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San Diego Beer News

Workers report layoffs at Green Flash

Jan 16

Numerous current employees of Green Flash, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told West Coaster that there have been layoffs at the nearly fifteen-year-old company, mainly in the administrative and marketing departments.

While we could not independently verify the number of employees let go, according to CEO Mike Hinkley, “We do not make statements about specific personnel changes.  Green Flash is not reducing the number of employees. In fact we will continue to increase the number of employees.”

Green Flash’s new Virginia Beach facility opened to the public in November. Prior estimates set the number of local employees at 40 when fully-staffed. Production capacity will mirror San Diego’s operation at 100,000 barrels per year.

Beer of the Week: Pizza Port Shark Bite Red Ale

Jan 13

Pizza Port has canned its iconic Shark Bite Red Ale in celebration of the company’s upcoming 30th anniversary

From the Beer Writer: When I first heard Pizza Port was about to hit the big three-oh(-where-did-all-the-time-go?), I could hardly believe it. Though brewing operations began at the family-owned SoCal chain’s flagship Solana Beach brewpub in 1992, it’s been slinging pies and Beer Buddies since 1987. Through it all, the concept has stayed true to the humble vision of brother-and-sister team Vince and Gina Marsaglia: provide a dependably fun and inviting place for people to enjoy themselves over pizza and house-made beers. Simple pleasure is the theme of the organization, which has grown to include a formidable quintet of “Port Holes” reaching from Ocean Beach to San Clemente, including a large-scale, production facility-equipped brewpub in Carlsbad’s Bressi Ranch community. Along the way, a boatload of awards have been lavished on the multifaceted interest’s beers, and numerous members of its brewing team have gone on to starring roles at breweries across Southern California. Its an impressive evolution that, from a beer-perspective, all started with a hoppy offering that was far ahead of its time and helped define San Diego’s lupulin-driven brewing style: Pizza Port Shark Bite Red Ale. When it came time to can a beer in celebration of Pizza Port’s 30th anniversary, this mainstay of its extensive and impressive canon was a no-brainer. Piney in its hop profundity (especially for the time-frame in which it debuted) and nicely bolstered by a toffee-like yet dry malt-body, this beer is a piece of San Diego brewing history that has endured based on the tenets of good taste and craftsmanship. Each of the company’s brewpubs will hold release parties for Shark Bite on Tuesday, January 17, where six-packs of the beer will be available for purchase. Additionally, Pizza Port will hold festivities (details to be announced) to celebrate 30 years in business at its Solana Beach location the last weekend of March, shortly after its official anniversary on March 23.

From the Brewer: “Shark Bite Red was the first beer we made. I wanted to do a red instead of an amber, probably because I had a red ale at Callahan’s Pub and I liked it more than amber ales. It has more crystal-malt flavor. Before making that first batch, I was so excited about the our seven-barrel system, that I decided to go inside the brew-kettle and have a couple of beers. I ended up just sitting there and falling asleep, then waking up and not knowing where I was. We actually had to throw away the first batch of Shark Bite we brewed. Somebody hooked up the thermocouple backwards and we didn’t know, so it cooled the yeast down and the beer didn’t ferment. It tasted like motor oil. Other than that, there aren’t many weird or funny stories. I just made beer and people drank it. There were no guidelines, but even if there were, we didn’t read them. We were just making beer…beer we liked.”Vince Marsaglia, Co-owner/Brewmaster, Pizza Port

 

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Voltaire Beach House partners with Golden State Brewery

Jan 12

This Friday, January 13, OB will welcome a new bar and restaurant called Voltaire Beach House (4934 Voltaire Street, Ocean Beach). In doing so, it will also become a home away from home to a brewing-company satellite of sorts, care of an in-house taproom partnership with Golden State Brewery. For most, this is an unknown entity, but the company has been around for two years. So how is it you haven’t heard of them? They are based in Santa Clara, and teaming with Voltaire Beach House presents the opportunity to gain a foothold in San Diego, something Golden State has already done to a smaller degree via limited distribution of its bottled beers to several local Sprouts Farmers Market stores.

