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San Diego Beer News

CCBA Spring Conference Recap

May 25

By Mike Sardina
CCBA_colorlogo-jpeg– “Ruler of the Underworld” @ Societe Brewing Company
– Vice President of the San Diego Brewers Guild

Sitting in a room with 400 other people, Tom McCormick, the Executive Director of the California Craft Brewers Association (the “CCBA”), is up on stage at the CCBA’s Spring Conference. Tom has arguably been one of the most vocal and ardent supporters of California beer for the last decade or so, and when he is speaking, this group of people listens. “I need to correct a statement I made earlier,” Tom says. “California brewers don’t just some great beer in this country, they brew the best f#ck!ng beer in the United States.” Based on the reaction of the Conference attendees—most of them representatives from brewery members of the CCBA—they clearly agreed.

@cacraftbrewers instagram2

via Instagram @cacraftbrewers

Beer is big in California, but of course, we here in San Diego already know that. We’ve got 107 operational brew houses in the county. Across all of California, there are now over 550 independent, craft breweries, and projections have it at 600 total by the end of the year. The CCBA Conference, a bi-annual event that is held once each spring in Southern California and once each fall in Northern California, is the opportunity for the brewing community to get together to learn about the industry, to catch-up with old friends, to network with new friends, and enjoy some great beer.

The two-day Conference held last week featured about a dozen educational workshops that covered important topics, including a legislative update on policy issues facing breweries in California, as well as a practical workshop on ABC (California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control) issues surrounding festivals and events and social media use. The drought, and concerns about water, was a major topic covered at the Conference. There was a panel for start-up breweries and breweries in planning, a workshop on brewhouse safety, and a workshop that covered the basics of distribution laws in California. There was a technical workshop on barrel-aged beers too—Tomme Arthur (The Lost Abbey/Port Brewing Company/The Hop Concept) and Patrick Rue (The Bruery) shared technical insight and provided a guided tasting of beers like “Grey Monday” and “Red Poppy.” At 9:30 a.m.

CCBAeconFlyer_hiResThe Conference highlights came on Tuesday afternoon, when Lori Ajax, the Chief Deputy Director of the California ABC engaged in an open discussion about what the regulatory agency can do better in order to help promote the brewing industry in California. With an economic impact of $6.5 billion in 2014, beer is clearly important to our state. It is an encouraging sign to see more overall recognition of this fact—at the governmental level and at the consumer level, alike.

The Conference concluded with a keynote presentation that was all about San Diego beer. Gina Marsaglia (Pizza Port Brewing Company), Lee Doxtader (Callahan’s Pub), and Chris Cramer (Karl Strauss Brewing Company), with a combined 74 years of brewing experience in San Diego, sat on a panel with Vinnie Cilurzo to discuss the then-and-now of San Diego beer. Karl Strauss began operations in 1989, and Callahan’s and Pizza Port were quick to follow. These three pioneers of San Diego beer discussed the significant changes they have witnessed—in the licensing and permitting behind running a brewery, the sourcing of equipment and ingredients, the educational level of consumers, and the types of beer that people like to drink. “Back then, people thought that dark beer came from the bottom of the keg, and that light beer was at the top,” Lee Doxtader joked. “They thought the beer was darker because it was down there at the bottom.” Go out in San Diego—to any brewery Tasting Room, beer bar, or finer restaurant—you’ll find a thriving and vibrant brewing community, with awesome local examples of both dark and light beers. Poured out of separate kegs. We’ve come a long way.

Vinnie Cilurzo (Russian River Brewing Company); Gina Marsaglia (Pizza Port Brewing Company); Chris Cramer (Karl Strauss Brewing Company); and Lee Doxtader (Callahan's Pub and San Diego Brewing Company).

Vinnie Cilurzo (Russian River Brewing Company); Gina Marsaglia (Pizza Port Brewing Company); Chris Cramer (Karl Strauss Brewing Company); and Lee Doxtader (Callahan’s Pub and San Diego Brewing Company).

