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San Diego Beer News

Meet Longship Brewery

May 4

longship_01There are certain, seemingly nonsensical brewery names that challenge patrons to derive any meaning from them—Saint Archer, Stumblefoot, BNS (I know what that stands for but will leave it to them to share that one). But with upcoming project, Longship Brewery (10320 Camino Santa Fe, Suite C, Mira Mesa), what you hear is what you’ll get. Owner, brewer and jestingly self-proclaimed “captain” Dan Jachimowicz’s corner-suite tasting room is being outfitted to resemble—you guessed it—a long ship. A Viking vessel, to be exact.

longship_03A pair of communal bench-style tables will run down the middle of the high-ceilinged, hall-like room, flanked by rows of beer-filled oak barrels and wall-mounted shields. Further driving home the Nordic nautical theme will be a large Viking mural directly over the bar, where more seated and standing tables will be located. The 750-square-foot room will have capacity for 49 indentured rowers…err, visitors, who will benefit from such modern innovations as purse-hooks, various games, electrical outlets and complimentary WiFi.

longship_04Longship’s entire space is 4,450-square-feet with a 10-barrel brewhouse (plus a 10-gallon pilot-system), three 10-barrel fermenters and a pair of 10-barrel bright tanks. This will allow the company to produce 500 barrels of beer per year (though the conservative estimate for Year One is 200-to-250), but the floor-plan includes room to install additional cellar equipment bringing with it the ability to increase annual barrelage to 1,000. Jachimowicz selected his Mira Mesa site with eventual expansion in mind, and likes that idea of taking over next-door suites as needed.

longship_02A UC Irvine graduate whose thesis was on the history and modernization of beer, Jachimowicz’s beer list takes great and varied influence form Europe. An English-style pale ale, mild ale and strong India pale ale (IPA) are in the mix along with a German-style doppelbock and two Belgian numbers—a witbier and IPA. Other beers are in the works, including an American strong ale and beers designed to go in those aforementioned barrels. Long-term, Longship is envisioned as a venture that will grow into a large production brewery and national brand. For now, San Diegans can expect to get their first taste when the business soft-opens next month.


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May Events Sampler Flight

May 1

sf_042016This May is packed with beery events covering everything from local brews and grooves to sours and Belgian beers to the age-old question, “Mother may I…drink beer!” Check out some of these highlighted happenings, then consult our full list of local beer events here.

May 9 | O’Brien’s Loves Craft Beer Mamas: No offense, ma, but Mother’s Day has been known to drive me to drink. Turn the tables and drive mom to drink by driving her to O’Brien’s Pub to toast motherhood with roughly a dozen female parental powerhouses from San Diego’s brewing industry, all of which will tap and toast some of their favorite beers. | O’Brien’s Pub, 4646 Convoy Street, Kearny Mesa, 5 p.m.

May 14 | Rhythm & Brews Festival: This one might sound familiar. The San Diego Brewers Guild‘s beer-and-music festival was originally scheduled for last month, but (the threat of) rain washed it clean into may. Let’s hope April showers yield May flowers in the form of a bouquet of awesome local beers paired with a variety of high-powered musical acts. | Vista Village District, Vista, VIP: 12 p.m., General Admission: 1 p.m.

May 14 | Amps & Ales: The #SouthBayUprising is real and a great chance to experience it will be during this festival from Chula Vista’s Third Avenue Village Association, which has assembled dozens of San Diego breweries, including the South Bay’s own Border X Brewing, Bay Bridge Brewing, Novo Brazil Brewing and Thr3e Punk Ales Brewing for one enchanted afternoon. | 353 Third Avenue, Chula Vista, 12 p.m.

May 15 | Stone Belgian Fest: Being San Diego County’s largest brewing company and running the city’s largest restaurant makes for a lot of pull, and on this day, Stone Brewing will pull Trappist beers, strong ales, wits, sours and more all the way from Belgium to Liberty Station for a festival of epic, international proportions. | Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station, 2816 Historic Decatur Road, #116, Point Loma, 12 p.m.

May 26 | Toolbox Beer Dinner: Surprisingly many are the chefs who claim sour beers aren’t good for pairing with food. This is nonsense, but it can be challenging to compose a multi-course feast using only sours. Churchill’s Pub exec chef A.G. Warfield has the gastro goods to go with Toolbox Brewing Company’s variety of Brett-borne and fruited-sour delights. | Churchill’s Pub & Grlle, 887 West San Marcos Boulevard, San Marcos, 7 p.m.