It’s a highly logical decision for Golden State, but an interesting one for Voltaire Beach House, which is located in a community that has seen more aggressive growth than nearly any distinct region in the county regarding installation of brewery-owned properties. OB is home to two brewpubs (Pizza Port and new-arrival OB Brewery) and four satellite tasting rooms, with a fifth from Kearny Mesa-based Kilowatt Beer Company coming online later this month, and a service-only venue from rookie operation Little Miss Brewing rumored to be in-planning. That’s a lot of beer—a lot of local beer—in a town that’s historically fierce in its support of local businesses.

How will beer from 49ers territory fare in the previous home to the Los Angeles Chargers? It could be tough to compete with San Diego interests, but then again, Golden State beer is a completely new option for locals who might just crave something different. Voltaire Beach House’s taproom seats 40, is equipped with multiple TVs and has 20 taps, 12 of which will dispense a mix of year-round and seasonal Golden State beers. The company’s portfolio includes its flagship Heritage Honey Ale, Cold Brew Coffee Stout (brewed with coconut sugar and two gallons of cold-brew java per-keg) and Eureka IPA. Food and craft cocktails from the venue’s restaurant component will be available in the taproom as well. Voltaire Beach House’s restaurant-component will also feature 20 taps as well as a coastal-inspired, East-meets-West Coast menu consisting of a variety of salads and bowls, sandwiches and burgers, flatbreads, fish tacos, desserts and more.

Golden State debuted its home-taproom in Santa Clara’s old Memorex building last February, becoming the city’s first post-Prohibition brewery. Owner and brewmaster Seth Hendrickson says he is excited about having a presence in San Diego. He has been in the restaurant business for 15 years, and has brewed beer for more than a decade. He is aware of and thankful for the talent and camaraderie that are its hallmarks.

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Amplified Ale Works goes collab crazy

Jan 11

The Amplified Collab Crew (left-to-right): Jeff Campbell, Cy Henley, Alex Pierson and JC Hill (also of Alvarado Street Brewery)

Many are the brewers and brewery personnel whose passion for music rivals their fervor for fermentation, but when analyzing the degree to which the musical bug has sunk its teeth into an entire business, no local operation is as afflicted as Amplified Ale Works. From the day it opened within its Pacific Beach kebaberie home, head brewer Cy Henley (you might not know it, but you’ve definitely shared space with him at a local live-music venue numerous times in your life) and company have driven home their love of aurally conveyed entertainment via beer names, apparel, graphics and more. So it’s no wonder that, when the estate of famed Motörhead front-man, Lemmy, sought a business to brew a beer commemorating the metal legend, they hit up Amplified.

Brewery owner and co-founder Alex Pierson was approached by a licensing firm last year. At first, he wasn’t 100% sold on the legitimacy of the company’s request, but when he ventured to an L.A. hotspot to meet with an entertainment exec, and that man was greeted with a knowing wave by star and recent Nobel laureate Bob Dylan, that gesture bolstered his faith level significantly. The two came to terms quickly, leading to Born to Lose IPA, a Citra-heavy India pale ale in the mid-6% ABV (alcohol-by-volume) range that takes cues from the recipe for Amplified’s Pig Nose Pale Ale. A prototype of the beer was on-tap at a Christmas Eve (its honoree’s birthday) release-party at famous West Hollywood live-music venue and Lemmy haunt, the Rainbow Bar & Grill, which now includes features a life-sized statue of Lemmy. A refined version of the beer is scheduled to come out in cans in February or March of this year, and a bourbon barrel-aged version of Amplified’s Belgian-style quadrupel is aging in bourbon barrels, waiting for its own Christmas Eve coming-out party later this year and a date with a bottling machine. That creation will be called Ace of Spades.

