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Brews in the News (Dec/Jan)

Dec 7

In each issue we publish a news-y section called “Brews in the News” where we talk about beer releases, event highlights and more. For the Dec/Jan issue (which hit the streets Dec. 1st), we discuss more tasting room space at two popular Miramar spots, Jeff Bagby leaving Pizza Port (+ updates), 11 businesses that made headlines in 2011, and some SDBW fallout. Enjoy:

Construction Day 1 in mid-November

Who doesn’t like more bar space? Both AleSmith and Ballast Point are renovating their tasting rooms for your beer-drinking enjoyment. The AleSmith tasting room will begin its transformation in January, and will include a new, larger bar with a built-in beer engine, additional restroom, and a display area for both AleSmith awards and its growing barrel program. Stay tuned to their newsletter or West Coaster’s website for information regarding temporary tasting room closure, and look forward to the grand re-opening party in the first quarter of 2012. Some of the tasting room changes at Ballast Point are already underway, and upon completion will include more floor space, a new look, and more taps. The tasting room will tentatively be closed right after the New Year, giving you a bit of time to get over that hangover before jumping back in the saddle.

Jeff Bagby, Director of Brewpub Operations for Pizza Port and head brewer at Pizza Port Carlsbad, who led the Pizza Port family to thirteen medals at the 2011 Great American Beer Festival, will be leaving the company at the end of the year to pursue his own venture. Stay tuned for more information as it comes via our website and future issues. Updates 12/7: follow-up coverage of this story is available on San Diego Beer Blog,, Brewery Rowe and According to a post by Jeff Hammett at San Diego Beer Blog, Bagby’s assistant at Pizza Port Carlsbad, Ignacio “Nacho” Cervantes will be continuing to brew as he and other members of the team fill most of Bagby’s duties. reports that the ideal location for Bagby’s new brewery will be in North County San Diego, but that nothing is set yet. A bit more commentary and quotes available at Brewery Rowe, too. Also, it looks like San Clemente head brewer Noah Regnery is on his way out as well. In other Pizza Port news, Barbara Henry at the North County Times then reported that Pizza Port has plans to build a new two-story, 37,050-square-foot facility in Carlsbad at Palomar Airport Rd and Gateway Rd that would serve as a production and distribution facility as well as Pizza Port’s fifth brewery restaurant location. Henry also reports that it will also house a canning facility. Pizza Port’s proposal goes before the Carlsbad’s Planning Commission tonight at 6 p.m. and a copy of the report to the Planning Commission can be seen here.

(l-r): Jeff Babgy, Vince Marsaglia, Ignacio Cervantes, Brandon Edwards, Mike Aubuchon, Yiga Miyashiro and Noah Regnery

