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Posts by Ryan Lamb

17 Things To Know About Suds County 2

May 11

In 2012, film producer Sheldon Kaplan released SUDS COUNTY, USA — a feature-length documentary focused on San Diego Beer — to audiences in San Diego and around the world. He had been working on the project for years with a shoe-string budget, and now, a second film — SUDS COUNTY 2: The Boil Over — is in the works. Here are 17 things to know about the project:

1. The crew includes three local Emmy award winners: Kevin Tostado (Under the Boardwalk: The Monopoly Story), Mike Towe (Editor), and Reagan Matthews (Production Consultant).

2. Full-scale filming is scheduled to begin in June, continuing through the fall. The movie will be released some time in late spring 2017.

3. Filmmakers are planning to use as much local San Diego music as possible, as they did in the original movie.

4. A version of the film will be released in full 4K resolution.

5. The budget for the film is estimated between $250,000 and $300,000.

6. To raise funds, director/producer Sheldon Kaplan and co-producer Kevin Tostado are turning to Kickstarter for a campaign that will run April 25 through May 20. The Kickstarter campaign can be accessed by searching on Kickstarter or by going to

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7. Eventually, SUDS COUNTY 2 will be available on iTunes and Amazon Video on Demand, assuming the Kickstarter campaign reaches its goal.

8. The film is a labor of love. The producers say the budget above is “the bare minimum to tell the story we want to tell,” and that by the end of production they will have worked for less than minimum wage.

9. Rewards will range from t-shirts, to download keys for the first Suds, to exclusive brew days at local breweries. The goal is to encourage community involvement, as this project is as much about education as it is about entertainment.

10. The spine of the film focuses on the evolution of the San Diego IPA over the past 30 years, including the various shifts of the style internally.

11. The crew is planning to grab footage at several California breweries helmed by former San Diegans, including LA’s Arts District Brewing, where former Pizza Port San Clemente brewer Devon Randall is plying her trade; Monterey’s Alvarado Street, where Amplified Ales co-founder J.C. Hill brewed a GABF gold medal-winning IPA in 2015; and Paso Robles’ Silva Brewing Co, founded by former Green Flash brewmaster Chuck Silva.

12. Elsewhere in the United States, light will be shed on Mother Earth’s Idaho project; Stone’s new brewery in Richmond, Virginia; Green Flash’s outfit in Virginia Beach, Virginia; and Wyoming’s Melvin Brewing, where former San Diegan Kirk McHale’s acclaimed 2×4 double IPA is heavily influenced by his time here.

13. International travel plans include visiting Stone Brewing Berlin; White Labs’ operation in Copenhagen, Denmark; plus trips to the Netherlands and the UK, where San Diego has a stellar reputation. They plan to visit Brasserie St-Feuillien in Belgium where Green Flash’s West Coast IPA recipe is brewed for distribution throughout Western Europe.

14. If they meet Kickstarter “stretch goals” the producers will fly to Japan to document the huge amount of San Diego beer being imported into the country with a local crew. In Saitama-ken Kawagoe-shi, brewery COEDO has created multiple collaborations with Ballast Point and Coronado Brewing Co.

15. Baja brewers will get their time in the spotlight, as many say that San Diego has been the incubator for their craft breweries. Producers met with Baja brewers at the recent Ensenada Beer Fest, where some San Diego breweries were pouring beer as well.

16. Local coffee roasters who have collaborated with local breweries will also be featured, as well as their rise which has mirrored that of San Diego beer. Several local beers feature local coffee, while Modern Times even has their own roaster and sells coffee online.

