We’re only halfway through the month but October 2014 has been one of the busiest months in San Diego beer to date. Here’s a glimpse of everything that’s been going on.
The Virginia Connection
In addition to the recent announcement of Stone Brewing Co. Berlin, the Escondido-based brewery just picked Richmond, Virginia as the location for their new East Coast expansion. Stone also started distribution into Canada. Keep up with all things Stone via the awesome media & news area on their website.
Also in Virginia, Mira Mesa’s Green Flash Brewing Co. celebrating both the groundbreaking of the Virginia Beach expansion on Monday and their first East Coast version of the charity fundraiser Treasure Chest Fest over the weekend.
San Diego Growth Continues
Back home, both Ballast Point Brewing Co.‘s Miramar location and Valley Center Brewery just opened their doors.
Ballast’s new 100,000 square foot brewery/tasting room/restaurant is now open daily 11AM-11PM for beer tasting and will have food available via foodtrucks until their kitchen opens.
Valley Center Brewery celebrated their grand opening on October 9th, and is now open for business on Lilac Road. The 15-gallon nanobrewery currently has 13 beers on tap with 4 house offerings with indoor and outdoor seating.
Beer Tastings This Weekend
There are two awesome events this weekend. Krisp / Best Damn Beer Shop is hosting the 4th rendition of the Best Damn Sour Fest at Downtown Johnny Browns this Saturday. There will be whales, bro (see the lineup).
Fans of Hess Brewing should check out their North Park brewery on Saturday. Local beer tasting group BeerNerdz is hosting a blind tasting featuring Mike Hess’ beers. Click here for more info.
In our October issue, Mother Earth Brew Company ran a controversial ad highlighting the launch of their Cali-Creamin’ cans. The Vista-based brewery announced their new advertising campaign on Facebook with much ado. What do you think? Let us know in the comments section below.
West Coaster Wins Awards
West Coaster was recently honored with two big awards. The first is for our LA-centric sister publication, West Coaster Southern California. Staff writer and Sriracha-savant Randy Clemens was named in the Best Brewspaper / Free Zine Writing category of the North American Guild of Beer Writers’ Writing Awards for his article on Mark Jilg of Pasadena’s Craftsman Brewing. Click here to check out that issue and the article via our e-reader.
The second award was from Folio:, a magazine and news organization that covers the national publishing industry. Each year, they name their top 100 media executives in the country. I am grateful to be named in their “20 in Their 20’s” category for 2014.
The Great American Beer Festival is obviously a special time for people in the craft beer community. With 49,000 people flocking to the festival over three days, big breweries get a chance to pour their beers for people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to try them. Brewers also wait with baited breath as judging panels decide which breweries go home with new hardware for their trophy cases. For Ramona’s ChuckAlek Independent Brewers, this year’s Great American Beer Festival turned out to be extra-special, as they were named the winner of the Samuel Adams “Brewing and Business Experienceship” program.
Every year, Samuel Adams picks one brewery from their “Brewing the American Dream” funding program and awards them the opportunity to participate in the Experienceship program. The purpose of the program is to give one promising brewery extended mentoring from key people at the Boston Beer Company, which produces Samuel Adams beers.
Beyond gaining brewing, distribution, packaging and ingredient sourcing knowledge, the winner gets to brew a collaboration beer with Samuel Adams, and they also get funding to attend industry events like the Great American Beer Festival.
The funding program initially caught the eye of ChuckAlek co-founders Grant Fraley and Marta Jankowska when they were looking to expand in late 2013. “We got a loan from Sam Adams about a year ago to help actually start to pick up our distribution,” said Fraley. “It got us to the point of being probably the widest-distributed nanobrewery in San Diego, and we’ve gotten a lot of great response from our distribution.”
ChuckAlek’s passion for brewing on a small scale is what grabbed the attention of Samuel Adams founder, Jim Koch. “I think they’re a model for the next wave of craft brewers that are going to take us to 6,000, 8,000 and eventually 10,000 breweries in the US,” said Koch. “It’ll be passionate, very small-scale breweries where the business model is not getting into Vons, Ralph’s and Safeway, but small breweries with tasting rooms that maybe sell growler fills, and have a very small distribution to a handful of accounts. That’s the business model that can get us thousands more breweries.”
