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San Diego Beer News

October Events Sampler Flight

Sep 29

libertymarketThere’s no shortage of fermentable fun to be had during the month bridging Oktoberfest and All Hallow’s Eve, and we’ve culled through the plethora of beery affairs to highlight a few standouts. But there’s a lot more taking place in October, so be sure to peruse (and bookmark) our Events Page for even more good-time options.

October 1 | Oktoberfest Celebrations: It lasts around two weeks, but most places choose to honor Oktoberfest on October 1. Hit up Germanic-driven Lightning Brewery, celebrate the grand opening of North Park Beer Co.’s aptly sausage-centric Mastiff Kitchen, enjoy JacktoberFest at Midnight Jack Brewing, lift a stein of lager at Societe Brewing’s beer hall or head to Santee for its oktOVERfest over-the-line tournament. | Various Locations, Times Vary

October 1-10 | CRAFToberfest: Have plans October 1st? Not to worry—Liberty Public Market is stretching its festing over a ten-day span, and its tenants are pooling their resources. Bottlecraft will hold a German tap takeover while market purveyors will offer $5 bites such as pork schnitzel, cheese, sausages and ice cream to pair with those ales and lagers. A variety of activities will be offered on the market’s patio and the celebration will close out with an October 10 beer dinner at Mess Hall featuring the beers of Germany’s Mahrs-Bräu. | Liberty Public Market, 2820 Historic Decatur Road, Point Loma, Times Vary

October 16 | Pour It Black: Rare are the opportunities to indulge in a gallery of incredible dark beers in warm, sunny San Diego. So Stone Brewing waits until the temperature reaches a chilly 80-degrees to hold a festival focused on the browner, blacker side of beer. But it’s not all brawny stouts; black IPAs and sours are also on the menu at this indulgent grand-scale annual event! | Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, 1999 Citracado Parkway, Escondido, 10 a.m.

October 28 | Allagash Night: Maine is known for its beer scene, but before its recent popularity, brewmaster Rob Todd made a name for The Pine Tree State’s Allagash Brewing, which specializes in Belgian ales and now includes a coolship-equipped center of funk and barrel-aging. Meet the man and his rarities as he helps Hamilton’s Tavern celebrate its 10th anniversary. | Hamilton’s Tavern, 1521 30th Street, South Park, 3 p.m.

October 30 | Celebrate the Craft: The Lodge at Torrey Pines was one of the first high-end spots in San Diego to back local craft-beer in a big way, and it started here, with executive chef Jeff Jackson inviting SD brewers to be part of this farm-to-table celebration of local crafters of food and beverage. Get to know your local purveyors over tasters of homegrown ales and lagers. | The Lodge at Torrey Pines, 11480 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, 11:30 a.m.

 

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Meet Escondido Brewing Company

Sep 26
escondidobrewing

Ketchen (left) and Evan Smith at the site of their upcoming Escondido Brewing Company

Though they’re not related by blood, Ketchen Smith and Evan Smith are bound by their love of craft-beer and their shared project for getting into the business of producing it, Escondido Brewing Company (649 Rock Springs Road, Suite B, Escondido). Longtime Escondido residents, Evan owns and operates his 38-year-old family-business, Escondido Feed and Pet Supply. That is where the new business will be sited, with the 1.5-barrel brewing system installed in a small space in front of the store. Escondido Brewing will epitomize the term nano-brewery…and that’s just the way the non-fraternal Smiths like it.

“We will be one of, if not the smallest brewery in San Diego. This will be both in physical size as well as production quantity,” says Ketchen, who will serve as president and head brewer. (Evan will manage business operations). “The interior space will be almost completely occupied by the brewery and seating will be on an outside patio.”

Ketchen is an engineering manager for a company specializing in spinal-implants. He has been homebrewering for a dozen years, racking up awards at the San Diego County Fair, Southern California Fair and National Homebrewers Conference. His most notable achievement, and one that bled into the realm of professional brewing, was having an American ale he brewed 40 barrels of with Coachella Valley Brewing Company entered into the pro-am competition at Denver’s Great American Beer Festival.

The majority of Ketchen’s awards were garnered by hop-driven beers, but he hopes to have variety that goes beyond lupulin-rich ales. In addition to multiple IPAs, he will brew blondes, ambers and stouts, with a wheat or Belgian-style beer mixed in every now and then. Each offering’s name will bear some form of tie to the community (e.g., Hopcondido IPA, 1888 Stout). Escondido’s tagline illustrates the company’s intended approach—small batch beers from the heart of the Hidden City. The “Hidden City” (which is already home to Stone Brewing, Offbeat Brewing Company and Plan 9 Alehouse) can expect its newest resident to open to the public in early-2017.

