Collaborations are nothing new in the local beer scene, and they’re not limited to brewery-to-brewery interactions. With the popularity of craft-beer venues at an all-time high, non-brewing interests are partnering with ale-and-lager producers. Local examples include the tasting room-equipped gaming center in Miramar established by At Ease Games in conjunction with Vista-based Barrel Harbor Brewing. Beer pairs well with many forms of entertainment from gaming to sports, movies to music. The latter is the basis of The Echo Room, a new venture in Oceanside from Midnight Jack Brewing and Craft Sounds.
The Echo Room is a live-performance venue constructed within Midnight Jack’s tasting room, mere feet from the brewhouse. It is equipped with a 16-foot-by-16-foot stage, professional lighting and full-time sound management. Those elements were introduced by Craft Sounds owner Tim Sams, a 23-year veteran of the San Francisco and San Diego indie-music scene who, feeling there were too few music venues capable of luring quality talent, conceived The Echo Room as a solution.
Midnight Jack’s owners, John and Katherine Scheri saw it as a solution on their end as well. “With the brewery landscape expanding so rapidly, it’s important to stay ahead of the curve and offer customers a really great experience that includes not only unique, hand-crafted beer, but good food and regular live entertainment,” says Katherine. “Adding a regular schedule of specifically curated, local music is something that we really want to provide our customers, and make Midnight Jack a go-to music venue in North County San Diego.”
The Scheris appreciate that Sams brings more than just audio-visual knowhow to the table. He also has a wealth of connections within the local music scene and is at work scheduling The Echo Room’s initial wave of performers. The March calendar is as follows:
Following last year’s sold out event, the Bankers Hill Art & Craft Beer Festival in partnership with the San Diego Brewers Guild will return for its sixth year running on Friday, March 23 from 6 to 9 p.m. Taking place throughout the two levels of The Abbey on Fifth Avenue, a historic 10,000-square foot venue, this 21+ event will showcase a range of San Diego breweries and Bankers Hill restaurants alongside pop-up galleries of local artists’ works, and is expected to draw more than 500 attendees following last year’s sold out event.
This year’s festival will feature larger tasting glasses for guests, who will have access to complimentary pours from approximately fifteen breweries including Mike Hess Brewing, Karl Strauss Brewing Company, Second Chance Beer Company, Rock Bottom, Pizza Port Brewing Company, Rip Current Brewing Company, Booze Brothers Brewing Co. and Coronado Brewing Company. Complimentary savory and sweet bites will be served by Bankers Hill eateries including Cucina Urbana, The Corner Drafthouse, Pie Craft, WetStone Wine Bar, Juice Alchemy, Hornblower, Parc Bistro-Brasserie, Barrio Star and more, while art exhibits will range from paintings and fine art photography to collages and interactive displays.
The Bankers Hill Art & Craft Beer Festival is a dynamic social fundraiser organized by the Bankers Hill Business Group, a Micro Improvement District dedicated to showcasing the growing community of Bankers Hill near Downtown San Diego. The festival is co-sponsored by Metro CDC
Tickets to the Bankers Hill Art & Craft Beer Festival are affordably priced at $30 per person at www.bankershill.ticketleap.com/acbf2018 ($35 at the door).
To learn more about what’s happening in Bankers Hill, follow along on Instagram at @VisitBankersHill and share your photos using #VisitBankersHill
This is a sponsored post by the Bankers Hill Business Group
From the Beer Writer: The Mexican lager is in the midst of a renaissance. As craft-beer drinkers meld an enthusiast’s hunger for artisanal brews with a frat bro’s desire to pound suds in great quantity, this adjunct-fortified style has risen to prominence. These days, it seems like just about every San Diego brewery is making a Mexican lager…and that’s exactly why Eppig Brewing isn’t. It’s not a high-and-mighty stance against adjunct lagers. They just figure if everyone’s going one direction in this arena, why not go another. Enter Special Lager, a dry Japanese-style lager that, rather than utilizing corn like Mexican lagers, introduces rice into the grain bill. The result is a crisp, clean beer that goes down easy as one would expect. But what’s not status quo is the advanced flavor-level of this beer with its tantalizing lemon and mineral notes, and the alcohol-by-volume, which comes in at a respectable 5.8% as opposed to the sub-five session strength of most adjunct lagers. That low ABV and minimal production costs are primary reasons adjunct lagers are suddenly popular again. They are highly profitable…just like the Big Beer products they’re based off of. Though most are truly craft and taste better than their AB InBev and MillerCoors progenitors, this trend smacks too much of macro-beer sensibility for yours truly. But not in the case of Special Lager. I applaud Eppig’s decision to go a more craftsman-minded route to turn out an adjunct lager that dares to have significant flavor and an ABV that inspires slower intake and intelligent contemplation versus tailgate-party over-indulgence and not much else.
From the Brewer: “Eppig Special Lager has been my after-shift beer every day since we put it back on tap last week. This beer fills the void for the devout craft-beer lover who quietly shames themselves for occasionally wanting a cold, crisp (probably) macro lager on a hot day. I, too, can be guilty of this from time to time. Special Lager is a Japanese-style dry lager brewed with rice as a featured ingredient. Rice is traditionally an adjunct used in the brewing process to lighten body, which it does, but we also use it as a flavor component in this beer. The combination of pilsner malt and rice with a dose of citrusy, late-addition hops creates an aroma faintly reminiscent of sweet, starchy sushi rice and lemon blossoms. Special Lager finishes exceptional dry and clean, the perfect beer to drink outside in a beer garden. On the water, perhaps. (Brewer’s Note: We just opened our Waterfront Biergarten in Point Loma!)”—Nathan Stephens, Principal Brewer, Eppig Brewing Company
Last October, Finest Made Ales announced a shift in its business model, telling fans via social media that the Santee-based interest would no longer operate a tasting room at its brewery. Owner Rey Knight added that Finest Made Ales would continue to produce beer to serve his interest’s distribution channels. Meanwhile, word on the street was that he was in search of a buyer. It would appear that pursuit was fruitless, as Fischer Auction Company is currently shopping the company’s assets via auction.