17. San Diego’s legendary homebrewing club QUAFF will receive special attention in regard to recent breweries that have been founded by club members, a long and ongoing QUAFF tradition. An especially large number of San Diego pro brewers were/are members, including Tod Fitzsimmons, Bill Batten, Anthony Chen, Jeff Campbell, Ryan Crisp, Bryan Crecely, Skip Virgilio, Ted Newcomb, and Peter Zien (AleSmith), Pat McIlhenney (Alpine Beer Co.), Scott Stamp and Lee Doxtader (Callahan’s, San Diego Brewing), Paul Segura and Sean Albrecht (Karl Strauss Brewing Co.), Chris White (White Labs), Jim Crute (Lightning Brewery), Dan Selis (Mission Brewery), Doug Duffield and George Cautaulin (Ballast Point), Dean Rouleau (Prodigy Brewing Co.), Doug Constantiner (Societe Brewing Co.), Matt, Rachael and Jim Akin (Benchmark Brewing Co.), Mark Purciel (Oceanside Ale Works), Paul Sangster, Guy Shobe, Alex Stevens and Chris Stawney (Rip Current Brewing Co.), Bill Randolph and Pat Horton (Stumblefoot Brewing Co.), Alex Van Horne (Intergalactic Brewing Co.), Derek Gallanosa (Abnormal Beer Co.), Tom Nickel (Nickel Beer Co.), Liz Chism, Curtis Chism and Jeffrey Crane (Council Brewing Co.), Peter Perrecone (Belching Beaver Brewing Co.), Brett Goldstock (Duck Foot Brewing Co.), Jonathan Wise (32 North Brewing Co.), George Thornton (The Home Brewing Co.), Jeff Wiederkehr (Burning Beard), Joaquin Basari, Marcel Favela and Martin Favela (Border X Brewing Co.), Ray Astamendi (Fall Brewing Co.), Kevin Rhodes (Groundswell Brewing Co.), Stan Sisson (Julian CiderWorks), and Kelsey McNair (North Park Beer Co.).

14 Awards for SD Brewers at World Beer Cup

May 6

Local brewers are in Philadelphia this week for the Craft Brewers Conference (CBC). Every two years, CBC culminates with the World Beer Cup awards. Dubbed “The Most Prestigious Beer Competition in the World” and “The Olympics of Beer” San Diegans took home 11 awards at 2014’s rendition, and Coronado was named champion brewery in the mid-size category.

This year, 1,907 breweries representing 55 countries participated with 6,596 entries in 96 categories. 253 judges from 31 countries — assisted by 155 volunteers — determined the winners.

14 awards were presented to San Diegans at Friday evening’s ceremony:


GOLD Award via Alex Pierson (Amplified Ale Works)

GOLD Award via Alex Pierson (Amplified Ale Works)

  • Amplified Ale WorksWhammy Bar Wheat – Category 1 (American-Style Wheat Beer)
  • Breakwater – Rye Dawn – Category 13 (Rye Beer)
  • Fall – Bourbon Barrel Aged Jinx Remover – Category 26 (Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer)
  • Monkey Paw – Ashes from the Grave – Category 31 (Smoke Beer) – Editor’s Note: This beer began as an annual collaboration w/ Bill Batten from AleSmith (now brewer at Mikkeller SD)
  • Mike Hess – Claritas – Category 49 (German-Style Koelsch)


  • Mother EarthEnd of Summer Beer – Category 70 (Extra Special Bitter)
  • AleSmith Wee Heavy – Category 78 (Scotch Ale)
  • Ballast Point Brewing & SpiritsPiper Down – Category 82 (Irish-Style Red Ale)
  • Thorn StreetDecember Nights – Category 92 (Imperial Red Ale)


  • WBC16_bronzeLegacy – That Guava Beer – Category 3 (Fruit Beer)
  • Ballast Point Scripps RanchPumpkin Down – Category 6 (Pumpkin Beer)
  • Toolbox Bramble on Rose – Category 28 (Wood- and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer)
  • New English –  Brewers Special Brown Ale – Category 73 (English-Style Brown Ale)
  • NOVO BrazilCorvo Negro – Category 79 (British-Style Imperial Stout)

Q&A w/ Douglas Hasker – Brewmaster, Gordon Biersch Mission Valley

Apr 4

Veteran Doug Hasker @ Gordon Biersch Mission Valley; all photos by Kristina Yamamoto (@kristinamoto)

How long have you worked at Gordon Biersch?
​I​ started at Gordon Biersch​ ​in ​1990 when they opened ​their s​econd store in ​S​an J​ose. I worked as a bar manager, and not too long after that I started brewing with Dan Gordon. The company started building the San Diego brewery restaurant in 1998, and in 1999 I started brewing here.

What’s the ownership structure?​
Gordon Biersch as of 2010 is owned by a subsidiary of ​Centerbridge Capital Partners called CraftWorks. They also have the Rock Bottom breweries and others like Boulder’s Walnut Brewery in their portfolio. In total I think there are more than 70 brewing operations; we’re the largest brewery restaurant group in the United States.

​That must give you tremendous buying power?
​Yes, we can contract all the hops and grain we want. I’ve been very fortunate to be in the position I’m in. I now oversee six breweries as a regional manager, so I’m on the road quite a lot.

