Yesterday, Ballast Point Brewing president Marty Birkel informed employees at the company’s Scripps Ranch brewery and tasting room that beer-production would soon cease. The brewing company—San Diego County’s largest—is moving forward with plans to relocate much of its production and bottling equipment to its pair of Miramar locations, its 107,000-square-foot headquarters and primary production brewery in on Carroll Way and cross-street production and warehouse facility on Trade Street.
An internal communique clearly stated that no employees will be terminated in conjunction with this development. Staff at Scripps Ranch will be transferred along with many of the apparatuses they’ve worked with for the past decade-plus. As Birkel puts it, “It’s an opportunity to take the best of what’s worked at Scripps and bring it to Miramar to continue to improve the quality of our beers.” Birkel says the company will relocate equipment from Scripps Ranch’s quality-assurance lab and use those items as the base for a second, larger lab at its HQ. Also coming over is Scripps’ kegging and bottling lines and metal shop. The latter will be installed at Trade Street, in the third of the building not being used for sour or barrel-aged beer production.
Ballast Point is looking to establish a brewing “campus” in Miramar. Birkel says he and his colleagues still need to figure out exactly what a brewing campus is and will entail and says Ballast Point will remain open to acquiring additional structures as future growth opportunities present themselves. When constructing the company’s East Coast brewery in Daleville, Virginia, the company was sure to select a site with plenty of options for appurtenant growth.
As far as the future of the Scripps Ranch facility, Birkel feels that, at around 24,000 square feet, it provides ample space as well as a proven, highly efficient brewhouse that has served Ballast Point well. The vast majority of the indoor fermentation tanks will remain in place, while most of the outdoor tanks will be relocated to Miramar, but the bones for brewing success will remain. This includes the patio-equipped tasting room, which will remain in operation under the Ballast Point flag until a new tenant takes over the space.
When asked about the ideal tenant, Birkel specifically noted the wealth of quality local breweries he felt were capable of making a go on a larger scale at Scripps Ranch. Ballast Point currently has a very short list of local breweries that could be good fits and is consulting with BP vice president and San Diego industry veteran Colby Chandler to identify other well-suited interests. The company also notes that, with so many ex-Ballast Point brewers making names for themselves and their new breweries, there are a number of Scripps Ranch facility alums who know its brewhouse backward and forward.
Birkel predicts all machinery and employees will be transferred from Scripps Ranch by summer. With much of Ballast Point’s specialty beers brewed in Scripps Ranch, he says it’s essential to have those capabilities operative at headquarters by then.
The Scripps Ranch facility opened in 2006. It was the second location for a then-small brewery, coming on as an offshoot from the business’ original location as an enclave to Linda Vista’s Home Brew Mart. Over the years, a tasting room was installed, then expanded, then expanded again to include a patio. Behind the scenes, brewing and cellar capacity increased, a distilling operation was added (that led to what is now Miramar’s Cutwater Spirits) along with a speakeasy. Though not as visible as Ballast Point’s other locations, it was arguably the most influential and important of them all from a historic perspective.
Winners from the 2017 edition of the Great American Beer Festival were announced earlier this morning. Held annually by brewing-industry trade organization, the Brewers Association, in Denver, Colorado, this year’s GABF saw nearly 8,000 beers entered by more than 2,000 breweries in 98 style categories. 293 were awarded gold, silver and bronze medals after being evaluated by 276 judges. GABF is the country’s largest and most prestigious professional brewing competition. San Diego County breweries have historically fared incredibly well. This year saw another strong showing with the region’s brewers racking up double-digit awards.
Eleven local brewing companies brought home 14 medals this time around, including five golds in the Robust Porter (Second Chance Beer Co.) Honey Beer (Karl Strauss Brewing Company‘s Carlsbad brewpub), Imperial India Pale Ale (Ballast Point Brewing) Other Specialty Belgian Ale (Stone Brewing World Brewing & Gardens – Liberty Station) and Session Beer (Pizza Port‘s Ocean Beach brewpub) categories. That went along with six silver medals and three bronzes.
Notable is the fact only one individual brewing facility in the county won more than one medal, Carmel Mountain Ranch’s Second Chance with a gold and a silver. Newly launched SouthNorte Brewing Company garnered a bronze medal in the Specialty Beer category for a beer called AgaveMente that hasn’t even been released to the public yet. And Monkey Paw Brewing, which Coronado acquired earlier this year, earned a silver medal in the English-style Summer Ale category. Also, Vista-based Mother Earth Brew Co. medaled in the Fresh or Wet Hop Ale category for Fresh As It Gets, a beer brewed at its Nampa, Idaho production facility.