ELEVEN IN 2011 —
In January 2011, West Coaster selected 11 craft beer-related businesses or events that we predicted would make an impact over the coming year– check out that feature on our website within the Editorial tab. Now, as 2011 comes to a close, we’re taking a look back, measuring up what they’ve done and previewing what’s in store for 2012. Tap Hunter, featured on the cover last January, will look to relaunch their iPhone and Android apps, promote their 2nd annual Brewery Awards, and launch a new craft beer job-finding component of the website, CraftBeerCareers – all in early 2012. In March they’ll speak about social media’s interaction with craft beer at SXSW in Austin, and then head on to the Belgian Beer Tour with Ciao Travel in April. Tap Hunter also helped organize the first annual Beer-Con last August with fellow 11 in ’11 member Awesome Beer Drinkers. Drinkers’ frontman Michael Bowen confirmed that he’s looking to extend Beer-Con to two days for next year so that the Saturday sessions are preceded by brewery tours, and a dinner event the Friday prior. Look for more breweries to be involved next year as well. And even with all that on their plate, the Drinkers will still engage in more, smaller-size and scale beer tastings in 2012. Brew Diego has expanded their focus from brewery video tours to other efforts, most notably beer fundraising events. “Craft Beer Gives Back,” an event held in conjunction with Awesome Beer Drinkers and graciously hosted at Monkey Paw Pub & Brewery, raised $1000 for the Monarch School’s expansion project thanks in large part to beer donors Deschutes, Hess, Marin, Widmer and Green Flash. 2012 is all about more brewing for Manzanita Brewing Co., whose new 30-barrel Criveller steam-powered brewing system should be starting up in late December or early January. The new 12,000 square-foot building dwarfs the old facility a ¼ mile down the road, which is for sale as a turn-key brewery in our gift guide. Hess Brewing has grown substantially over the past year and change. Production in their first quarter of business, the third quarter of 2010, yielded fourteen barrels – the same amount that made it to events during this year’s ten-day San Diego Beer Week, including a “tap takeover” at Bottlecraft and brewmaster’s dinners at Local Habit and the Bristol Hotel. Look for more barrel-aged beer (bourbon barrel-aged Ex Umbris Rye Imperial Stout is in the works for March), a new brewing facility (rumored to be in North Park by mid-year) in addition to the current Miramar space, and the possibility of canned beer in the future. Family-owned Iron Fist Brewing Co. in Vista will be looking to hit their stride with production in 2012, with 3000 barrels/year the target. To help facilitate this, three 60-barrel conical fermentors and a new bright tank are joining the ranks, which means more beer for the East Coast is on the horizon. Also look for more barrel-aged beers and a 5% ABV breakfast stout made with cold-pressed coffee. We, too, are still wondering where in Europe Stone Brewing Co. will touch down as the first American craft brewery to head overseas, but there’s less mystery surrounding Stone Liberty Station, the 20,000 sq. ft., 400-seat brewery-restaurant slated to open in late spring 2012. Stone alumnus Lee Chase and his nano-brewery Automatic Brewing Co had a goal for 2011: to create six different beers using coffee. So far, Chase has completed five renditions of doubly-buzzing beer, with his sixth on the way this December. More news on the horizon for Automatic includes the possibility of moving the two-barrel brewhouse from within Blind Lady Ale House to his newest joint, Tiger!Tiger! (pending proper licensing). Given his record, we predict Chase will have plenty of tricks up his sleeve come 2012; West Coaster’s here to keep you posted. Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits will continue its major expansion in 2012 by adding more tanks at the Scripps Ranch facility. Like a fighter that’s moved up in weight class, the brewery will compete for the title of Champion Mid-Size Brewing Company at the 2012 World Beer Cup, hosted on our home turf this May; in 2010, BP won the award in the small brewery category. Also, look for Longfin Lager to come out in six-packs in 2012. San Diego Beer Week 2011 boasted nearly 550 events over 10 days in San Diego County, and you can bet next year will only be bigger. The 33rd Annual American Homebrewers Association National Homebrewers Conference took place in sunny San Diego last June with the help of extremely dedicated individuals. You can find more coverage of that blockbuster event in the July 2011 issue, available to read online. Look forward to our Twelve in 2012 picks out this February. Have predictions for the craft beer industry’s most impactful members and companies in 2012? Email


– The biggest news from November was the return of San Diego Beer Week, which officially kicked off with the Brewers Guild Festival on Saturday, November 5th. But it was the night before the big event that set the tone for the week long celebration of brewers, specifically, the launch party for “the official book of San Diego craft beer.” The San Diego’s Top Brewers event was coordinated by Chefs Press, the book’s publishers, and Tap Hunter. Fans packed into the vast Mission Brewery to gather the signatures of our town’s top brewers featured in the book. Melani Gordon of Tap Hunter said that she overheard The Lost Abbey’s head brewer Tomme Arthur saying something like, “This is maybe the last time this small group of brewers will be able to gather in a setting as intimate as this.” And he was right – with all the hectic schedules these brewers have, this night at Mission Brewery was truly something special.

