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Posts Tagged Back Street Brewery

2017 Recap: Best New San Diego County Breweries

Dec 19

This year saw more new-brewery openings than any in San Diego County’s history. Happily, in this reporter’s opinion, more of them were of good quality than in year’s past. Enough that whittling down a list of the top half-dozen was extremely difficult, and ranking that sextet even harder. At least three breweries were on the bubble for the last spot, so if you’re using this as any sort of guide to the good stuff, don’t feel encouraged to limit your brewery touring to these selections. These are just your best bets based on the opinion of one well-researched individual. In that spirit, feel free to leave comments about any exceptional new breweries you’ve discovered over the past 12 months in the comments section. (Author’s Note: Breweries marked with an asterisk opened in 2016, but too late to be considered for the list of best new breweries for that calendar year.)

Eppig Brewing * | North Park: Nathan Stephens and Clayton LeBlanc, the duo producing the beers at this Brewery Igniter standout have a tasting room exhibiting the variety of the Little Italy outpost of their previous employers, Ballast Point Brewing. That’s saying something, especially since brewing days there resemble a game of life-sized Tetris. Still, some of the finest, most consistent lagers, plus an array of nice hoppy and even sour ales provide glimpses of what seems a very bright future for this reincarnation of a nineteenth-century family fermentation business.

Wild Barrel Brewing | San Marcos: Beer fans everywhere couldn’t help but wonder how well infinitely popular ale-and-lager expert “Dr.” Bill Sysak would fare as a brewery owner. Commenting on beer is one thing, but manufacturing it is a different game entirely. With the help of head brewer Bill Sobieski, he’s fared extremely well, hitting the ground running this fall with quality IPAs, an effective entry-level witbier and a brilliant coffee stout. Throw in a stellar tasting room complete with a gargantuan barrel at its center, and you have something special.

Burgeon Beer Co.

Burgeon Beer Co. * | Carlsbad: After gaining experience at Stone Brewing, Rough Draft Brewing and Back Street Brewery, Anthony Tallman united with long-time friends to forge his own business, and it’s been going strong since day one. Built around a smart, modern-day business model combining outside keg sales with regular in-house can releases, this newcomer has built a solid following around an array of multi-faceted IPAs and dark beers. No trend is off limits for them. That said, they’re at their best when they stay true to tradition.

Pariah Brewing | North Park: Some say this Prince-ly purple, dungeon-esque Brewery Igniter spot is no place for beer purists, and while it’s true that Stone and Helm’s Brewing alum Brian Mitchell specializes in beers that go outside the box by incorporating an array of flavorful adjuncts as simple as coffee and orange peel to as oddball as fenugreek and uni (yes, sea urchin), there are to-style gems like Indie Or Bust IPA. But this place is geared to adventurous drinkers and provides an impressive departure from the everyday, even in a town soaked in beer.

Battlemage Brewing | Vista: Role-playing game enthusiasts got a brewery playing to their passions when yet another former Ballast Point duo, Ryan Sather and Chris Barry, teamed to open this testament to the communal power of beers and broadswords. It’s become an ideal backdrop for fans of RPG and tabletop enterprises, but you don’t have to know the difference between a Halfling and a half-orc to appreciate the beers, which flow into rarely charted territory (dark mild, old ale) and come across clean and tasty. Perfect sustenance for a lengthy campaign.

Black Plague Brewing | Oceanside: An operation that looked like it might veer off course at the onset of its journey steered its way into veteran leadership when it contracted former AleSmith Brewing and Mikkeller Brewing San Diego brewer Bill Batten to assist with its fermentation operations. The resulting line-up of beers, including multi-fruited takes on an IPA that’s best on its own, plus myriad other styles, is fun and highly drinkable. The name, plague-doctor motif and black-walled tasting room are strange, but the beer provides a guiding light.

