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Posts Tagged Coaster Saloon

The Most Expensive Real Estate in San Diego?

Aug 26


Prohibitively expensive San Diego real estate has not deterred emerging breweries from opening, and San Diego County is on pace to break the 90-brewery mark by the end of 2013, from just north of 30 breweries five years prior. Even affluent neighborhoods can find great beer within walking distance; from Thorn St. Brewery within reach of Golden Hill, or Culture Brewing Co. in tony Solana Beach. And while breweries quickly fill the surplus of “real property” in San Diego, tap space isn’t keeping up.


Slater’s 50/50, Liberty Station

“It used to be tap space in search of beer,” said Craig Broderick, proprietor of Brody’s Burgers and Beer in Jamul. “Now, it’s beer in search of tap space.”

Though 18 miles from the heart of downtown, rural Jamul has a neighborhood brewery in Cold Bore Brewing Co., who self-distributes and is a regular feature on Brody’s 23 taps. According to Broderick, Brody’s came online at the right time.

“Had I started my biz earlier, I would have been in dire need of beer,” Broderick remarked in regard to his geographical disadvantage, “but from last year to this year, it’s night and day in terms of beer availability.”

Broderick continued, noting that smaller breweries had issues getting carried by a large distributor, such as Crest Beverage or Budweiser/Anheuser-Busch, but that changed when Stone Brewing opened the distribution side of the company and started carrying smaller-batch breweries who couldn’t meet larger distributors’ quotas.

While providing a much-needed relief valve to the mega-distributor bottleneck, Chad Heath, Southern California sales director for Stone Distributing. still feels pressure to keep up with the onslaught of new local breweries.

“This amazing explosion of selection has challenged distribution a bit in keeping up with the sheer amount of products we are now able to sell,” Heath said. “There will come a point when breweries aren’t able to find distributors to distribute their beer because they are ‘full’.  To date we aren’t there yet, but I feel that is inevitable and, for some of the startup brands, it would become more and more difficult to secure distribution deals.”

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t any hope for emerging breweries, Heath continued. “Good beer will win out and there will always be room in a quality distributor’s portfolio for breweries producing exceptional product.”


In a business that’s all about relationships — as distributors are prohibited from negotiating with vendors based on price — Heath maintains that the biggest challenge in those relationships is providing access to limited-release, rare beers.

“Almost all craft breweries these days are making small batch, exclusive beers,” said Heath. “They put a good demand on the wholesaler to make sure these beers get to the right accounts, on time and with the correct quantity… Stone has refined this process to a ‘T’.”

Frank Green, brand ambassador and sales manager for Port Brewing Co./The Lost Abbey, said that there is great opportunity for breweries who have in-house representatives and also partner with a larger distributor, such as Stone.

“Having (Stone) working in concert with me allows for more visits and touches on my accounts,” Green said.

Grant Tondro, co-owner of Urge Gastropub, The Barrel Room, and Brothers Provisions in Rancho Bernardo, said that, like all good relationships, the vendor-distributor romance involves give and take.


Grant Tondro @ Urge Gastropub

“All our distributors know that our goals are to have specialty kegs for specialty events, which drive our sales and are a lot of fun to put on,” Tondro noted. “(Distributor) goals are to hit their depletion quotas.  As a result, we often have conversations that revolve around ‘I’ll take a Fat Tire now if I can be guaranteed a La Folie later’ topics.

While Tondro uses New Belgium Brewing for an example, he said there are similar pushes being made by self-distributing breweries and their representatives.

“Of course, we wouldn’t take a keg of absolute crap just to secure a specialty keg, but we feel that it is reasonable to help them hit their depletions as long as they help us put on great events,” said Tondro.

One brewery that Tondro mentioned as being notably persistent and a regular feature on Urge’s tap list is Firestone Walker Brewing Co., a sentiment echoed by Broderick at Brody’s.

“Firestone is at a size where, although distributed by Crest Beverage, they’re actively pursuing full-time space,” said Broderick. “And they have reps out in Jamul who are willing to work on those relationships.”

Broderick added that, in addition to self-distributing breweries, the recent arrival of Craft Beer Guild Distributing of California gives even greater access to smaller breweries and their limited releases, which prompts the question: with distribution options increasing, who drives vendor-distributor negotiations?

“Nobody is indispensable,” said Darren Renna, general manager of the Coaster Saloon in Mission Beach. “For example, Ballast Point and Green Flash are distributed by Crest Beverage — by far the biggest player — but if you want first access to Palate Wrecker, Dorado or a new specialty product, then you are better off dealing directly with the brewery than the distributor.”

