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Posts Tagged Monkey Paw

Now Open: Bay City Brewing Co.

Aug 17

baycity_00It was exactly a year ago that brewer Chris West pulled me aside at a crowded beer festival to tell me he’d be departing his then-employer Monkey Paw Pub and Brewery to take the helm as head fermenter at an upcoming and, as-of-then-unnamed, local project. That business now has a building, brewing system, beers and a name—Bay City Brewing Company (3760 Hancock Street, Point Loma). It also has an official opening date set: August 27.

Soft-opened since earlier this month, the tasting room is open for business, though admittedly not at the level it will be when the curtain goes up for real. Now is a time for getting systems in place and details down, but ownership and staff know where they’re going and what they want to be, starting with West, who is determined to “work really hard and make people happy.” Back at Monkey Paw, he enjoyed seeing patrons order the house-made Bonobos “San Diego-style” (read: HOPPY) pale ale, take a sip and, before being able to set the beer down, take another sip because they enjoyed it so much. He hopes to see that happen at his new spot, which is located on the backside of Valley View Casino Center, not far from Lomaland’s only other brewery, Modern Times Beer.

baycity_02Siting Bay City Brewing in Point Loma was the plan from the start, according to co-owner Ben Dubois. He, like his partners, live in and have history in the neighborhood. Finding an industrial space that worked for a brewery model was tough, but they are happy with their location as well as the parking it provides for customers, enough that they have also leased the 2,100-square-foot space next door for the next five years.

Bay City Brewing’s future 1,200-square-foot outdoor drinking area and logo-adorned north wall is visible from Interstate 8. Inside, roughly 750 square feet of space are devoted to the tasting room, which includes a stylish, hand-crafted bar. Assisting West in the brewery beyond that L-shaped structure is Aaron Williams, a recent UCSD graduate with a degree in Chemical Engineering. Williams met West two years ago over beers at Monkey Paw, and the two formed a fast and mutual respect for one another.

Together, West and Williams have crafted an initial line-up of beers that includes a Vienna lager, stout, nitro porter, session India pale ale, San Diego-style pale ale and an experimental pale ale. That last one is a piney, mossy 5.5% ABV beer brewed with Nelson Sauvin and Columbus hops which features nice tropical fruit aromas. Future editions of the beer will change from batch-to-batch, but the initial recipe was brewed using techniques gleaned from Fall Brewing Company brewmaster Ray Astamendi, and Monkey Paw and South Park Brewing Company head brewer Cosimo Sorrentino, plus findings from discussions about hops with Half Door Brewing Company brewmaster Dan Drayne.

baycity_01With a 20-barrel brewhouse double-batching into 40-barrel fermenters, Bay City Brewing’s current annual capacity is 2,400 barrels, but could be pushed to 3,500 according to West. The company projects it will sell roughly 20% of its beer at its tasting room, with the rest being kegged and sent to accounts. They also plan on doing very limited micro-bottling using friends and a trusty beer gun.

In the not-too-distant future, West and Williams will get more experimental, tackling what the former refers to as “the next frontier”—beers fermented with Brettanomyces. He says that, for the most part, many breweries have a “pitch and pray” approach to Brett beers, but he hopes to spend time learning how to consistently harness the positive attributes of these wild yeast strains then, hopefully, share that information with fellow brewers to help raise the collective tide.

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Q&A with Adam Carbonell

Jul 9
Assistant brewer Adam Carbonell (right) with his Left Hand Brewing counterpart at South Park Brewing Co.

Assistant brewer Adam Carbonell (right) with his Left Hand Brewing counterpart at South Park Brewing Co.

Assistant Brewer, South Park Brewing Company

As a young and wily brewer, Adam Carbonell gained experience at local breweries before taking the helm at Vista’s Back Street Brewery in 2009 behind beers with culinarily driven ingredient combinations that went beyond what most were doing at the time (such beers have become far more common since). Soon after, he volunteered his services as president of the San Diego Brewers Guild at a time when few were looking to assume the responsibility of that role. A year later, Carbonell all but disappeared from the San Diego brewing scene, but as of two months ago, he’s back and helping out beer buds Scot Blair and Cosimo Sorrentino, lending brewing muscle to the recently established South Park Brewing Company. We caught up him between batches.