The California Craft Brewers Association is hosting the first California Craft Beer Summit this fall in Sacramento, on September 11 – 12, 2015.

Every single craft brewer in California is invited to participate. The event will be the first of its kind, an interactive and experiential event that focuses on all things California Beer.

The event will include a trade show, educational seminars, beer and food pairings, and of course, a beer festival.

For more information, visit:

Beer of the Week: Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station Mocha IPA

May 23
Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens - Liberty Station's 2nd anniversary beer, Mocha IPA

Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station’s 2nd anniversary beer, Mocha IPA

From the Beer Writer: By day, I work at Stone Brewing Co. Among my many tasks is perpetual perusal of the company’s social media accounts. There is no one sentence I’ve read on our Facebook and Instagram feeds more than, “Bring back the DayMan!” This comes courtesy of the many, many beer enthusiasts who fell in love with the coffee India pale ale (IPA) of the same name Stone brewed collaboratively with Two Brothers Brewing Company and award-winning (then) Chicago homebrewers from Aleman Brewing Website back in 2012. Despite constant pleas from the public, the beer hasn’t been rebrewed, but the closest thing to it is currently on tap at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station. In celebration of that venue’s two-year anniversary, Liberty Station Brewing Manager Kris Ketcham used DayMan and other beers as inspiration for a “Mocha IPA” incorporating coffee, chocolate and milk sugar to give the hoppy concoction the flavor of an altogether different kind of “brew.” Cascade, Amarillo and Citra hops add interesting citrus notes to a roasty, semisweet beer that’s anything but ordinary and will go over well with Stone fans who’ve been jonesing for its co-inspiration like Starbucks addicts a week into caffeine withdrawals.

From the Brewer: “I’ve been contemplating this beer for a long time. I’m a fan of previous Stone collaboration beers, Aleman/Two Brothers/Stone DayMan Coffee IPA and Bodebrown/Stone Cacau IPA, as well as Stone Stochasticity Project Master of Disguise—a golden imperial stout incorporating coffee and cacao nibs. I decided I wanted to take all these great flavors and put them in one glass in hope of making something that resembled a mocha espresso you get from a local coffee shop. I used lactose in the brew to get a creamy base, golden espresso from San Marcos’ Ryan Bros. Coffee for the java flavor and a chocolate blend to make everything sing together. The result is a beer that hits your nose with chocolate, followed by coffee and nice, hoppy citrus notes. It’s like someone took a coffee stout and an imperial IPA and made a love child. Some say it reminds them of a Mars candy bar on the palate.” —Kris Ketcham, Brewing Manager, Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station

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DIY outfit Citizen Brewers opens Saturday

May 22

citizenbrewers_logo_cmykJudd McGhee was very happy homebrewing in his intimate (read: small) condominium kitchen…until he wanted to brew with friends. The limited space made it impossible, and got he and his wife, Elizabeth Henderson, thinking that there should be some sort of place set up where groups of homebrewers would be able to go to brew on an appointment basis. Fast forward to the present and the couple are a day away from the grand opening of such a facility, Citizen Brewers (5837 Mission Gorge Road, Suite A, Mission Valley).

Opening at 7 p.m., Saturday, May 23, the 2,000-square-foot do-it-yourself (with a little help) spot will feature all of the equipment and ingredients (grains, extracts, hops, yeast) needed to brew ales and lagers on a scale going beyond homebrewing’s standard five-gallon equation. Though walk-ins will be allowed on a limited basis, most customers will set up appointments preceded by development sessions where patrons consult with McGhee to get their recipes optimized for the facility’s systems, which include eight copper-jacketed steam kettles, a bottle washing system, a temperature-controlled room for fermentation, plus taps for bottling and kegging.

McGhee’s assistance doesn’t end there. While homebrewers will be responsible for preparing their ingredients (including procuring any specialty ingredients beyond what Citizen Brewers can obtain for them) and brewing the beer, McGhee will supervise the entire process, then transfer the unfermented beer (wort) into fermentation vessels and oversee that process. When the time comes for bottling or kegging (each batch produces 72 22-ounce bottles’ or one 50-liter keg’s worth of beer), McGhee will handle packaging after patrons clean and sanitize their receptacles. Clients will also be able to develop their own labels to print and attach to bottled beer.

