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Posts by Ryan Lamb

SD Beer on the Radio

Nov 19

Locals love talking #sdbeer. Here are some ways you can tune in to the conversation:

  • SDBeerTalk_Light_BackgroundThreeBZine is already on episode number 70, which focuses on the big Ballast Point news. Before that, they streamed live from the San Diego Brewer’s Guild Fest.
  • Nicksology has also been making a splash. Recent guests include AleSmith, Latitude 33, 32 North, Kilowatt, Hillcrest, and Booze Brothers on ESPN Radio 1700AM.
  • Local lawyer David Lizerbram’s podcast, Products of the Mind, was #1 in multiple iTunes categories yesterday. In October, Lizerbram spoke with Modern Times Beer’s Jacob McKean on a whole variety of topics.
  • Voice of San Diego’s podcast recently featured a conversation with San Diego City Councilman Chris Cate about beer. In September, the Brewers Association’s staff economist Bart Watson riffed on the Saint Archer buyout news.
  • TapHunter’s Andy “The Beerman” Coppock has interviewed many folks, including Stone’s Greg Koch and former SD Mayor Jerry Sanders. Tune in here.
  • SD Beer Talk recently welcomed Scott Slater and Mark Schultz from Slater’s 50/50 to the program. Their new restaurant concept S&M Sausage & Meat was covered.
  • Garage Hour is a gearhead-focused show that’s been around for years, and you’ll find that they drink quite a lot of local beer on the program.
  • Last but not least, FM 94/9’s Rock & Roll Happy Hour goes down every Friday from 7-8 p.m., and every weekday at 4:40 p.m. there’s a Who’s Tappin’ What?! segment.

SOLD: Ballast Point

Nov 16

One day after the conclusion of San Diego Beer Week, locals Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits announced its acquisition by Constellation Brands. The makers of Corona and Modelo are looking to seal the deal by the end of the year with an approximately $1 billion price tag. Constellation Brands is the third largest brewer/importer in the U.S. by quite a margin.

This comes on the heels of an IPO filing by Ballast Point (BP) last month, with some commenting that this equated to a large “for sale” sign. They are the second San Diego beer producer to be acquired by a larger brewery within the last few months; Saint Archer recently teamed up with MillerCoors. In response, the San Diego Brewers Guild recently revoked Saint Archer’s membership. Calls to guild reps regarding what today’s news means for BP were not immediately returned.

ballastpoint“We’re going to be a stand alone company. The entire team is staying intact,” said Earl Kight, BP’s Chief Commercial Officer, in a phone call to West Coaster Monday morning. “We kept our options open during the IPO process and kept taking meetings. Everything we do is based on relationships, and we really hit it off with the Constellation folks.” Ballast Point’s beer is distributed in many markets by the Reyes Beverage Group, which also distributes Modelo and other Constellation beers. “The distribution lined up really well,” Kight added. BP currently distributes its beer in more than 30 states.

“We started this business nearly 20 years ago with a vision to produce great beer that consumers love and to do it the right way,” said Jack White, founder of Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits, in a press release. “To achieve that vision, we needed to find the right partner. The team at Constellation shares our values, entrepreneurial spirit and passion for beer, and has a proven track record of helping successful premium brands reach the next level of growth and scale.”

No direct mentions were made of the company’s spirits side in that press release. Brewbound confirmed that Constellation “bought access to the Ballast Point spirits trademark,” but that individual brands like Fugu Vodka now fall under the ownership of Yuseff Cherney and Jack White.

As expected, social media reaction has been lively this morning. A comment on the company’s Facebook page said, “Hopefully you are not forced to change recipes…” to which Ballast Point responded, “Never”. Kight elaborated in our phone call: “They [Constellation] are not going to send in new brewers, and we aren’t going to be changing any of the recipes.”