This Year’s Other Contenders: Align Brewing (Miramar), Alta Brewing (Barrio Logan), Chula Vista Brewery (Chula Vista), Circle 9 Brewing (Kearny Mesa), Ebullition Brew Works (Vista), Escondido Brewing (Escondido), Jacked Up Brewing (Escondido), Knotty Brewing * (East Village), OB Brewery * (Ocean Beach), Protector Brewery (Miramar), Rouleur Brewing (Carlsbad), Smoking Cannon Brewery (Ramona), SpecHops Brewing (Vista), SR76 Beerworks (Valley Center), Thunderhawk Alements * (Miramar), Viewpoint Brewing (Del Mar)

Maybe Next Year (Late Additions): California Wild Ales (Sorrento Valley), Deft Brewing (Bay Park), Horus Aged Ales (Oceanside), Northern Pine Brewing (Oceanside), Oeuvre Artisan Ales (Miramar), Savagewood Brewing (Scripps Ranch)

Previous Top-Ranked New Breweries

2016: Burning Beard Brewing (El Cajon), North Park Beer Co. (North Park), Resident Brewing (Downtown), Pure Project Brewing (Miramar), Bear Roots Brewing (Vista), Bitter Brothers Brewing (Bay Ho)

2015: Fall Brewing (North Park), Second Chance Beer Co. (Carmel Mountain), South Park Brewing (South Park), Abnormal Beer Co. (Rancho Bernardo), Duck Foot Brewing (Miramar)

2014: Bagby Beer Co. (Oceanside), Nickel Beer Co. (Julian), Council Brewing (Kearny Mesa), URBN St. Brewing (El Cajon), Toolbox Brewing (Vista)

2013: Rip Current Brewing (San Marcos), Benchmark Brewing (Grantville), Amplified Ale Works (Pacific Beach), Belching Beaver Brewery (Vista), Modern Times Beer (Point Loma)

2012: Societe Brewing (Kearny Mesa), Monkey Paw Pub & Brewery (East Village), Latitude 33 Brewing (Vista)

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Beer Touring: Burgeon Beer Company

Dec 21

Last week, I made mention of the fact that the more recent entrants into San Diego’s brewery-scene are taking steps to really put their best feet forward when introducing themselves to the imbibing public. Count the recently soft-opened Burgeon Beer Company (6350 Yarrow Drive, Carlsbad) among that faction. Headed by a trio of longtime beer-buds—one of which is brewmaster Anthony Tallman, formerly of Stone Brewing, Rough Draft Brewing Company and, most recently, Vista’s Back Street Brewery—it took more than three years to cobble together from conception-to-reality, and it’s clear, even in its first month of operation, that none of that time was wasted.

Located on an industrial side-street just south of McClellan-Palomar Airport, Burgeon would easily blend into its industrial-park environs…were it not for large, easy-to-spot, professional signage towering above the entry. It sounds simple, but it really makes a difference. Time otherwise wasted driving around, making U-turns and cursing one’s map-app is instead spent enjoying beer. Not sampling beer, but enjoying it, because Tallman and company are making some quality product.

Three of the toughest-to-dial-in styles of Burgeon’s seven introductory beers are its best. Thuja IPA, a 6.5% single India pale ale packed with Mosaic, Citra, Amarillo and Centennial hops, has just the right consistency to convey all those hops’ flavors and aromas while remaining easy-to-drink. The cleverly named Mixed Greens Double IPA—the first in a series of rotating imperial IPAs that will see different combinations of hops added at six different stages during the brewing and fermentation process—is aptly “green”, low on the sweetness that can sometimes overtake double IPAs, and leaves a delightful, lingering accent of tangerine in its wake. Conversely, Lot 19 Pale Ale (named after the spot where a motherlode of cedar was sourced for construction of the furniture in Burgeon’s tasting room) brings a nice caramely malt-base in without imparting any sweetness, thus balancing this 5.5% ABV beer’s citrus-like hop-borne essence.

