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Posts by Ryan Lamb

ChuckAlek Planning North Park Tasting Room

Aug 11

557021_209530375843491_342658145_nChuckAlek co-founder Marta Jankowska released this statement on the planned space:

“ChuckAlek Independent Brewers is opening up a location in North Park in partnership with Art Produce on the corner of University and Herman.  It will be called ChuckAlek Biergarten.  The location will utilize the sustainable urban garden space created by Lynn Susholtz of Art Produce. The partnership will focus on creating a local cultural destination through a combination of Art Produce’s daily arts and culture programming and ChuckAlek Independent Brewers’ unique focus on historical craft beer.   We are excited to have Tostadas in the same building, and plan on serving their menu in the ChuckAlek Biergarten.  We will also bring unique food and tasting experiences to the space as well. Hours of operation are yet to be determined, but it will not be a late night establishment.”

No projected opening date has been set.

It’s National IPA Day!

Aug 6

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in other words,

Thursday in San Diego.

Brewers Association Mid-Year Production Data

Jul 27

Today the Brewers Association released mid-year data showing a 16 percent increase in American craft beer production volume.


From January through the end of June 2015, approximately 12.2 million barrels of beer were sold by craft brewers, up from 10.6 million barrels during the first half of 2014.

“Industry growth is occurring in all regions and stemming from a mix of sources including various retail settings and a variety of unique brewery business models,” said Bart Watson, chief economist, Brewers Association. “The continued growth of small and independent brewers illustrates that additional market opportunities and demand are prevalent, although competition in the sector is certainly growing and the need for brewers to differentiate and produce world class high quality beer is more important than ever.”

As of June 30, 2015, 3,739 breweries were operating in the U.S, an increase of 699 breweries over the same time period of the previous year. Additionally, there were 1,755 breweries in planning. Craft brewers currently employ an estimated 115,469 full-time and part-time workers, many of which are manufacturing jobs, contributing significantly to the U.S. economy.


Local Beers with Local Hops

Jul 27

It’s that time of the year again, SD beer drinkers. Farmers – or more specifically, members of the newly-formed San Diego Hop Growers Association – are gearing up to literally reap what they’ve sown. Below is an incomplete round-up of our local farms and the breweries that plan to brew with their products. If you know of others, leave a comment so we can update the post.

Hopportunity Farms in Julian is in their eighth year of growing hops, producing Cascade, Nugget, Brewer’s Gold, Magnum, Centennial, Golding and Willamette varieties this year. They also have an interesting hop that was brought to Julian by gold miners in the 1890s and used at the local brewery (where the museum now sits). Farm proprietor Phil Warren asked for permission to take some rhizomes from the wild-growing plot next to the museum; he calls the hop “Julian Gold”, and says it is reminiscent of the Cluster variety. Homebrewers can pick their own hops at Hopportunity on August 2, 9, 14, 15, 23 & 29; contact Phil @ 858.735.2977 for more info.

ZZ Hops in Ramona is in their first year of growing hops, and the farmers have been pleasantly surprised by how well the Cascade, Nugget, and Chinook hops are forming. Bruce told WC they were worried about the massive rains in Ramona in July, but that not too many hops had been lost. ZZ Hops is planning to join the local homebrew clubs to spread the word about their farm. Over the next two springs they’ll plant 1,000 hop bines.

Nopalito Farms in Valley Center promises to be one of the most active growers and sellers this year. They’re working with at least five local breweries, plus Tijuana’s Cervecería Insurgente, which is planning a small, two-barrel Chinook and Cascade wet hop ale for their newly-opened tasting room. Two SD breweries will give their core beers a wet hop treatment: Fall Brewing with (TBD hops) Spirit of ’77; and Intergalactic with Chinook and Cascade Andromeda IPA. Nickel Beer Co. and Monkey Paw/South Park Brew Co. are planning special brews as well. Tom Nickel at Julian’s Nickel Beer Co. brewed with 42 pounds of fresh Cascade and Chinook on July 27 to commemorate his twentieth year in San Diego’s beer industry; he started full-time at Home Brew Mart in August of 1995. The beer is called My Way IPA. Cosimo Sorrentino at Monkey Paw/South Park Brew Co. is planning two same-day brews. In the first and second weeks of August, he’ll be in Valley Center at 5 a.m. to help start picking, before driving down around noon to start the brew while the hops are being stripped. The first batch, at SPBC, will likely be more “English/Northwest” and Chinook-heavy. The Monkey Paw Same Day XPA will feature Crystal and Zeus. Nopalito Farms has taken over the plot of ZP Growers, which kept the name and moved over to Fallbrook. Owner Lyle Kafader told us they’ll be supplying homebrewers this year as they ramp up production.

via ChuckAlek/Hopatul 2014 brew

via ChuckAlek/Hopatul 2014 brew

SD Golden Hop Farm in Fallbrook is another busy bee this year. Rough Draft plans to brew a full Cascade variation of their Eraser IPA, which normally uses Cascade and Amarillo. Another Nickel Beer Co. brew will feature SD Golden’s Glacier Hops in an English Bitter. North Park’s Mike Hess Brewing is planning a combination SD Golden and Hops Meister beer with Cascade and Ivanhoe in the first week of August, as part of the Via Hess seasonal series. Culture will brew a Cascade-hopped IPA, plus they’ll purchase some bines for their tasting rooms to play an educational, interactive role. 2Kids will also likely use hops from this farm in wet hop brews. SD Golden Hop Farm also plans to offer wet, as well as dried, whole hops to homebrewers, plus tours and “u-pick” days in August (see

Hopatul Farms in Alpine, with ex-Main Tap Tavern owner Zack Summers at the helm, has big plans in the works. They’re again collaborating with ChuckAlek on a wet hop beer, while also producing organic produce on-site. Eventually, Summers wants to host large events on his property; at their website you can see just how much they’re working the land. QUAFF and Foam on the Brain members are known to make the trek out to Alpine every year for these hops, which include Chinook and Zeus this year.