As part of a massive company, how does that affect public perception?
​There are many who just see us as “the box in Mission Valley that makes lagers.” We’re trying to change that perception by making beers other than lagers and by staying involved with the local scene.

No more Reinheitsgebot?
Not anymore! Just over a year ago we got the green light to branch out. Since then, I’ve been leveraging my relationships around town to learn more about the hoppier side of brewing. It’s been an interesting learning curve; the biggest challenge with making these West Coast-style beers is that my tanks aren’t built for dry hopping. I have just a small opening at the top and the first time I tried to dry hop, the thing geysered on me and I spent three hours just cleaning up the place. The servers all had a good laugh. So I had to learn another way to make it happen, and now I clean and purge a tank, add the hops I want for aroma, and then bring the beer back over it.

What other styles are you making that you couldn’t before?
Right now we have a rye session IPA on tap, plus we’ve done Belgian wits and Belgian tripels. It’s fun to have brewers especially come in to try our new beers. I was honored that Travis Smith from Societe enjoyed our IPA.

You talked about staying involved with the local scene. What does that mean?
It’s something I talk with all of our brewers about; I ask them, “What are you doing to stay relevant in your local market?” For my part, I come in for a class on Post-Fermentation and Maturation once a semester at UCSD’s brewing program. Everybody joins that program to learn how to make West Coast IPAs, and I’m there to open another little door to other styles of brewing. I always invite the students to come have a beer with me at Gordon Biersch, and the feedback has been positive. I also recently gave a guest lecture on the same topic at SDSU’s program; George Thornton of The Homebrewer was gracious enough to give me about 45 minutes to speak.

I also try to do collaborations with folks around town. The most fun one in recent memory was at Karl Strauss’ Old Columbia brewpub. Scot Blair really wanted a Zwickelbier on tap, so I teamed up with other guys like Paul Segura (Karl Strauss), Cosimo Sorrentino (Monkey Paw/South Park) and Doug Duffield (Ballast Point) to brew. Blair was there all day long, and then Colby Chandler (Ballast Point) showed up, and so did Chuck Silva (formerly Green Flash, now Silva Brewing). My assistant Dan Anderson was in awe, and sat down with Chuck immediately and just started peppering him with questions. That day was a lot of fun. There’s also been talks of a collaboration with Doug Pominville (Ballast Point Grunion creator), Doug Duffield, Doug Constantiner (Societe), and myself. That beer might have a pretty funny name that starts with “4 Dougs” but we’ll see.

You seem to know tons of people in the industry?
That’ll happen after 26 years in the business. I’m fortunate that veterans like Lee Chase (Automatic/Blind Lady), Tomme Arthur (Port/Lost Abbey/Hop Concept), Tom Nickel (Nickel Beer Co) and others seek my advice on lagers. Grant from ChuckAlek and Ray from Fall Brewing were just in the other day to pick up yeast. Chuck Silva used to bring in his brew crew to sit at the bar and ask me questions. Jim Crute (Lightning) is a good friend of mine and he’s making a great pilsner in Poway. Those guys aren’t afraid to be seen in here, even though I’m a brewer at a big corporate company.

I like to make myself available to brewers; I love to learn and to teach. I gave some advice to Dan Egan at Mission Brewery when he wanted to make a great Bohemian pilsner. I don’t care about giving away trade secrets. I just want everyone to have better beer.

Can you tell us about your brewing assistants?
I’ve had many assistants in these two-plus decades. Some of them have gone to Siebel and other brewing schools, and some are nurtured from within. Carli Smith, who’s now the head brewer at Rock Bottom La Jolla, used to be a hostess here. But she asked once if she could help brew some time, and I said, “Sure, be here at 6 a.m. tomorrow morning.” She showed up and then I could never really get rid of her after that. And what’s so fun is that now the student has become the master — she gave me some great advice when I wanted to make a Belgian wit. I had never brewed with orange peel and coriander before under Dan Gordon. Her excitement about the industry keeps me excited. And the same goes for my current assistant, Dan Anderson. He was willing to stack grain and learn the process, so I started teaching; he’s probably my heir apparent in the brewery and does a great job promoting Gordon Biersch at festivals.

Dan Anderson with Doug Hasker

Dan Anderson with Doug Hasker

So why aren’t more local brewers making lagers?
Well I think there are a few reasons. First, most of the brewhouses in town aren’t built for it; here on my system I can really cook the grains the way I want. Secondly, most brewers aren’t willing or able to give lagers the proper amount of time to rest at cold temperatures. If you need a 21-day turn-around, then lagers aren’t for you.