What can we expect out of ChuckAlek as a result of this mentorship program? Fraley lays out some short-term and long-term visions. “We’re really looking forward to the collaboration brew with them, which will help us get our name out there even more,” said Fraley. “We’re based in Ramona, but we’re part of that larger community of San Diego. We’re still figuring out our next steps, but we’ll definitely be growing up and ramping up over the next year and a half.”
New Belgium’s traveling festival of bikes raised $45,700 for local non-profits San Diego County Bicycle Coalition and San Diego Mountain Biking Association, up 10 percent from last year.
Around 7,000 people convened at Golden Hill Park for the Saturday 27 event.
“It’s a ‘fun-raiser’ unlike any other,” said Andy Hanshaw, Executive Director of San Diego County Bicycle Coalition. “Over the last five years, New Belgium has contributed nearly $200,000 that has gone right back into our efforts here to make San Diego a safer, more accessible place for all people to ride their bikes. It’s Hilarity for Charity, and we love it!”
As you can see from this Facebook album, the party is a lot of fun, and a highlight of every Tour de Fat stop is the car-for-bike swap, where one person commits to commute by bike for the next year. That local this year was Hutton Marshall. “I’m excited to start my year living car-free,” Marshall told New Belgium. “Working on a tan, helping create a healthier planet and developing strong gluteus muscles are goals everyone should strive for and I will most certainly do so during the coming year.”
San Diegan brewers earned fourteen medals at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival; 5 gold medals, 3 silver medals and 6 bronze medals overall.
For this year’s competition, there were 5507 beers entered that were rated by 222 judges from 10 countries.
Category: 14 Session Beer – 94 Entries
Gold: Oatmeal Stout, Benchmark Brewing Co., San Diego, CA
Silver: Guillaume, Pizza Port Ocean Beach, Ocean Beach, CA
Bronze: Mosaic Session Ale, Karl Strauss Brewing Co. – La Jolla, La Jolla, CA
Category: 21 American-Belgo-Style Ale – 69 Entries
Bronze: Le Freak, Green Flash Brewing Co., San Diego, CA
Category: 51 International-Style Pale Ale – 88 Entries
Bronze: The Pupil, Societe Brewing Co., San Diego, CA
Category: 52 American-Style Pale Ale – 145 Entries
Gold: Grunion, Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits – Scripps Ranch, San Diego, CA
Category: 55 Imperial India Pale Ale – 135 Entries
Silver: Hop 15, Port Brewing Co., San Marcos, CA
Category: 57 Imperial Red Ale – 62 Entries
Bronze: Shark Attack, Port Brewing Co., San Marcos, CA
Category: 62 Irish-Style Red Ale – 60 Entries
Silver: Piper Down, Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits – Scripps Ranch, San Diego, CA
Category: 71 Belgian-Style Witbier – 65 Entries
Gold: White Ale, Saint Archer Brewing Co., San Diego, CA
Category: 76 Belgian-Style Tripel – 58 Entries
Bronze: La Flama Dorada, Pizza Port Ocean Beach, Ocean Beach, CA
Category: 78 Other Belgian-Style Ale – 26 Entries
Gold: Witty Moron, Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station, San Diego, CA
Category: 81 Classic Irish-Style Dry Stout – 26 Entries
Bronze: Asphalt Jungle, Bagby Beer Co., Oceanside, CA
Category: 89 Barley Wine-Style Ale – 51 Entries
Gold: AleSmith Old Numbskull, AleSmith Brewing Co., San Diego, CA
After a successful 2013, when local brewers took home 14 medals from the Great American Beer Festival’s awards ceremony, we’re excited to see what happens this year.
Again, there’s a record number of beer entries, so competition will be stiff.
Can Monkey Paw grab another gold? Will Marty Mendiola at Rock Bottom La Jolla continue building his hardware collection?
We’ll see this Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m. (10:30 a.m. Denver time), when The Brewing Network streams the awards ceremony live on their website.