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San Diego Beer News

This weekend: Ebullition’s Grand Opening, Part II

Oct 19

Ebullition Brew Works celebrated the first half of their Grand Opening last Saturday, October 14th. If you missed out, the new Vista brewery is celebrating part II of their inaugural festivities this Saturday, October 21st. Click here for more details.

Last weekend did not disappoint. On tap was an ambitious 11 beer lineup. The menu included three historical brews  such as Egyptian Hekt, ABV 6.2%. It’s their interpretation of the beer imbibed by Pharaohs, high priests, and pyramid builders.  Their research has led them to include such ingredients as spelt, an ancient wheat; dates, honey, and ginger.  It is sweet, spicy, and earthy. In addition, Pineapple Chicha, ABV 5.5%. Ebullition’s version is a corn beer, flavored with ripe crushed pineapple for a refreshing and convivial quaff. Berliner Weisse, ABV 4.5%. Popular in Berlin in the 16th and 17th centuries, this beer was dubbed the “Champagne of the North” by Napoleon.  Ebullition used a triple decoction brewing method, and slightly soured the beer with a lactobacillus culture.  They serve their Berliner Weisse in the traditional style, adding a hint of Waldmeister or Raspberry syrup on request. These special edition styles are currently offered as tasters for a limited time.

The theme fit right in with the textbook definition of its name—both the process of brewing beer and their passion for craft. The showpiece of the tasting room is one of the walls, where a 28-foot long timeline, depicting 12K years of beer innovation and history. The timeline tells stories touching on the Mayflower and Sam Adams. Then, lesser known pieces of beer lore. We didn’t know that during WWII the British RAF, using it’s spitfire bombers, delivered beer in its fuel tanks to the troops in Normandy. The timeline/museum-wall  is a permanent addition to the brewery. On a special note, the brewery has chosen to pay homage to the local breweries with a, “In their own words” section, giving you a good sense of the brewing diversity located in this regional mecca for beer.

Last weekend’s Grand Opening Part 1 included a brewery tour, provided by brewmaster Mike Reidy – who is also an engineer, former math teacher, certified beer judge, and award-winning beer and mead homebrewer. On hand was Judith Downing, of San Diego’s Brewchive (“brew-kive”), providing local artifacts and a special presentation on San Diego’s brew history. For families, there was an archeological dig where kids could dig for and hammer at, buried relics in exchange for prizes. There were 3 local musical acts all performing different stages of Americana music, including: blue grass, rockabilly, and today’s recent alternative roots revival.

Ebullition Brew Works continues their Grand Opening this Saturday October 21, by helping you usher in the holidays with a Dia de los Muertos themed event, ”Dia de Ebullition”. Top of the menu is a Mexican style Lager. This lighter-bodied Mexican beer is set ablaze with just a touch of habanero pepper.  Also—Ebullition’s gruit beer.  This seldom-sene beer-style was originally intended for the previous weekend, which is a good thing, because it probably wouldn’t have lasted long enough for you to get a taste. Before there were hops to make ale beer, there was the gruit. A gruit relies on a selection of herbs other than hops for flavoring.  Named for a Neolithic village on the isle of Orkney, this Scottish style ale features a blend of herbs found in the heaths and moors of Caledonia.

In addition to beer, there’s family entertainment. Local artists will be in attendance. Face painting for the kids, big and small, and a graffiti artist who paints murals sprayed on transparent on a canvas of plastic wrap can be expected.  See him develop his latest creation right before your very eyes. There will be food by Mexico City Cuisine and live music by National City’s The Sleepwalkers.

