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Posts Tagged craftbeer

Beer of the Week: The Lost Abbey Madonna and Child

Oct 21
The Lost Abbey Madonna & Child

The Lost Abbey Madonna and Child

From the Beer Writer: Over the past two years or so, with the rising popularity of goses, salt-infused sour ales originating in the Goslar region of Germany, beers with added salinity have become more common and given way to multiple breweries’ attempts at ales brewed to taste like Margaritas. Most of these beers fall far short of the promise of a brightly citrusy, salty quaff that comes anywhere close to resembling Mexico’s tequila-laced flagship cocktail. But when San Marcos’ The Lost Abbey announced it had tried its hand at a Margarita beer, I felt pangs of hope. Their attempt, The Lost Abbey Madonna and Son, was more involved than others’ attempts, a blend of beers aged in tequila barrels with lime and salt added. It certainly sounds like a logical go at a Margarita beer, but like most, if not all, it’s a fail at mimicking that tipple. But that doesn’t mean this beer isn’t interesting as all get out. Dark brown and muddy in appearance, it’s rich with oak and spirit notes, but uplifted by intense lime tartness. The salt is all in the finish and, even then, its very faint. Unlike any beer anywhere, it’s an anomaly that tests the limits of one’s palate. It’s not a Margarita, but it is a step toward a brewery’s growing understanding of the most rangy and unpredictable type of barrels around.

From the Brewer: Madonna and Child is a beer we have been wanting to create for some time now. A base agave-ale spiked with lime and salt, and aged in resposado Tequila barrels, it’s our take on the flavors of a Margarita, which is a staple in our world. While it did take close to 30 different blends to get to the finished product, thanks to the patience exhibited by [our director of brewery production and quality assurance]  Gwen Conley and her crew of blenders, we’re extremely happy with how Madonna and Child turned out. This is the second Tequila barrel-aged beer The Lost Abbey has released, Agave Maria being the first, and with how well we think it came out, it has us excited to create another!”—Tomme Arthur, Director of Brewery Operations, The Lost Abbey/Port Brewing Co./The Hop Concept

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Best Beer Futures: South

Oct 20

eppig_01Last week, I wrote about four upcoming brewing companies showing the greatest potential for success (in my personal estimation). I kept my focus on projects located in the northern half of San Diego. Today, I’ve panned to the county’s southern half, and the many new breweries and brewery-owned venues currently in the works.

Eppig Brewing Company, North Park: There’s a generational gap between the current regime heading the revival of this legacy interest, but familial pride and a brewing team hailing from billion-dollar baby Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits should make for a solid mix of beers, running the full spectrum from hoppy West-Coast ales and more outlandish, modern creations to the traditional lagers that formed the basis of the original Eppig Brewing’s portfolio and allowed the business to boom in New York from the mid-1800s to 1935. This reboot is scheduled to open the first week of November at the new Brewery Igniter complex on El Cajon Boulevard in North Park.

Thr3e Punk Ales Brewing Company, Chula Vista: What started as brew-buds and business partners renting time on Butchers Brewing’s (since re-concepted to Finest Made Ales) Santee brewhouse is being grown into a full-on business that will call a three-story building (if you count the brewery and barrel-storage base-floor in the cellar) in downtown Chula Vista home. This operation’s brews have been decently distributed and mostly well received over the past year-plus, and should only get better once the brewers have their very own machinery and all the time in the world with which to utilize it.

Pariah Brewing Company, North Park: Local brewer Brian Mitchell spent the first years of his career toiling away executing the agendas of owners he didn’t see eye-to-eye with at (now closed) La Jolla Brew House and Helm’s Brewing Company, before becoming part of the small-batch brewing team at Stone Brewing. Now, he’s hammering out the final phases of his very own passion-project, one which will aim to churn out beers that please—and periodically challenge—drinkers’ palates. Mitchell will be neighbors with Eppig Brewing and fellow Brewery Igniter North Park tenants San Diego Brewing Company.

Barrel Rescue Brewing Company, Kearny Mesa: It’s one of the smallest and most unique “boutique” concepts being taken from fantasy to reality status currently, but it’s coming along nicely. A couple whose love of rescuing canines and penchant for beer brought them together have collected a wealth of used barrels from parts far-and-wide, for use in aging extremely small batches of various beers at their future home in Kearny Mesa. Governmental hoops are currently being leaped through, but already a lovely, contemporary outdoor patio has been erected, insuring a nice place to sample their eventual ales.

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Catching up with Belching Beaver

Oct 18
The facade of Belching Beaver's new tasting room in Ocean Beach

The facade of Belching Beaver’s new tasting room in Ocean Beach

Belching Beaver Brewery’s growth has been some of the fastest and most obvious of any local brewing company. What started as a single, Vista-based brewery operation has come to include (in order of construction) a North Park tasting room, Oceanside production brewery, Vista indoor-outdoor brewpub and, as of last month, a second satellite tasting room in Ocean Beach. It’s a lot of properties to manage. Might there be some sort of potential consolidation in the works…or perhaps even more expansion. A recent conversation with Belching Beaver owner Tom Vogel confirms that anything is possible, but nothing has been decided.

Even with two brewhouses in Vista—a 15-barrel system at the original headquarters plus a 10-barrel system at the brewpub—and 60,000 annual production capacity at its current Oceanside base of operations, Vogel would like to add a small production facility to his empire. This one would be outside San Diego, within Los Angeles’ budding beer-scene. He would also like to see a tasting room or two connecting the dots from SD to LA in Orange County.