Green at The Lost Abbey sees growing popularity for distribution reps among smaller breweries, but many times that means that one person is wearing multiple hats.

“A lot of these new breweries are working without a sales rep. I know of one brewery where the brewer is literally doing everything himself,” which includes bartending, brewing, and distribution rep work. So while the distribution representative position has become more popular, sometimes this means one person wearing multiple hats; not necessarily a new hire.

According to Green, relationships work at their optimal level when vendors work with breweries and distributors in tandem. This results in win-win-win for brewery, distributor, and vendor.

“I currently work with six Stone sales reps, along with their sales manager and several others in the sales department,” Green said. “The more beer I sell for them, they benefit and, in turn, sell more beer for me and I benefit.”

As a vendor, Renna added that he gets the benefit of increased responsiveness by working with the breweries and distributors.

“The salesmen do not want to see (flagship beers pulled off tap). Five years ago, such a threat would not have gone very high up the ladder, but today I would have a regional manager calling me within hours.”


Tondro noted that the number of distributors and reps with whom he works has increased by nearly 50 percent within the last year, and much of the increase is due to new breweries that self-distribute.

Green countered that, by working exclusively with a brewery representative — and not partnering with a distribution company — the portfolio of beers available is more limited.

Despite such reservations about working with breweries exclusively, dealing directly with smaller and newer breweries becomes an increasingly viable alternative for vendors. In fact, for at least one local brewery, working directly with the brewery is the only way to get their highly sought-after beer.

Societe is selling all the beer they can make,” said Broderick, referring to Societe Brewing Co. who, by design, only self-distributes its beer.

Brody's Burgers. Photo courtesy of AmigoKandu

Brody’s Burgers. Photo courtesy of AmigoKandu

“It’s a privilege for me to be able to get it, as opposed to a bigger brewer who is just battling for tap space and only now realizing how valuable it is.”

For Broderick, the privilege is such that he drives to Societe to pick up the kegs himself.

“They said they’d love to sell us beer, but they couldn’t drive out to Jamul to get it to us. I said, ‘No problem, I’ll pick it up,’” and even then, Broderick is only able to pick up what beers Societe has available, but even expending this much time and effort can outweigh the indignity of dealing with hard-driving sales representatives.

“It’s such valuable space and there is so much beer to fill that space, how are you going to put on a mediocre beer by a brewery just for the chance, the lottery, or opportunity to get a select beer later?” Broderick mused.

“It’s an unrealistic goal for me to get (Russian River Brewing’s) Pliny the Elder. It’s been made clear to me by their distributor. But now it’s not an issue because there are more beers that can match Pliny. No disrespect to Pliny; it used to be the lead dog, but the rest of the pack has come up.”

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#WavesBro: City’s beaches go from craft beer afterthought to destination

Jan 7

There are many possible reasons why San Diegans aren’t cool to the idea of going out for a beer in Mission or Pacific Beach. It could be the gratuitous display of abdominal muscles; the cognitive dissonance of mingling imperial stout-sipping with sunny, outdoor activities; the painful memory of the erstwhile Liars’ Club; the areas’ propensity for attracting snowbirds.

However, all these perceptions don’t conform to the current, growing reality of the beaches’ craft beer scene, which is booming and demands notice.

coastersaloon“People don’t associate [Mission Beach] with good craft beer, but with domestic macro beers,” Darren Renna says. Renna is manager of the half-century-old Coaster Saloon that underwent an artisanal beer makeover after a kitchen fire in 2007. Recently, Renna increased the taps for a second time — it’s up to 52 — and added a monthly cask night focusing on local brews. Macro brews aren’t out entirely, though, and will still have a presence on the tap list.

Renna mentioned that he sees an uptick in the number of craft beer consumers in his establishment, but there’s still a long way to go in changing the neighborhood’s perception. After all, Bud Light keg-stands on the beach are a thing of the recent past.

“PB has long been characterized by over-consumption and DUIs, but a lot of that comes from the influx of day visitors on the weekends,” J.C. Hill adds, a long-time Crown Point resident. Hill also owns Cali Kebab, and is co-brewer at the attached Amplified Ale Works in Pacific Beach. “It has a club scene reputation.”

“I was the same as any other craft beer drinker; I went to North Park when I wanted a good beer,” Renna says. “But I think the crowd will flip.”
Read more »

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Weekend Beer Forecast 8/3 – 8/5

Aug 2

Although this weekend is a relatively quiet one in the beer world, I submit this handful of events for your consideration.