This post is sponsored by Ebullition Brew Works

Savagewood Brewing takes over O’Sullivan Bros. brewery, preserves brand

Oct 19

Savagewood Brewing owner Darrel Brown

In May, O’Sullivan Bros. Brewing Company owner Ed O’Sullivan put his two-year-old Scripps Ranch brewery up for sale. Shortly after, Darrel Brown, the owner of Savagewood Brewing Company came to take a look. Earlier in the year he had toured defunct Escondido business Offbeat Brewing Company. He also took a look at Helm’s Brewing Company in Kearny Mesa, but passed on all three due to his desire to settle his interest in Rancho Bernardo. But as the months passed, he came to realize the best place for the community- and family-focused venue he aimed to establish was right in his backyard. He and O’Sullivan reconnected and forged a deal that makes Brown the new owner of O’Sullivan Bros.’ brewery and tasting room. And while others might wipe the slate completely clean, Brown will integrate the O’Sullivan Bros. brand into his own.

Brown’s plan—which is already underway—is to remove all O’Sullivan Bros. branding from the exterior and interior of the facility, which is located on the west side of an industrial park on Hibert Street catty-corner to a large shopping area that includes a grocery store and numerous restaurants. All branding will be changed to reflect Savagewood Brewing and his beers will take up the lion’s share of the faucets in the tasting room, but he will also keep on some of O’Sullivan Bros.’ best-selling beers, including Catholic Guilt smoked porter, Our Father’s Stout and Finn McCool’s Big Thirsty red ale. A Scripps Ranch resident who lives mere blocks away, Brown patronized the brewery he now owns and believed in the product and the people behind the brand. He was saddened that the O’Sullivan family had to exit the industry—not due to poor quality, but personal issues that couldn’t be avoided—and feels strongly that their legacy should live on.

While O’Sullivan Bros. beers largely fell on the darker side, Savagewood ales come in lighter on the SRM spectrum. Brown’s recipes are hoppy, fruity and light on malt to produce a dry finish associated with Southern California offerings. That said, he’s not afraid to dabble in the East Coast arts, and is planning to brew a West Coast-Northeast India pale ale hybrid using yeast used for hazy IPAs against a decidedly “San Diego-style” grain bill. That will join his pineapple pale ale and other beers that, up until now, have been contract brewed at Groundswell Brewing Company’s Santee headquarters. Since the total annual production capability of his new facility is just 550 barrels, he will continue to utilize his contract relationship to increase yearly barrelage to between 1,600 and 1,700 barrels.

But it’s not all about the adult beverages. Savagewood will have cold-brew coffee and house-made craft sodas on tap. It will also hold various youth-oriented events such as movie nights featuring ‘80’s movies and popcorn. Also on-tap will be at least one event raising money for local charities per month. A portion of proceeds from one of his beers, Exquisite Blonde, already go to the cancer non-profit Keep A Breast Foundation. “Scripps Ranch is my home and I want Savagewood to be the neighborhood brewery,” says Brown. “Every decision I make will center around that.”

Brown will open the revamped tasting room on November 2, just in time for San Diego Beer Week, which takes place November 3-12. He plans to hold events throughout that span, including beer-release promotions, a trivia night and a beer-brunch event. And near the end of November, Savagewood will hold its official grand-opening party. In the meantime, he’ll work on expanding the floor-plan of the tasting room and cinch up negotiations with a brewer he intends to bring on. As for the rest of his staff, he is keeping all of O’Sullivan Bros.’ existing employees, making for one of the true feel-good stories of this year in local craft beer.

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White Labs opens first-ever restaurant in Asheville

Oct 18

Photo courtesy of White Labs

Miramar-based White Labs is well known worldwide for its expertise in yeast used in the manufacture of beer, wine and other libations, but starting tomorrow, it will take its work with edible-based fermentation to the people when it opens its first-ever restaurant, White Labs Kitchen and Tap in downtown Asheville, North Carolina. White Labs debuted at its East Coast digs in January of this year, with the establishment of a full-scale laboratory and yeast-production facility complete with a tasting room similar to that of its San Diego predecessor, elements of which—such as hanging Erlenmeyer flask light fixtures—will be on display at the company’s new 5,200-square-foot eatery.

