From the Beer Writer: Stone Brewing hosts many top-tier events, but one of my favorite is the company’s American Homebrewers Association-sanctioned AHA Rally and its associated homebrewing competition. Every year, some of the county’s most talented, ambitious recreational brewers submit their beers for judging by a panel of Stone employees, including key members of the brewing team. Each year’s winning beer gets produced on Stone’s system and distributed nationally (which now means to all 50 states). While Stone is known for innovating, the company has a defined style of bold and largely hoppy beers, so it is always fun to watch the brewers tackle beers that, for the most part, don’t fit the typical gargoyle-shaped mold (read: insert-type-of-IPA-here). This year’s winning entry, Paul Bischeri & Patrick Martinez / Abnormal / Stone Neapolitan Dynamite, once again goes against the grain in a delicious attempt to bring the primary flavors of Neapolitan ice cream—chocolate, vanilla and strawberry—to the forefront in an imperial stout. Freshly poured, the beer comes across slightly creamy on the palate with big cocoa and a touch of vanilla, but as the beer warms up, the latter makes itself more known along with strawberry fruitiness. It’s for sure a beer that would not be part of the Stone portfolio were it not for this contest, and the quaffable embodiment of why this event is such a brilliant component of Stone’s heritage.
From the Brewer: “The AHA brews are always a good challenge for us to scale-up. I think it’s great experience for the homebrewers as well to see how a small recipe gets magnified to production. This beer had a lot of ingredients. Our goal is always to be as faithful as possible to the original recipe, but at the same time it needs to be realistic on the big scale. The biggest ingredient challenge here was the strawberry addition. They used a lot of strawberries, and if we would have scaled it up to be exactly the same, we would have depleted the world’s supply. But seriously…it was too much to use on a big scale. We were able to play with a couple of different addition points and got some strawberry purée—which was all real fruit, of course—that was really intense and came through nicely. Strawberry in general is a tough one to get to come out in beer and it really does come through here in equal measure to their original beer. That’s always the coolest part of this gig: when we have the homebrewers try the scaled-up version and they are stoked. So, the day we tried it with Paul and Patrick was awesome because they were really happy with how it came out. I think the beer is great!”—Jeremy Moynier, Senior Innovation Brewing Manager, Stone Brewing
This is the second in a four-part series examining work-in-progress brewery projects throughout San Diego County. This component takes a look at the most promising businesses in the eastern portion of the county. Last week, we took a look at upcoming brewery projects in the southern portions of the county, and next week we’ll chart a course due north.
Fourpenny House | 8323 La Mesa Boulevard, La Mesa: Since we first reported on the La Mesa Village area’s initial brewery entrant, it has lost a brewer (who moved to Hanoi, Vietnam to head a brewing project) and gained a unique identity. This brewpub will celebrate the brews and food of Scotland while also offering a full bar. Scheduled to open sometime next month, it figures to show residents and visitors alike that the La Mesa Boulevard is a fine place to hoist a beer year-round, not just during the area’s popular Oktoberfest street fair.
13 Point Brewing Company | 8035 Broadway, Lemon Grove: A trio of graduates from SDSU’s “Business of Craft Beer” certificate program are bringing Lemon Grove its first-ever brewery. That’s significant on its own, but what gives it the most promise is the City of Lemon Grove’s hospitality and willingness to help make the business a success. The municipal government went as far as to help ownership propose a revision to the City Council that will allow 13 Point to sell cans, bottles and crowlers for off-premise consumption.
Depot Springs Beer Company | 9176 Fletcher Parkway, La Mesa: This massive project has consistently made the list for more than two years…but remains unopened. The beer-making component of an everything-to-everyone combination restaurant, distillery, coffee shop and public-event space, it has faced many roadblocks, but ownership says it’s still a go. If they can ever make it happen, it’ll be the largest of La Mesa’s brewing interests and certainly include enough appurtenant amenities to make it well worth a visit. For now, it remains in the we’ll-see file.
