbey, while the country casual restaurant portion of this brewpub will serve up smokehouse fare augmented by pizza, sandwiches and various pickled items.
Karl Strauss Brewing Company | San Marcos: In the past few years, San Diego’s longest continually operating post-Prohibition brewing company has expanded, doing so mostly in LA and the OC. But new facilities are in the works locally, as well, including an R&D brewery on a recently secured two-acre lot in the city of San Marcos. It remains to be seen whether it will include a hospitality component, but more beer and more beer-styles from this award-winning operation are always a plus.
Beach Grease Beer Company | 3125 Scott Street, Vista: This newcomer was founded by a successful veteran of the street-wear/action sports clothing industry who loves craft beer and feels no existing brands have authentically engaged the folks in his social circles. A contract-brewed IPA called Surf Reaper is already on tap at roughly 50 local accounts, but future beers will be produced at an upcoming brewing facility with a 10-barrel system and a tasting room decked out in a modern art gallery aesthetic.
From the Beer Writer: Stone Brewing hosts many top-tier events, but one of my favorite is the company’s American Homebrewers Association-sanctioned AHA Rally and its associated homebrewing competition. Every year, some of the county’s most talented, ambitious recreational brewers submit their beers for judging by a panel of Stone employees, including key members of the brewing team. Each year’s winning beer gets produced on Stone’s system and distributed nationally (which now means to all 50 states). While Stone is known for innovating, the company has a defined style of bold and largely hoppy beers, so it is always fun to watch the brewers tackle beers that, for the most part, don’t fit the typical gargoyle-shaped mold (read: insert-type-of-IPA-here). This year’s winning entry, Paul Bischeri & Patrick Martinez / Abnormal / Stone Neapolitan Dynamite, once again goes against the grain in a delicious attempt to bring the primary flavors of Neapolitan ice cream—chocolate, vanilla and strawberry—to the forefront in an imperial stout. Freshly poured, the beer comes across slightly creamy on the palate with big cocoa and a touch of vanilla, but as the beer warms up, the latter makes itself more known along with strawberry fruitiness. It’s for sure a beer that would not be part of the Stone portfolio were it not for this contest, and the quaffable embodiment of why this event is such a brilliant component of Stone’s heritage.
From the Brewer: “The AHA brews are always a good challenge for us to scale-up. I think it’s great experience for the homebrewers as well to see how a small recipe gets magnified to production. This beer had a lot of ingredients. Our goal is always to be as faithful as possible to the original recipe, but at the same time it needs to be realistic on the big scale. The biggest ingredient challenge here was the strawberry addition. They used a lot of strawberries, and if we would have scaled it up to be exactly the same, we would have depleted the world’s supply. But seriously…it was too much to use on a big scale. We were able to play with a couple of different addition points and got some strawberry purée—which was all real fruit, of course—that was really intense and came through nicely. Strawberry in general is a tough one to get to come out in beer and it really does come through here in equal measure to their original beer. That’s always the coolest part of this gig: when we have the homebrewers try the scaled-up version and they are stoked. So, the day we tried it with Paul and Patrick was awesome because they were really happy with how it came out. I think the beer is great!”—Jeremy Moynier, Senior Innovation Brewing Manager, Stone Brewing
This is the second in a four-part series examining work-in-progress brewery projects throughout San Diego County. This component takes a look at the most promising businesses in the eastern portion of the county. Last week, we took a look at upcoming brewery projects in the southern portions of the county, and next week we’ll chart a course due north.
Fourpenny House | 8323 La Mesa Boulevard, La Mesa: Since we first reported on the La Mesa Village area’s initial brewery entrant, it has lost a brewer (who moved to Hanoi, Vietnam to head a brewing project) and gained a unique identity. This brewpub will celebrate the brews and food of Scotland while also offering a full bar. Scheduled to open sometime next month, it figures to show residents and visitors alike that the La Mesa Boulevard is a fine place to hoist a beer year-round, not just during the area’s popular Oktoberfest street fair.
13 Point Brewing Company | 8035 Broadway, Lemon Grove: A trio of graduates from SDSU’s “Business of Craft Beer” certificate program are bringing Lemon Grove its first-ever brewery. That’s significant on its own, but what gives it the most promise is the City of Lemon Grove’s hospitality and willingness to help make the business a success. The municipal government went as far as to help ownership propose a revision to the City Council that will allow 13 Point to sell cans, bottles and crowlers for off-premise consumption.
Depot Springs Beer Company | 9176 Fletcher Parkway, La Mesa: This massive project has consistently made the list for more than two years…but remains unopened. The beer-making component of an everything-to-everyone combination restaurant, distillery, coffee shop and public-event space, it has faced many roadblocks, but ownership says it’s still a go. If they can ever make it happen, it’ll be the largest of La Mesa’s brewing interests and certainly include enough appurtenant amenities to make it well worth a visit. For now, it remains in the we’ll-see file.
Artistic expression inspires artistic expression, and it isn’t limited to visual and aural art. In the case of three alumni from San Diego State University’s Business of Craft Beer certificate program, a logo from one of their favorite bands inspired the name of their upcoming beer-making business. Specifically, the 13-point lightning bolt bisecting the skull in a classic Grateful Dead logo. It gave them the idea to name their interest 13 Point Brewing Company (8035 Broadway, Lemon Grove) because when visiting their tasting room, the owners want you to experience some of the feelings you would have at a Grateful Dead show. In their words, that equates to “a heartfelt, welcoming sense of community, great music and one hell of a good time.”
It was a more straightforward form of inspiration that launched the idea for 13 Point. Two of the company’s founders ended up in bar-stool conversation with employees from Ballast Point Brewing during the 2014 edition of San Diego Beer Week. After hearing about the brewers’ daily work, Bob Frank and Robert Bessone turned to each other and asked themselves why they weren’t crafting ales and lagers for a living. Fast-forward to present day and they’re in the process of constructing the first brewery ever sited within the city of Lemon Grove.
When asked why they selected uncharted territory, they say they look forward to benefiting from the press and attention of being the community’s first manufacturer of homegrown beer. They also cite being well received by both the City of Lemon Grove and the sheriff’s office. And because of the support of City staff in particular, who helped 13 Point’s ownership propose a legislative provision to City Council, the business will be able to sell cans, bottles and crowlers from their tasting room for off-site consumption.
Ownership says it will be anywhere from four to nine months before 13 Point opens its doors. When it does, the tasting room will provide an open view of the brewery, which will include a seven-barrel brewhouse with three fermenters. That setup will allow for production of roughly 1,000 barrels of beer per year, but they intend to regularly add fermentation vessels to eventually maximize output at 2,500 barrels annually. On the brewing front, drinkability will be the primary focus, even with larger beers like a vanilla porter called Ol’ Nessie, which will be brewed using whiskey-soaked vanilla beans.