This is a new concept for the current San Diego County brewing scene, and McGhee’s effort to try and spark more interest in the brewing arts. Groups of up to six people can brew at Citizens Brewers, with the initial process taking roughly two hours. Depending on the beer style selected, fermentation will take two-to-five weeks. The business will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays. During this Saturday’s event, McGhee will be conducting tours of the facility and offering samples of several beers brewed onsite along with finger foods.

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Brothers Provisions expanding to include Mason Coffee Works

May 21

1920579_412621608894283_3945850418558150525_nSince opening in an inauspicious business center, Brothers Provisions (16451 Bernardo Center Drive, Rancho Bernardo) has become a cult favorite among North County’s craft-centric sect. The three-year-old offspring of the trio behind nearby Urge Gastropub (a brewpub spin-off of which will debut in Oceanside this summer) features a wide variety of bottled beer, wine and cigars in tandem with gourmet meats, cheeses, breads, condiments and more, plus ready-made items and other on-premise and to-go eats from a deli counter sidled by a 12-tap draft system.

Although Brothers Provisions has a lot to offer and has grown to be more than founders Grant Tondro, Nate and Zak Higson envisioned in some ways, it has yet to offer all of the things they’d hoped to instill during the conceptual stage. But all of that should change in four-to-six weeks when the venue adds roughly 3,000 square feet to its interior space as part of an expansion that’s been in the works for the past several months.

That space will come from Brothers Provisions taking over the space directly abutting its current food preparation area and will allow for construction of a full-scale kitchen. Expect more traditional dinner fare to be available along with artisan pizzas, both of which were impossible due to limited space and a challenging setup prior to the expansion. A gourmet coffee bar going by the name Mason Coffee Works will also be installed, featuring a multi-roaster setup that will keep quality coffee available on a rotating basis.

In more near-term Brothers Provisions news, the venue will hold its first annual “Cellarbration” event, 11 a.m., Saturday, May 23. Tickets are on sale online and include a food ticket and 10 four-ounce tasters from a beer list composed of rarities from the likes of AleSmith, Cigar City, Mikkeller, Cantillon, De Struise, Prairie Artisan Ales and a little known beer called Westy 12.

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“Kings of the Craft” premieres tomorrow on KPBS

May 20

The quartet behind Kings of the Craft: Raeanne DuPont, Steve Moyer, Eduardo Castro Fonseca & Ben Moxley

In a thrilling Kickstarter campaign, the feature documentary series covering San Diego Beer titled Kings of the Craft” successfully met their crowdfunding goal of $30,000 in April, but just barely. “It was very intense. Kickstarter can be horrible because if you want to do it right, it’s basically a part-time job of putting together a good campaign,” says Eduardo Castro Fonseca, Associate Producer.

The production team consists of Eduardo along with Raeanne DuPont, Producer; Ben Moxley, Director; and Steven Moyer, Cinematographer/Editor. Previously, Raeanne, Ben and Steven had collaborated on a student project titled “Of Beaches and Beer,” which also focused on local brewing. Eduardo got wind of this while working at KPBS, and gave the three the idea to pitch Kings of Craft as a series.

With cash in hand, the team wasted no time putting it to use according to Eduardo. “We were able to hire someone to shoot slow-motion and have captured some incredible footage. [The funds will] pay for a soundtrack, our time-lapses, and it prevents us, recent graduates, from having to fund the project ourselves.”

kings of the craft“What we want people to know is that this is a passion project. We did and have been working every day for the past 9 months to accomplish two things. One, showcase our abilities as filmmakers, but most importantly to do this sort of love letter to the city we love and a culture we are so happy to be a part of,” Eduardo concludes.

The series premieres tomorrow night at 9 p.m. on KPBS and the following day online at