Setting up for Assembly

– The next night, another unique event took place at Sea Rocket Bistro. Assembly, a vegan beer pairing dinner put on by Chef Chad White, local fundraisers LoveLikeBeer and San Diego Beer Blog‘s Jeff Hammett, featured rare beers from Michigan’s Jolly Pumpkin – a vegan brewery led by a vegan brewer. Veganism and craft beer, huh? Organizer Kory Stetina said, “I think the modern craft beer movement and the vegan/vegetarian movement share a common bond that is ‘conscious consumption.’ In both movements, unless your parents were able to pass on what (in their time) would have been more uncommon tastes or beliefs, most members of each community today have had to go through some period of questioning and challenging tradition– whether it be taste-muted, mainstream beer or the traditional, meat-based American diet– unlearning previous tastes, re-creating them and modifying purchasing habits with a newfound vision for what they have re-learned to be considered ‘good’ or in line with their larger purpose.” Stetina also noted that because both movements are fairly young, there’s a lot of “uncharted territory for the crafts to grow and expand” through the experimentation of creative chefs and brewers. To see more about this event, visit the West Coaster website and search “Assembly” or visit our Facebook page for all the photos.

– “The only human event during Beer Week,” according to beer bar baron Scot Blair, was 3rd Fling, a disc golf tournament at Morley Field in North Park hosted by Hamilton’s Tavern & Green Flash Brewing Company. The third annual event was weld halfway through San Diego Beer Week, and gave sixty-four participants the chance to step out of the bars and onto the course for a day of breakfast burritos, disc flinging and meeting new people. The after party at the sponsoring bar in South Park was a fitting way to end the day, with the winners tapping a cask of Green Flash 9th Anniversary IIIPA, the perfect pairing for chicken mole plates dished up by the Hamilton’s team. West Coaster can hardly wait for 4th Fling next year.

Setting the teams for 3rd Fling

– Post-Beer Week, we asked readers on our website what they liked– or didn’t– about the ten-day extravaganza. Out-of-towner Brian Schmaltz was visiting for just over 24 hours and hit-up a variety of events. He enjoyed introducing friends to “some good brews” at the Sierra Nevada beer pairing at URGE Gastropub, before making his way out to Alpine for lunch the next day. After that, he holed up at Toronado in North Park, drinking some rare New Belgium Peach Love with “Love Master” Jamie Mastin in between other solid beer choices. Jon Kneier commented that he couldn’t remember having so much barrel-aged beer available during one week. His highlights included Dogfish Dirty Dozen at O’Brien’s Pub, the Flavors of Yeast event with White Labs’ Neva Parker at Sea Rocket Bistro, the selection of sour and rare beers available at Pizza Port OB, and the Night of a Million Zillion Speedways at O’Brien’s. Craig Barnett said he very much enjoyed the Brewers Guild Festival by taking the time to talk with beer folks that worked the booths. Fallbrook resident Bill Jackson only made it to one event during Beer Week– the Pour it Black beer festival held on the last day at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens. He hopes that next year there will be more beer events up in his neck of the woods. What did you think of San Diego Beer Week? What would you like to see next year? Send your feedback to and we’ll whisper in the ears of those who make it all happen.

Brewmaster Mitch Steele giving Jean Newcomer and Greg Weiler a private tour of the facilities. Photo courtesy of Stone Brewing Co.

Jean Newcomer, an employee of Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant in Wilmington, Delaware, along with her long-time partner Greg Weiler selected Stone Brewing Co. to be the 500th brewery they’ve ever visited. The duo arrived on November 15th to a surprise welcome from Brewmaster Mitch Steele who led them on a private tour of the brewing facility in addition to a guided tasting and special lunch in the gardens. Newcomer and Weiler also indulged in Stone 2010 Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale Aged in Bourbon Barrels, which is – fittingly – part of the Quingenti Millilitre (500 ml) series.

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