The next-best beer at Burgeon is probably, of all things, its cream ale. Tallman’s take on an American adjunct-lager (you may know it as lawnmower beer or that watery beverage four-fifths of the country thinks of exclusively as “beer”) is smooth, easy-drinking and a little higher in alcohol than Coors and Budweiser’s OG versions. And what’s that other thing in there? Oh yes…flavor. It won’t punch you in the face, but it’s a heck of a transition beer for folks who are tired of waiting until the mountains turn blue enough to hide the flavor deficiencies in their current beer of choice.

Of course, everything’s not perfect. A rye amber ale and nut brown show promise, but could use a little more heft on the palate, while Moo Moo Farm Milk Stout (right up there with Mixed Greens in the killer-moniker department) is a bit overdone with a certain smokiness that comes across as off-putting.

As with its exterior, Burgeon wins bonus points for its interior design. The tasting room is rather spacious, but nice, thoughtful, unique touches keep it from feeling the least bit empty. There is plenty of seating augmented by vertical cedar shelving stacked with bright green plant-life, a tree sprouting from the ground at the end of the bar, and a fountain feature converted from Burgeon’s founders’ original home-brew sculpture.  On top of that, the cold-box is also paneled to mimic the look of a shipping container with Burgeon’s wordmark emblazoned on one side and tree-stump signs on the other telling the tale of the tap-list.

Burgeon has more polish than a number of breweries that have been operational for years, and that’s saying something. Everybody is upping their game to compete in this rather crowded market, making it all the more impressive that the individuals behind this interest saw fit to up theirs long before opening their doors, an act that will be made official during grand-opening festivities from noon to 3 p.m. and 4 to 7 p.m., Saturday, January 21.

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Meet Burgeon Beer Company

Jul 18

Burgeon Logo_Final_cmykThe large number of local brewing companies opened by homebrewers over the past decade-plus has provided something for hobbyists getting into recreational fermentation to aspire to. When Anthony Tallman and Derek Van Leeuwen took up homebrewing eight years ago, they did so with the intention to someday open their very own commercial brewery. But it wasn’t until sharing a beer with friend Matthew Zirpolo at Culture Brewing Company three years back that the business-plan took shape. The trio has taken different paths to where they now stand—on the precipice of making their dream a reality—and all those roads led them to coastal North County, the future home of Burgeon Beer Company (6350 Yarrow Drive, Suite C, Carlsbad).

Located in an industrial park just west of Pizza Port’s Bressi Ranch brewpub and production facility, Burgeon is tentatively scheduled to commence brewing on a 15-barrel Premier Stainless rig in October, followed by a December tasting-room opening. In the meantime, Tallman will continue in his role as head brewer at Vista’s Back Street Brewery. He has held that position for more than two years after stints at Stone Brewing and Rough Draft Brewing Company. While with the latter, he helped earn a gold and silver medal at the 2013 L.A. International Beer Competition plus a bronze at the 2013 San Diego International Beer Festival. He will serve as head brewer at Burgeon and be assisted by Van Leeuwen.

The trio (who have known each other since high school) spent a year searching for locations, initially intending to site Burgeon in a retail location in downtown Vista or coastal Oceanside. They eventually selected their 10,000-square-foot Carlsbad facility after several buildings in the aforementioned regions fell through, deciding an industrial site was what they needed to get the business off the ground in the near future. The tasting-room will take up a fifth of the entire space and be built out of cedar slabs from a property in Julian belonging to one of Burgeon’s investors. In terms of beer, Tallman and company hope to produce a wide variety of styles, including pale ales, IPAs, hoppy and imperial pale lagers, a rye-infused amber, nut brown and Belgian-style ales (possibly including lesser-seen styles, grisette and singel). A barrel-aging program will also be instituted from the get-go.

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San Diego Beer events April 13-17

Apr 13

There is much to do if you are thirsty. Here’s what we have via the West Coaster Event Calendar.