Other consumers on Facebook and Twitter congratulated BP, but worries remain that even larger distribution muscle and supply buying power will negatively affect other local brands. Per Brewers Association definitions, Ballast Point will no longer be a craft brewery once the deal goes through — a strange twist for a company whose tagline is “Dedicated to the Craft”.

Corrected information about Ballast Point Spirits; Constellation Brands did buy access to that trademark. Read the full press release below:

Read more »

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SDBW: 5 Narratives

Nov 6

Patterns and storylines inevitably emerge when you have more than 300 events within in a 10-day timeframe. Here are 5 Big Narratives:

Sour Craze – Every year sours seem to gain popularity with the average beer drinker. There are a multitude of SDBW events featuring this catch-all group of beers: Everyone’s out to get you Mother Pucker @ O’Brien’s (11/7); Pucker up with Cascade @ Holiday Wine Cellar (11/7); Sour Saturday @ Common Theory Public House (11/7); Sweets and Sours @ The Local (11/9); Tart Tuesday w/ 20 Sours on Tap @ Machete Beer House (11/10); All-Day Sour Fest @ Bottlecraft Little Italy (11/10); Sour & Bitter w/ Green Flash @ Neighborhood (11/10); Karl Strauss’ Shawn Steele Talks Sours @ Amplified (11/11);  Sour Tap Takeover @ Rip Current North Park (11/11); Sour Day and Bottle Release @ Intergalactic (11/11); Sour Beer Night @ Pizza Port Ocean Beach (11/13); Sour Tap Takeover @ Valley Center Brewery (11/15); and Spontaneous Sour Saturday @ Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station (11/15).

For The Ladies – Women are a growing segment of the craft beer-drinking demographic, and a few events are geared specifically for the ladies: Chicks for Beer w/ Faction Brewing @ The High Dive, a beer dinner benefitting Susan G. Komen Foundation (11/10); San Diego Suds Sorority’s Learn to Brew Day — no experience necessary/new members welcome — @ Citizen Brewers (11/11); Ladies and the 80s co-ed event benefitting Pink Boots Society @ Urge American Gastropub (11/12); and the 1st Ever Goddesses of Crafts & Causes @ Second Chance Beer Company, benefitting Keep a Breast (11/14). Bonus event: Fall Brewmasters Dinner @ Rock Bottom La Jolla featuring a four-course dinner pairing with beers by Head Brewer Carli Smith (11/14) — check out a recent Q&A with her here. Also, the Beer 4 Boobs team, established by White Labs’ Lisa White in 2008, will be walking the Susan G. Komen 3-Day after Beer Week; help them out by donating here.

Homecoming – Fieldwork’s Alex Tweet first gained notoriety in the local beer scene when his homebrew won a contest sponsored by Ballast Point and Holiday Wine Cellar; that beer went on to become the spicy stout Indra Kunindra. He has since started his own brewery in Berkeley, but is back this week for a Veterans Day event benefitting Wounded Warrior @ O’Brien’s Pub (11/11). In Pacific Beach, Amplified Ale Works’ co-founder JC Hill will pour five beers from his Monterrey-based brewery Alvarado Street, including 2015 Great American Beer Festival gold medal-winner Mai Tai IPA (11/8).

From Baja With Love – Just a few years ago it was nearly impossible to find more than a couple of Baja beers on tap at once. This “week” we will see a wave of flavor from south of the border: Beer of Baja @ Bottlecraft Little Italy (11/8); Insurgente & Wendlandt @ Panama 66 (11/8); Beer without Borders – 30 Baja Beers on Tap @ Machete Beer House (11/13); and Tap into Baja California Beers & Food @ Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park (11/13).

Guided Tastings – Beer is great, but drinking with the brewer in an intimate setting is even better. Tiger!Tiger! is hosting several “brewer guided tastings” this week: Societe & Noble Ale Works (11/6); Automatic (11/7); Almanac (11/8); Ninkasi (11/11); Highland Park & Cellarmaker (11/12); Three Weavers (11/13); and Craftsman (11/14). All these beers will pour from the bar’s notably clean and well-maintained tap system, just as the brewer intended.

