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Posts Tagged craftbeer

Beer of the Week: Societe The Urchin

Dec 2
The Urchin barrel-aged cranberry sour ale from Societe Brewing Company

The Urchin barrel-aged cranberry sour ale from Societe Brewing Company

From the Beer Writer: Each week for the past several years, I’ve made a point of highlighting what I believe are exceptional beers produced by San Diego County breweries. Because I not only write about the beer industry, but am a part of it, there have been a handful of times when a Beer of the Week has come from a brewery I’m employed by. I understand the perceived conflict there, so I attempt to avoid that whenever possible, and am always sure to disclose my affiliation when doing so. But this week, the origin-story and humanitarian purpose behind my featured beer selection is such that I feel compelled to share both even though it’s manufactured by my employer, Societe Brewing Company. Allow me to go into detail. Each year, Societe holds a holiday food-drive. In its first year, this effort amassed just under 300 pounds of food. The addition of annual incentivizing ripples in the drive increased its effectiveness to the point where, last year, the brewery collected nearly 5,000 pounds of food. Happy but not yet satisfied, brewmaster Travis Smith and company devised a new plan for 2016, centered around the release of a new blended, wine barrel-aged, cranberry sour ale, Societe The Urchin. From now through December 31, this tart, fruity, tannic offering is available in 500-milliliter bottles for an admittedly exorbitant $50. Too rich for your blood? There’s a much more affordable and meaningful alternative. Simply bring in 50 pounds of food from the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank’s list of needed items (click here for that list) and you can get a bottle of The Urchin for just five dollars. The drive started on November 21 and, within four days, Societe had surpassed its 2015 total, delivering more than 5,000 pounds of edible sustenance to the Food Bank. As of today, total donations stand at 8,588 pounds. It’s a wonderful case of the goodness of local craft-beer flowing beyond the glass to make a positive difference for those in need in our community, and I’m happy to shine a light on it in hopes of maximizing that effort. Happy holidays!

From the Brewer: The Feral beer program at Societe revolves around blending and, to a lesser extent, experimentation. The Urchin arose out of an experiment loading cranberry purée into one of our red-wine barrels. We liked the flavor enough that we decided to take the experiment to the next level by fruiting several more barrels, and the base to The Urchin was born. This first batch of The Urchin spent between 10 and 24 months in barrels before making it into this final delicious, festive Feral blend of fruit and funk. With cranberries being a favorite holiday flavor, and The Urchin being my favorite blend to come out of our barrel room so far, this is the perfect beer to go along with our annual Holiday Food Drive to incentivise the donation of needed items to the San Diego Food Bank.—Travis Smith, Brewmaster, Societe Brewing Company

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Sampler Flight: December Events

Dec 1

sono-chili-festThe season of good-will and merriment is upon us…also, holiday beers and celebrating. Submitted for your enjoyment are several local events taking place this December. Salt-and-pepper (cinnamon-and-nutmeg?) them into your holiday plans, and refer to the West Coaster events page for a comprehensive list of goings-on throughout San Diego County.

December 3 | West Coaster Party: Your favorite local craft-beer publication doesn’t throw a ton of events, but when we do, we try to make it count. In that spirit, we’re teaming with 32 North Brewing Company to offer a four-pronged fete focusing on beer, meat, coffee and chocolate, San Diego-made iterations of which will be on-hand for mixing, matching, meshing and massacring. | 32 North Brewing Company, 8655 Production Avenue, Miramar, 12 p.m.

December 4 | SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-Off: It’s a merging of neighborhoods, a feast for the senses and a telling test of one’s ability to withstand extreme heat all wrapped up into one enchanted afternoon, when North Parkers and South Parkers come together to throw down with multiple takes on America’s spicy, stewed national dish and temper all that inherent incendiary heat with quality craft ales and lagers. | 32nd & Thorn Street, North & South Park, 11 a.m.

December 10 | Sore Eye Sudsmas: The co-host of San Diego BeerTalk Radio is holding a holiday party where attendees are encouraged to bring in food donations to a food drive being held by host-site, Societe Brewing Company. Prizes will be awarded to those who bring the most edibles and if a total of 2,000 pounds comes in, Societe will tap the only keg of cranberry sour, The Urchin, in existence. | Societe Brewing Company, 8262 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard, Kearny Mesa, 5 p.m.

December 15-17 | Ugly Sweater Events: ‘Tis the weekend for events celebrating ironic yuletide-wear. Start early on Thursday with an ugly sweater Christmas party at OB’s Raglan Public House, then roll up on the Ales ‘n’ Rails beer-tasting at the San Diego Model Railroad Museum before taking in a Saturday suds-and-sweaters soiree at Tap That in Oceanside. | Multiple Locations, Times Vary

Editor’s Note: In addition to his role as Editor at Large for West Coaster, the author is also employed by Societe Brewing Company.