Belching Beaver is currently scouting both LA and the OC for potential sites. Vogel is currently focusing on Tustin and Huntington Beach on the tasting-room front, and sees Culver City as an advantageous spot for a production facility. He actually attempted to sign a lease on a space within that community, but parking issues squashed the deal. Should a brewery be installed in LA, it will be much smaller than Belching Beaver’s others, likely a system coming in at under 5,000 barrels in batch-size.

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Meet Overtime Biz & Brews

Oct 17
Overtime Brew's original homebrewed creations

Overtime Brew’s original homebrewed creations

There are more than 130 operating breweries in San Diego County…and Overtime Brew isn’t one of them. But it aims to work with as many of them as possible. Also going by the name Overtime Biz & Brews, the project is the dynamic brainchild of business professionals who ramped up a one-off holiday brewing project, and turned it into something bigger, a driver for networking based around local beer.

It all started in 2013 when seven employees of marketing and digital-design firm Ninthlink had the idea to homebrew several beers and dress them up with branded 22-ounce bottles to hand out as gifts for clients and serve at their annual holiday-party. This initiative went well, enough that the group contemplated opening their own brewery, but that idea was soon shelved. It wasn’t until the group was in need of a new base of operations that they got anywhere near professional brewing equipment. That unexpected happening occurred when they began subletting office-space from Grantville’s Benchmark Brewing Company.

As a thank-you to Benchmark’s owners for leasing them the space, the group floated the notion of “collaboration beer” they would brew with their new landlords, then market under at a special event called The IM (internet marketing) Brew Party. They proceeded, producing KP IPA this June. As they marketed the event around that beer and interest grew, they decided to dust off the Overtime moniker and use it to further brand the entire operation and frame this brewery-firm collaborative concept. The event went well, but even before it took place, the Ninthlink team started receiving inquiries from other breweries interested in collaborating.

Miramar’s Mikkeller Brewing San Diego worked with Overtime to brew #Overtime IPA (also known as Hasthag IPA), and a tag-team beer is currently in the works with Kearny Mesa’s Council Brewing Company. In all cases, both parties agree upon a style to brew, including target-ABV (alcohol-by-volume), grain and hop profiles. From there, the entire Overtime crew participates in the labor of the brew-day, then sets to work marketing, using the beer as the focal point of events that draw business professionals together primarily for networking purposes, though the plan is to branch out and make the events more communal in nature.

Says Overtime’s Jeremy Stallings, “In this age of social networking, there is nothing social about social networking, so, yeah, we are bringing face-to-face experiences with ‘no trolls’ to put the social back in social networking…with beer. Enjoying beer, learning about business, exchanging values, broadening networks and doing great things in the community—that is what we are all about.”

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Beer of the Week: North Park Darkness Refined

Oct 14
North Park Beer Co. Darkness Refined Imperial Stout

North Park Beer Co. Darkness Refined Imperial Stout

From the Beer Writer: There are few breweries as downright lovely as North Park Beer Co. Outfitted in beautiful woods, from furniture to facings, it’s a sight to behold and the kind of place that is easy to spend a great deal of time enjoying tasty beers. As if this expansive, two-story newcomer weren’t enough on its own, it recently welcomed the addition of an on-site food-dispensary when local foodtruck standout Mastiff Sausage Company‘s brick-and-mortar went live on the base floor at the beginning of October. To celebrate that meaty addition, North Park Beer held its official grand-opening, a soiree that included in-house food, an insane list of guest beers (the presence of which, both at that event and on the everyday tap-list, are made possible by Mastiff’s license) and a house beer brewed specifically for the event, North Park Darkness Refined. Despite being a whopping 10% alcohol-by-volume, this imperial stout drinks easy, coming across smooth and velvety on the palate. And it’s big on chocolatiness, but not in a bittersweet way. At some point, trendiness started to dictate the misconception that any residual sweetness in a beer is a bad thing, a sign of poor craftsmanship, but that’s incorrect. This beer proves that such sweetness can be a beautiful thing. The mild sugars of Darkness Refined make it more of a milk or semisweet chocolate experience rather than the dry, nearly ashy (and not all that pleasant) profile common with imperial stouts that strive for intense dryness. North Park Beer founder Kelsey McNair consulted Mastiff’s tagline, “Manliness Refined” when naming this gentle giant. In the case of the beer and the restaurant, it’s an apt moniker. Look for more on Mastiff, including a Thanksgiving recipe and info on a special holiday sausage that will soon be available in conjunction with it in the November issue of West Coaster.

From the Brewer: “I had planned to brew 30 barrels of my dry-stout recipe for no particular reason (aside from the fact that I quite like the beer), but instead opted to make something fun for our grand-opening. So, I took said dry-stout grist and condensed it down to a 10-barrel batch. I also added an extra long boil to further develop the malt flavors, a bit of Black Patent malt to push some of the roast intensity, and a couple bags of dextrose to give the gravity an extra boost. I remember on brew-day the wort smelled intense and very much like black-strap molasses going into the fermenter. The result is a rich and velvety beer expressing big chocolate cake-like flavors and roasty highlights that mingle with dark dried fruits such as raisins and prunes, and some cola-like nuances in the background, plus a hint of espresso. The body is full and drinks very smooth, finishing with some pleasant, boozy warmth balanced by just enough sweetness to not be too heavy or cloying. The beer is jet-black and has a thick dark brown sugar-colored head. This is Darkness Refined.”Kelsey McNair, Owner & Brewmaster, North Park Beer Co.

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