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Posts Tagged Homebrew

Getting Closer: Thorn Street Brewery in Barrio Logan

Mar 29

Equipment being delivered and installed two weeks ago at Thorn Street Brewery’s Barrio Logan facility.

It’s been a work in progress for more than a year, and they already celebrate their future digs care of a Mexican-style brew called Barrio Lager, but now Thorn Street Brewery’s brewing and cellaring equipment has arrived at its satellite facility in Barrio Logan. While the brewhouse is a month or so from being put to use, this is a significant milestone and the current estimate for public-debut of the venue’s tasting room is June.

Located at 1735 National Avenue, the 10,500-square-foot brewery is equipped with a 30-barrel brew system with a mix of 30-, 60- and 120-barrel fermenters. This will significantly increase Thorn Street’s production capacity to the tune of 30,000 barrels annually, allowing the formerly small operation ensconced in the quaint, two-story shell of a former North Park homebrew-supply store to grow beyond its humble, well-received beginnings. Thorn Street has signed on with Stone Brewing’s distribution company. The plan is to focus on San Diego County before considering new territories to go after.

But the brewery is only half the story here. Thorn Street also took over an identical warehouse next-door and has big plans for it that include the potential installation of a distillery, restaurant and retail collective. That’s a lot to fit into 10,500 square feet, but installation of a 6,000-square-foot outdoor patio is planned to help make room for the aforementioned concepts that are brought to fruition.

As for the brewery and its 750-square-foot tasting room, exact plans for opening festivities have yet to be finalized, but Thorn Street hopes to do something that really celebrates the community as well as the people and businesses who call it home. Something taking place in or for Chicano Park is something they would welcome. For now, it’s all about getting through the home-stretch; producing beer, finishing interiors and joining Border X Brewing and Iron Fist Brewing (who operate tasting rooms in the neighborhood) as Barrio Logan’s local-beer representatives by bringing the community its first brewery.


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Rouleur Brewing coming to new North County Brewery Igniter complex

Sep 15

rouleur-label-test-emboss-2To consistently, meticulously and yet conspicuously create rule-bending beer—with the most discerning of recipes and ingredients—that commands the attention of both Cicerones and novices alike. It’s a U.S.S. Enterprise-like mission-statement that’s more put together than those of most breweries (the majority of which don’t even have a mission-statement), which makes it pretty impressive coming from an operation that has yet to open. But such is the level of attention homebrewer Rawley Macias is applying to his upcoming venture, Rouleur Brewing Company (5840 El Camino Real, Suite 101, Carlsbad).

Macias is an engineer by trade—a common vocation among brewers, which provides extremely useful skill-sets for dealing with complex day-to-day brewing, plumbing, electrical and mechanical issues. On top of that, he has been brewing beer for more than 10 years and is an experienced beer-judge. While training for judging certification and examining many a beer over the years, he started to question why there are so many rules to adhere to in terms of color, flavor and other beer traits. When homebrewing, he began experimenting with hybrid styles and less-traditional ingredients, and enjoyed the results. He entered these creations in beer competitions and regularly received praise for his flavor profiles and drinkability, but was regularly disqualified for being outside of style guidelines. It was from these experiences that Macias came up with the idea that eventually blossomed into Rouleur.

The name Rouleur comes from another of Macias’ pursuits—cycling. Translated from French, it means “roller” and refers to cyclists who are savvy, precise in their preparation and execution, and well-equipped for any ride. As Macias puts it, “rouleurs are able to break the rules because they transcend them, but they are usually understated off the bike, preferring to let their legs do the talking.” Like the mission-statement above, this is heady stuff. Bringing the brand to fruition will take time, but Macias will have it while H.G. Fenton completes construction on the third of its Brewery Igniter sites in Carlsbad. (H.G. Fenton’s other Brewery Igniter turnkey facilities are located in Miramar and North Park.) The company projects a move-in date of February 1, which will likely mean a March 2017 debut for Rouleur.

