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Posts Tagged 33rd Annual AHA National Homebrewers Conference

Brews in the News (Dec/Jan)

Dec 7

In each issue we publish a news-y section called “Brews in the News” where we talk about beer releases, event highlights and more. For the Dec/Jan issue (which hit the streets Dec. 1st), we discuss more tasting room space at two popular Miramar spots, Jeff Bagby leaving Pizza Port (+ updates), 11 businesses that made headlines in 2011, and some SDBW fallout. Enjoy:

Construction Day 1 in mid-November

Who doesn’t like more bar space? Both AleSmith and Ballast Point are renovating their tasting rooms for your beer-drinking enjoyment. The AleSmith tasting room will begin its transformation in January, and will include a new, larger bar with a built-in beer engine, additional restroom, and a display area for both AleSmith awards and its growing barrel program. Stay tuned to their newsletter or West Coaster’s website for information regarding temporary tasting room closure, and look forward to the grand re-opening party in the first quarter of 2012. Some of the tasting room changes at Ballast Point are already underway, and upon completion will include more floor space, a new look, and more taps. The tasting room will tentatively be closed right after the New Year, giving you a bit of time to get over that hangover before jumping back in the saddle.

Jeff Bagby, Director of Brewpub Operations for Pizza Port and head brewer at Pizza Port Carlsbad, who led the Pizza Port family to thirteen medals at the 2011 Great American Beer Festival, will be leaving the company at the end of the year to pursue his own venture. Stay tuned for more information as it comes via our website and future issues. Updates 12/7: follow-up coverage of this story is available on San Diego Beer Blog,, Brewery Rowe and According to a post by Jeff Hammett at San Diego Beer Blog, Bagby’s assistant at Pizza Port Carlsbad, Ignacio “Nacho” Cervantes will be continuing to brew as he and other members of the team fill most of Bagby’s duties. reports that the ideal location for Bagby’s new brewery will be in North County San Diego, but that nothing is set yet. A bit more commentary and quotes available at Brewery Rowe, too. Also, it looks like San Clemente head brewer Noah Regnery is on his way out as well. In other Pizza Port news, Barbara Henry at the North County Times then reported that Pizza Port has plans to build a new two-story, 37,050-square-foot facility in Carlsbad at Palomar Airport Rd and Gateway Rd that would serve as a production and distribution facility as well as Pizza Port’s fifth brewery restaurant location. Henry also reports that it will also house a canning facility. Pizza Port’s proposal goes before the Carlsbad’s Planning Commission tonight at 6 p.m. and a copy of the report to the Planning Commission can be seen here.

(l-r): Jeff Babgy, Vince Marsaglia, Ignacio Cervantes, Brandon Edwards, Mike Aubuchon, Yiga Miyashiro and Noah Regnery

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Taking Notes: The Beers and Sessions of the NHC

Jul 1

These three beers were created by local professional brewers as part of the National Homebrewers Conference registration package. It’s unlikely these beers will be produced again, unless we’re lucky.

San Diego Dark Session Ale, 3.9% ABV brewed by AleSmith and San Diego Brewing Company

Appearance: Dark but not opaque, brown but in the light it looks maroon.
Pine, bitter grapefruit and sweet orange with some earthiness.
Taste: At colder temperatures it’s mostly hops throughout until the end where you get a bready, toasty malt character. Body is light as expected for a 3.9% alcohol beer. Hop character is bitter grapefruit with earthy, piney resiny character with a touch of the sweet orange from the nose. As it warms up the malt character shows more with its toasty, caramel notes with a touch of roasted malt in the end to give it a slight coffee finish. Some slight fruity yeast esters also make an appearance.
Final Thoughts: Just about the perfect San Diego session beer. Sure it’s hop forward but there is some nice malt character to back it up the hop bite as it warms. I wish more brewers would brew such beers.
My full video review here.

La Cruda Porter, 6.7% ABV brewed by Port Brewing Company

Appearance: Dark brown, almost black but you get some red and brown notes holding it up to the light. Pours a large tan head.
Aroma: Smells like fresh porter wort – bready, sweet caramel, coffee and bitter chocolate
Taste: Really fizzy due to the high carbonation in the bottle. Let this one sit out and swirl it around to get the carbonation out. It’s a smooth drinking porter, no alcohol on the taste or nose. There’s a lot of breadiness up front, followed by caramel malts midway through and some fruity yeast esters mixed in. The finish is big on the roast character, big coffee notes with some dark chocolate. The finish is dry with the bitterness coming from the dark malts instead of the hops.
Final Thoughts: Unfortunately the bottle was overcarbonated so it was fizzy to start. Once the carbonation escaped it became a smooth drinking porter with moderate complexity. A very solid porter.
My full video review here.