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Iron Fist Brewing has investor, plans for growth

Nov 29

ironfist_logoOver the past seven years, Iron Fist Brewing Company has grown into one of the most steady-running breweries in Vista, second only to Mother Earth Brew Co. in size and visibility. The brewery-rich municipality’s second-oldest brewing interest (to Backstreet Brewery), it now includes a satellite tasting-room in San Diego’s Logan Heights community, but according to founding co-owner Eve Siemenski, there’s more on the horizon for the family-run, combination Belgian-inspired and West Coast hopped op.

Recently, the Siemenskis invited on new investors, Wayne and Cindy Seltzer. The Seltzers bring diverse backgrounds in the food-and-beverage distribution and manufacturing industries. The couple sold its 30-year-old nutritional solutions interest business, Seltzer Companies, to Glanbia PLC in 2006 for $105 million. The Seltzers are involved in other business interests in the county, most notably the San Diego Padres ownership group.

Siemenski says welcoming the Seltzers aboard will position Iron Fist for future growth financially, and also enhance its business operations, sales, marketing and manufacturing capabilities. “We feel we are better positioned to implement our long-range strategies for growth in the highly competitive craft beverage industry,” she says.

In the near-term, Iron Fist’s upcoming projects include the release of six-packs of three of its beers in bottles—Renegade Blonde Ale, Nelson the ImPALEr and Counter Strike IPA. Further down the road, the company hopes to construct additional tasting rooms. Siemenski cites reaching greatly differing demographics at its Vista and Logan Heights locations as a great advantage to operating multiple venues. There is also the possibility of opening a brewpub and moving into a larger production headquarters.

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Valley Center Brewery shuttered

Nov 28

vcb_03As any unincorporated entrepreneur will tell you, opening a brewery in a small community on the outskirts of San Diego County is a risky proposition. Some, such as Alpine Beer Company and Nickel Beer Company manage to draw ale aficionados to the boonies behind good beer, but even quality product can’t guarantee enough patronage to sustain a business long-term. Add questionable or downright poor-quality brews to the equation, and the prospects of backwoods beer dreams being realized slim considerably. Such was the case for Valley Center Brewery, which recently closed.

Founded in its eponymous extreme North County community in 2014, Valley Center was a family-run business that started out on said family’s residential property in a structure they built especially for the business. Roughly a year later, the bulk of the operation was moved to a restaurant on Lilac Road, complete with barrel-aging on a covered patio. A work-in-progress for much of its life-span, the business became a full-on beer-and-food venue earlier this year, but it would appear that, by then, it was too little too late, as mostly negative reviews of the company’s beers had taken their toll. The business went out much like it came in, with nary a whimper.

Valley Center Brewery joins the 2016 class of beer-manufacturer closures that includes Pacific Brewing Company, Twisted Manzanita Ales & Spirits and URBN St. Brewing Company. Valley Center’s closure came right around the arrival of SR76 Beer Works, a brewpub constructed within Harrah’s Southern California Resort and operated by the Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians. So, Valley Center is still in the local craft-beer mix along with similar unincorporated communities such as Alpine, Fallbrook, Jamul, Ramona and Julian, where Julian Brewing Company shut-down but is currently being renovated to reopen in 2017.

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Beer of the Week: Bay City Dubbel

Nov 25
Bay City Brewing Company's Dubbel

Bay City Brewing Company’s Dubbel

From the Beer Writer: Last week’s featured beer was a double IPA. For most local craft-fans, that’s the only double-referencing beer-style they’re bound to seek out, but I’ve been a long-time fan of Belgian dubbels. The middle-ground member of the monastic family of Belgian beers, they traditionally come in a chestnut-to-brown-hued package registering between six-and-eight percent alcohol-by-volume (ABV), and are the complete opposite of the hop-forward, dry, sun-geared ales San Diego is famous for. As such, few local breweries produce dubbels, so when I sample any I come across. Such was the case last week at Lomaland’s Bay City Brewing Company, when I found myself in the midst of a raucous pre-Gulls game packed-house. Once the hockey fans cleared out, I ordered the 7% ABV Bay City Dubbel and, before even taking a taste, felt myself falling in love thanks to big, flowery, banana-like aromas. Those sensory clues were in keeping with the flavor-profile of the beer, which is big on Belgian yeast character coming across as banana bread, baking spices and calendulas. Unlike poor examples of this style, the beer was not overly sweet and was above-average from a drinkability standpoint.

From the Brewer: “Bay City Dubbel is a dark, amber-colored ale inspired by the monks of the Franciscan Order. Dark crystal malts from both Europe and the U.S. give this beer its darker appearance and a subtle caramel flavor. The Belgian yeast used during fermentation lends a spicy character that balances the malty sweetness and creates a medium-bodied beer. Belgian yeasts are unique to brew with because of the phenols, esters and glycerin that they produce at various levels. This particular strain creates a medium bodied beer that is easier to drink than some more traditional versions of the style.”—Chris West, Head Brewer, Bay City Brewing Company

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