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Posts Tagged craftbeer

Stone CEO announces True Craft project

Apr 29

stonebrewinglogoStone Brewing CEO Greg Koch took to the stage at today’s EG Conference in Carmel, California, and announced that he and Stone co-founder Steve Wagner are developing a project called True Craft as an “alternative to being bought or pushed out by Big Beer.”

Koch describes True Craft as a consortia of independent investors who will create a platform in which craft breweries can exchange minority, non-controlling stakes in their businesses for access to financing.

Koch said that there is already $100 million committed and “a small group of craft breweries” who are interested. Additionally, Koch said True Craft is starting with beer, but is designed to go beyond ales and lagers, extending to all artisanal edibles.

The press release is included below.

ESCONDIDO, CA – Today Stone Brewing announces True Craft, a company established to invest in craft breweries which are dedicated to remaining true to the definition of craft beer. Representing camaraderie in the industry, True Craft will make minority investments in craft brewers while allowing those breweries to retain their independent soul and control.

“Some people start companies to sell out. Some start companies because they are compelled to follow their passion. True Craft is for the latter,” said Greg Koch, Stone CEO & co-founder. “Craft beer needs an alternative model to the one that requires founders to sell their company in its entirety. In a world in which there are constant forces toward homogenization and fitting in, I specifically want to foster a world of uniqueness, depth and character.”

Outspoken about their commitment not to sell out to Big Beer, the co-founders of Stone have been investigating an alternative that would provide financing and operational guidance to small brewers who might otherwise have few options to protect the passion, heart and soul of their company. A year and a half in the making, Stone will be participating in True Craft as a founding member. The new venture has received an initial $100,000,000 brought forth from an investor group committed to the long term model. True Craft will welcome a handful of the best craft brewers in the business alongside Stone Brewing. Each brewery may participate in True Craft and in turn the company will provide minority investments to its members with minimal stipulations. All breweries will be aligned in the philosophical mindset of banding together to preserve craft while retaining full soul and control of their businesses for years to come.

“This is about setting up a consortium so we can not just survive, but continue to thrive in a world in which craft is being co-opted by Big Beer,” said Steve Wagner, Stone President & co-founder. “This allows companies like Stone to follow an ethos that involves independence and passion for the artisanal. By investing in True Craft now, we can be confident that our vision is locked in beyond our professional lifetimes and we feel privileged to help others in our industry do the same.”

True Craft’s detailed structure is still in formation and will be announced at a later date.

About Stone Brewing

Founded by Greg Koch and Steve Wagner in 1996, San Diego-based Stone Brewing is the 10th largest craft brewer in the United States. Stone has been listed on the Inc. 500 | 5000 Fastest Growing Private Companies list 11 times,and has been called the “All-time Top Brewery on Planet Earth” by BeerAdvocate magazine twice. The multifaceted company will be the first American craft brewer to independently build, own and operate a brewery in Europe, and is also building a production brewery and destination restaurant in Richmond, Virginia. Brewing at both locations will be underway in summer 2016. Known for its bold, flavorful and largely hop-centric beers, Stone has earned a reputation for brewing outstanding, unique beers while maintaining an unwavering commitment to sustainability,business ethics, philanthropy and the art of brewing. For more information on Stone Brewing, please or the company’s social media sites: Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and TheStone Blog.

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Downtown Johnny Brown’s closing April 29

Apr 28

downtownjbIt’s hard to imagine, but there was a time when craft-beer had not yet been embraced by the majority of San Diego restaurants. But there were early-adopters who got it and got with the program. They essentially helped build the program to what it is today. Some folded; too early to the party and unable to make ends meet. But there are a handful of those visionary spots still around, and they are to be cherished. Sadly, San Diego is about to lose one of its longest supporters of the artisanal beer movement. Downtown Johnny Brown’s (1220 Third Avenue, Downtown) will officially close its doors after tomorrow’s service.

A longtime fixture within the Civic Center Plaza, this one-story oasis among skyscraper City admin buildings, the San Diego Concourse and Civic Theater, Downtown Johnny Brown’s has been in operation since 1987. Just under three years ago, it was taken over by Sean Cole, who was kind enough to shed light on the reasons for this unfortunate turn of events. The lease on the restaurant space is up for renewal. As part of that process, the City of San Diego (the owner and landlord) utilized a request-for-proposal (RFP) process in its search for interested tenants.

