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Posts Tagged Monkey Paw

Monkey Paw brings on new head brewer

Nov 22

logo_mpspbcYesterday, the owner of Monkey Paw Pub & BreweryScot Blair, announced that he has selected the replacement for head brewer Cosimo Sorrentino, who will be leaving his post come the end of the year. That individual is Nick Norton, who has spent the past two years working in the brewhouse at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station.

Norton worked on the restaurant-side at Stone Brewing‘s Point Loma brewpub before being brought into the brewery by Liberty Station brewing manager Kris Ketcham. While there, he aided in the production of a wide-ranging and often adventurous portfolio of beers, one of which, Witty Moron, medaled at the Great American Beer Festival, not once, but twice.


New Monkey Paw brewer, Nick Norton (photo courtesy Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station)

This hire marks a departure from form for Blair, who has had two brewers at his East Village brewpub over the past five years, both of which were plucked from San Diego’s home-brewing ranks. Though young, Norton has more professional experience coming into this position than Sorrentino or his predecessor, Derek Freese (who currently brews at Modern Times Beer Company).

But heading brewing operations at Monkey Paw was only half of Sorrentino’s job. He was also in charge of beer-making at sister-business South Park Brewing Company. Blair constructed that brewpub next-door to his flagship operation, Hamilton’s Tavern, in 2015, and Sorrentino evolved the brewing program to the point where every beer on-tap was produced in-house.

Blair has decided to take control of the brewery-side of South Park Brewing. But he won’t be alone. In taking the reins, he is promoting cellarman Ryan Traylor to the position of assistant brewer. When asked about the beers that will be produced under this new order, Blair says he’s committed to moving things forward while honoring the past.

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Beer of the Week: Monkey Paw Thank You! Double IPA

Nov 18
Thank You! Double IPA from Monkey Paw Pub & Brewery

Thank You! Double IPA from Monkey Paw Pub & Brewery

From the Beer Writer: Many are the fans of the beers at East Village brewpub, Monkey Paw Pub & Brewery. And many are the beers of that divey-but-divine spot. But few are the opportunity for those fans to take those beers home in bottles, making the chance to get Monkey Paw Thank You! Double IPA in 22-ounce glass something of an early Christmas present. At first-blush, being able to buy a beer doesn’t seem all that special, but owner Scot Blair is essentially giving this beer away, charging a miniscule $4 a-bottle, which he says is just enough to cover the costs of brewing and packaging the hop-heavy (read: expensive-to-produce) beer. Its the celebrated local publican’s way of saying thank-you to those who have supported Monkey Paw over the past five years, a milestone he will officially celebrate tomorrow, Saturday, November 19, when Thank You! and holiday imperial-stout Santa’s Pet Monkey go on-sale to the public at Monkey Paw. Adding to the value (I’d say collectability, but holding onto a fresh IPA is San Diego sacrilege) is the fact these are some of the last beers that will be produced by Monkey Paw’s popular head brewer, Cosimo Sorrentino, who recently announced his impending departure from the business at year’s end. Rather than toasting all that could have been had he stayed, might I suggest toasting all that he and Blair accomplished in conjunction with the craft-beer fans they are extending their gratitude toward with this pair of releases.

From the Brewer: “In English, ‘thank you’ derives from ‘think’. It used to mean, ‘I will remember what you did for me.’ Everyday people thank us for what we do as brewers and publicans and every time I want to say, ‘No, thank you.’ I’m stoked every day to have my job and to be part of this community. That only happens when hundreds of people choose to spend their hard-earned money on our beers and/or in our establishments. Thank You! double IPA is our way to say, ‘I have and will continue to remember what you do for us.’ We have made a beer in the style of Muriqui and Gibbon Back, and bottled it two days before the release with a message to ‘Drink this now!’ Selling the beer for $4 per-bottle out the brewery door covers our costs and keeps it legal, but otherwise results in no profit. This one is for the conscious beer drinkers!”—Cosimo Sorrentino, Head Brewer, Monkey Paw Pub & Brewery


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Parting Words: Cosimo Sorrentino

Nov 3

Earlier this week, news broke about popular local brewer Cosimo Sorrentino resigning from his dual-head brewer post at Monkey Paw Pub and Brewery and South Park Brewing Co. A fixture in the community who made a point to communicate and collaborate with nearly every brewery within the county, it was surprising to here he was stepping down, but even more confounding to discover he would absolutely be leaving San Diego come the New Year. More information was in order, so we went to the source to appease readers’ logical queries and concern.