Adding to the unofficial medal count was Belching Beaver Brewery, which for the second time in its history won top honors at the Alpha King Competition. Held in conjunction with GABF each year, this friendly competition crowns the brewing company that submits the hoppiest offering amid a stacked field of IPAs. Belching Beaver previously won Alpha King in 2014. On top of that, Chula Vista Brewery owners Timothy and Dalia Parker received the Samuel Adams Brewing and Business Experienceship, following in the footsteps of Ramona-based ChuckAlek Independent Brewers, who earned the same opportunity in 2014.
The following is a complete list of the winners from brewing facilities located within San Diego County…
Before Ballast Point Brewing was a company capable of commanding decuple figures, before it grew into San Diego County’s largest brewery and one of the biggest beer-producers in the country, before there even was a brewery called Ballast Point, there was Home Brew Mart (HBM). That Linda Vista hobby shop—one of the first to grace America’s Finest City—opened quietly in 1992 and, over the following quarter-century, has ignited a fire for recreational fermentation within a great many ale-and-lager neophytes. That includes individuals who now own breweries and brew professionally. Some of that contingent even worked for HBM in its early days. In celebration of the big two-five, Ballast Point is creating Family Reunion collaboration beers with those ex-employees as well as former BP brewers, an impressive assemblage of well-known, award-winning talent.
Several of the beers have already been released, while others are scheduled to be brewed in time for them to all be on-tap at HBM’s 25th anniversary event on September 24. The following is a breakdown of the collaborators, their creations and their past.
In an effort to increase its current employee base’s knowledge on the history of BP and its eldest venue, vice president Colby Chandler asked each collaborator to speak to present-day brewers about their time with the company, how it was then and how it prepared them to venture out on their own. Many said that making beer at such a fast-growing brewing company provided them wide-ranging experience as well as reference points for overcoming myriad obstacles. According to Chandler, many brewery owners, in particular, felt their time with BP made it much easier once they were working for themselves.
In addition to the HBM anniversary event, BP is also holding a series of beer-pairing dinners incorporating the aforementioned collaboration brews at HBM. The next will take place on August 24 and include five courses served with Swemiceros, Bay to Bay, Scripps Tease and various other BP beers. Chandler, Tweet, Stephens, LeBlanc and Ceniceros will all be in attendance.
Brett Gent lived in Linda Vista and passed vaunted recreational supply-store, Home Brew Mart, almost daily. On one such day, he finally turned his steering wheel, pulled into the driveway, entered the store and purchased his first home-brew kit. Ten years after that watershed occasion, he is in the process of opening his own brewery, and its name was inspired by the movie that was playing during his first day using the aforementioned kit—Goodfellas. As he mashed in, boiled and lautered, one word kept getting thrown around via that cinematic classic…wise-guy. As a result, Carlsbad residents can look forward to receiving Wiseguy Brewing Company come the front-end of 2017.
Over the past decade, Gent won numerous awards for his home-brewed ales and lagers, leading him and his father, Tom, to take things to the next level. Wiseguy will be located near the McClellan-Palomar Airport off El Camino Real, and have a tasting room equipped with around 10 taps. Gent likes breweries where visitors have a communally driven experience that allow for the striking up of conversations and friendships, so he plans to lean in that direction with his sampling site. Aesthetically, the team will aim for a beach theme, using imagery from Gent’s brother—a professional photographer—to help convey that.
Wiseguy will have a 10-barrel brewhouse and a cellar consisting of five 20-barrel fermenters. Gent says he is a fan of all styles, but is a card-carrying hop-head. So, there will be a number of India pale ales and other hoppy beers augmented by a pilsner and German classics such as an altbier, doppelbock, schwarzbier, dunkelweizen and more. But don’t expect a Brett beer. Despite the fact it would be his namesake creation, Gent is a purist where beer is concerned, to the point where he also won’t be adding fruits, flora or other adjuncts to his beers.
Above all, Gent wants to create high-quality beer. With this being San Diego County, a hotbed of brewing ingenuity and success, he says he knows there will always be a bigger or better brewery than his, but also states he’s not in this for the money. He says getting into the brewing business is all about his legitimate love for beer, and that his main goal is for people to leave Wiseguy feeling every beer they had was really good.