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 »
In February, I shared news of H.G. Fenton’s upcoming triad of leasable turn-key brewery-tasting room combos coming to the city of San Diego’s beeriest community, North Park. Now, that facility has a name—CRAFT by Brewery Igniter—and a new tenant. Joining previously reported operation Pariah Brewing Company will be J&L Eppig Brewing, a heritage interest dating back a century-and-a-half.
Originally founded in Brooklyn, New York by Bavarian immigrant Leonhard Eppig in 1866, the operation grew to a lager-beer empire of sorts comprising multiple breweries (Leonhard Eppig Germania and his brother’s biz, Joseph Eppig Brewery). The brewery survived the Prohibition Era. As rumor has it, that had something to do with noted gangster Dutch Schultz. After the repeal of Prohibition, business recommenced, but the brewery was sold in 1935 to the Ehret family. It’s believed gang influence was responsible for that development, as well.
The second-coming of the brand is being initiated by great granddaughter Stephanie Eppig, who is looking to produce German-style lagers inspired by the original brewery’s 19th century recipes while also exploring modern-day brewing trends and techniques. To help with the latter, she and her husband-slash-business partner, Todd Warshaw, have signed on two brewers hailing from Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits—Clayton LeBlanc and Nathan Stephens
LeBlanc is a co-founder of Eppig 2.0. He bartended at Karl Strauss Brewing Company for five years before embarking on a four-year career with Ballast Point that saw him starting out on the bottling-line at its Scripps Ranch facility before advancing to the point where he became a brewer who also assisted with grain-management and the training of new brewers. Stephens will serve as principal brewer for the new business, overseeing brewery operations, after three years serving as Ballast Point’s lead research-and-development brewer primarily working out of the company’s Little Italy brewpub.
Like others within the CRAFT campus, LeBlanc and Stephens will utilize a 10-barrel Premier Stainless brewhouse. That apparatus will be used to produce a varied line of beers ranging from IPAs to kettle-sours, barrel-aged high-gravity beers to the aforementioned lagers. Overall, Eppig says her brewery’s beers will be balanced and approachable. The company’s annual production goal for its first full year in business sits at approximately 1,000 barrels, but provided demand increases as they hope, yearly production is projected to rise to 2,500 barrels by 2019.
H.G. Fenton is currently in negotiations with its third and final CRAFT tenant. By year’s end, the campus should provide a rare craft-beer first for San Diego—a single building where people can visit three completely different breweries without ever leaving the premises. In addition to convenience, it also solves potential transportation problems for the brewery-hopping sect while allowing them to save on car-services (or make it easier on their gracious DDs).
From the Beer Writer: What’s 23 plus 32? I’ve always been horrible at math, so it shouldn’t surprise you that my answer isn’t 55. That’s OK, because the solution to this equation isn’t a number at all. The answer is maibock, because in this case I’m talking about the sum (or product, in this case) of Division 23 Brewing Company and 32 North Brewing Company. Both operations are based in Miramar and each of their head brewers recently put their heads together for a collaboration beer that will debut when Division 23 celebrates its one-year anniversary today starting at 3 p.m. Six-and-a-half percent alcohol-by-volume, it’s light in body, bright with mineral-like expressions of lager yeast and easy to love. Making its name Playor Hator Maibock a tad ironic, but still pretty darn funny. For more on that handle, I’ll defer to one of the individuals responsible for it…
From the Brewer: “This strong, pale lager was brewed to celebrate both the change of seasons and Division 23’s one-year anniversary. It was our first collaboration brew with our friends and neighbors at 32 North Brewing Company. (32 North head brewery) Will Gallaspy and I both share a love for traditional German lagers, so a maibock was a natural choice. This beer is light and easy drinking, with a mellow bitterness and slight honey aroma. We chose to follow the German tradition of naming bocks with the -ator suffix, and so the name Playor Hator was born. It will be available on tap at both of our tasting rooms for a limited time, starting with our two-day anniversary on June 10 and 11, where we’ll be releasing our first barrel-aged beer—a bourbon barrel-aged version of our Night Shift imperial stout—as well as a new barley-wine and our Sour Superintendent Berliner weisse served with a quintet of special syrups such as chipotle, Sichuan-spice and lemongrass.”—Kevin Daugherty, Head Brewer, Division 23 Brewing Company
From the Beer Writer: If you want to run into local brewers, you’re bound to do it by hitting up the happy hour at Gordon Biersch in Mission Valley. This is particularly true if you go when brewer (and West Coaster cover-boy) Doug Hasker’s band is playing one of its shows on the back patio. Many are the brewers who equally enjoy getting an earful of The Barnacles and getting to bend the ear of Hasker, the man widely recognized as San Diego County’s foremost lager expert. That reputation is based on many years of solid Germanic beers like his latest specialty brew, Gordon Biersch Maibock. Ruby in color, it comes in at 7% alcohol-by-volume, which is higher than most of the brewpub’s offerings. The beer has some heft to it, but remains easy to drink thanks to an initial caramel sweetness on the front that gives way to tea-like flavors in the middle before giving way to a toasty finish that becomes more and more pronounced as the beer warms. It’s a case-study in exceptional lager-brewing that should not be overlooked.
From the Brewer: “Gordon Biersch Maibock is an example of a true Northern German Einbecker-style bock beer. It was originally brewed by monks who drank it during the lent fasting period to minimize the hunger pangs from being hungry, as approved by the pope. This beer uses a combination of two-row base malt along with small amounts of Munich 2 and Caramunich malts, and is fermented using Munich lager yeast to create a smooth, strong, auburn-hued beer weighing in at 7.2% ABV. In modern days, the Maibock style has become a community celebratory beer to welcome the coming of spring. In that tradition, we at Gordon Biersch celebrated the tapping of the new beer this Tuesday on the beer garden. My band, The Barnacles, cheerfully rocked the house in celebration with great success. It’s always so satisfying to bring together all that makes life grand—great music, great friends and great beer…and a great charity, in this case the Lupus Foundation of Southern California—all the while belonging to such a vibrant brewing community here in San Diego. I am humbled and grateful to be a part of it.”—Doug Hasker, Southwest Regional Brewer, Gordon Biersch