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Posts Tagged craftbeer

Beer of the Week: Amplified Whammy Bar Wheat

May 27
Amplified Ale Works Whammy Bar Wheat

Amplified Ale Works Whammy Bar Wheat

From the Beer Writer: I showed up at Amplified Ale Works’ new brewery-tasting room in Miramar the day after it opened. A hop, skip and a jump from my day-job, I was eager to see what sort of beers I’d have easier access to now that getting a hold of them wouldn’t require a trip out to the company’s original Pacific Beach location. As I perused the board, I was informed of a new offering that had been brewed specifically for the opening of the “Beeramar” space—Amplified Whammy Bar Wheat. I promptly added it to my taster-flight and made it the first of the quartet of samples I swigged. I didn’t expect to be blown away by a wheat beer as the beauty of such styles tends to be in their subtlety and balance. Whammy Bar had plenty of the latter plus nice assertiveness on the palate and a crisp finish. It tasted like, well, beer…and in this age of massive infusion and living outside the box, it was a welcomed change of pace. I thought it was really nice, but wondered if others would appreciate it. The following week, it won a gold medal at the World Beer Cup in the American-style Wheat Beer category. So, I guess that answered my question!

From the Brewers: “As an American wheat ale, Whammy Bar has a light, crisp flavor almost reminiscent of a lager, but the 40% wheat in the malt bill helps build in a nice body that provides a pleasant mouth-feel while still keeping the beer extremely drinkable. It’s the perfect beer for our brewpub patio. Having a larger, dedicated brewing facility outside of the brewpub has made our lives a lot easier. And the use of our newly installed reverse-osmosis system has really helped brewing styles like Whammy Bar Wheat, which call for a clean water-profile.”—Cy Henley, Head Brewer, Amplified Ale Works

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Q&A: Tom Nickel

May 26

tom nickelOrganizer, San Diego International Beer Festival

There’s more to the San Diego County Fair than tilt-a-whirls, geode collections, hot-tub shows and deep-fried everything. It also plays host to one of the largest annual craft-beer festivals, here or anywhere on the West Coast, the San Diego International Beer Festival (SDIBF). This year’s event will feature hundreds of beers from multiple states and countries, all of which can be sampled in an all-you-can-drink (responsibly) format during five sessions taking place over three days from June 17 to 19. In addition to fun for the general public, there is also a brewing-competition component, the winners of which were recently announced. For the second straight year, AleSmith Brewing Company earned Champion Brewery bragging rights, with 23 gold medals (and 41 medals total) awarded to local breweries. It’s quite an event with a rich history and promising future. For more on both, we sat down with event organizer Tom Nickel (who also owns Nickel Beer Company, O’Brien’s Pub and West Coast Barbecue and Brews).

What was the impetus for the SDIBF?
The original idea came from Chad Stevens, who was a member of (local homebrew club) QUAFF. He’d been running the homebrew competition at the fair for a number of years and felt there should be a professional competition there as well. He brought me in because he felt he needed someone on the professional side to legitimize the idea it was a professional competition. The vision was for a competition for professional brewers by professional brewers. We had like 200 entries the first year and thought it was highly successful. We held it in the paddock area and it was a one-day afternoon festival. It was fun, and it’s grown from there.

Tell me about the tremendous growth of the field and competition over the years.
Twice before we’ve had exponential growth where we’ve reached another plateau. We slowly grew by a hundred or so each year, then four-or-five years ago, when the real boom of brewery openings occurred, we had a jump from 600 to 900 and we hovered at just under 1,000 for the last three years. This year, we jumped from 979 to 1,356 total entries, over 1,300 of which were beers—a 44% increase overall.

Who are some of the individuals who’ve been integral to the SDIBF’s success?
Chad was with us the first three years, then moved on. That’s when I brought (Bagby Beer Company founder) Jeff Bagby in to help me. He was there a number of years, and the last two years that slot’s been filled by (O’Brien’s Pub general manager) Tyson Blake. Throughout the whole time—from Chad to now—Chris Shadrick has run the homebrew competition and served as judging coordinator. He helps coordinate all the judges for the competition, as well. Tyson and I do the festival and entries, marketing and promotion of the competition and festival.

How are judges solicited for the competition?
We have two avenues. One is registering in the competition with the BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program). The SDIBF is posted on their website so all BJCP judges can see and access the event. What really sets SDIBF apart from most events is most BJCP-certified homebrewers don’t have the opportunity to judge professional beers. That’s a real carrot as far as enticing the judges. Secondly, we solicit through the local professional brewing community; from people who enter through the San Diego Brewers Guild and also, for the first time ever this year, through the craft-beer programs at UCSD and SDSU.

What can attendees to this year’s SDIBF look forward to?
There’ll be an expanded VIP area with food pairings and more space on the festival floor as we continually grow our footprint. We’re expecting beers from 15 countries, and the selection of beer in terms of number of different places it’s sent from will be unparalleled compared to any festival west of Denver’s Great American Beer Festival. Ditto the number of different beers and the diversity of international beers that we’ll have. We’ll also have a special beer, Steampunk Ale, a California common brewed specifically for the SDIBF by Abnormal Beer Company, and rare beer tappings throughout the festival.

Where is the SDIBF going?
The competition component is only going to continue to grow and we’re expanding our paid staff to accommodate that. The Del Mar Fairgrounds are doing everything they can to keep SDIBF growing at whatever pace it naturally grows at. If it doubled in the next 10 years, I don’t feel like there will end up being a cap. With the festival itself, there are a lot of interesting ideas. It’s always been my belief that the SDIBF will become enough of an event that, eventually, it won’t be part of the fair, but will instead take place as its own event over a weekend. I feel like for some connoisseurs, they don’t want to deal with the fair crowds, tickets, etc., but I do see us easily doing an independent festival. But having a presence at the fair is always important, so maybe we’ll do two events. I feel like part of the benefit for brewers is not only getting to expose their products to die-hard beer-fans, but also make new converts in an all-you-can-taste setting.

