When I first met Alex Van Horne he was looking to install a sci-fi-themed brewery in Poway. The plot reminded me of that of Jim Crute, who installed his science-themed Lightning Brewery in Poway a half-decade or so before. Crute sold his manufacturing assets to Orange County-based Cismontane Brewing Company earlier this month after failing to find a buyer for his struggling operation. Though Van Horne eventually opened his Intergalactic Brewing Company in the Miramar community, his plot-line remains similar to Crute’s. Today, the business-owner and brewmaster announced that he is beginning the process of “exploring all options” for the future of his brewery, “including, but not limited to, putting the business assets up for sale.”
Van Horne says he opened his business with insufficient capital; a mere $25,000. In spite of this, Intergalactic earned a strong cult following, enough that the award-winning brewery was able to take over a larger suite in Intergalactic’s business-park home and convert it to a tasting room, in turn expanding brewing operations at the original location. Still, Van Horne says that over the past year “it has become increasingly obvious that the brewery in its current formulation is not able to provide a stable economic foundation [for him and his wife] to begin the next chapters of [their] lives.”
Van Horne has sought out investors, but did not secure enough money to sufficiently modernize his brewery. So the boot-strapping continued, and it went rather well, but this may be the end for Intergalactic in its current form. He will be fielding inquiries from interested parties and, with any luck, the brand will survive, but Intergalactic may go the way of Lightning, and Van Horne may bow out of the brewing industry altogether. But for now, the business remains open. Van Horne hopes to see long-time fans in the coming months, so they—and he—can enjoy the brewery in its current form. Van Horne says he is “infinitely grateful” for the help and support he has received from his contemporaries in the craft-beer industry. He is keen to stay aboard for his brewery’s next chapter, but will be alright even if that’s not in the cards. “At the end of the day, it’s a business,” he says. “I’ll still have my friends, colleagues and many customers supporting me wherever I go or whatever I do. That’s the most rewarding part.”
Winners of the San Diego International Beer Festival’s professional brewing competition were released today. A component of the San Diego County Fair’s annual festivities, the competition included entries from across the globe judged by professional beer judges and Southern California brewing professionals in late-April. A total of 68 medals were awarded to San Diego-based breweries. Of that number, 23 were gold, 21 were silver and 24 were bronze.
San Diego breweries won all three medals in eight categories: American-style Red/Amber Ale, Bitter, Bold Stout, Brett and Other Sour Beer, German-style Ale, German-style Weiss, Imperial Stout and Pilsener. Miramar-based AleSmith Brewing Company once again took home Champion Brewery honors behind three medals—a gold and silver in the same category (one of which was awarded to a Scotch ale) and a gold in the Barley Wine category.
The most local medals went to Pizza Port. That brewpub’s Carlsbad brewpub also won a gold and two silvers. Its Ocean Beach arm won two (one gold, one bronze) and Bressi Ranch production brewery earned a silver. The most medals awarded to a single brewery went to San Marcos’ Rip Current Brewing Company and less-than-a-year-old North Park interest Eppig Brewing. Both of those companies earned a gold, silver and two bronzes. San Marcos’ The Lost Abbey and South Park Brewing Company earned three medals apiece, as well. Also impressive was Rip Current winning two of three medals in the German-style Bock category.
The following is a complete list of the winners from this years SDIBF…
The three-day public beer-fest portion of the SDIBF will take place at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, Friday, June 16 through Sunday, June 18. Tickets and information can be found online.
It’s never too early to report on a work-in-progress brewing company. Even when such budding interests have no location, the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and, as a journalist, I’ve always enjoyed tapping into aspiring business-peoples’ concepts before masons break out the brick and mortar. Today, I’m providing a very early look at Downbeat Brewing Company, the brainchild of James Ruane, who has been working on this project for nearly a year.
Originally, Ruane envisioned himself opening a café or restaurant, but after catching the homebrewing bug, he shifted his focus to the ale-game. At this point, it’s looking like his operation will become a reality and debut to the public between spring and autumn of next year. First, he needs to find just the right spot, and he has been scouting locations in Rancho Bernardo and the areas around Mission Gorge Road. The opportunity to pull good after-work crowds from surrounding businesses is big to Ruane and his team, which consists of his father, Jim Ruane (a homebrewer and BJCP-certified beer judge), and creative director Natalie Cruz.
Once it’s time to get to producing beer, James will handle the brewing duties. His goal is to make hop-forward, aromatic brews that are very drinkable, while producing a number of easy-going, non-hoppy styles so there’s enough variety to appeal to most potential customers’ palates. As one might expect, beers will have musically themed names like a Mosaic and Citra-hopped Allegro IPA (a tempo reference), Sonata Honey Ginger Blonde, Prelude Oatmeal Coffee Stout and C-Chord Session IPA.
Downbeat will be a relatively small brewery, producing around 500 barrels per-year to start, using a seven-barrel Premier Stainless brewhouse, and double-batching into 15-barrel fermentation tanks. The business-plan has the business bottling within the first six months and distributing 22-ounce bottles and four-packs of 16-ounce cans by Year Three. Of course, quaffing of those ales will also be possible at Downbeat’s tasting room, which will be outfitted with a casual, early-1900s piano-bar feel. Of course, they’d like live-music to be in the cards, City of San Diego willing.
Even this early on, Ruane and company have already received a good amount of help from members of San Diego’s brewing scene, including the owners of Benchmark Brewing Company and Intergalactic Brewing Company, two businesses well-known for consistently lending helping hands to aspiring industry entrants.