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Beer of the Week: PB AleHouse Slomo Saison

Sep 23
Pacific Beach AleHouse SlowMo Saison

Pacific Beach AleHouse SlowMo Saison

From the Beer Writer: In spite of strides being made where craft-beer selection and availability is concerned, Pacific Beach is not one of the first places I think about when I’m thirsty for local ales. The fact I just turned 40 is probably another reason it’s not on the short-list of communities I frequent. But every now and then the allure of sun, sand and good old-fashioned beach-bar fun inspires a visit. During my most recent return to the area, I made a point to do something that was far overdue—visit Pacific Beach AleHouse. A fire caused the venue to close down in 2015. During the down-time, management decided to renovate the venue and, on the brewery-side, their brewer left to pursue another project, making way for local Jonathon Reilly to take the reins. After taking a seat on the shaded second-story sky-deck, I made my way through tasters of the five house-beers. As is wise for a place like PB AleHouse that caters mostly to less craft-enthused imbibers, there was a mild lager, blonde and red ale, but I was most impressed by PB AleHouse Slomo Saison. It had nice bubble-gum and floral notes on the nose followed by good orange-like citrus character on the palate. And at 4.5% alcohol-by-volume, it’s just right for waiting out a sunset over the Pacific Ocean…or making it through four quarters of football if you’re a Bills fan. The night I was there, the place was packed with wing-eating, jersey-clad fans who, even though their team lost that night, still had to be elated to be beach-adjacent rather than preparing for another punishing Buffalo winter.

From the Brewer: “Brewing the saison here at the beach, I was following a common idea of having a light and approachable beer in the sun. Knowing wit, wheats and hefeweizens rounded out this idea as well. I wanted to create something that could run between those characteristics. Using local White Labs Belgium Saison III yeast and a simple base-malt gave me the ability to maintain a light and bright beer, and still get some interesting phenolics. The inclusion of wildflower honey and Hersbrucker hops provided a nice, spicy and floral aroma. This beer is notably named after our local hero Slomo. To make a long story short, he was a well-to-do doctor, who gave up his job and lifestyle to pursue a happier and simpler one. He is most commonly known locally for his unique ‘slow-motion’ stance while rollerskating down the boardwalk, just steps from PB Alehouse.  And I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention that my fiancé came up with the name.”—Jonathan Reilly, Brewer, Pacific Beach AleHouse

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Beer Touring: Little Miss Brewing

Sep 21
The taster paddle at Little Miss Brewing is the bomb...literally!

The taster paddle at Little Miss Brewing is the bomb…literally!

Back in May, I broke the news that a business by the name of Little Miss Brewing (7949 Stromesa Court, Miramar) was building its brewery in Miramar. It was exciting news for me, as it was going to be located right down the street from my office at AleSmith Brewing Company, and headed by Joe Liscia, an ex- Green Flash Brewing Company brewer and part-time pint-slinger at (my new employer) Societe Brewing Company. There was just one hitch—Little Miss’ owners weren’t going to install a tasting room at the brewery. Fortunately, Liscia was able to effectively communicate how important an on-site sampling component is to a brewery, particularly one located in a heavily toured part of San Diego County.

When I visited Little Miss a couple of weeks ago, it looked put-together and unique. A cinder-block, L-shaped bar with the wing of an ancient flying-machine hanging above conveys a bunker-like motif. On the opposite side of the room, keg seats are situated around long tabletops that cleverly lift up to the wall, Murphy bed-style, during brewing hours. I was surprised when Liscia told me he had to throw the whole thing together, scouring eBay for World War II memorabilia and other items to fill the place out. It’s pretty commendable, considering he had to simultaneously get first-draft beers ready. The fact that those beers are quite enjoyable makes it more impressive, still.

littlemiss_02Little Miss’ tasting room is equipped with 10 taps, but when I stopped by, only half were hooked up to kegs. I started with a pair of SMASH pale ales. SMASH stands for single-malt and single-hop, describing the ingredients used to make such beers. While single-hop beers have been popular for years now, SMASH recipes are mostly the domain of homebrewers currently, so it was nice to have a couple in a pro-setting. SMASH beers provide a fine opportunity for drinkers to get to know individual ingredients. Liscia’s SMASH pales were hopped with Cascade and Galaxy, respectively. The former’s citrus character presented most closely as grapefruit, while the latter offered more complex flavors of lemon and passionfruit plus a slightly more assertive bitterness on the finish.