Typically, existing tenants have the advantage in these situations so long as they are in good standing with the City, which Cole attests he is. That leg-up coincides with the landlord’s expectation that tenant improvements be made to meet standards and requirements. In preparation to submit a proposal in response to the RFP, Cole did his due diligence, analyzing the many modernizations that would need to be made to get the venue up-to-code in conjunction with an updated remodel. It was something that was already at the forefront of his concerns after being served with an ADA lawsuit for an improvement. Downtown Johnny Brown’s was actually exempt from the code-violation due to its pre-1992 structure status, but Cole’s attorneys determined it would be cheaper to settle out of court.

Without the many updates needed to comply with current ADA standards, Cole decided he would essentially be a sitting-duck for future, similar lawsuits. An example of how extensive the improvements that need to be made is the hallway leading to the restrooms, which would need to be widened a few inches. That would require Cole to move a main wall as well as the electrical, plumbing and ventilation within the wall. And because the updates were so costly, he voluntarily backed away, choosing to shutter the business.

Cole is disappointed to be the last overseer of Downtown Johnny Brown’s, but wants to “stay classy to the end as we San Diegans do.” To that end, he’s working to line up a band for tomorrow’s finale and empty out the many kegs of top-tier beer he has stockpiled for the many epic events the bar-and-resto have held over the years. It was a good run and one veterans of the local craft-beer scene surely won’t forget.

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Mission Brewery debuts The Cellar and Loft

Apr 27

mission_01Since opening for business in 2007, Mission Brewery (1441 L Street, East Village) had never executed an official launch-event for one of its beers, until this week when it held a coming-out party for its latest India pale ale, Plunder IPA. Taster-glasses, plastic doubloons, finger-foods and branded party favors were everywhere, along with posters and other visual elements displaying the beer’s skull and stacked gold-coin logo. It was an effort both complete and entertaining, and it coincided with something else owner Dan Selis and company wanted to show off, The Cellar and Loft by Mission Brewery—a brand-new, 4,500-square-foot, two-story public area that’s ready to receive.

mission_02Mission Brewery’s headquarters is built within the historic red-brick building that once housed a Wonder Bread factory. Sited across the street from Petco Park’s Tailgate Lot, it’s in a prime location (unless the Chargers’ recently unveiled downtown stadium plan is executed, which would seem to make Mission’s future in its current facility a bit cloudier). And now it has even more to offer thanks to the new addition, which is accessible from 14th Street as well as a segue at the merchandise store on the southern end of the main tasting room.

The ground-level is equipped with a bar with a dozen taps (bringing the total tap-count at Mission to 66) dispensing various Mission beers, including Plunder, which came across to me as a modern IPA (not over-aggressive in its bitterness, with flavors and aromas of mango and peach) with old-school East-Coast appeal (touches of caramel and toasty malt in the finish). There are a few high-top tables and chairs near the bar, plus two raised round booths bathed in natural light from a pair of skylights on the second floor.

mission_03The top-story’s footprint matches the downstairs in area, minus the two circular cut-outs letting the sunshine filter from the skylights. Outfitted in diagonally affixed reclaimed-wood on one wall and historic red-brick on the other, with floor-to-ceiling glass on the west wall giving way to an unobstructed view of Petco Park, it is quite an event space, and can be rented out for private soirees of all kinds.

All I all, the new space is well thought-out and nicely executed. It’s good to see a company that’s been around awhile and quietly gone about its business make some waves. Next up, a portfolio-wide packaging re-brand that will clarify the brand and bring a lot more color into the mix. Look for new bottles to hit shelves over the course of the next few months.

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Amplified Ale Works Miramar open for business

Apr 26

amplified_00Thank God for the Internet. Thank God for WordPress. Well…thank God for the Internet, anyway. Were it not for the real-time publishing capabilities of the web, I wouldn’t have been able to turn on a dime and provide you a sneak-peek of Amplified Ale Works’ new Miramar brewery-tasting room facility (9030 Kenamar Drive, Suite 309, Miramar). All necessary governmental agency red-tape was finally sliced through yesterday, allowing the business to open at 3 p.m. TODAY.

amplified_01Fans of Amplified’s live-music thematic will appreciate that the almighty Marshall amp is as respected as ever. Future tap-handles will come in the form of Marshall stacks with Amplified’s iconic “A” logo on top, and a giant Marshall amp façade frames the flat-screen beer-board, which features a dozen different offerings, including standards like Electrocution IPA, Electro-Lite session IPA, Bearded Guard Belian-style biere de garde and Sellout light lager. Also on tap is a new American wheat ale called Whammy Bar Wheat, which will debut right along with the new spot, and Centerpointe, a 4% alcohol-by-volume Belgian pale ale brewed collaboratively with next-door neighbors, Pure Project Brewing. And head brewer Cy Henley is now brewing with newly-hired director of brewery operations and Rip Current Brewing Company alum, Jeff Campbell.