The strategic installation of the new Brewery Igniter complex will create a “brewery row” of sorts for inland Carlsbad. Rouleur and its Brewery Igniter neighbors, Wiseguy Brewing  (an upcoming business reported on last month) will be located on El Camino Real, just south of the business complex that houses Arcana Brewing Company, Guadalupe Brewery and On-The-Tracks Brewery, and less than a mile west of the newly established Culver Beer Company and Pizza Port’s Bressi Ranch production-brewery and restaurant. Rouleur’s space will total 2,097 square feet, including a 420-square-foot tasting room, bathroom, office, walk-in cold-box, brewery and cellar.

Despite his cycling inspiration, Macias says Rouleur will not have an aesthetic or environment geared toward sports or its enthusiasts. It will be more a center for thoughtful tasting of his beers (sometimes in tandem with fine cheeses). Initially, Macias will create those beers on his own—moving up to a 10-barrel professional system from the half-barrel, semi-automated domestic rig he’s been using since 2005—but aims to eventually bring on a consulting brewer, A.G. Stoll, who served as the founding brewmaster of Buellton-based Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company (where he won over 100 medals in four years), before moving on to kickstart Killarney Brewing Company’s BrauKon facility in Kerry, Ireland, and subsequently became director of brewery operations for South Florida’s largest production-brewery, Funky Buddha Brewery.

Macias plans to open with a sextet of year-round beers. They will be loosely identifiable as a blonde ale, India pale ale, golden strong ale, etc., but none of them will follow traditional style guidelines. Other seasonal, specialty and experimental beers will also be offered, and be produced at a rate of 1,850 barrels per-year in toto.

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Littles going big bear route with Bear Roots Brewing

Aug 16

bearroots_AWhen we first met Terry and Page Little, they were installing a nano-brewery into their business, Vista’s Home Brew Supply. They weren’t the first to do so (ever heard of a wee operation called Home Brew Mart which spawned the fairly sizeable billion-dollar Ballast Point Brewery & Spirits?), but of the recent crop of suppliers-turned-manufacturers—including The Home Brewer’s Home Brewing Company and Carlsbad Brew Supply’s Guadalupe Brewery—their Bear Roots Brewing Company has gained the most and fastest traction with customers. As previously reported, it’s inspired the Littles to think bigger, enough that they have made the concrete decision to expand their brewery. Now, all they have to do is decide how they want to go about doing that.

The Littles are mulling two options. The first would see them assembling a three-barrel system in their current building on Santa Fe Avenue near Vista’s Old Town area. It would also entail implementation of a program called “brewing success and changing the culture”, which would involve corporate and small-business teams coming to Bear Roots for private brewing sessions. A team-building exercise of sorts, with participants being taught about brewing; everything from logistics to ingredients to processes and even marketing of the finished product. The Littles foresee release-parties for beers produced via this program, wherein program participants reassemble with friends and family to taste the fruits of their brew-day. While there is a brew-it-yourself operation called Citizen Brewers in Grantville, this would be the only local production operation offering such an experience.

Option-number-two would involve the Littles moving the brewery off-site to a larger production-geared facility that would house a 10- or 15-barrel brewhouse. This would include construction of a small tasting room and the ability to distribute Bear Roots beers into the market. The homebrew store would continue to operate as it currently does were this plan to be enacted. Should they go this route and the operation prove successful, the Littles would aim to open a larger tasting room and brewery “training center” in adjacent business suites that would include a “very interactive” homebrew store.

Aside from production, the Littles site a strong desire to share their passion for craft-beer with as many people as possible, hence the team-building and educational endeavors built into both of their plans. Terry has professional background in business and team management from the day-job he will be walking away from to go all-in with Bear Roots. The Littles estimate having their expansion plans completed by October. Timing on debut of the next phase of their business will depend on which direction they go at this meaningful fork in the road.

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Beer of the Week: Belching Beaver Peaches Be Crazy

Jul 1
Belching Beaver Brewery Tavern & Grill's Peaches Be Crazy pale ale

Belching Beaver Brewery Tavern & Grill’s Peaches Be Crazy pale ale

From the Beer Writer: It took me a while to get up to Belching Beaver Brewery Tavern & Grill, but the delay served me well in that, by the time I came in, a good number of beers from Thomas Peters (BB’s director of quality assurance and master of the brewpub’s 10-barrel system) were up for grabs. Peters’ goal is to brew one-offs that are both traditional and unique. On the to-style front, a Helles is everything one would want from that refreshing Germanic lager. But I was most taken with Belching Beaver Peaches Be Crazy, a 5.2% alcohol-by-volume pale ale brewed with copious amounts of peach purée and Galaxy hops. After coming in from our current heat-wave, this beer welcomed me and downed my core-temp in the most refreshing and delicious manner possible. It also did a nice job washing down the Tavern’s fair-like fried squash and andouille corn-dog appetizers. Next up on Peters’ brew schedule are an Ameican IPA brewed for the Deftones, a sour Belgian-style wit with hibiscus, rose-hips and chamomile, and the Pilsner recipe from West Coaster columnist Ryan Reschan that just took gold at this year’s National Homebrew Competition.

