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Posts by Ryan Lamb

Bressi Ranch Tours Start Saturday

Jul 8

brewery toursPizza Port’s fifth and largest brewpub, located in the inland Carlsbad community of Bressi Ranch, will begin offering tours of the 20,000 sq ft production brewery area on Saturdays starting this weekend.

The 30-45 minute tours, which include learning about the 30-bbl brewhouse and massive canning line capable of producing 160 cans/minute, are limited to 20 people each hour. Tickets can be purchased from the bar for $5 and include a can of beer and a koozie (must be 21+). For questions about tours or info regarding private tours, contact Jill Davidson at

Star B Ranch’s New Hop Harvester

Jul 7

Ramona’s Star B Ranch, a nationally-recognized buffalo ranch, has been harvesting hops — mostly Cascade and Nugget varieties — since 2008, with local brewery clients including Monkey Paw, Helms, ChuckAlek, San Diego Brewing Company, Julian Brewing Company, and Ballast Point.

This season, they have a (big) helping hand with managing their two acres of hops: the German-engineered WHE 170 Wolf Hop Harvester, a 9,000 lb. machine built in the 1970s that can handle as many as 340 ten-foot plants per hour, quickly stripping the bines and separating the cones from the leaves and stems. By comparison, hand-picking hops from each long, prickly bine can take nearly 45 minutes. (March still hopes to allow homebrewers to come out for “pick-your-own hops” sessions in early August, like they’ve done in years past.)

“Hand picking automatically limits the size of crop growers like ourselves can handle,” said Eric March, a member of the Star B Ranch management team that includes his wife Amie, and his in-laws Ken and Denice Childs. The family decided to invest in the Wolf because of their proven track record for small-scale hop farmers throughout Europe and the United States.

The German-made Wolf hop harvester. Photo courtesy Eric March

It was quite an operation to get the Wolf from Germany to San Diego County, starting with engineers cutting it in half for shipment. “We then had to rent a 10,000 lb. lift to move each half for reassembly,” March, who had to make extra trips to Los Angeles to pick up parts that didn’t originally arrive from overseas, told WC. “The unit cost around $32,000 plus $8,000 in shipping and handling, and probably another $5,000 or so in electrical work and miscellaneous parts,” March estimated, not including his crew’s labor.

Click here for a short video of Star B working on the hop machine.

Oneida Bombers Coming Soon

Jun 18

courtesy Modern Times Beer

Modern Times Beer is set to release their first 22 oz. bomber on June 26, soon before their anniversary party on July 12. The beer, Oneida, is a dry-hopped pale ale with Hallertau Blanc, Cascade, and Experimental Hop 05256.

Most will be headed to their distributor, but some will be held back for the tasting rooms.

Disclosure: I contributed some personal cash to Modern Times’ successful Kickstarter campaign, partially because I wanted that sweet, sweet Nate Soroko shirt.

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R&D Tap Takeover @ Ballast Point: 5/18

May 15
Ballast Point 5-8-14-182

Chandler, left, with production employees Kelly Tidwell and Alan Schultz. Photo by Tim Stahl

With the San Diego City Council declaring this week Ballast Point Week, it’s fitting that this Sunday each location (Ballast Point Little Italy, Old Grove & Home Brew Mart) will be tapping beers from the “research and development” department, aka Ballast Point’s newest brewhouse in Little Italy.

As part of the R&D program, run by Julia Cain, specialty brewer Colby Chandler has been bringing in Ballast Point employees to brew on the small system in an effort they’re calling Roots to Boots (R2B). “We’re working to get every employee in the brewhouse, and by the end of the quarter we’ll be close to 90%,” said Chandler. “I don’t know of any other brewery in the world that’s doing this.” As a former San Diego Brewers Guild President who travels extensively, that says a lot.

Nearly 80 different types of beers have been brewed in Little Italy over the last six months: ~35 R2B beers and ~45 R&D beers. Below is a list Ballast Point provided of beers that will be on tap Sunday, showing the wide variety of ideas that brewery staff have come up with:

The R&D/R2B brewhouse. Photo by Tim Stahl

The R&D/R2B brewhouse. Photo by Tim Stahl

Island Time, Coconut Macademia Nut Brown Trans Atlantic Belgian Triple, Belgian Triple
Cherry/Vanilla Milk Stout 
Firkin Hoppy, English IPA
Dead Water Dubbel, Belgian Dubbel with Apricots
Unite Pale Ale, Cascade hopped Pale Ale
FNG (100% Brett fermentation) Brett IPA
Limon Woocello, Strong Cream Ale with Sorrento Lemon Zest
The Commodore, American Stout
Baltic Sea of Cherries, Baltic Porter with Cherries
Guac The Plank, Guac Saison
Wort Hogs, Session IPA
The Bearded Rose, Chocolate Raspberry Milk Stout
Foggy Head, Smoked Porter
Manta Ray w/Coffee, Milk Stout with Coffee
OG’s Mild, English Mild
Manta Ray, Milk Stout
Ball Tick C, Baltic Porter
Shore Leave, Cream Ale
Ginger Beerd, Green Flash Collaboration, (100% Brett fermentation) Brettoberfest with Ginger
Coral, Guava Wheat
Out of Town Brown, American Brown
Shakaboom, Double IPA
Sushi Biru, Rice IPA with Ginger and Wasabi