How did you get involved brewing with South Park Brewing Company?
I ran into Blair at Live Wire right around the time of SPBC’s soft opening and he casually asked if I could help out. Cosimo was just swamped. Running Monkey Paw (Pub & Brewery) and overseeing every aspect of SPBC from the brewery to everything that goes into opening a new restaurant, they needed someone who could come in and alleviate some of the pressure. I had brewed for Blair in the past. We released about a half-dozen beers exclusively for Hamilton’s Tavern, and I think Cos is a great brewer, so of course I said, ‘yes.’

What are your thoughts on SPBC as a new hot spot in its namesake community?
It’s a little fishy…in a good way. They’ve really set themselves apart visually and conceptually, and the food is killer. I also know this has been Blair’s vision for a long time. Maybe not the whole fish thing, but to be able to open up a brewery in the community that he’s been so dedicated to. Hamilton’s is synonymous with South Park and SPBC is a great extension of that. Oh, and did I say Cos is a great brewer?

Tell us about the collaboration beer you brewed with Left Hand Brewing out of Colorado.
They were such a huge inspiration to me with their milk stout, so the opportunity to do a collaboration was an honor. Also, they chose to do it at SPBC after we’d only been open less than a month. I knew I wanted to do something with lactose that wasn’t a stout or porter. I had the idea of doing a creamsicle beer for a long time and they were into it. The beer highlighted a lot of fresh local and organic produce; mainly orange and kumquat. For a twist, there were also a lot of chocolate notes. It was a great addition to SPBC’s grand opening festivities.

How’s it been returning to the San Diego brewing fold after a bit of a hiatus?
Well, I wouldn’t say I’m in the fold. I’m happily hiding in the creases, but it’s been fun getting the rust off and being able to help out at SPBC. But that’s totally Blair and Cos’ baby. I’ve known those two for a long time…before either were in the industry. Blair’s bat-shit crazy, but so am I, and I think we work well together because of that understanding. I’m happy to support what they’re doing. As for myself, just because I chose to step away for a while doesn’t mean I haven’t been working and scheming the whole time. I’ve pulled away from a lot of projects, actually. I’ve taken some time off, but I think you’ll be seeing something from me sooner than later.

How have things changed since you were president of the San Diego Brewers Guild?
I sleep. Seriously, I owe that to my wife, Jenna. She’s a super-hot badass and has really made me a much more relaxed and tolerable person…even though I’m still a spaz. And we’ve been traveling a lot. I never even had a passport before I met Jenna, and now we’ve been all over. Indigenous moonshine, good street food and uncomfortable beds are our only requirements.

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The Patio in Leftfield brings unique beers to Petco Park

Jun 24
The Patio Group Cicerone Kelly Legan lists daily draft offerings at Petco Park

The Patio Group Cicerone Kelly Legan lists daily draft offerings at Petco Park

Nowadays, it’s common to find craft beer at Petco Park. (And let’s face it, this season the Padres are giving us—and Friars GM A.J. Preller—plenty of cause to resort to the consumption of adult beverages.) Even with beer-specific kiosks set up to offer a wide array of ales and lagers from multiple breweries spanning San Diego County, most of the smaller companies are still unrepresented. But there is one local entity that, in scoring a storefront at Petco Park, has made it their mission to bring along some of their lesser-known friends in the beer biz with them.

This season, The Patio Group installed a sized-down version of its full-scale restaurant concepts in Pacific Beach (The Patio on Lamont) and Mission Hills (The Patio on Goldfinch) called The Patio in Leftfield in Section 128, mere steps from the Padres’ bullpen. For those who venture beyond the main service counter and over to The Point, a small, living wall-equipped bar area bordering the Western Metal Building, a trio of beers from three craft breweries that aren’t available anywhere else in the stadium await.

Procured by Kelly Legan, The Patio Group’s resident Cicerone, that trio currently consists of Loudspeaker IPA, a rye India pale ale from North Park’s Fall Brewing Company, Up The Hill Backwards, a dry-hopped pale ale from nearby Monkey Paw Pub and Brewery in the East Village (the name references the drive from Monkey Paw to its sister brewpub, South Park Brewing Company) and Benchmark Brewing Company’s Table Beer. Because of the unpredictability of the ballpark crowd, it’s impossible to say when that line-up will change, but eventually, Fall will switch out Loudspeaker for its Spirit of 77 IPA and Monkey Paw will trade in its pale ale for Prima Donna Table Beer. (Who ever thought there’d be a day when Petco Park featured two Belgian singels?)

And for those whose brew preferences veer toward the java realm, cold-brewed coffee from Mission Beach’s Swell Coffee Roasting Company is also on tap, though that tap will eventually be switched out for beer from Ballast Point Brewing and Spirits as an extension of that company’s relationship with The Patio in Leftfield, which prepares all the food for BP’s Beer Garden in Section 228.