littlemiss_03Another pale, New Deal, was perhaps the least-satisfying of the bunch. It tasted nice enough, but could benefit from more hop-presence. It was simply too mild from a botanical standpoint and came across a tad sweet on the malt-side as a result. But the hop-malt balance on Little Miss’ Helldiver IPA was right-on. Maybe it’s the Sazerac kick I’ve been on since a recent trip to New Orleans, but the aroma reminded me of Peychaud’s bitters. Zesty and citric, it was probably a romantic interpretation anybody else would have described as “lemony”, but work with me here. The beer is 6.5% alcohol-by-volume and hopped with Zythos, Centennial and El Dorado. That last one is all-lemon and complemented nicely by the earthiness and stone fruit-esque elements of its partner-hops.

littlemiss_01I finished with a freshly tapped, light-bodied porter that was big on cola notes with a roasted almond nuttiness to it. Brewed with chocolate and cacao nibs, it even had a faint hint of herbal tea essence. At 4.7% ABV, it’s in the low range, just like all of Little Miss’ current beers. Liscia expects to brew higher-ABV offerings relatively soon, but recently debuted a sessionable Belgian-style witbier brewed with ginger and orange-peel, and has a Berliner weisse on-deck. He’s also been working with the roasters at Swell Coffee Co. to make a java-infused version of the porter.

Little Miss’ ultimate goal is to open multiple tasting rooms throughout San Diego. It was a snag with the first of those in Normal Heights that prompted ownership to go ahead with the brewery tasting room. Though done out of necessity, it was done well, and a visit there is a pleasant introduction to Miramar’s newest brewery. Oh, wait…Thunderhawk Alements opened over the weekend. Make that Miramar’s second-youngest new brewery.

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Urge Common House settling in San Marcos

Sep 20

urgecommonhouse_02Back in 2013, I reported the trio behind Urge Gastropub and Brothers Provisions was looking to build an ambitious combination brewpub, bottle-shop and bowling alley in the shell of a former gym in inland North County. That project-site fell through, and the group eventually installed a smaller brewpub concept similar to the original Urge in Oceanside. It has been a hit since its debut late last year, but even so, ownership never ditched that bowling-alley concept. In fact, even in the midst of the busiest span of their business’ lifespan, they managed to secure a space in which to make that multi-faceted project happen. As a result, Urge Common House is under construction and set to become a reality by March of 2017.

The original project was slated for Vista, but Urge Common House will be located at 255 Redel Road in the neighboring municipality of San Marcos. But that’s about the only big change in the project. The original site was 22,000-square-feet, and the new spot, located across the street from the north end of California State University, San Marcos, is 21,000-square-feet. Urge’s ownership team was contacted by a developer who read about the original “Urge: Craft Alley” project and found merit in it. Urge Common House will be part of an all-in-one live-and-play development called North City.

A peek inside the Urge Common House construction-site

A peek inside the Urge Common House construction-site

The restaurant component of Urge Common House will seat 450 and include three bars. Like the existing Urge locations, high-end gastropub fare will be the name-of-the-game, eats-wise, and roughly three-fourths of the menu will include dishes culled from Urge’s existing restaurants. The venue will include three bars, as well, and certain vantage points will offer a view of the 15-barrel Premiere Stainless brewery that will be installed and result in increased production and cellaring capacity for Urge’s in-house brewing operation, Mason Ale Works. The annual projected barrelage for the facility is 5,000 barrels. This is particularly important in that it ups the amount of canned-beer the company can get out into the market. Construction of this new business will also allow for expansion of the company’s beer barrel-aging program, “Mason Snale Works”.

urgecommonhouse_01In addition to the interior space, there will be outdoor common areas that expand overall consumer-capacity, but the real action will take place in and near an octet of PBA (Professional Bowlers Association)-approved bowling lanes as well as something that wasn’t included in the Craft Alley concept, a pair of crushed-oyster bocce ball courts. Other adult-sized kids’ games such as Jenga and Connect Four will provide added options in the patio area. There will also be a private-dining area capable of seating up to 50 diners.

A rendering of San Marcos' North City development bordering the north-end of CSUSM

A rendering of San Marcos’ North City development bordering the north-end of CSUSM

On the beverage-side, in addition to Mason Ale Works beers, Urge Common House will offer beers from other craft breweries with a bent toward locally produced ales and lagers. A full cocktail list will also be available, with an emphasis on White Russian-like drinks at one bar designated especially for this niche tipple within the restaurant.

Back at sister-business, Brothers Provisions in Rancho Bernardo, another project, Mason Coffee Works, is coming along nicely. The company is currently working with a number of San Diego roasters to select a custom house-espresso, and plans to offer daily pour-overs and other single-origin coffees from local roasters from its recently expanded deli and bottle-shop hybrid.

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