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Societe holding the (other) Olympics of Beer

May 25

societe4For as congenial and laden with heartfelt camaraderie as the brewing industry is, it is also extremely competitive. Proof of that is provided in the form of the World Beer Cup and other professional brewing competitions. Dubbed the “Olympics of Beer”, the World Beer Cup pits breweries from across the globe against each other for bragging rights where to-style brewing prowess is concerned. It’s one of the few times you really see brewers tense up in their open and fervent yen for recognition. Rather than subject their colleagues to this intense brand of stress, Societe Brewing Company (8262 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard, Kearny Mesa) is getting brewers together in a much more fun environment as part of its annual anniversary festivities. Enter, Societe Four.

Scheduled for noon on Saturday, June 11, Societe Four will feature teams of brewers from a variety of local and far-off craft breweries competing in a septet of beer-themed events. Confirmed teams thus include “ale-theletes” from AleSmith Brewing Company, Benchmark Brewing Company, Bitter Brothers Brewing Company, Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company, Mikkeller Brewing San Diego, Modern Times Beer Company, Pizza Port, The Rare Barrel and Second Chance Beer Company. The events they will participate in are as follows:

  • societe4mugStein Hold: A test of strength and will to see who can hold up a one-liter stein the longest.
  • Stein Chug: A test of fortitude to see who can consume the beer in that one-liter stein the fastest.
  • Yeast Water Balloon Toss: Coordination will be key when the ale-theletes toss and catch balloons filled with active yeast at continually expanding distances.
  • Wine Barrel Toss: Who can toss a used oak storage vessel the furthest? Let’s find out!
  • Washers: Described as “the traditional washer-toss brewer’s game.”
  • Tri-Clamp Puzzle Challenge: Brewers will use equipment provided to assemble a rig to see who can move water from one point to another the fastest.
  • Malt Pallet Down-Stack and Re-Stack plus Nut-Roll Eating Challenge: Teams of two will destack and restack a pallet of malt then consume one nut-roll each.

Gold, silver and bronze medals will be presented to winners in each event. All are welcomed to attend the event. Tickets can be purchased online, and include anniversary glassware. Every tap line at Societe’s tasting room will have a different beer pouring out of it and, while no beer was brewed specifically for the company’s anniversary, guests can expect some sudsy surprises to go with a day of outlandish (and no doubt very fun) competition.

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32 North Brewing opens Liberty Station tasting bar

May 23

32n_01Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station is the undisputed big-kid-on-the-block when it comes to beer in Point Loma’s Liberty Station development (it’s also San Diego’s largest restaurant). But it’s far from the only game in town. There are now a lot more ale-and-lager options, and they’re surrounding the gargoyle clan’s brewery-equipped resto. Slater’s 50/50 is on the same block, the recently opened Liberty Public Market brought with it the third iteration of popular bar and beer-shop hybrid Bottlecraft next-door, and last Friday, retail collective Moniker General soft-opened across a small side-street featuring a tasting-bar stocked with beers from Miramar’s 32 North Brewing Company.

32n_02Moniker General is 4,200-square-feet and also plays home to Moniker Coffee bar and various retailers managed by Other Sons. But getting back to the beer, 32 North owner Steve Peterson is excited to gain exposure beyond his Beeramar headquarters, and actually sees the proximity to Stone as a plus as that venue attracts numerous beer-fans looking for something new and interesting. This, despite the fact that a contractual clause instituted by Stone limits the number of beer taps 32 North can have to eight.

The bar is equipped with ten taps, so the remaining two will dispense kombucha and cold-brew coffee. The remainder are initially pouring Landfill Berliner weisse, Nautical Mile India pale ale, Pennant pale ale, Shelter Island blonde, Fly By Night nitro milk stout, Orange is the New Black porter, The Olde Ship Irish-style red ale and Common Theory hoppy wheat aale Ale. Those beers will be available on-site and to-go in growlers.

Moniker General is open Mondays and Tuesdays, 4 to 9 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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Stone Brewing opening Napa tap room

May 20
Napa, California's Borreo Building will house Stone Brewing Tap Room - Napa

Napa, California’s Borreo Building will house Stone Brewing Tap Room – Napa

They say it takes a lot of good beer to make good wine. The tons of empty bottles and cans littering vintners’ trash cans in wine-country is testament to that. Soon, those grape-driven artisans will have even more ales to fuel their endeavors—and seriously hoppy ales at that—courtesy of Stone Brewing. Today, the company announced that it will begin renovations to a space in Napa, California’s historic Borreo building to convert it into a venue that will go by the name Stone Brewing Tap Room – Napa

Located on the corner of Third Street and Soscol Avenue in downtown Napa, the 10,000-square-foot spot will include many of the same components as the Stone Brewing Tap Room abutting Petco Park in downtown San Diego’s East Village—a bar, on-site kitchen and merchandise availability. Unlike its local predecessor, the Napa iteration will bring outdoor-seating into the fold and be equipped with its very own 10-barrel pilot-brewery.

Beers produced in Napa will include riffs on core offerings as well as beers incorporating indigenous ingredients. Local edibles will also be folded into the food menu, which will take cues from its sister Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens restaurants. Much of that will be sourced from small, local, organic farms in and around Napa.

This announcement comes in the midst of construction on two of the company’s high-profile projects, Stone Brewing Richmond and Stone Brewing Berlin, both of which have experienced significant delays, but are on-track to open before the close of 2016. Stone Brewing Tap Room – Napa is scheduled to open sometime in 2017.

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