SoCal Hop Salute Black Double IPA, 9.9% ABV brewed by Stone Brewing Company

Appearance: Pitch black with a one finger light brown head.
Aroma: Hops dominate the aroma. Sweet orange, tropical fruits, bitter grapefruit, peppery spiciness, and grassy, earthy notes. You can barely smell the dark malty base along with a touch of alcohol.
Taste: Your tongue is blasted with hop flavors up front that follow the nose. There’s a good amount of bitterness from the Colombus hops along with the darker malts. After the hop blast the malts show themselves with dark fruity yeast esters, a touch of caramel with coffee and chocolate notes. The finish is dry with lingering hop notes and a touch of alcohol.
Final Thoughts: Just a huge beer.
My full video review here.

In more NHC news, here are 6 reviews of some of the sessions I attended over the course of the 3 days:

Friday morning started out bright and early with Rod Tod, founder of Allagash in Portland Maine, doing a talk called ‘Fermentation Using Wild Yeast & Bacteria’. Rod encouraged homebrewers to try making these beers with Brettanomyces and bacteria since the risk of infecting the equipment and other beers is much lower on a smaller scale. If you have time and fermenters to do so, he thought these beers can be executed if you have the temperature control. Allagash keeps their Brett beers at around 63 degrees and their bacteria inoculated beers at around 55 degrees Fahrenheit which will slow down the process but lead to very clean tasting beers.

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2011 AHA NHC Roundup

Jun 23

The Brewers Association has published their official recap of the 33rd Annual American Homebrewers Association’s National Homebrewers Conference which took place earlier this month. In the competition element of the conference, Randy Scorby of Oregon won Homebrewer of the Year and The Brewing Network took home Homebrew Club of the Year. For the list of all winners, click here. San Diegans, all from local homebrew club Quality Ale and Fermentation Fraternity (QUAFF), fared well in several categories. QUAFF’s Paul Sangster, in particular, cleaned up with the Ninkasi Award, one Gold medal, and one Silver medal.


Paul Sangster, left in yellow, testifies the gospel of craft beer with preacher Greg Koch, of Stone Brewing Co.

In our humble opinion, we considered Sangster the most decorated homebrewer in the land PRIOR to the NHC. Now, he’s proven that position. Keep on brewin’!

Ninkasi Award (Read about the Ninkasi Award)
Paul Sangster, Quality Ale and Fermentation Fraternity (QUAFF)

Category 5: Bock
Gold to Paul Sangster,  Quality Ale and Fermentation Fraternity (QUAFF)

Category 7: Amber Hybrid Beer
Gold to Kent Shultz,  Quality Ale and Fermentation Fraternity (QUAFF)

Category 8: English Pale Ale
Silver to Paul Sangster, Quality Ale and Fermentation Fraternity (QUAFF)

Category 13: Stout
Bronze to Paul Gagnon, Quality Ale and Fermentation Fraternity (QUAFF)

Category 19: Strong Ale
Gold to Michael Habrat, Chris Bartik, Brett Goldstock & Suzy Pessutti,
Quality Ale and Fermentation Fraternity (QUAFF)

Category 22: Smoke-Flavored and Wood-Aged Beer
Silver to Kelsey McNair, Quality Ale and Fermentation Fraternity (QUAFF)
Bronze to Sean Gardinier, Quality Ale and Fermentation Fraternity (QUAFF)

It’s also of note that QUAFF members were elemental in organizing the three day conference. A feat that was years in the making, the 33rd Annual AHA NHC was incredibly well organized and run. Look for more on the NHC in July’s West Coaster. Congratulations to our local homebrewers!

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11 in ’11: Eleven to watch in San Diego Beer in 2011

Jan 3

11 in ’11 is our cover story for the January 2011 issue.  Scroll down on the editorial page to see where you can pick up a copy.

We recently overheard someone liken the San Diego Craft Beer Community to a Gold Rush-era Boomtown. We think it’s quite fitting. Instead of prospectors coming to stake their claim in search of gold, talented individuals and businesses in San Diego are grabbing their piece of the craft beer action by providing a resource, organizing local events or, well, making beer.  Here’s our 11 that will define 2011 in San Diego Beer. Read more »

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