amplified_03Amplified and Pure Project’s facilities are mirror-images of each other, separated only by their interior design. Such is the concept behind H.G. Fenton’s Brewery Igniter model, which leases ready-to-brew spaces equipped with brewhouses, cellars, cold-storage and customizable tasting rooms. Amplified further brings in its musical devotion with guitar-shaped taster-flight holders, vintage concert posters, black-and-white photos of rock-and-roll acts, and a projector that will play live music performances as well as the occasional Padres game (or Chargers for as long as we have them).

amplified_02The primary reason Amplified ownership invested in the Brewery Igniter space was to up the amount of beer it has to sell at its Pacific Beach brewpub and increase the amount of beer it can distribute to outside accounts. Fortunately, the Amplified put plenty of thought into this space as an outlet for reaching people and providing comfort as well as a taste of a taste of its beers. There is plenty of seating along the bar and each wall, plus a long, high-table in the center of the room. It’s more seating than I’d have thought the space would afford. See for yourself starting this afternoon!

Amplified Ale Work’s Miramar tasting room will be open Monday-Thursday from 3 to 9 p.m., Friday-Saturday from noon to 10 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 8 p.m. An official grand-opening event is planned for May 13.

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Beer Touring: Border X Brewing Company

Mar 17

borderx_02The first two stops on my #southbayuprising tour in Chula Vista were to breweries that had been open less than a year. Neither were stellar, but some forgiveness can be applied to such youthful operations. In my opinion, Bay Bridge and Novo Brazil aren’t ready for prime-time, but there’s hope that they’ll improve their processes in the near future.

The same considerations cannot be applied to Border X Brewing Company (2181 Logan Avenue, Barrio Logan). This business, which brews in Otay, has been in operation since the beginning of 2014, and has operated a Barrio Logan-based tasting room since the first-quarter of that year. In short, they’ve been around long enough that all fine-tuning should be completed, and all excuses should have gone the way of early shortcomings.

borderx_04Just five beers were available on the day of our tour, so we ordered one of each and ran through them in a logical order. First up was Gran Hefe, an unfiltered German-style wheat ale. It had very little flavor, aroma or carbonation. The best part of hefeweizens are generally the yeast-borne flavors of banana, citrus and/or clove—none of which showed up in this beer. Next up was a golden stout with a slight hint of nuttiness. For the most part though, this beer was just sugary and grainy. It lacked the roasted malt or coffee bean presence needed to make this light-colored beer drink or taste like a stout.

borderx_01An India pale ale dubbed IPA #001 was peachy but also a bit sweet. Its hoppy nose was its best feature, but as far as taste goes, it would be a challenge for this beer to hold up against the county’s legendary IPAs. I also had high hopes for Abuelita, an 8% alcohol-by-volume chocolate stout, but even with all its roastiness and dark malts, butter permeated the beer’s finish.

Our top pick of the day was Border X’s hibiscus-reddened Blood Saison. Earthy and floral, its flavors of pomegranate, cherry and cranberry were lovely. Still, one solid offering out of five isn’t good, especially for a business that’s been brewing for two years.

borderx_03On the aesthetic front, Border X boasts a great-looking facility. Seriously, with artistic touches everywhere — many paying homage to the culture, businesses, figures and creators within the local community — it is pretty close to perfection from a micro-regional perspective. One could spend hours examining the chalk-style art on its black walls, the hand-crafted items bearing Border X’s skull logo, the colorful main bar-top and the guest art in the rear seating area. It’s creative, stunning and fun. And if art appreciation isn’t one’s cup of tea, there’s a nice little outdoor area out back with space for lounging and a grill setup to bring tasty, Barrio-friendly food into the equation.

I must say, though, that the service during our visit was disappointing. When we entered, the place was nearly empty, and we went straight to the bar. One other patron had been served, yet we waited two or three minutes to even be greeted. The bartender had presumably seen us, as we were standing just feet from him. Maybe the service is better on other days, but we felt selectively ignored.

As much as I want to believe in and tout the #southbayuprising, right now I can only laud props on the bars that are fueling the region’s craft beer fire. The breweries involved in this uprising are trying to mount a revolution armed exclusively with weaponry and ammunition manufactured by Nerf. For now, I’ll keep my fingers crossed in the hope that the best of intentions and clear passion will soon translate into better products from South Bay’s breweries.

Disclosure: In his day job, Brandon works as the marketing manager for Miramar’s AleSmith. 

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