Friday 8/3
Urge 2nd Anniversary
Rancho Bernardo’s beer powerhouse is celebrating their 2nd year in business. For the occasion, Urge has commissioned Mother Earth Brew Co. to create two beers: an Imperial Saison brewed with agave nectar, orange blossom honey, and coriander; and a Pale Ale brewed with orange blossom honey, coriander, and lemon grass. First 100 guests get an anniversary pint glass. There’s also an anniversary burger being crafted, and a free t-shirt to the first 50 people who order it. In Urge’s words, “This. Is. Going. To. Be. Awesome.” I agree. More info on their website.

Coronado Jasmine Ginger Orange Avenue Wit cask  @ The Coaster Saloon
The Coaster is located right by the beach. Orange Avenue Wit is a perfect beach day beer. ‘Nuff said. Down a few beers and watch Zonies try to surf at Wavehouse.

Saturday 8/4
BrewFest Encinitas
A fun beerfest last year, you can read our recap in the archives.  The first incarnation of this festival served great beer and food with minimal lines and drama – we expect the 2nd BrewFest Encinitas to be excellent. New for this year: VIP area featuring special guest Jeff Bagby along with some crazy beers (try Karl’s Tart of Darkness). Tickets are $40 and VIP is $65. Click for tickets, participating breweries, VIP beer list.

2nd Annual SD Craft Beer & Cocktail Showcase @ El Dorado
This is going to be cool. $25 scores you 10 craft beer/cocktail tasters from San Diego’s finest brewers and bartenders. In addition, there’s live music, art, and more. Info and tickets, here.

Urge 2nd Anniversary
Day two. This session probably won’t be as rowdy as Friday, but it will still be packed. More info on their website.

Sunday 8/5
Urge 2nd Anniversary
Day three. This will probably be the most low-key session. More info.

Photo: Ryan Lamb

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Perfect Storm: Weekend of 6/29 Packed With Beer Events

Jun 27

Through cosmic happenstance, this weekend, specifically Saturday, is absolutely PACKED with beer events. Below is a listing of what’s going down 6/29-7/1 with a few lines of explanation.

Friday 6/29
3PM — Cismontane Rare Draft & Cask @ Ritual Tavern
I’ve been watching Santa Margarita’s Cismontane Brewing Co. appear on draft lists around town recently – worth a look!

430PM — 1st Anniversary Celebration @ Local Habit
In celebration of Local Habit’s first, there will be a special beer brewed by Hess Brewing, a menu that’s been created by  popular vote, and several excellent draft offerings. Also, there’s a custom glassware giveaway to the first 40 patrons. To read more on this, click here.

5PM — Firkin Friday w/ Green Flash @ Hamiltons Tavern
“Dueling casks” of Green Flash Retro Extra Pale Ale — the company’s first beer recipe from almost ten years ago — and Imperial IIPA will start flowing at 5.

6PM — AleSmith Decadance 2012 Cask @ KnB Wine Cellars
KnB puts it best: “[You] won’t see this baby again any time soon!” Cask starts pouring at 6PM.

730PM — Ballast Point Night @ Coaster Saloon
Coaster Saloon has been working on their craft beer program. This eve the Saloon is partnering with the group San Diego Craft Brew Society. Coaster will have Habanero Sculpin on cask along with Sea Monster Stout, Longfin Lager, and Piper Down Scottish Ale. More information can be found here. If you haven’t been to the Saloon, it’s steps away from the beach and the weather should be awesome.

Saturday 6/30
10AM — Cismontane Beer for Breakfast @ Small Bar
If you haven’t been to a Beer for Breakfast by Small Bar, you’re missing out. Be prepared to eat and drink and accomplish little else afterwards (I recommend napping and/or hanging out by a pool). If you need a break from the beer, try one of their Bloody Mary’s (made with Ballast Point’s Bloody Mary mix).

11AM — 1st Anniversary Celebration @ Local Habit
The celebration continues into Day #2 and starts at 11AM. First 40 people in the door get a custom Hess / Local Habit glass to commemorate the occasion.

12PM — KnB4 @ KnB Wine Cellars
To celebrate their 4th, KnB is going insane. A tasting garden will pour rare beer from bottles & kegs, and they’ll also be selling rare bottles from their cellar. Among the many taps offered will be their collaboration Gose beer by Monkey Paw Brewing. There will also be a 225 pig roast. Click here for the full details.

1PM & 5PM — Grand Opening @ Societe Brewing Co. (SOLD OUT)
12 in ’12 member Societe opens their doors officially. Sold out 🙁

3PM — AleSmith Summer YuleSmith cask @ Ritual Tavern
If you haven’t tried this year’s Summer YuleSmith, you should. It is awesome.

