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San Diego Beer News

Ballast Point Building $48M Virginia Brewery

May 24

As reported by The Roanoke Times today, Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits is planning to build a $48 million brewery on a 259,000-square-foot site in Botetourt County, Virginia. The expansion will create roughly 175 jobs on-site, 540 secondary jobs, and a $375 million annual economic impact, according to projections from the Roanoke Regional Partnership.

“In our quest to provide the best quality, freshest beer to all of our customers, an East Coast brewery started to make a lot of sense to us,” Ballast Point founder Jack White said in a written statement.

ballastpoint_logo_t670_t658Ballast Point is the third San Diego-based brewery to pick Virginia for an East Coast brewery site, following Stone (Richmond), and Green Flash (Virginia Beach); those breweries are currently being built out.

Water availability and quality played a key factor in the decision. “We are able to welcome Ballast Point to Botetourt County because of the decision by the Board of Supervisors in 2015 to join the Western Virginia Water Authority,” said Botetourt County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jack Leffel. Water for the authority comes from the nearby Carvins Cove reservoir, instead of the mineral-rich water previously available to tenants in the Greenfield area.

According to reports, Ballast Point will receive a $2.4 million grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund to assist with the project. The company will also be eligible for a $250,000 grant from the governor’s Agriculture and Forest Industries Development Fund. Additionally, Botetourt County will provide about $1.4 million in tax incentives, along with performance grants estimated at $650,000.

Ballast Point Brewing got their start in 1996 as an offshoot of supply shop Home Brew Mart (1992), and the company now employs more than 500 people across four facilities in San Diego. The brewery was acquired by Constellation Brands in November for a record-breaking $1 billion. This past month, Ballast Point won two World Beer Cup awards, announced a Long Beach brewpub, and was crowned Champion Large International Brewery at the Australian International Beer Awards.

Q&A w/ “Dr.” Bill Sysak

May 24

This Q&A originally appeared on the SDSU College of Extended Studies Blog. Course tuition is $1,500 per camp. Everyone is welcome; must be 21 or older. For more information or to reserve your place, visit

When San Diego State University’s College of Extended Studies launched the Business of Craft Beer program in the fall of 2013, registration for the introductory course, Exploring Craft Beer, sold out in eight hours. The following fall it took 48 minutes. The program’s wild popularity reflects the explosive growth of the craft beer industry in San Diego, the current Craft Beer Capital of the U.S. At the time of this writing, there are more than 120 breweries in San Diego County, with another 30 in planning.

The Business of Craft Beer provides hands-on training for those looking to enter or already working in the brewing industry on the business side, rather than the brewing side of operations. To make the program more accessible to beer aficionados worldwide, SDSU is launching its newest offering: Craft Beer Education Camp.

Students can choose from Craft Beer Connoisseur Camp, July 24-August 1, which offers intensive preparation for industry exams such as Cicerone® and BJCP; or Brewery Startup Camp, August 2-10 (everything you need to know to launch a brewery). Some early registrants have chosen to attend both. Each camp offers eight days of intensive instruction and one free day to explore San Diego.

Bill-Sysak“Dr.” Bill Sysak, a founding advisory board member and instructor with SDSU’s professional certificate program, will teach several courses. As the Craft Beer Ambassador for Stone Brewing Co., Dr. Bill (a nickname from his combat medic days in the Army National Guard) is the beer expert at the 10th largest craft brewery in the U.S. He oversees the beverage philosophy for Stone’s hospitality division; develops training and educational programs; helps create and host numerous events held at Stone and around the country; and attends national events like Savor, the Craft Brewers Conference, and Great American Beer Festival. He also likely elicits severe career envy among beer lovers everywhere

Dr. Bill shares his thoughts on craft beer, and craft beer camp:

Who do you see as the ideal candidate for SDSU’s Craft Beer Education Camp?
First of all you need to be passionate about craft beer. Who in their right mind would spend eight days learning from experts and drinking world-class beers? Oh, wait. That sounds pretty good! I see business professionals both in and out of the industry who aren’t close to the environs of San Diego and who don’t have the ability to travel once a week to take all the courses. This is one-stop shopping, so to speak. Beer shopping.

What can campers/students expect, academically and otherwise?
If they’re new to craft beer, we will ignite their passion. If they’ve been around the industry for a while, we will fan the flame that originally got them into craft beer. Summer camp will include days of intensive education made fun and interesting by our knowledgeable instructors.

You’ll be teaching The History of Beer. Can you share some fascinating beer lore?
One of the main reasons the pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock was because they ran out of beer. They had no barley so they made acorn beer. Our national anthem was borrowed from an 18th century drinking song. Beer was the first beverage to be pasteurized, not milk.

Given that the Code of Hammurabi included the death penalty for watering down beer, do you think Billy Carter dodged an arrow by being born in the 20th century?
We know fizzy yellow beer has been the scourge of the last century. The craft beer industry as a whole is working to rectify that.

Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 12.17.03 PMYou’ll also be teaching The Craft Beer Renaissance. What is it about San Diego that made it such fertile ground for that renaissance and enabled us to snag the title of Craft Beer Capital of the U.S.?
Ninety-five percent of all the craft brewers in America started out as home brewers. Having great home brew clubs in the area for the last couple of decades has allowed San Diego to have a plethora of award-winning breweries.