Photo courtesy of White Labs

Like White Labs’ sampling venues, multiple versions of singular beers produced by the company (via the in-house brewery at the San Diego facility) and differentiated by the type of yeast used to ferment them will be available side-by-side. Doing so allows patrons to taste the significant influence yeast has on a finished beer. A portion of White Labs Kitchen and Tap’s 28 taps will dispense those house ales and lagers while a rotating stock of guest beers (including collaboration creations worked up by neighbor breweries including Burial Beer Co., Hi-Wire Brewing and Mad Co. Brewing specifically for the restaurant’s opening) will round out the beverage program along with wine and specialty cocktails.

Photo courtesy of White Labs

The restaurant’s total square-footage is divided into 3,000 indoors with an outdoor patio coming in at roughly 2,200. Up to 100 guests at a time may partake from an eclectic menu that focuses heavily on dishes incorporating fermented components. The most obvious of them are wood-fired pizzas produced using slow-risen dough made using White Labs pure liquid yeast cultures. Then there are French fries brined in lactobacillus and bread made with WLP830 German Lager Yeast. Other adventurous accoutrements include a sour-beer vinaigrette on a kale salad, whey toffee, and a burger-topping barbecue sauce incorporating barley miso and White Labs’ Pasteur Porter ale slathered on a roll made with WLP002 English Ale Yeast. It’s anything but your everyday take on everyday food.

White Labs Kitchen and Tap is located adjacent from the company’s Asheville facility at 172 South Charlotte Street. Should you find yourself in that easterly locale and looking for a taste of home, its hours are 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday through Thursday and 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays.

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Q&A: Brian Crecely

Oct 17

Head Brewer, Kilowatt Brewing Company

For the past three years, Kearny Mesa-based Kilowatt Brewing Company has been the little brewery that could. Bolstered by flamboyantly outlandish beers and striking interior lighting design, the nano-brewery has earned a cult following, patronage from which allowed owners Steve Kozyk and Rachel Fischer to open a flashy satellite tasting room in Ocean Beach that has been quite the hit. Yet, the company has never had a brewer with previous professional fermentation experience. Until now. A recent search for a new head brewer that can take Kilowatt to the next level ended with the hiring of Brian Crecely, who came over from Miramar’s AleSmith Brewing Company last month to fill a crucial role at a critical time for the soon-to-expand business.

What road led you to your current position with Kilowatt?
I was a homebrewer and member of QUAFF (Quality Ale and Fermentation Fraternity) before beginning my professional career at AleSmith in 2011. I started on the packaging line, much like a lot of people do when they first get into the industry. The company saw a tremendous amount of growth during my time there and I was able to grow a lot with them. I managed to work my way up to become a cellarman and, eventually, a brewer. After gaining experience as a brewer, they gave me the opportunity to complete the American Brewers Guild: Brewing Science and Engineering Program, which really helped me add to my brewing knowledge. During this time and until I left AleSmith, I assisted the company with developing (then managing) its barrel-aged sour beer program and took on the role of specialty brewer working with one-off and pilot batches.

What inspired you to leave AleSmith?
Being AleSmith’s specialty brewer gave me the chance to be creative and experiment with lots of different ingredients and ideas. When I heard Kilowatt was hiring a head brewer, I saw a great opportunity for me to continue exploring new beers and styles, and the chance to learn more about brewery management. I also really liked the small, close-knit vibe at Kilowatt, and it was very appealing to have the chance to work closely with the owners on their vision of the brewery and have an impact on making that a reality.

Will Kilowatt’s brewing direction change at all now that you’re on-board?
The focus at Kilowatt has always been to offer a wide range of styles and flavors. I am hoping to continue doing that, but also fine-tune our lineup of beers and try to constantly find ways to innovate and improve each batch that we brew. One of the best parts of being a small brewery is that we have the chance to experiment with new ideas. I am very much looking forward to brewing some mixed-fermentation and barrel-aged sour beers while expanding Kilowatt’s barrel-aging program and IPA (India pale ale) varieties, and adding more classic and session styles to our lineup.