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Stone CEO announces True Craft project

Apr 29

stonebrewinglogoStone Brewing CEO Greg Koch took to the stage at today’s EG Conference in Carmel, California, and announced that he and Stone co-founder Steve Wagner are developing a project called True Craft as an “alternative to being bought or pushed out by Big Beer.”

Koch describes True Craft as a consortia of independent investors who will create a platform in which craft breweries can exchange minority, non-controlling stakes in their businesses for access to financing.

Koch said that there is already $100 million committed and “a small group of craft breweries” who are interested. Additionally, Koch said True Craft is starting with beer, but is designed to go beyond ales and lagers, extending to all artisanal edibles.

The press release is included below.

ESCONDIDO, CA – Today Stone Brewing announces True Craft, a company established to invest in craft breweries which are dedicated to remaining true to the definition of craft beer. Representing camaraderie in the industry, True Craft will make minority investments in craft brewers while allowing those breweries to retain their independent soul and control.

“Some people start companies to sell out. Some start companies because they are compelled to follow their passion. True Craft is for the latter,” said Greg Koch, Stone CEO & co-founder. “Craft beer needs an alternative model to the one that requires founders to sell their company in its entirety. In a world in which there are constant forces toward homogenization and fitting in, I specifically want to foster a world of uniqueness, depth and character.”

Outspoken about their commitment not to sell out to Big Beer, the co-founders of Stone have been investigating an alternative that would provide financing and operational guidance to small brewers who might otherwise have few options to protect the passion, heart and soul of their company. A year and a half in the making, Stone will be participating in True Craft as a founding member. The new venture has received an initial $100,000,000 brought forth from an investor group committed to the long term model. True Craft will welcome a handful of the best craft brewers in the business alongside Stone Brewing. Each brewery may participate in True Craft and in turn the company will provide minority investments to its members with minimal stipulations. All breweries will be aligned in the philosophical mindset of banding together to preserve craft while retaining full soul and control of their businesses for years to come.

“This is about setting up a consortium so we can not just survive, but continue to thrive in a world in which craft is being co-opted by Big Beer,” said Steve Wagner, Stone President & co-founder. “This allows companies like Stone to follow an ethos that involves independence and passion for the artisanal. By investing in True Craft now, we can be confident that our vision is locked in beyond our professional lifetimes and we feel privileged to help others in our industry do the same.”

True Craft’s detailed structure is still in formation and will be announced at a later date.

About Stone Brewing

Founded by Greg Koch and Steve Wagner in 1996, San Diego-based Stone Brewing is the 10th largest craft brewer in the United States. Stone has been listed on the Inc. 500 | 5000 Fastest Growing Private Companies list 11 times,and has been called the “All-time Top Brewery on Planet Earth” by BeerAdvocate magazine twice. The multifaceted company will be the first American craft brewer to independently build, own and operate a brewery in Europe, and is also building a production brewery and destination restaurant in Richmond, Virginia. Brewing at both locations will be underway in summer 2016. Known for its bold, flavorful and largely hop-centric beers, Stone has earned a reputation for brewing outstanding, unique beers while maintaining an unwavering commitment to sustainability,business ethics, philanthropy and the art of brewing. For more information on Stone Brewing, please or the company’s social media sites: Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and TheStone Blog.

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Beer of the Week: Mike Hess Grapefruit Solis

Apr 29
Mike Hess Brewing's Grapefruit Solis IPA (photo courtesy Mike Hess Brewing)

Mike Hess Brewing’s Grapefruit Solis IPA (photo courtesy Mike Hess Brewing)

From the Beer Writer: Fruited beers are en vogue…again. In past iterations of this trend, which comes and goes, gaining more and more traction each time around, fruits have mostly appeared in lighter-bodied, lower-alcohol beers-styles such as blonde ales, wits and assorted lagers. Darker beers such as porters and stouts also get their fair share of fruiting, mostly with berries. This time around, it’s all about the IPA. (But seriously, when isn’t it all about the IPA?) IPAs packed with hops exhibiting citrus and tropical fruit flavors are being further amplified in those respects by actual citrus and tropical fruits. This week’s featured beer, Mike Hess Grapefruit Solis IPA, started off with grapefruit picked in a backyard. Such was the popularity of this beer at Mike Hess Brewing Company‘s trio of tasting bars, a domestic plot will no longer suffice. So, the grapefruits are sourced then processed at the North Park production brewery, which on days when the brew crew are zesting away, smells more like an orchard than a manufacturing site. All that aroma and flavor come through in the finished product, a fresh batch of which recently made it back out onto the market.