News Roundup

May 12

SABC_AnniversaryPoster.FNL- Saint Archer’s 1-year anniversary celebrations are coming up on May 24 from 12 – 7 p.m. $15 or $30 packages are being sold at the door (but aren’t necessary for entry). Visit this link for more info.

- Mother Earth and Benchmark will both be canning soon. MEBC recently bought a 12-ounce canning line, and they hope to have it up-and-running by August. Benchmark will be utilizing the services of Mobile West Canning to package beer by their anniversary at the end of June.

- Global Beer Network, the exclusive importer of 10 European beer brands, is throwing a nationwide series of parties and Pints for Prostates benefit events that just kicked off in San Diego this past weekend at Brabant Bar & Cafe. Upcoming events are being held at KnB Wine Cellars (May 16), Public House (May 17), Encinitas Ale House (May 19), and Hoffer’s Cigar Bar (May 23). Check out page 38 of our May issue for more info.

Rip Current is working on a North Park tasting room (they’ll still brew in San Marcos), according to Peter Rowe.

Blind Lady Ale House‘s owners won a bid to open an eatery in Balboa Park this summer, according to Candice Woo.

Latitude 33 will begin contract brewing for Fat Cat Beer Company, according to Brandon Hernández.

American Craft Beer Week begins today and goes through the 18th. On Saturday alone there are a multitude of events, including Butcher’s Brewing’s 1-year anniversary, Aztec 3rd annual Bacon & Brews, North Park Festival of Arts, Brew n’ Que with Coronado at South Park Abbey, and Walker’s Wild Ride around the uptown neighborhoods.

- Bike to Work Week also begins today. We asked a couple industry insiders to provide their favorite beer-y bike routes:

20140105_121622Julie Wartell (PubQuest)
My favorite ride would be along the Hop Highway (78) since there is a bike route/path, and you can jump on and off the Sprinter. There are so many awesome breweries to choose from (way too many in a single day ride) and we offer a map on our website. Another favorite route of mine is PB to South Park, up through North Park, and back again.

Michael Skubic (Mike Hess Brewing alum, Old Harbor Distilling founder)
Beer Track: Start off at Mike Hess Brewing and head down 30th to Upas to Pershing ride down and enjoy the scenic views of downtown, the new central library, the coronado bridge. The sketchiest part of this is going under the 5 freeway, you need to keep right, but take the left most route. [see pictures below]

skubicThis will get you to 16th and Monkey Paw. Enjoy something Cosimo made then head out towards Petco Park. I like to take the pedestrian bridge that goes over to the Hilton then ride all the way along the harbor (there is some serious construction going on at the port, so be careful and follow the signs) to Fathom Bistro. I might grab a bite to eat by this point because sitting out on the pier and relaxing after a brisk 11 mile trek is quite nice.

From there we head back towards NTC (a good time to swing by Stone too!) and ride along the inlet as far as we can. I prefer to avoid Rosecrans as much as possible, but you need to hop on for a few block to get to Modern Times. The steepest part of the journey is going up presidio. This is where you really earn all those beers. Head to BLAH and then finish up at TORO.

Cocktail Track: Start at Polite Provision and cruise down through Hillcrest to Aeroclub. Swing down to the harbor and ride over to Tom Ham’s Lighthouse. Head back via the harbor and take the pedestrian bridge over near the Hilton to Petco to get to Monkey Paw. From there head up Pershing to Seven Grand then finally end up at Sycamore Den.

derek2Derek Humbard (LOVELIKEBEER
I love the fact that San Diego offers year-round riding! My favorite longer ride involves taking the Coaster to Carlsbad and then riding south, hitting up Pizza Ports in Carlsbad, Solana Beach, & Ocean Beach.  It’s a 35 mile, beautiful ride down the coast combined with excellent pizza and world-class beers.  Another favorite and a little bit shorter ride that offers up some great views is to start off at Fathom Bistro for a pint on the pier overlooking San Diego Bay, then ride over the hill into OB (make sure you ride down to the end of Sunset Cliffs Blvd!), then over to California Kebab & Beer Garden in PB, be sure to try one of their in-house beers by Amplified, then ride around Mission Bay to Ballast Point (Linda Vista), this location always seems to have Habanero Sculpin on tap.  I’ll usually then ride home, unless I’m still thirsty, in which I’d do a quick stop at the awesome Modern Times tasting room.

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