Bonus Narrative: Solis Batch #50 – West Coaster teamed up with Mike Hess Brewing five years ago to collaborate on the first beer that would leave their Miramar tasting room: West Coaster IPA. That beer has since evolved into Solis Occasus, an IPA with a recipe that changes slightly each brew. On Tuesday (11/10), MHB North Park will open its doors at 9 a.m. as we brew the fiftieth batch of Solis. We’ll have some coffee and donuts (and beer); come hang out with us.

Sierra Nevada Beer Camp 2016

Oct 20

In the summer of 2014, Sierra Nevada released a Beer Camp Across America mixed pack that featured Ballast Point along with eleven other partner brewers from around the country. They then invited every craft brewery in America to participate in a seven-city traveling beer festival, culminating in Asheville, North Carolina, at the opening of their second brewery location.  San Diego’s Embarcadero Marina hosted the second stop on July 20, 2014.

Sierra Nevada has decided to bring back the idea, but with a twist: 30 breweries will make up six regional “super groups” who will team up to create a beer that represents their region. Two bottles of each beer will go in the twelve-pack, which will be released nationwide.

Brewers from the BCAA Southwest region at the pilot brew day in late September; via Beachwood's Facebook

Brewers from the BCAA Southwest region at the pilot brew day in late September; via Beachwood’s Facebook

In the Southwest region, Long Beach’s Beachwood BBQ & Brewing was chosen to lead the group and host the pilot brew session, alongside Torrance’s Smog City Brewing Co. and three San Diego beer makers: Port Brewing/The Lost AbbeyBagby Beer Co., and Societe Brewing Co. Sierra Nevada’s Chico brewery rounds out the group. “The official name and recipe specifics are under wraps for now,” said Julian Shrago, Beachwood’s owner and brewmaster. “What I can say is that we’ve brewed an American stout that we’re all very excited about.”

The five other regions include NorCal (Bear Republic, Maui, Faction, Magnolia, Mad River, Sierra Nevada Chico); Pacific NW & Rockies (Bale Breaker, Barley Brown’s, Melvin, Black Raven, Odell, Sierra Nevada Chico); Midwest (August Schell, Dark Horse, Sun King, Perennial, Half Acre, Sierra Nevada Mills River); Northeast & Mid-Atlantic (Dogfish Head, Devils Backbone, Lawson’s Finest Liquids, Stoudts, Trillium, Sierra Nevada Mills River); and Southeast (Funky Buddha, Wicked Weed, Austin Beerworks, Bayou Teche, Creature Comforts, Sierra Nevada Mills River).

Port Brewing/The Lost Abbey’s Tomme Arthur had this to say upon being chosen: “We are of course thrilled to be working with Sierra on another collaborative project and to be included in this great group of brewers is a reminder of the paragon of camaraderie (established by Sierra Nevada Brewing Company) is still very much alive and well in our industry today.”

Beer Camp Across America 2016 returns this summer as a six-city traveling beer festival; the Southwest region is the third stop, but no date or location has yet been set.

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Ballast Point Going Public

Oct 19

beers-calico-primary-image1Sources at the company confirm an S-1 is being filed today with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Update: Company filing here.

This is the first step in the IPO (initial public offering) process which should be completed in the next few months. More details to follow, but it is safe to say that consumers will soon be able to invest in one of San Diego’s top brands.

Ballast Point has enjoyed rapid growth over the past several years. Starting from humble Home Brew Mart in 1992 the company now has four locations in San Diego County, with another one on the way in Temecula. There, BP is renovating the old Captain’s Cabin location with a tasting room and kitchen component.

In the SEC filing, linked above, you can learn a lot about the company, whose proposed NASDAQ symbol is PINT. For example, the IPO is valued at $172.5 million, over half of their revenue is derived from sales in California, and BP sold 122,890 barrels of beer in 2014 ($48.9 million in net revenue).

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