From the Brewer: “Peaches Be Crazy is an easy-drinking pale ale brewed for the hot summer months. The goal was to complement the big stone fruit qualities of Australian Galaxy hops with the bright flavors of puréed peaches. I used a very soft water profile to keep the beer clean with a crisp finish. The peach flavor is enough to balance the flavor of the hops and does not overwhelm, making this beer very drinkable and a perfect sipper for our outdoor patio at the Tavern.”—Thomas Peters, Director of Quality Assurance, Belching Beaver Brewery

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Beer Touring: Bear Roots Brewing

Jun 23

bearroots_01It’s only been open since December, but already the husband-and-wife founders of Bear Roots Brewing and Home Brew Shop (1213 Santa Fe Street, Vista) are convinced enough by early success that it’s time to take a plunge into the deep-end of the brewing industry. During the last stop of a day of beer-touring, I conversed with brewer Terry Little, who is pushing all of his chips to the center of the table, expanding his fermentation space to match the growing demand for his liquid wares. With only six months under his business’ belt, you’re probably wondering what I was—is the beer good enough to warrant such faith? My answer is yes.

Bear Roots Brewing owner and brewer Terry Little

Bear Roots Brewing owner and brewer Terry Little

The beer is good enough. In fact, the day I was there, the beer was of better quality from top-to-bottom than most of the newer breweries I’ve visited in 2016. Quality alone won’t dictate whether early expansion will pay off, but it’s the most important factor for a brewery-owner to consider. And it will be interesting to see how (the currently aptly named) Little does ramping things up with the little brewery he’s installed within his homebrew shop. The new operation has nearly eclipsed the original after installation of a bar and abutting cold-box plus enough seating to accommodate the steady flow of patrons coming in mostly for beer as opposed to the ingredients and mechanisms for producing their own.

bearroots_02On my visit, a half-dozen beers were available. Others had sold out, a common occurrence at Bear Roots, where the house-beers are produced in small, two-barrel batches after double brew-days on Little’s one-barrel system. Fortunately, a house favorite, Bear Cookie, was up for grabs. A chocolate-peanut butter stout brewed with raw cocoa, naked oats, English malts and noble hops, it’s a dessert-lovers beery dream come true. Nutty, chocolaty and coating, it’s soothing like a glass of warm milk, but at just 6.66% alcohol-by-volume (ABV), it won’t put you to sleep like that moo-juice.

bearroots_03Beers on the non-roasty side of the spectrum were also very impressive. I particularly enjoyed Rooted in Nelson, a bone-dry American India pale ale (IPA) with Nelson Sauvin hops added at every stage of brewing and fermentation. Passion-fruit with a touch of toastiness best describes its aroma, while the flavor profile is Sauvignon Blanc grapes with watercress-like bitterness and a touch of pink-peppercorn spice. Brewed with Mosaic and Simcoe hops, Bear Roots American pale ale had a similarly peppery finish, a nose of fresh-cut grass and a light-body that made it incredibly crushable.

bearroots_05Less satisfying was Edinburgh, an English-style pale ale that was to-style, but pretty dull—a typical San Diego beer-fan lament. For my money, I preferred Bite the Bullet, a Belgian-style tripel aged multiple months on bourbon whiskey-soaked oak-chips. At 12.6% ABV it’s big and sweet, as one might expect, but not overly boozy. Orangey yeast esters mesh well with a honey sweetness and light vanilla notes.

There’s no telling what the future holds for Bear Roots, but with beer that not only exhibits zero defects but tastes good while offering substantial diversity (provided not too many kegs blow during service), the basis for a brighter tomorrow is there.

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