4PM — Green Flash Beer Pairing Dinner @ Phileas Foggs
Poway’s Phileas Foggs is hosting a 5-course dinner paired with Green Flash beers. For more info, click here. Tickets are $45

4PM — Pints for Pups @ Mission Brewery
Hang out with some dogs and drink Mission’s beer while raising funds for guide dog training.

5PM — 30th on 30th
Each month on the 30th, the businesses on uptown’s 30th street serve up awesome beer and food. Click here for more info.

6PM — 4th Anniversary Party @ Main Tap Tavern
All day food specials ($5 meatball sandwichs) and, of course, awesome beer from El Cajon’s reigning beer bar. Live music with American Midnight goes on at 9PM.

Sunday 6/31
11AM —  1st Anniversary Celebration @ Local Habit
The celebration continues into Day #2 and starts at 11AM. First 40 people in the door get a custom Hess / Local Habit glass to commemorate the occasion.

430PM — BeerNerdz Gluten-free Beer Blind Tasting @ Bottlecraft
Gluten-free beer is a growing trend these days, and BeerNerdz has teamed up with Bottlecraft to put on a blind tasting of the latest in GF offerings. For more info and tickets, click here.

This list of events was derived from our Event Calendar.

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Dispatch from the Front 03/08/11

Mar 9

Missing in March
While we included a great number of women in our most recent issue, we realize that it’s incomplete. If we left you out, it’s not a character judgement – we just ran out of space. Sorry!

DrinkAbout with Manzanita @ Sea Rocket
Four beers from 11 in ’11 member Manzanita Brewing will be featured at the ‘Rocket. Riverwalk Blonde, Rustic Horizon, Gillispie Brown Ale and a Double Dry Hopped IPA cask will be served in a $10, 6oz pour taster flight. Manzanita’s beer gets better every time I try it, and now that it’s on the swanky seafood DrinkAbout stop that is Sea Rocket Bistro, I have another excuse to experience their deliciously developing brews.

Firestone Walker’s Matt Brynildson to make rounds in SD
On the 18th, Firestone Walker’s brewmaster will be in town at Hamilton’s for Firestone’s Firkin Friday. The following day, he will play host for the Grill at Torrey Pines’ Craft Beer Pairing Dinner – where his beer will be paired with the culinary talent of the Grill’s Kyle Bergman. Grill manager Stephen Kurpinsky sent me the following: “5-course family style dinner featuring all pork dishes from 2 heirloom, Vande Rose pigs, paired with delicious beer from Firestone Walker! Union Jack IPA  (ON CASK!  Really excited, it will be our first firkin tapping at The Grill,) Red Nectar Ale DBA (Double Barrel Ale) and Double Jack Abacus (First time that this rare, barrel aged barley wine will be released in the San Diego market!)” $55 for the best food & beer pairing you’ll find in town. For reservations, 858-777-6645.

Coaster Saloon

Upcoming Lightning Events
I’m really digging Lightning’s beers as of late (Prognosis: temporary hop overload.) My timing is excellent because they’re doing more and more events all over town. Today, they’ll be doing a pairing at Sammy’s Woodfried Pizza in Scripps Ranch, and tomorrow, they’ll be doing another pairing at Press Box Sports Lounge.

Coaster gets crafty
I sat down with Darren Renna of the Coaster Saloon on Monday. He brought me up to speed on the beachside bar/grill’s increasing craft beer program. Here’s the rundown: 32 handles, plans to rotate out 3-4 taps per month (with bi-weekly tap line cleanings, I’m told), a cask night in the works,  and upcoming beer + food pairings with BBQ. We’re supportive of the Coaster’s commitment to local craft beer. Darren explained the reasoning behind his choice to embrace better beer: “Local breweries won’t try and shove beers down your throat, and they have a vested interest in their product. Also, it’s easy to switch things up if a beer isn’t working out.” He also asked me to let local breweries know that there’s interest in doing a featured brewery/keep-the-glass night, and there is plenty of room for a jockey box.  On April 8th there’s a keep-the-pint w/ Ommegang. Also, I learned that the Coaster Saloon was one of the first Ballast Point accounts ever, and a ominous cult named the Theosophical society used to run Point Loma.

AleSmith Pairing @ La Gran Terraza
Located on the USD Campus, budding craft beer location La Gran Terraza will host Peter Zien for an AleSmith pairing dinner. The last pairing was with Stone and was ~$22 + tax & tip, so we’re assuming that AleSmith’s pairing will follow suit. 5 courses of gourmet food with generous pours at a great venue makes this one of the best secrets in San Diego Beer. At the gated USD entrance,  make sure to let the guard know your intentions so you can get a free parking permit.

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