What words of encouragement do you have for anyone who wants to be part of the craft beer renaissance, either in San Diego or anywhere?
It’s not just a renaissance, it’s a revolution! Come join us! There are great craft breweries springing up all over the world and there is plenty of room for continued growth. Get passionate!

You’ll also be teaching Craft Beer and Food Pairing, and Off-Flavor Introduction. What’s your favorite unexpected pairing, and favorite off-flavor?
A double IPA paired with carrot cake. When I suggest it, people tend to look at me funny but once they try it they are instantly hooked. It’s all about the “Oh wow” moment when the beer and food are both elevated in the pairing that I love. Hmmm, favorite off-flavor. I like the effect that oxidation has on the 3 percent of craft beers that can be cellared for up to 10 years, but for the other 97 percent, oxidation is bad. Let’s call it a love/hate relationship.

Do you anticipate that Craft Beer Camp will afford the same networking opportunities as the regular program?
Yes I do. Our relationships with members of the craft beer scene throughout San Diego will continue to create a fast track for our graduates to enter the industry both locally and abroad.

Did you love your first sip of beer ever or was it an acquired taste?
I did but that is a long story. Not everyone does. I’ve introduced tens of thousands of people to craft beer and it’s all about finding that gateway or transitional beer to hook them in. Once they have found that beer, all bets are off.

32 North Brewing opens Liberty Station tasting bar

May 23

32n_01Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station is the undisputed big-kid-on-the-block when it comes to beer in Point Loma’s Liberty Station development (it’s also San Diego’s largest restaurant). But it’s far from the only game in town. There are now a lot more ale-and-lager options, and they’re surrounding the gargoyle clan’s brewery-equipped resto. Slater’s 50/50 is on the same block, the recently opened Liberty Public Market brought with it the third iteration of popular bar and beer-shop hybrid Bottlecraft next-door, and last Friday, retail collective Moniker General soft-opened across a small side-street featuring a tasting-bar stocked with beers from Miramar’s 32 North Brewing Company.

32n_02Moniker General is 4,200-square-feet and also plays home to Moniker Coffee bar and various retailers managed by Other Sons. But getting back to the beer, 32 North owner Steve Peterson is excited to gain exposure beyond his Beeramar headquarters, and actually sees the proximity to Stone as a plus as that venue attracts numerous beer-fans looking for something new and interesting. This, despite the fact that a contractual clause instituted by Stone limits the number of beer taps 32 North can have to eight.

The bar is equipped with ten taps, so the remaining two will dispense kombucha and cold-brew coffee. The remainder are initially pouring Landfill Berliner weisse, Nautical Mile India pale ale, Pennant pale ale, Shelter Island blonde, Fly By Night nitro milk stout, Orange is the New Black porter, The Olde Ship Irish-style red ale and Common Theory hoppy wheat aale Ale. Those beers will be available on-site and to-go in growlers.

Moniker General is open Mondays and Tuesdays, 4 to 9 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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Ocean Beach Update

May 20

via @westcoastersd Instagram

The coastal community of Ocean Beach continues to make a name for itself in the #sdbeer world with the addition of a third satellite tasting room: Helms Brewing (4896 Newport Avenue). 16 beers are now on tap in the 1,100 square-foot space which opened this week; hours of operation are 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. from Sunday through Thursday, and 12 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

Helms joins established satellite tasting rooms for brewing operations Culture Brewing Co. and Mike Hess Brewing Co., located at 4845 Newport Avenue and 4893 Voltaire Street, respectively.

Just up the street from Helms is the planned location for Belching Beaver’s second satellite spot (4836 Newport Avenue); the prospective opening date is not yet known.

As for actual brewing locations, the Pizza Port brewpub (1956 Bacon Street) just celebrated their sixth anniversary this past weekend. The party continues on Sunday with a coffee-inspired beer brunch from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Opening next weekend is the long-awaited OB Brewery (5051 Newport Avenue), owned by the same people who operate Newport Pizza and Alehouse, located across the street.

Stone Brewing opening Napa tap room

May 20
Napa, California's Borreo Building will house Stone Brewing Tap Room - Napa

Napa, California’s Borreo Building will house Stone Brewing Tap Room – Napa

They say it takes a lot of good beer to make good wine. The tons of empty bottles and cans littering vintners’ trash cans in wine-country is testament to that. Soon, those grape-driven artisans will have even more ales to fuel their endeavors—and seriously hoppy ales at that—courtesy of Stone Brewing. Today, the company announced that it will begin renovations to a space in Napa, California’s historic Borreo building to convert it into a venue that will go by the name Stone Brewing Tap Room – Napa

Located on the corner of Third Street and Soscol Avenue in downtown Napa, the 10,000-square-foot spot will include many of the same components as the Stone Brewing Tap Room abutting Petco Park in downtown San Diego’s East Village—a bar, on-site kitchen and merchandise availability. Unlike its local predecessor, the Napa iteration will bring outdoor-seating into the fold and be equipped with its very own 10-barrel pilot-brewery.

Beers produced in Napa will include riffs on core offerings as well as beers incorporating indigenous ingredients. Local edibles will also be folded into the food menu, which will take cues from its sister Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens restaurants. Much of that will be sourced from small, local, organic farms in and around Napa.

This announcement comes in the midst of construction on two of the company’s high-profile projects, Stone Brewing Richmond and Stone Brewing Berlin, both of which have experienced significant delays, but are on-track to open before the close of 2016. Stone Brewing Tap Room – Napa is scheduled to open sometime in 2017.

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