Artistic expression inspires artistic expression, and it isn’t limited to visual and aural art. In the case of three alumni from San Diego State University’s Business of Craft Beer certificate program, a logo from one of their favorite bands inspired the name of their upcoming beer-making business. Specifically, the 13-point lightning bolt bisecting the skull in a classic Grateful Dead logo. It gave them the idea to name their interest 13 Point Brewing Company (8035 Broadway, Lemon Grove) because when visiting their tasting room, the owners want you to experience some of the feelings you would have at a Grateful Dead show. In their words, that equates to “a heartfelt, welcoming sense of community, great music and one hell of a good time.”
It was a more straightforward form of inspiration that launched the idea for 13 Point. Two of the company’s founders ended up in bar-stool conversation with employees from Ballast Point Brewing during the 2014 edition of San Diego Beer Week. After hearing about the brewers’ daily work, Bob Frank and Robert Bessone turned to each other and asked themselves why they weren’t crafting ales and lagers for a living. Fast-forward to present day and they’re in the process of constructing the first brewery ever sited within the city of Lemon Grove.
When asked why they selected uncharted territory, they say they look forward to benefiting from the press and attention of being the community’s first manufacturer of homegrown beer. They also cite being well received by both the City of Lemon Grove and the sheriff’s office. And because of the support of City staff in particular, who helped 13 Point’s ownership propose a legislative provision to City Council, the business will be able to sell cans, bottles and crowlers from their tasting room for off-site consumption.
Ownership says it will be anywhere from four to nine months before 13 Point opens its doors. When it does, the tasting room will provide an open view of the brewery, which will include a seven-barrel brewhouse with three fermenters. That setup will allow for production of roughly 1,000 barrels of beer per year, but they intend to regularly add fermentation vessels to eventually maximize output at 2,500 barrels annually. On the brewing front, drinkability will be the primary focus, even with larger beers like a vanilla porter called Ol’ Nessie, which will be brewed using whiskey-soaked vanilla beans.
From the Beer Writer: Last month, I ventured to Sorrento Valley for a Monday-night session at New English Brewing Company, where my eyes gravitated to a beer on the board called “Hop Slap’d”. In a matter of seconds, I was lifting a full pint, but before I could take a sip, I was shocked into a neutral state by the outrageously vibrant hop aroma wafting up from the glass. Freshly zested oranges, mowed grass and a hint of lemon registered with force. When I eventually took a taste, all of those components were there along with a touch of casaba melon. As potent as it was, I figured it must be a newly tapped beer, but it had already been on-tap for a month. Just as I began wishing I’d have visited the brewery 30 days earlier, the barkeep mentioned the beer was part of a series of pale ales with rotating hop bills, the next of which, New English Hop Slap’d #5, was about to make its debut. I immediately made plans to come back to try that beer, which derives its hoppy appeal from Citra hops, coming on strong with scents and flavors of myriad citrus and tropical fruits, minus the grassy, melon-like nuances imparted by the Mosaic that gave Hop Slap’d #4 its unique characteristics. I’ll definitely be back for future editions of this pale. Consider me hop slap’d!
From the Brewer: “Hop Slap’d pale ale is designed to educate drinkers about the differences between hop varietals and also about the difference between ‘hoppiness’ and ‘bitterness’. Brewed using the same base recipe for each batch, we end up with an American pale ale weighing in at 5.5% alcohol-by-volume and 40 IBUs (international bittering units). Very crushable! The key to these rotating-hop-series beers are the late kettle-hop additions and, more specifically, the dry-hop additions. Each successive batch of Hop Slap’d features different hops, so if you try #4 alongside #5, for instance…as you can right now at the New English tasting room…you can eliminate the base beer as a variable. Any difference in taste or aroma is down to the hops alone! Batch #4 used all Mosaic for late and dry additions, while #5 used all Citra. The difference is amazing, and since the beer isn’t overwhelmingly bitter like some IPAs tend to be, the character of the hops themselves shines through. In order to accentuate the difference and literally slap you in the olfactory organs with flavor and arom,a we load up the dry hops at almost two-and-a-quarter-pounds per-barrel. That’s the same as our double IPA! Hop Slap’d #5 features big tangerine and ripe citrus aroma plus a light scent of pineapple. The taste is like fresh-squeezed OJ on the palate with a mild bitterness and light malt character. This is a thirst-quencher and perfect for the hot, dry weather we’ve been having.”—Simon Lacey, Owner & Brewmaster, New English Brewing Company