What are you most excited about?
I am excited about our upcoming brewhouse expansion and the new possibilities that are going to come along with it. During the first quarter of next year, we will upgrade from our three-barrel brewhouse to a seven-barrel brewhouse. We will also install a new glycol system, three 15-barrel fermenters and a seven-barrel fermenter, while keeping a few of our existing three-barrel fermenters for experimental and specialty batches. The new system is really going to allow us to bring in more consistency to our beers, and more accurately monitor and control each batch. I saw AleSmith go through some major changes over the years and I feel like I really learned a lot from it, however, back then I was mostly on the sideliens. This time around I’ll be able to be much more hands-on and have the ability to shape the company’s success and how the brewery will operate.

What are the greatest opportunities you see for Kilowatt?
Currently, we sell the vast majority of our beer in our two tasting rooms, and have a limited number of off-site accounts that carry our beer due to our small production. With the expansion, we will be able to reach a lot more people than before. It’s going to be a lot of fun to be a part of that and try to contribute to building the Kilowatt brand.

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San Diegans Fundraise for Northern California

Oct 16

Given many local brewers’ ties to Northern California, the ongoing fires have galvanized fundraising efforts.

Second Chance Beer’s Marty Mendiola and Virginia Morrison were planning to spend their fifth wedding anniversary this past weekend in the area. “Marty and I used to visit Northern California at least three times a year when he was still with Rock Bottom, as he managed the brewery at the RB Campbell location, and I have family up that way,” said Morrison. “Thus, it holds a very special place in our hearts.”

This Saturday they’re hosting a fundraiser in tandem with a celebration of their GABF medals. Pints of winners Legally Red and Tabula Rasa are $4 from 1 to 3 p.m. 20% of beer sales during that time, plus 10% from the rest of the day, will be donated to relief efforts.

Some fundraisers took place over the weekend:
O’Brien’s Pub’s Wet Hop Fest benefited the United Way of Wine Country.
– 10% of Small Bar’s sales were donated to King Ridge Foundation.
Toronado donated $1,000 to the Santa Rosa chapter of the Red Cross, in addition to $1 from every pour of Russian River beer. Russian River’s Vince and Natalie Cilurzo have strong connections to San Diego’s professional brewing and homebrewing communities.

More fundraisers are in the works:
– Starting Friday October 13th until the end of November, Fathom Bistro Bait & Tackle on the Shelter Island Pier will donate $1 from every Russian River beer, including Pliny the Elder and Blind Pig IPA, to victims’ charities.
– Tomorrow, Blind Lady Ale House will donate $5 per glass from each $10 (.5L) pour of Russian River beer to King Ridge Foundation.
Eppig Brewing will release one of their beers under the Sonoma Pride label this week in the tasting room. 100% of proceeds will go to King Ridge Foundation.
Craft Beerd will donate 50% of the sales from their Russian River-inspired pin (up to the first 50 pins) to the United Way of Wine Country.
Mikkeller San Diego is planning a fundraiser (TBD).
– Russian River (Santa Rosa) and Bear Republic (Healdsburg) are planning special releases of Sonoma Pride. Check out the website for three ways to contribute.
Stone Distributing Co. will donate a portion of sales throughout the month of October to Direct Relief. Retroactive to October 1, for every case of Bear Republic and Russian River beer sold, the company will donate $0.25; Stone will further donate $0.25 for every case of Stone Brewing beer sold in Southern California; and Stone Brewing will donate $0.15 for every case of Stone beer sold via its wholesale distribution partners throughout the rest of California. Also, the following list of brands distributed by Stone Distributing Co. have committed to splitting a donation of $0.25 per case for the entire month: Avery Brewing Co., Boochcraft, Eel River Brewing, Kern River Brewing Company, MadeWest Brewing Company, Mason Ale Works, Maui Brewing Co., Mikkeller Brewing, Modern Times Beer, Oskar Blues Brewery, Smog City Brewing Company, The Bruery, The Lost Abbey, Victory Brewing Company, and Wandering Aengus Ciderworks.
Update: Societe Brewing will donate a portion of proceeds from Halloween, October 31.
Update: 100% of proceeds from this coming Saturday’s BagbyFest in Oceanside will go to King Ridge Foundation.

Know of more fundraising efforts? Please leave a comment below.