The auction is taking place online through March 13, with bidding closing at 10 a.m. local time. Items up for bid include everything from Finest Made’s seven-barrel brewhouse and pair of 15-barrel fermenters to numerous Premier Stainless Systems products, including 30-barrel hot- and cold-liquor tanks, fermenters, a whirlpool, auger, mill and grist case. Cold boxes, pallet racking, chillers, valves, hoses, sinks and a deli case round things out and display the wide-ranging breadth and full-sale nature of the auction.
Fischer is including a bulk-sale option that would include additional options, such as acquisition of the company’s brand, recipes and a distribution agreement. The bulk-sale price for the business is $250,000 (or best offer). Finest Made’s 5,000-square-foot facility at 9962 Prospect Avenue, Suite E is also up for lease at a price of $4,500 per month. Those interested can participate in the auction by clicking here.
Finest Made Ales started out as Butcher’s Brewing in 2011 when Knight opened the business, contract brewing his recipes and building a client base large enough to validate taking over the brewery vacated by Manzanita Brewing Company (which went on to rebrand as Twisted Manzanita Ales before going out of business in 2016) in 2013. In 2016, Knight rebranded the business as Finest Made Ales, with the plan to expand into other beverage lines that would also operate under the “Finest Made” handle.
Late last year, after four years in business and a failed attempt at opening a manufacturing facility with contract-brewing capabilities, La Jolla Brewing quietly went out of business, leaving its namesake community with a vacant brewpub. That spot was snatched up by Torrance, California-based Absolution Brewing, which reopened the brewhouse-equipped eatery as Absolution by the Sea last month. With San Diego breweries (Ballast Point Brewing, Stone Brewing, Karl Strauss Brewing, Modern Times Beer) having spent the past several years establishing footholds in the City of Angels’ to benefit from the burgeoning nature of its beer scene, it might seem odd for an LA company to come south, but it makes perfect sense for co-founder Steve Farguson. His family is from here and he has called San Diego home since 1995, so he’s happy to start Absolution’s second chapter in America’s Finest City. We sat down with him to find out more about the concept Absolution has installed in The Jewel.
What inspired you to acquire this particular brewpub?
My parents live eight blocks from the facility and we used to go there (when it was La Jolla Brew House) on a nearly-weekly basis. I always liked the vibe and tried to buy it almost six years ago. When I was approached about the opportunity last year, I said “yes.” For the past four years, I have been commuting from Coronado to Torrance, where we established our production brewery. Our facility is now a well-oiled machine and Absolution by the Sea gave me the opportunity to work closer to home. My parents are also getting older, and being here in La Jolla gives me the chance to check in on them more frequently.
What renovations have you done since taking over the space?
The place was really neglected over the past few years. Reading some of the reviews was really eye-opening. We knew we were in for a significant challenge. There was no evidence that sanitation and proper cleaning had taken place anywhere in the facility. Frankly, the brewery, cold-storage and kitchen were in such neglected shape, we had to replace or rebuild nearly everything. We also installed and upgraded many things that made the space even more inviting, including refinishing the pine wood floors and cutting out the wall separating the dining room from the front patio and installing designer glass. We put in marble around the fire pits, changed the awning to blue to match our sea concept, and installed a state-of-the-art lighting and audio systems. We also tore out 90 feet of draft trunk lines and installed a new draft system.
What is the game plan for on-site beer production?
Absolution has really grown over the past year. We recently hired a new vice presidents of sales for California and Texas, respectively, and we are planning other states this year. Our Torrance facility is gearing up to exclusively produce widely-distributed core brands so we can meet wholesaler demand. In La Jolla, we plan to brew our specialty and seasonal products. We also have a SABCO pilot system for test batches. Absolution by the Sea will create beers unique to the San Diego lifestyle and ship many of them to our sister tap rooms north of here, as well.
What are some future plans for Absolution by the Sea?
In a few months, we plan to open our craft-cocktail bar in the back room and start serving barrel-aged beers, as well. That back space is also going to work nicely as a space for private parties. But mostly, I really want this place to be community-centric. We want to be stewards of not just La Jolla, but San Diego as a whole. Our vision is to really engage the community here and it’s taking place even quicker than we’d anticipated. Already, locals have been reaching out and thanking us. It’s really exciting for me and my partners.
How has it been adding a culinary side to the business?
We are a brewery first and we always will be. It is our core and what drives our whole team, however, we now serve food—real food, not pub food. We really want to be known as a place to gather where you can enjoy a hand-crafted ale with culinary experience that takes no shortcuts. It’s funny…our team has worked so hard the past four-and-a-half years, putting in seven days per week more often than not. We have all aged in the process, but it is all about our passion to deliver a unique product we believe in. As tired as it’s made us, Absolution by the Sea has put a huge spring in my step and a smile on my face. My friends tell me I have never seemed so happy. I’m working in beautiful San Diego and that really says it all for me.