Is there a future for lagers?
Of course. I see it especially at festivals where we’ll pour an IPA and a helles side by side. Folks in this town love IPAs, but during that last hour especially, we’ll have a long line for our Helles because people want something drinkable. Tastes are cyclical, and even though IPA is huge right now, I’m sure we’ll see a strong swing back towards lighter flavors at some point.

What’s your take on India pale lagers?
Honestly, I haven’t had any that I’ve really liked.

What do you think will happen in the next 5 to 10 years?
I wish I could see the future. I mean, if you had told me 10 years ago that we’d have 120 breweries in San Diego, I don’t know if I’d believe you. I hope that we’ll see more brewpubs, with more people focusing on doing a small number of things very, very well, like a Rocky’s burger for example. With all the battling for shelf space, I think that approach makes sense.

page31It’s amazing to see the growth of the scene. During the classes I’ve taught you see all the shirts and hats of these newer breweries that are popping up. For me, it’s been tough to keep up. I can’t download the rulebook every day about which brands are cool and which aren’t. I just drink good beer. I still drink Ballast Point because I know the brewers and I know they work hard to dump the grain in. But I understand why people may not think the same way that I do, and that’s okay. That’s why we vote with our dollar.

Do you have advice for newer brewers?
A. Stay true to yourself. B. Always be true to the quality. You have to make really, really good beer. And if it’s not good, you can’t sell it.

Do you have any upcoming events?
Yeah, around the 5th of this month we’ll be tapping a Czech pilsner, and on the 19th we’re having a Maibock release party. This style is brewed for the month of May and springtime, and my band The Barnacles will be playing some live music on the patio. Then, hopefully this summer, we’ll have a session Bonobos brewed at Gordon Biersch, but I’m still trying to convince Cosimo to jump on board with the idea.

Open Forum: Tomorrow

Mar 5

After interesting conversations with reps from excommunicated craft breweries from 10 Barrel and Saint Archer, a local brewer’s “open forum” for conversation about the changing beer landscape is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon at Mission Brewery.

The event is open to the public, and begins at 2:30 p.m. Those interested in attending are asked to reply ‘going’ on this Facebook event.


120 Breweries in San Diego

Mar 1

Within the last two weeks, three brewing companies commenced pouring in San Diego County, bringing the active brewhouse count to 120. For some perspective, just 27 local breweries were in operation at the end of 2009.

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 11.49.56 AMBurning Beard Brewing held their soft opening yesterday in El Cajon. With the cessation of nearby URBN St’s brewing operations, they are now the only brewery in the area. The business is the product of two local homebrewers, Mike Maass and Jeff Wiederkehr, alongside director of brewing operations Chris Brown, who are working on a 15 barrel system with 30 barrel fermenters. The group are also planning a wild ale program to utilize the foeders (large wooden barrels) at their disposal. According to their Facebook, Burning Beard will be open at 3:00 p.m. today, serving two IPAs and a stout.

Culver Beer, now open in Carlsbad, had five beers on tap at time of press: a stout, hoppy saison, two Irish reds, and a Belgian blonde. If you don’t recognize the name, you may recognize Palomar Brewing, which was the group’s original moniker. Brewer Mike Stevenson worked at a small brewery in Germany after college, before returning to San Diego and taking a job at Twisted Manzanita. He also enrolled in UCSD’s Brewing Science Program, as well as interned at White Labs. He now helms the company’s 15 barrel system.

Resident Brewing has been highly anticipated by industry insiders, and the first beers showed up on tap last month at spots like Wonderland Ocean Pub, Bayside Landing, Rabbit Hole and The Local Pacific Beach. Brewer Robert Masterson is well known in homebrew circles, especially for his successful collaboration with Ryan Reschan on the beer that won Stone’s 2013 homebrewing competition, becoming R&R Coconut IPA (official name: Robert Masterson & Ryan Reschan / Rip Current / Stone R&R Coconut IPA). That beer has gone through a name change, and will debut as Vacation IPA on March 12. Resident Brewing is located inside The Local Downtown, having gone through a massive remodel last year.

Mikkeller Brewing San Diego, a partnership between Danish brewery Mikkeller and locals AleSmith, will be one of the next to open. They gave fans a teaser by adding a Facebook event to share the news that April 16 from 3-11 p.m. will be their Grand Opening. Earlier that morning, Mikkeller will host a 10K run followed by beers and a brewery tour; more details are still in the works.

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