From the Beer Writer: When endeavoring to locate Division 23 Brewing Company for the first time, one relies heavily on a series of A-frame signs leading from Trade Street through a labyrinthian Miramar industrial park. In addition to helpful arrows, those signs tout the amenities of that business’ tasting room, including “air conditioning.” Talk about an understatement. Division 23 is a spin-off business of HVAC company, DMG Corporation, the offices for which are directly above the brewery and tasting room. Both are equipped with numerous sample units mounted on the ceiling directly above plush seating, a trio of TVS, shuffleboard and a ping-pong table. A beer drinker couldn’t ask for a cushier place to imbibe. Equally as comforting is Division 23 Helles Yeah!, a to-style take on a type of lager that, despite its high level of drinkability and compatibility with nearly year-round sunshine, isn’t widely produced in San Diego. With its scone-like touch of sweetness and light earthiness, it’s a less hop-forward lager that goes down easy and will appeal to many, especially those less familiar with craft who may be turned off by the bitterness of, say, a Pilsner. Spend an afternoon drinking this beer in what it is one of the coolest tasting rooms in the county, both literally and figuratively.
From the Brewer: “Here at Division 23, we love when fall comes around in San Diego. Not only is the weather perfect for tipping a pint, but German-style beers start popping up all over town. We have also been in love with lagers lately, so to celebrate the season we decided to brew a traditional German Helles. Light in color, big in body, our Helles Yeah! starts off a little sweet and finishes crisp and dry…with a little lingering floral hoppiness on the tongue. It’s a great beer to soak in the season.”—Jimmy Lewis, Brewer, Division 23 Brewing Company
From the Beer Writer: If there’s any gringo brewer that’s going to do right by both San Diego and Baja, it’s Ryan Brooks. He has lived a cross-cultural life, residing in Tijuana and working with brewers spanning as far east as Mexicali, soaking up the cross-border brewing culture along the way. Brooks is so enamored with the exciting things happening in his adopted region’s brewing scene that his new business, SouthNorte Beer Company (a spin-off brand of parent-operation Coronado Brewing Company), aims to celebrate the flavors and ingredients of Mexico along with the personal brewing heritage he amassed in Southern California. A key component to doing so is forging a flagship Mexican-style lager, and Brooks has done so with SouthNorte Sea Señor. Rather than rely on bells, whistles and adjuncts to add extra character, this inaugural 4.5% alcohol-by-volume offering is as true-to-form as it gets, relying on traditional ingredients to produce a crystal-clear, clean and incredibly refreshing beer. Tinged with the slightest bit of sweetness and complimentary herbal notes (think thyme and marjoram), it has what it takes to serve as an ambassador to the glories of craft beer for Latinos, who until recently, haven’t been marketed to all that well nor given much reason to give locally produced ales and lagers a shot. That changes here and now. Viva la revolución de la cerveza artesanal!
From the Brewers: “Sea Señor is the flagship beer that really kickstarted the idea of SouthNorte Beer Co. I was experimenting with the flavors and ingredients of Mexico, and brewing my take on a Mexican lager. I wanted something refreshing and easy to drink—like the beers I was enjoying in Baja—but brewed locally with quality ingredients. I use crisp pilsner malt and a classic yeast strain to get the smoothness typical of the style, but with a fuller flavor. We use European Noble hops at low hopping rates so the beer is balanced but not overly bitter. We then lager for three weeks so the beer is incredibly smooth and goes down easy, whether it’s by the pool or over a meal with friends. I’m excited for people to experience what SouthNorte is all about. Sea Señor is just the first of what’s to come—I am so inspired by our border culture and I can’t wait to brew recipes that showcase our ‘crossroads of cultures’ style.”—Ryan Brooks, Founder/Head Brewer, SouthNorte Beer Company
From the Beer Writer: Mira Mesa’s Longship Brewery is all about offering a unique experience. Not only is its tasting room decorated in an over-the-top Viking thematic, the tap-list regularly features exotic beer-styles. Case in point, this week’s featured beer, Longship Ragnabock, a doppelbock that relies on semisweet malt character and lager yeast for the bulk of its taste profile. Even though it’s 8.1% alcohol-by-volume, it drinks like a five- or six-percenter and could easily be confused for a session red ale. It’s a smooth and enjoyable offering for those not looking for a hop-forward drinking experience—or simply a change of pace. When Longship opened, owner Dan Jachimowicz was only able to find five other doppelbocks being produced in San Diego’s saturated suds industry. He’s since crafted other lesser-brewed styles in small-batch format. A handful of them—a Belgian-style tripel, rosehip-infused saison, chocolate-orange stout, and brown ale with chocolate, cranberries, almond and oats—will be available at Longship’s one-year anniversary this Saturday, July 1, where those specialties can be glugged from a stylish Norse drinking horn.
