First, some news on what’s happening today, Friday, January 23:
— According to their Facebook page, Half Door Brewing Company in the East Village opens for the first time today at 5 p.m. That will make them the 99th brewery in San Diego County, right on the heels of Wavelength and Kuracali.
– Close to Half Door, Mission Brewery releases their “Don’t Act Like You’re Not Impressed” collaboration with Alpine Beer Co. at 4 p.m. The beer is, of course, an IPA, with 9 hop varieties. Dueling casks of the 7.5% beer — one dry-hopped with Mosaic, the other dry-hopped with Citra — will be tapped at the same time. Alpine will release the beer next Tuesday at their tap room, as will a few lucky SD accounts.
— Today is also the last day of the 59th Annual American Hop Convention, hosted by Hop Growers of America and held at Rancho Bernardo Inn & Stone Brewing Co. There, Douglas MacKinnon (CEO of 47 Hops and former executive director of Hop Growers of America) provided some interesting insight: yields were down in 2014 and prices continue to rise as growers attempt to keep up with the increased demand for hops.
Hop growers last year planted an additional 3,600 acres of hops for a total of 38,011 acres — the most since 39,726 in 2009 — but yields dropped by 4.79 percent because of an unseasonably hot July in the Pacific Northwest, where 98 percent of all commercially-grown hops were harvested.
“In 2015 there’s no margin for error for hops growers,” MacKinnon said. “The hop acreage increased by 10 percent in 2014, but the craft beer industry grew by 20 percent.”
More interesting tidbits: 1) CTZ made up 23 percent of the hops planted, with Cascade second at 16.6 percent. 2) Germany is the world’s top alpha producer, owning 44 percent of the market. The U.S. is second at 39 percent; less than a decade ago these roles were reversed. 3) The top countries from which the U.S. imported hops: Germany, UK, and Australia.
– And for those who like to plan ahead, here’s a short list of events coming up in Febrewary:
More than 20 of our local craft breweries plan to brew a beer in support of lupus research and awareness in 2015, thanks to an initiative established by journalist Brandon Hernández.
On January 31, the Beer to the Rescue campaign kicks off at Benchmark Brewing with the release of Hildegard, a triple IPA.
“Most people have heard of lupus or know someone suffering from it, but few know anything beyond the name of this autoimmune disease — what it is, its effect on those who have it or the fact that it is severely under-researched. This needs to change,” says Hernández, who was diagnosed with lupus in 2014 after years of suffering. Proceeds from Beer to the Rescue benefit the Lupus Foundation of Southern California (LFSC).
In a press release, Hernández noted that in San Diego, Imperial and Riverside Counties alone, more than 20,000 people are suffering from lupus. That number is even considered a low estimate, because most people with lupus are never diagnosed with this autoimmune disease, which negatively impacts victims via myriad painful symptoms, causes irreparable damage to vital organs and can be fatal.
“The LFSC has been in operation for 20 years, and because no one really talks about lupus — even people who have lupus — it’s hard to get people involved with our organization,” says LFSC Executive Director Hollaine Hopkins. “The Beer to the Rescue campaign will tap into the very large and passionate craft beer fan base that already exists in San Diego and help raise awareness for lupus and our organization.”
In addition to the Benchmark beer mentioned above, other Beer to the Rescue brews include a Belgian-style quadrupel from Nickel Beer Co., a dry-hopped Belgian- style single brewed with rhubarb from Monkey Paw Pub & Brewery, an imperial milk stout infused with chocolate, orange and spicy chilies from Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits, a sour ale brewed with blueberries and fermented using wild yeast from Toolbox Brewing Company, a black saison brewed with dried currants and orange peel from Lightning Brewery, and an experimentally dry-hopped wheat and passion fruit-infused Brett IPA from Green Flash Brewing Company.
More San Diego breweries plan to participate, although not all of them will be creating beers for the campaign. Some, due to brewing capacity restraints, will instead donate to the cause, host special events, and/or make LFSC a featured charity at their venues. Those breweries include 32 North, AleSmith, Amplified Ale Works, Aztec, Bagby Beer, Bolt, Coronado, Council, Intergalactic, Iron Fist, Mike Hess, Mother Earth, New English, Pizza Port Solana Beach, Port/The Lost Abbey/The Hop Concept, Rip Current, Societe, Stone (Escondido), Stone (Liberty Station), Toolbox, and URBN St.
500 sixers of AleSmith’s Tony Gwynn tribute beer will be available via Brown Paper Tickets today starting at noon, with customers able to reserve up to two six-packs for pick-up starting this Wednesday. Also on Wednesday, 1,000 additional six-packs will be sold from the brewery’s Miramar tasting room.
The beer, San Diego Pale Ale .394, references Gwynn’s career-high batting average in 1994. After a few tasting sessions and meetings earlier this year, the Baseball Hall of Famer and his family decided they wanted Peter Zien and his crew to create a hop-forward beer with light body and color. AleSmith first released the beer to the public on June 6 at Padres Beerfest, ten days before Mr. Padre passed away.
A portion of the proceeds goes to the Tony and Alicia Gwynn Foundation, created in 1995 — the same year as AleSmith — to improve the lives of local children through social, academic, and economic programs.
Because of the beer’s popularity — 119 six-packs were sold quickly during San Diego Beer Week — AleSmith will continue ramping up its production. The beer has been on tap consistently at The Bar Key in North Pacific Beach, and according to TapHunter, it’s on at Brothers Provisions as well.
New Belgium’s traveling festival of bikes raised $45,700 for local non-profits San Diego County Bicycle Coalition and San Diego Mountain Biking Association, up 10 percent from last year.
Around 7,000 people convened at Golden Hill Park for the Saturday 27 event.
“It’s a ‘fun-raiser’ unlike any other,” said Andy Hanshaw, Executive Director of San Diego County Bicycle Coalition. “Over the last five years, New Belgium has contributed nearly $200,000 that has gone right back into our efforts here to make San Diego a safer, more accessible place for all people to ride their bikes. It’s Hilarity for Charity, and we love it!”
As you can see from this Facebook album, the party is a lot of fun, and a highlight of every Tour de Fat stop is the car-for-bike swap, where one person commits to commute by bike for the next year. That local this year was Hutton Marshall. “I’m excited to start my year living car-free,” Marshall told New Belgium. “Working on a tan, helping create a healthier planet and developing strong gluteus muscles are goals everyone should strive for and I will most certainly do so during the coming year.”
After a successful 2013, when local brewers took home 14 medals from the Great American Beer Festival’s awards ceremony, we’re excited to see what happens this year.
Again, there’s a record number of beer entries, so competition will be stiff.
Can Monkey Paw grab another gold? Will Marty Mendiola at Rock Bottom La Jolla continue building his hardware collection?
We’ll see this Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m. (10:30 a.m. Denver time), when The Brewing Network streams the awards ceremony live on their website.