Monkey Paw’s Cosimo Sorrentino checking out the hops yesterday with Nopalito Farm’s Jordan Brownwood; via Facebook

Monkey Paw’s Cosimo Sorrentino (left) checking out hops with Nopalito Farm’s Jordan Brownwood in July; via Nopalito Farms Facebook

West Coaster: What led you to depart your position heading Monkey Paw and South Park Brewing?
Cosimo Sorrentino: A combination of factors, the biggest of which is a necessity for personal growth. I was lucky to learn my craft in the community I grew up in and under an owner that has so much passion, but I feel that I have reached a point where to progress I need a little less comfort and a new environment.

WC: Though your next step has yet to be determined, you are certain you will leave San Diego. Why is that?
CS: I feel San Diego has crossed over to a new era in brewing. The community spirit is being fractured; too many breweries fighting over the same styles, following trends for profit, not enough quality staff to provide front-of-house service…and let’s not get into the distributor issues. This was inevitable and will not necessarily be a bad thing for those making or drinking beer. San Diego beer will get better and those that succeed will benefit from the competition! For myself, I hope that finding a location where the scene is a bit younger will allow me to help foster the same type of conscious collaborative growth that has led to San Diego’s emergence as the beer capitol of the world. It might be selfish, but I have really enjoyed the journey so far and want to keep making new beers with and for new people.

WC: After being such a peacemaker and heavy collaborator within the San Diego industry, is it difficult for you to move on?
CS: Not to be cliché, but this is truly the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make. It means stepping away from, not only the coolest brewing job I’ve seen, but leaving family, friends and, potentially even my dog. I am bummed that I will not have the chance to collaborate with some guys and gals in town—especially some of the new breweries—and that I will not be part of Monkey Paw’s next step as a business, whatever that may be.

WC: What will you miss the most about the San Diego brewing and beer scenes?
CS: One word: HOPS! No, but seriously, I will miss the universal nature of the love for beer and brewers in this city. It will be weird to walk into three-or-four bars in an evening and not run into a fellow brewer or maybe even an educated beer-drinker. I’ve never felt the camaraderie and respect that I have experienced in San Diego with brewers and consumers alike.

WC: What are some of your finest memories of your time brewing professionally in San Diego?
CS: Wow. Hardest question…I’ll never forget the first week I got the job at Paw. I had every brewer that I had looked up to either drop in or hit me up on the phone to help me get dialed in. It was a whirlwind, and I did not fully appreciate it at the time, but this foundation paid off and I will be forever grateful. Those memories were revisited last year when I got to sit in on a collab at Karl Strauss on Columbia Street. Not only did we have (KS brewmaster) Paul Segura, (Gordon Biersch head brewer) Doug Hasker and (Monkey Paw/South Park Brewing owner) Scot Blair brewing that day, (Ballast Point Brewing VP) Colby Chandler dropped in to open some bottles as a farewell to (former Green Flash Brewing Co. brewmaster and current Silva Brewing owner/brewmaster) Chuck Silva on his last day in San Diego. This was only made better by the fact that I had invited (North Park Beer Co. assistant brewer) Joaquin Basauri to drop in. This was early on in Joaquin and I’s friendship and the look on his face as we drank barleywine and talked shop with these godfathers brought me back to that feeling of awe.

WC: What were your goals for the semi-controversial public-forum you held to discuss the changing landscape of San Diego beer?
CS: While the forum never became a series, I hope that the discussion was opened and people are more likely to speak honestly and in an informed manner about the evolution of our city and the industry. I am glad there is a reduced amount of animosity because that energy can be redirected towards progression instead of hate and fear.

WC: Any parting words for our readers?
CS: Thank you for absolutely everything. I hope I’ve returned 10% of the happiness and joy you have given me.

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Cosimo Sorrentino departing Monkey Paw

Oct 31
Monkey Paw Pub & Brewery and South Park Brewing Company head brewer Cosimo Sorrentino

Monkey Paw Pub & Brewery and South Park Brewing Company head brewer Cosimo Sorrentino

One of San Diego County’s most popular—and, frankly, beloved—brewers is moving on. Cosimo Sorrentino has announced that he is walking away from his post heading brewing operations for sister establishments, Monkey Paw Pub and Brewery and South Park Brewing Company. Sorrentino tendered his resignation last Friday, stating he feels he is in a place in his career where it is time to move on to the next chapter. He has yet to identify what exactly the next phase will entail.