5P-Close Small Bar is doing a keep the pint night with Big Sky Brewing out of Missoula, Montana. Pints will be $5.00 and refills $3.50. On Draught: Trout slayer, Moose Drool, IPA, IIPA and Dry Stout.

A Sierra Nevada Beer Pairing Dinner is going on at Urge Gastropub. We like Urge, not just because they advertise with us, but also because they serve burgers as big as your face for a fair price. Seriously, their food is amazing, so we have high hopes for how this pairing will turn out. We also hope that Sculpin mustard will make an appearance….More info, click here


2P-7P AleSmith has started a weekly event titled Firkin Thursday. The inagural Firkin Thursday will take place this week, and will serve a cask of Anvil ESB brewed with English Yeast for $3 per 12 oz. glass.

6P-10P La Jolla Brew House is hosting a pint night with Sam Adams’ Rustic Saison. $6 a pint w/ the glass, and $4 refills afterwards.

6P-10P Press Box Sports Lounge is holding a Beer Pairing w/ Firestone Walker. Their head chef Jesus worked for years at the La Valencia in La Jolla, and thus the fare will be exceptional. $25 for unlimited food and plentiful beer combined to live music in a classy joint translates to “best deal in town” for Thursday night.

6:30P-11P O’Brien’s is holding a Real Ale Festival Pre-Party. Full kegs of Black Ops Black IPA, Idiot IPA, Czech Pils, and Hoppy Daze Belgo-IPA from Coronado Brewing Company will be on tap all weekend long.

7P-9P CityBeat’s Beer Club is being held at Henry’s in Downtown. New Belgium Ranger IPA will be poured for $1 and all the appetizers will be half off. You gotta be on the list though, so sign up.


1130A – 2P Blind Lady Ale House is doing a W-$2 Beer special in celebration of the passing of another tax day. Straight from Lee Chase: “We’re doing Cask Stone Black IPA (SSRA) for just $2 until 2pm.” Start this weekend early.

1P-11P Pizza Port’s Real Ale Festival is kicking off. This event promises to be insane. If you’re into cask beer, click here to get tickets.

4P-8P Friday Afternoon Club (F.A.C.) @ Hess. This is Hess’ new monthly meetup that serves up music, food and tasty beer. For a nano-brewery, these guys party big.

5P-10P Downtown Johnny Brown’s 3rd Annual Bitter & Sour Night. If you’re into sour beers or IPAs this is the event you won’t want to miss this night. For a full listing of what’s being offered, click here.

7P-8P Tune in to channel 94.9 on Friday nights for Stone’s Rock & Roll Happy Hour. Head Brewer Mitch Steele and President & Brewmaster Steve Wagner talk beer and pick out beer drinkin’ music for an hour. As a news outlet, we atWest Coaster are super impressed (slightly jealous) of the Stone media machine.


1P-11P Pizza Ports Real Ale Festival rolls into it’s 2nd day. If you’re insane you can try to attend both days.

5P-7P The Tipsy Crow has bamboozled 1/6th barrel of the formidable Oskar Blues ‘Ol Double Bagger Barleywine. The only time this beer has appeared in San Diego. Big beer fans take heed.

6P-10P CityBeat’s Beer Club is going scandalous at Buskers After Dark at Seaport Village. The email from CityBeat said that it was going to get “risqué,” with “adult content.” You can always just claim you went because of the $1 beers. As always, you must be on the list to get the sweet deal, so sign up by going here.


10A-6P Stone Brewing Co. is holding their Oakquinox event. “An outrageous celebration of barrel-aged brews” held in the gorgeous Stone World Gardens under the mild Escondido sky sounds good to us. Unfortunately, the event sold out.

11A-10P Back Street Brewery is celebrating their 7th Anniversary in Vista! There will be a special birthday brew on tap at $2 a pint, as well as Mother Earth’s Vanilla Cream Ale and Lost Abbey’s Brandy Barrel Aged Angel’s Share. Food specials will be offered via Lamppost Pizza.



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