From the Brewer: “I guess the biggest question with this beer is: ‘Why make a dopplebock?’ In a town where people crave hoppy IPAs, why go through the long trouble of making the anti-IPA? Why go through the ten-week process of fermenting and lagering a low-hop, malt-forward, strong, dark lager? Simple. Dopplebocks are delicious. The roasted-malt and dark-fruit flavors shine in this flavorful and unique beer, and Ragnabock stands as a refreshing reminder to non-hopheads that there are other styles of beer in the world. We wanted to make something unique and under-represented. Although I am still surprised by how many experienced craft-beer fans ask us what a dopplebock is, we will continue to offer the Ragnabock and many other unusual styles.”—Dan Jachimowicz, Owner & Brewmaster, Longship Brewery
From the Beer Writer: You know that feeling when you arrive at a bar or a friend’s house and, before you can even say a word, you’re handed a beverage that you hastily take a sip of and instantly find yourself completely blown away by? Of course you do. It’s one of those magic moments beer-lovers live for: the exciting discovery of something brand new and exquisite. That happened to me last weekend at Dos Desperados Brewery. I arrived at that San Marcos establishment to help staff one of my Beer to the Rescue fundraising events and was greeted by a full pour of a lovely golden beer with a fluffy white head, Dos Desperados Nelson Lager. Happy to be there and off State Route 78, I dove right in…and fell in love. It was the perfect beer for the sunny day I was in the midst of—light in body yet big on hop and lager-yeast character in the nose and on the palate. The limestone and floral notes from the yeast dovetailed beautifully with vinous flavors from the Nelson Sauvin making up the beer’s entire hop-bill. It was simple yet special, so much that I could have spent hours drinking pint after pint, something that wouldn’t have been too tough given the beer’s 4.9% alcohol-by-volume stat. The recipe for this all-day pleaser (which, as good as it was, is only in its R&D phase) was developed with fellow San Marcos operation, Prodigy Brewing Company, with assistance from a noted lager expert at Mission Valley’s Gordon Biersch brewpub. I’m glad to report it will be on-tap and helping Beer to the Rescue tomorrow, and soon become a staple in Dos Desperados’ year-round portfolio.
From the Brewer: “Our Nelson Lager is a Prodigy Brewing, Gordon Biersch and Dos Desperados Brewery collaboration for Beer to the Rescue that benefits the Lupus Foundation of Southern California. A special thanks goes out to Dean Rouleau and Doug Hasker for this Czech-style lager with rich, crisp maltiness and freshly crushed gooseberry flavor—think Sauvignon Blanc grapes from New Zealand, which come care of the Nelson Sauvin hops we used.”—Steve Munson, Owner & Brewmaster, Dos Desperados Brewery
From the Beer Writer: Of the most recent entrants to the San Diego brewing industry, few have been so impressive from the get-go as Eppig Brewing. The first interest to open in North Park’s Craft by Brewery Igniter complex, it has a lot to offer. There are currently well over a dozen beers on-tap, but even when they had less than half of that available early on, that handful included some real winners. Tops among those first drafts was Eppig Natural Bridge Festbier. Much like Christmas ales or Lent beers, most brewers only produce this lager-style during a certain period, in this case Germany’s Oktoberfest season. But not at Eppig, where they smartly realize their Festbier’s quality is such that it should be a year-round offering. Bready yet light with bristly mineral notes, it’s a study in balance and elegance that comes in at 6% alcohol-by-volume. Behind this and the other members of Eppig’s Natural Bridge family of lagers (Baltic porter, hoppy Pilsner, schwarzbier, zwickelbier and, soon, a lightly oak-smoked Vienna lager), this young brewery belongs among the small number of breweries brewing top-notch lagers in ale-heavy San Diego. Read more »