Sorrentino accepted a job offer from publican Scot Blair to come on as head brewer at Monkey Paw in 2013, the same weekend former head brewer Derek Freese resigned to accept an offer at Modern Times Beer Company. Up to that point, Sorrentino had been a long-time homebrewer, working largely in tandem with friend, Chris West (who later came on to assist at Monkey Paw before departing to head brewery operations at Bay City Brewing Company). In the years that followed, he played a major role in opening South Park Brewing and brewed a number of award-winning beers for both operations.

One thing he very much enjoyed about his role at Monkey Paw and South Park Brewing was the fact that it allowed him to travel, and both meet and collaborate with brewers from all over the world. Known throughout the county by beer-makers and beer-fans alike as a serial collaborator, he not only brewed beers with numerous brewers, but also worked very hard over the past year or so to keep the friendly, collegial nature of San Diego’s brewing industry intact after sales of craft breweries to Big Beer interests took place, dividing many members of the local suds scene. He even went so far as to put together a public forum in the East Village, wherein a discussion attempting to define craft and encourage inclusiveness among industry personnel at independent and acquired brewing companies. It was a bold step that had a definite impact.

Two of the beers Sorrentino most recently brewed for Monkey Paw will make their debuts in 22-ounce bottles later this month. It’s a rare glass-run for a company that serves its beers almost exclusively in kegs. Both will go on-sale November 19 at Monkey Paw as part of its five-year anniversary. A double IPA dubbed “Thank You!” will be available for $4 per bottle, and the iconic holiday strong stout Santa’s Pet Monkey will go for $6.50 a bottle, making for rather affordable mementos of a brewer who not only made good beer, but made a positive (and hopefully lasting) impression on an entire community.

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Q&A: Cosimo Sorrentino

Aug 9

cos_AHead Brewer, Monkey Paw Pub & Brewery / South Park Brewing Company

In four short years, Cosimo Sorrentino has gone from avid homebrewer to one of the most visible faces in San Diego’s brewing scene. A big reason for that is the increased visibility that comes with heading brewery operations for two brewpubs—Monkey Paw Pub & Brewery and South Park Brewing Company—and collaborating with just about every brewery in town and beyond. He considers it an honor to get to do work with his industry contemporaries to craft specialty beers, so we sat down with him to tap into some of that passion.

How did collaborations become such a big part of what you do?
The answer to this question has evolved a bit over the last three years for me. When I began brewing at Monkey Paw, (owner) Scot Blair arranged a few collaborations and mentoring sessions to help me transition from homebrewing. Now that the industry is growing at such an accelerated rate, I feel that it is important to stay connected to other breweries. Collaborations transcend most brewery restrictions such as creative freedom.

How do you like to approach collaborations?
My favorite question to ask when approaching a collaboration is: What do you want to brew that you haven’t been able to yet? This usually leads to a new style, technique or interpretation that neither of us has tried before. This constant progression is one of the reasons San Diego stays at the forefront of the brewing world. I am now lucky enough to be in a position where I not only get to learn from the veterans, I get to compare notes with other brewers who are as new or newer to the industry. Usually “teaching” something forces me to learn more than when I’m watching someone else. Blair has granted me full creative freedom and the resources to see these projects come to fruition.

With two brewpubs to take care of and a full plate, what drives you to take on all these collaborations?
CS: I enjoy learning how other brewers approach the brewing process and these insights help me understand their beers when I drink them. I recently brewed “Baby Bonobos” with Doug Hasker (the head brewer at Gordon Biersch’s Mission Valley brewpub) and we incorporated a step-mash to increase the body in the session version of our San Diego pale ale. This was a first for me and now I understand how he gets such a full mouthfeel in all of his beers. If the opportunity is there, why would I turn down an opportunity to collaborate? I have never seen a collaboration hurt a brewery or a brewer’s reputation or business, yet every project has taught me not only something about beer but also about the industry and the other artists I share it with. Plus I never get to be creative at my own brewery, so I need an excuse to brew something new every now and then. There are also a lot of collaborations that are not necessarily two brewers working together. Both Monkey Paw and South Park work with local chefs, charities and other business to create beers for a variety of events. These projects are doubly awesome because they supply people from connected industries with a deeper understanding of the brewing process and support charities.

What’s new at Monkey Paw and South Park Brewing?
CS: The menu at South Park now consists exclusively of house-made beers. We have started keeping more accessible beers on the line-up to round it out, so expect a cream/blonde ale, wheat/hefeweizen and amber/red to be on alongside our core lineup and rotating specialties. Also my assistant of two years, Jacob Mendoza, has just committed to a job as cellar man at Mikkeller Brewing San Diego. This will necessitate new blood at the breweries. Expect to see some new inspiration and techniques over the next few months.

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