Goat House Hops in Vista is another farm in their first year of production, boasting ¾ acre with 700 plants spanning four varieties: Cascade, Chinook, Nugget and Zeus. Owner Rafael has been in talks with local nanos since this year’s harvest is on the small side. Homebrewers can pick their own hops Monday to Friday from 3 to 7 p.m. in August, plus Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. (

Renquist Farms in Valley Center is keeping it local by selling their Cascade hops to Valley Center Brewery for a yet-unnamed IPA. They also grow Nugget variety.

Bear Valley Organic Farms in Valley Center is skipping this season to rebuild their hop trellis system. Certified organic for four years, this ¼ acre farm usually supplies Electric Brewing Co. in Murrieta as well as the farm’s ½ barrel SABCO system.

Star B Ranch in Ramona is home to a massive German hop harvester. This year they’re growing Cascade, Chinook, Crystal and Nugget; Chinook and Cascade will go into yet another Nickel Beer Co. brew on August 3 or 4, possibly with Crystal and/or Nugget for the “dry” hopping. Red Alpha Hops in Vista grows Cascade, Chinook, Galena, Nugget and Zeus. Big Boulder Hops in Ramona grows Centennial and Golding. Mission Hops in Fallbrook grows Cascade, Chinook and Nugget. Many of these local farmers will be supplying local home brew shops with their goodies.

image (5)

courtesy SD Golden Hop Farm

More Brews of Note:

Border X, for the second year running, will brew Abuelo’s Pale Ale, which combines homegrown hops with organic, dried figs.

Ballast Point is planning a 60-BBL batch of Schooner with hops from Yakima, Washington’s Yakima Chief – Hopunion.

Port Brewing has had to put their popular High Tide IPA on hiatus for this year with a new bottling line scheduled to arrive soon.

Pizza Port’s four smaller brewpubs are all creating wet hop beers this year, utilizing Hopunion and Hops-Meister products. Ocean Beach: Get Wet, Coup d’etat; Solana Beach: Low Tide; Carlsbad: Raceway, Big Deal 2xIPA, TBD Lager, Dankside American Stout; San Clemente: Get to the Hopper, Riptide, Hoptoberfest.

Mike Hess and crew have plans to brew a Chinook and Meridian “40 Acre IPA” with Indie Hops towards the end of August.

The Brazilian Connection

Apr 9
Wäls Brewing
Tiago Carneiro and José Felipe Carneiro of Wäls Brewing

Brazil’s Wäls Brewing first landed on our radar at the 2014 World Beer Cup in Denver. There, Tiago Carneiro and José Felipe Carneiro were two of the more rambunctious award winners, jumping onto the stage with zeal, hooting and hollering in their native Portuguese. Fast forward to late February 2015, and news broke that Wäls had been acquired by AmBev, a subsidiary of Belgium-based Anheuser-Busch InBev.

Now, Wäls’ “satellite brewery” (according to a DRAFT Magazine article) is opening in Chula Vista under the name NOVO Brazil Brewing Co. Representatives told WC that the two businesses have some shared business partners, but that they should be viewed as two distinct breweries. In mid-March, NOVO began producing the first of its 14 planned beer styles. So far, they’ve made Session Cacau IPA, Rio IPA with Simcoe hops, and a Trippel. Their tasting room is set to open this month (their Facebook page reports potentially the 18th).

Connections between San Diego and Brazil go back even further.

In 1995, San Diego and Campinas (two hours northwest of São Paulo) became sister cities, poised to engage culturally and commercially. In Campinas, the creator of Brazil’s RateBeer equivalent opened Bar Brejas, serving beers from all over the world.

Back in San Diego, censuses show nearly 4,000 Brazilians reside in the county. “Brazilian Day” is a popular and growing event, returning to Pacific Beach in September.

Locals Green Flash have an especially cool connection to Brazil. During SDBW 2013, Green Flash packaging supervisor Chris Weber (whose wife is Brazilian), hosted employees from Porto Alegre’s Seasons Craft Brewing. Earlier in the year, Weber had travelled to Brazil and collaborated on a hop-heavy IPA.


Green Flash / Seasons Collaboration

Seasons’ Founder Leo Sewald told us they visited plenty of spots here in SD: Green Flash, Stone, Alesmith, Ballast Point Home Brew Mart, Port/Lost Abbey, Belching Beaver, Amplified Ale Works, Pacific Beach Ale House, Neighborhood, White Labs, The Tap Room, Crazee Burger, Keg and Bottle, The Homebrewer, and Latitude 32 Pub.

As for beers, the group took to Stone Ruination IPA, Green Flash Green Bullet, Ballast Point Sculpin IPA, and AleSmith Double Hammerhead. They also got their hands on a barrel-aged Rare Form from Amplified Ale Works thanks to brewer Cy Henley.

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