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Posts by Ryan Lamb

Wet Hop Beers of 2017

Aug 15

With San Diego now home to more than a dozen hop farms, local brewers are seizing the opportunity to use freshly-picked hops in their beers for an added dose of aroma and flavor.

This year’s hop harvest started towards the end of July, with breweries Amplified, Burning Beard, and Nickel among the first to pick hops from the bine, meaning the county’s first wet hop beers of 2017 already graced taps in early August.

Tom Nickel at Sierra Nevada with his favorite beer ingredient

Leading the charge per usual is Tom Nickel, a 22-year veteran of the San Diego brewing scene. By the time September rolls around, the seven-barrel brewery he runs in Julian, Nickel Beer Co, will have churned out close to a dozen wet hop beers.

“We added a new fermenter, so we are brewing 2 wet hop beers a week for 5 straight weeks across 6 different beer styles, using 3 different yeast strains,” Nickel says. “I am pretty certain that only Sierra Nevada might have ever brewed more than 10 wet hop beers in a single harvest.”

The bar he owns in Kearny Mesa, O’Brien’s Pub, recently tapped a few wet hop beers from Nickel Beer Co and other breweries, but the real party is scheduled for September 14th-17th, when the pub hosts “San Diego Wet Hop Weekend.” The night of Thursday the 14th will likely kick off with a wet hop cask and a collection of Nickel beers, before wet hop beers from all over Southern California take over the taps for the weekend.

Below is a list of wet hop beers we are aware of. We’ll update this post when we learn of more.

– Toad the Wet Hop-it brewed with Chinook and Cascade from SD Golden Hop Farm. Tapped August 4 at the Miramar location.

Ballast Point:
– “Iron Fire Family Reunion Collaboration. Brewed in the afternoon of August 21 and 22 after picking 250# of Nugget and Crystal at Star B Buffalo Ranch and Hop Farm in west Ramona in the morning both days. 500# total picked over both days. Hopefully be driving the fresh picked hops straight to Long Beach location, in a refrigerated truck, to put straight into the beer. Wet Hop IPA’ish style fermented with 100% Brett to be brewed at Long Beach.
– “Fall Brewing Family Reunion Collaboration. Brewed in the afternoon of August 23 after picking 200# of Nugget and Crystal at Star B Buffalo Ranch and Hop Farm in west Ramona in the morning. Hopefully be driving the fresh picked hops straight to Trade Street location, in a refrigerated truck, to put straight into the beer. 5% ABV Saison with a mixed yeast (brett and saison 565), grains of paradise, local sage and local wet hops. Brother Levonian grain bill.” – Colby Chandler
– “We [Ballast Point Little Italy] brewed a Wet Hop IPA, we will name ‘Splash Zone’.  It was brewed with a 50/50 split of Chinook and Cascade wet hops from Golden Hop Farm. ABV: 6.4% It will be released in all our tasting rooms on August 31st.” – Julia Cain

Burning Beard & Star B team up for Circle of Wet Hops (@burning.beard.brewing)

Burning Beard:
– Circle of Wet Hops (wet-hopped version of year-round SD Pale Ale the Circle of Hops). Star B Ranch hops. Tapped August 4.

– Fresh Hopportunity IPA with Cascade from a former brewer’s dad (5 pounds in the mash), plus Nugget and Crystal from Fallbrook’s SD Golden Hop Farm in Fallbrook (whirlpool). 6% ABV and 35-45 IBUs. On tap around the week of August 21.

– 7 lbs of Cascade in a keg of Pale Ale for the Encinitas tasting room grand opening August 12.

– Hops from SD Golden Hop Farm will be used to dry hop the brewery’s hoppy pale, Other Spaces, as well as a few casks.


– Wet hop Crystal Mess with Star B Ranch Crystal hops. Brewing week of August 14.

– 5.6% ABV Pale Ale called Fresh Hop. Star B Ranch hops. Cascade and Chinook in the whirlpool; Cascade, Nugget, Crystal in the dry hop. 22 oz bottle run coming soon!

Monkey Paw:
– Same Day XPA
– Lab Monkey

Chinook hops from Star B Ranch in Santa Ysabel at Nickel Beer Co. (Facebook)

– Buffalo Paw Brown Ale
– Fresh Mountain Crystal IPA
– Green Truck IIPA
– My Way IPA
– Standing the Eagle IPA
– Star B Pale Ale
– Golden Nugget wet hop IPA
– Wet Hop Table Beer with Benchmark and Monkey Paw
– Hook In Mouth (wet hop Star B Chinook IPA)
– “An unnamed and uncertain Wet Hop Red Ale with hops from the new front hop yard at Star B. Eric has a lot of new varieties out there and they are looking good. Not sure exactly what we are going to brew because that will somewhat depend on what hops we end up using.
– “And we will be doing a Star B – Nickel – Burning Beard collab brew at Burning Beard in the second half of the month. Again we are waiting on the new hop yard at Star B to nail down exactly what we are doing.” – Tom Nickel

North Park Beer Co:
– “We made an IPA with 72# of Chinook and 8# of Columbus wet hops [Nopalito Farm]. We used the mash tun as a giant hopback and allowed the hot wort to steep with the wet hops at the end of boil. The beer is still fermenting [8/14] but if all goes as planned it’ll be 7.0% ABV.” – Kelsey McNair

Pure Project / Women’s Craft Beer Collective / SD Golden Hop Farm collab. Photo by Matt De La Cruz (@brewstills)

Pizza Port:
Carlsbad Village:
– Plant to Pint strong pale ale with fresh Mosaic
– Raceway IPA with fresh Citra
Ocean Beach:
– Wet Lamborghini IPA with fresh Mosaic
– Don Simcoeleone IPA with fresh Simcoe
San Clemente:
– Contender pale ale with fresh Mosaic
– Riptide IPA with fresh Citra
Solana Beach:
– 135 IPA with fresh Citra
– Sea Dog Session IPA with fresh Mosaic
– Merica IPA with fresh Simcoe

Pure Project:
– Name is yet to be decided, but this will be a collaboration with @womenscraftbeercollective. SD Golden Hop Farm hops. Likely tapped week of August 20.