From the Brewer: “Seven years ago, Mike Hess was trying to convince his mother to try an IPA over her preferred stout. In an effort to persuade her, he suggested thinking of an IPA as carbonated grapefruit juice, and lo and behold, she is now an IPA enthusiast. Fast-forward to the summer of 2015 when Mike was solicited by a local business to create a specialty craft beer and it dawned on him he could create a grapefruit IPA using his flagship Solis recipe and adding fresh grapefruit from the backyard of his home in La Mesa. After picking hundreds of grapefruits from his tree with his children, Mike and his family hand-zested and squeezed the grapefruit to add to Solis #46. After perfecting the recipe, Grapefruit Solis was added to Mike Hess Brewing’s menu as a flagship beer using a combination of Nugget, Cascade and Citra hops with two-row, melanoidin and Vienna malts. Grapefruit Solis takes the best out of a traditional San Diego IPA and combines it with a well-rounded flavor profile brought out by the citrus in the grapefruit. This recipe is the perfect example of fruit-infused beer. We pack our hop-back with grapefruit zest just before fermentation and then, prior to packaging, we add in a dose of real grapefruit juice, doubling down for flavor-town. Light in color and dry in taste, this beer has a subtle malt component and a clean yeast profile. It’s like getting sacked in the face with a bag of grapefruit.”—Jason Stockberger, Head Brewer, Mike Hess Brewing Company

From the Bottle: Grapefruit Solis kicks it up a notch by taking our awesome San Diego style IPA and pumping it full of citrusy grapefruit goodness. No artificial flavors either—we’re talking real fruit. The hops are carefully selected to play off the zestiness, and the malt is subtle in the background. The result is dry, crisp and deliciously refreshing.

Edit: This post has been shortened to focus on The Beer of the Week.

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Downtown Johnny Brown’s closing April 29

Apr 28

downtownjbIt’s hard to imagine, but there was a time when craft-beer had not yet been embraced by the majority of San Diego restaurants. But there were early-adopters who got it and got with the program. They essentially helped build the program to what it is today. Some folded; too early to the party and unable to make ends meet. But there are a handful of those visionary spots still around, and they are to be cherished. Sadly, San Diego is about to lose one of its longest supporters of the artisanal beer movement. Downtown Johnny Brown’s (1220 Third Avenue, Downtown) will officially close its doors after tomorrow’s service.

A longtime fixture within the Civic Center Plaza, this one-story oasis among skyscraper City admin buildings, the San Diego Concourse and Civic Theater, Downtown Johnny Brown’s has been in operation since 1987. Just under three years ago, it was taken over by Sean Cole, who was kind enough to shed light on the reasons for this unfortunate turn of events. The lease on the restaurant space is up for renewal. As part of that process, the City of San Diego (the owner and landlord) utilized a request-for-proposal (RFP) process in its search for interested tenants.

Typically, existing tenants have the advantage in these situations so long as they are in good standing with the City, which Cole attests he is. That leg-up coincides with the landlord’s expectation that tenant improvements be made to meet standards and requirements. In preparation to submit a proposal in response to the RFP, Cole did his due diligence, analyzing the many modernizations that would need to be made to get the venue up-to-code in conjunction with an updated remodel. It was something that was already at the forefront of his concerns after being served with an ADA lawsuit for an improvement. Downtown Johnny Brown’s was actually exempt from the code-violation due to its pre-1992 structure status, but Cole’s attorneys determined it would be cheaper to settle out of court.

Without the many updates needed to comply with current ADA standards, Cole decided he would essentially be a sitting-duck for future, similar lawsuits. An example of how extensive the improvements that need to be made is the hallway leading to the restrooms, which would need to be widened a few inches. That would require Cole to move a main wall as well as the electrical, plumbing and ventilation within the wall. And because the updates were so costly, he voluntarily backed away, choosing to shutter the business.

Cole is disappointed to be the last overseer of Downtown Johnny Brown’s, but wants to “stay classy to the end as we San Diegans do.” To that end, he’s working to line up a band for tomorrow’s finale and empty out the many kegs of top-tier beer he has stockpiled for the many epic events the bar-and-resto have held over the years. It was a good run and one veterans of the local craft-beer scene surely won’t forget.

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