On the reunion tour front, Henley, Pierson and director of brewery operations Jeff Campbell spent a day collaborating at their Miramar brewhouse with Amplified co-founder JC Hill. Hill who now calls the coastal city of Monterey home and spends his time on the larger project he’s since moved on to, Alvarado Street Brewery. The fruits of the foursome’s enjoyable labors, Trois Cabrones (a name inspired by a classic album by The Melvins), will go on-tap at Amplified’s Miramar tasting room tomorrow, Thursday, January 12. The beer is a “hazy IPA” that had Summer and Nelson Sauvin hops added in the kettle, followed by Nelson and Mosaic in the whirlpool. It incorporates a combination of wheat, rice hulls and oats in its malt bill and was designed to smell and taste of big hops…and look like custard. The quartet admits this collaboration should have happened a long time ago. In an effort to make up for lost time, the Amplified crew will travel to north the last week of this month to brew the beer again at Alvarado Street, where it will be canned as well.

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Q&A: Mikkel Borg Bjergsø

Jan 10

Owner & Brewmaster, Mikkeller Brewing San Diego

Last year, 10-year Denmark-based gypsy brewer Mikkel Borg Bjergsø hammered down stakes in Miramar, transforming AleSmith Brewing Co.’s original brewery into Mikkeller Brewing San Diego. His brewing team spent most of 2016 getting the feel of the facility. Now that group feels ready to be more aggressive in its fermentation activities. Bjergsø has vowed his brick-and-mortar will debut one new small-batch beer on a weekly basis beginning January 12 at its tasting room with a trio of new offerings: bourbon barrel-aged Beer Geek Brunch imperial oatmeal coffee stout, Fruit Face raspberry-coffee Berliner weisse and Uklar IPA. Future “San Diego Beer Release Series” debuts will take place every Saturday starting January 21. Keeping up with such a rapid rate of innovation and execution is no easy task. Curious about this and what it’s been like for this world-famous brewer to find his feet in San Diego, we sat down with him to pick his brain.

WC: What are some surprises you’ve encountered in San Diego?
Mikkel Borg Bjergsø: It’s been surprising how different the beer scene is in the U.S. compared to Europe. There are so many great players—especially in San Diego—and so many great beers. You really have to make an effort to stand out. I think with the new special-release series we will.

WC: What drove the decision to release a new beer every week?
MBB: Brewing a lot of different beers and beer-styles is in our DNA, and it was only a matter of time before we set out to launch a similar release schedule in San Diego. At this point we have an amazing crew in place, the brewing equipment is all dialed in, and our management setup is so in tune with our vision that we are confident now is the time. Most people will associate us with a hectic output of beers in all styles, shapes and formats, which is exactly what they should expect. That, and the totally unexpected, of course. Having your own brewery opens up a world of possibilities that are not usually doable when working in someone else’s brewery, whether it’s contract brewing or on a collaboration basis.

WC: What is your day-to-day involvement like regarding brewing at Mikkeller SD?

MBB: We’ve had to adjust to both the physical distance and time difference, but I am fortunate in the sense that I have to rely on the very capable hands of our head brewer Bill Batten and his team of skilled assistant brewers. It’s still my recipes and vision, which we will discuss through our daily email chains and our weekly conference-call.

WC: What other interesting or exciting developments are on the horizon for Mikkeller SD?
MBB: There are a lot of super-exciting things under development, but the sour and barrel-aged beer programs are two projects we are putting a lot of effort into. We have such a creative team over there, and it seems that no matter how crazy the idea and/or recipe I throw at them, they enthusiastically turn those into great beer. We are also working on new collaborations with other breweries, and non-brewers as well.

WC: You’ve spent more time than ever in San Diego. What are some of your favorite local breweries?
MBB:
I hate to name favorite breweries as it pushes the rest to the side. In the San Diego area there are obviously a ton of amazing brewers, from the old guys like Stone Brewing, Green Flash Brewing Co. and Ballast Point Brewing, to the young guns like Abnormal Beer Co., Toolbox Brewing Co., Modern Times Beer Co. and many others. I still have a big heart for our friends at AleSmith, so if I have to name one…

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