– Anti-Matter IPA w/ SD Golden Hop Farm Cascade. Likely tapped week of August 21.

South Park:
– Baby Buck XPA with Star B
– IPA (To Be Named) with Star B and Nopalito

Magnetic Brewing evicted from Kearny Mesa

Aug 4

Via Mark P./Yelp

Opened in August of 2015, Kearny Mesa’s Magnetic Brewing will not be celebrating a second anniversary this month. An eviction noticed was recently posted at the Cabrillo Commerce Center on Magnatron Blvd.

Multiple requests for comment from Magnetic’s Morgan McCarty went unanswered.  

Last August, the 1.5-barrel nano-brewery started a GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign offering 1% equity in the company in exchange for $6,000.

The campaign was subsequently taken down, with McCarty admitting in a Facebook post that “Gofundme has deleted the campaign because you’re not supposed to offer securities through their site.” 

West Coaster will follow up when more information becomes available.

Update 8/18: Ian Anderson @ San Diego Reader wrote a follow-up story to this report. The information he presents has not been independently verified by West Coaster.

1st Annual Indie Invitational: Monday, August 7

Aug 1

Veteran local beer bar TapRoom teams up with Thorn Brewing Co. and more San Diego breweries for an “Indie Invitational” golf event benefiting Keep A Breast this coming Monday at Riverwalk Golf Club.

TapRoom owners and brothers Kevin and Kyle Conover, along with Thorn’s director of sales and logistics Tom Kiely, decided to kick off this annual tournament as a way to align their interests.

“As big beer continues its assault on the craft beer market, it is becoming more important for independent breweries to come together,” says Kevin. “Keep A Breast is an awesome organization with a history working with local craft beer, so it seemed like a good fit.”

100% of Monday’s proceeds will go to the non-profit organization that brings awareness to methods of prevention and early detection of breast cancer.

The $100 entry fee per golfer includes beer from Thorn, The Lost Abbey, AleSmith, Second Chance, Karl Strauss, Pizza Port, and Resident, plus a Keep A Breast shirt, cart rental, range balls, and a BBQ buffet with a raffle and awards ceremony for the various contest winners.

Modern Times now 30% employee-owned

Jul 7

Modern Times Beer announced today that 30 percent of the company is now held in an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP), through the repurchase of shares held by outside investors.

Majority owner Jacob McKean says “this is my single proudest achievement as Founder & CEO of Modern Times.” A press release stated that “it is the goal of Modern Times to work towards 100 percent employee ownership.” The ESOP deal structure was facilitated by Ambrose Advisors, with Neil Brozen of Ventura ESOP Fiduciary Services overseeing the ESOP in an independent role.

The four-year-old brewery is the first in California with this business model. Other brands include Boston’s Harpoon, Fort Collins’ New Belgium and Odell, and Bend’s Deschutes.

“Modern Times is proof that a start-up brewery can compete and win in the craft beer market without selling out, all the while taking outstanding care of our employees and rewarding our investors,” says McKean, who wrote more about the decision in today’s blog post.

SD Surfrider’s Sudsy Connections

Jun 9

The San Diego chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of oceans, waves and beaches, has long been connected to the local beer community.

For more than a decade Surfrider has provided volunteers for Stone Brewing’s anniversary festival, the twenty-first of which is coming up in August. 100% of the ticket proceeds for that event go to charity, and Surfrider SD is one of the beneficiaries.

Surfrider also collaborates with Coronado Brewing on CoastWise Session IPA, while Karl Strauss hosts their quarter meetings at the Pacific Beach location.

Via Instagram @surfridersandiego

Now, even international breweries are getting involved. Costa Rica’s Cerveza Imperial is partnering with Surfrider for a beach clean-up tomorrow, June 10, from 3 – 4:30 p.m. at the Imperial Beach Pier. Additionally, the brewery is helping fund a part-time bilingual policy manager for Surfrider who will work on the No Border Sewage Program and the Tijuana River Valley Recovery Strategy.

Cerveza Imperial touts itself as the world’s “first and only water positive beer” backed by international guidelines, reviews and verification. Here’s how they do the math:

  • Measure. Analyze and measure the entire production water footprint including all suppliers and water used in the distribution process.
  • Reduce. Once a benchmark is established, the operation team develops processes that reduce water usage in the brewing, fermenting and packaging process, achieving an average 44 percent reduction in water usage over the last nine years while increasing production 70 percent.
  • Compensation. The third step is “offsetting” water being used in the production process and supply chain by “returning” water to the eco-system for water use. Cerveza Imperial protects more than 600 hectares (1,482 acres) of the Costa Rican tropical forest that are critical in trapping rainwater, recharging the natural water basins and protecting the quality of the water by reducing runoff.
  • Create Positive Value. Cerveza Imperial partners with local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to improve access to fresh water, conserve fresh water, clean fresh water, and sustain fresh water.

That fourth point is where Surfrider San Diego comes in. In addition to Saturday’s event, stay tuned for Cervera Imperial’s Goat Canyon clean-up event during Tijuana River Action Month held in both September and October.

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