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Posts by Ryan Lamb

Tony Gwynn Museum @ AleSmith

Feb 16

In 2015, AleSmith celebrated 20 years in San Diego with undoubtedly the busiest period in the brewery’s history, moving into a new 105,550 square foot facility.

In October, the company opened its 25,000 square foot tasting room, the largest in the county.

In December, AleSmith formally established their partnership with Denmark-based “gypsy brewer” Mikkeller, who have started brewing test batches on the same 30-barrel system that AleSmith used to produce 15,000 barrels of beer annually, just two blocks east.

TGM_LogoToday, in coordination with the Tony & Alicia Gwynn Foundation, AleSmith is launching a crowd-funding campaign to help build a 5,000 square foot Tony Gwynn Museum inside its facility. AleSmith owners Peter and Vicky Zien first met the Gwynns in 2014 when collaborating to brew a special beer per Tony’s specifications — San Diego Pale Ale .394.

The campaign, just five hours old, has already raised $12,895 of its $100,000 goal.

“Like so many San Diegans, the Ziens have been extremely supportive since Tony’s passing. It brings to light just how much my husband meant to this community, making it so fitting that his life, times and memory will have a permanent home in the heart of San Diego at a place where his fans can pay tribute and remember so many wonderful memories,” said Alicia Gwynn. “For us, it’s as much about Tony as the people who loved him, and we’ve come up with opportunities for his fans to be a part of the museum in meaningful, lasting ways.”

This Friday, a free Museum Christening Event will take place from 4 to 10 p.m., featuring speeches from Alicia Gwynn and Tony Gwynn, Jr., special Tony Gwynn memorabilia, special-edition AleSmith beers, and food from the Gwynn Gourmet truck.

Fans who contribute to the campaign are rewarded with a variety of items based on donation levels:

brick_sample•       Personalized Founders Bricks
•       Personalized Mosaic Tiles
•       Founders Navy Sandlot Tee or Tank-Top
•       Founders Vintage Brown Tee or Tank-Top
•       Tony Gwynn Baseball Card
•       AleSmith Priority Package
•       Museum First-Look Package

The museum is currently under construction, with plans to debut before the Major League Baseball All-Star Game comes to San Diego in July. Once open, the Tony Gwynn Museum will be free-of-charge to visitors.

On June 18, the second annual Mr. Padre 5.5K will begin and end at AleSmith. All funds raised will go to the museum’s construction on its expedited schedule. Superfluous funds will go to the TAG Foundation. Registration information will be available in April.

Hillcrest Red Ribbon Ale Debuts for World AIDS Day

Dec 1

In honor of World AIDS Day, Hillcrest Brewing Company debuts Red Ribbon Ale when they open at 3 p.m. Proceeds from sale of the beer at all MO’s Universe locations, including Hillcrest Brewing, Gossip Grill, Baja Betty’s and MO’s Bar & Grill, benefit The Scripps Research Institute’s HIV/AIDS research.

This batch holds a special place in the heart of brewmaster Austin Copeland, whose dad died of AIDS in 1991. “My father, Steven Carey, owned a popular salon downtown in the 80’s and 90’s named Checkers,” he recalls. “It was cool having a gay dad, I guess my life was bit like The Birdcage. He died of AIDS in 1991 when I was very young. I remember getting picked on and made fun of about it.”
redribbonaleRed Ribbon Ale is a 4.5% ABV session red IPA with Mosaic, Simcoe and Amarillo hops. The grain bill includes Munich malt and caramel wheat.

“For anyone that remembers the height of the AIDS scare, it was a terrible thing that affected tons of people and their loved ones,” said Copeland. “I wanted to do something in my position as a brewer to help the next generation and make sure it doesn’t affect them like it did me.”


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:

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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.

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