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Free Fall

Mar 6
Ray Astamendi

Ray Astamendi

“We’re getting the band back together,” says Ray Astamendi, owner and brewmaster of Fall Brewing Co. Ray and his team of merry misfits fell on the northern end of 30th Street on the northern edge of North Park, opening the brewery late 2014. During his time at Mission Brewery, Ray won two GABF medals in 2007 for El Camino IPA (Bronze: Category 44, India Style Pale Ale) and El Amigo Light (Gold: Category 23 Münchner (Munich) Style Helles). Ray has worked for several other breweries in town, including Saint Archer. After leaving St. Archer, Ray scoured SD looking for a location to start his own brewery. His departures from previous breweries has not always been smooth. “In life, we fall from grace many times. No matter how many times we fall, we must get back up.” Fall Brewing is the first time Ray is completely in control. “I’ve never had the ability to play and experiment. We’re answering to no-one nor any conventional wisdom. We’re into beer, and we’re making what we like.” Ray is working to impress the discerning beer drinker.

He’s not alone. The other bandmates? Dave Lively and Mike Mellow.

Dave Lively, a talented graphic designer, has created album covers for local bands The Heartaches + Rocket From the Crypt to National acts such as Jack Johnson + G. Love and Special Sauce. In the local beer world, he’s responsible for the cool visual stylings of Livewire, The Casbah, The Station and Starlight – and has designed for both with Mission Brewery + Saint Archer. He’s now the “Creative Bad Ass” at Fall.

Mike Mellow is a skilled beer salesman that has worked for Ballast Point, Mission Brewery, Saint Archer and Mike Hess. Armed with years of beer slinging experience for some of the best in the local beer business, Mike’s excited to be part of the small, 7-human strong Fall.

As a trio, Astamendi, Lively and Mellow worked together at both Mission and Saint Archer. Hence, “getting the band back together.”

After signing the lease in January 2013, build out commenced that May and lasted until 15 minutes after the City of San Diego code inspector left the building in just before November 2014’s Beer Week. “We took the tape off the windows and people started trickling in,” Ray recalls. Their first beers have been well received, with standouts including Plenty for All Pilsner, 2AM Bike Ride Stout and Spirit of ‘77 IPA. Making good beer right out of the gate is tough for a new brewery, and Fall’s beers have started out great. They’re also improving.

The aesthetics are cool, too. The bar area is being slowly taken over by SoCal punk band posters, including many from Dave Lively’s stash. “We created a space we wanted to exist in,” he explains. “In creating the brand, I wanted a classic, positive theme: the harder you fall, the better you get.”

Plans are in the works to begin packaging in the future. For now, the focus is on developing the beer while modestly earning tap handles at bars. “We have over 52 draft accounts,” says Mellow. “We want to keep the level low and manageable at first, so we’re being picky.” Fall has enjoyed huge support from the Uptown beer community, with handles at Small Bar, Tiger!Tiger!, Blind Lady, Live Wire, Hamilton’s and Monkey Paw.

Events are going to be a focus as well for the new brewery. Already, a hot-dog competition was held between Fathom Bistro and Carnitas Snack Shack. Keep an eye on their events page for more info.

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“Beer to the Rescue” Campaign for Lupus Research Begins January 31

Jan 12

More than 20 of our local craft breweries plan to brew a beer in support of lupus research and awareness in 2015, thanks to an initiative established by journalist Brandon Hernández.

On January 31, the Beer to the Rescue campaign kicks off at Benchmark Brewing with the release of Hildegard, a triple IPA.

“Most people have heard of lupus or know someone suffering from it, but few know anything beyond the name of this autoimmune disease — what it is, its effect on those who have it or the fact that it is severely under-researched. This needs to change,” says Hernández, who was diagnosed with lupus in 2014 after years of suffering. Proceeds from Beer to the Rescue benefit the Lupus Foundation of Southern California (LFSC).


In a press release, Hernández noted that in San Diego, Imperial and Riverside Counties alone, more than 20,000 people are suffering from lupus. That number is even considered a low estimate, because most people with lupus are never diagnosed with this autoimmune disease, which negatively impacts victims via myriad painful symptoms, causes irreparable damage to vital organs and can be fatal.

“The LFSC has been in operation for 20 years, and because no one really talks about lupus — even people who have lupus — it’s hard to get people involved with our organization,” says LFSC Executive Director Hollaine Hopkins. “The Beer to the Rescue campaign will tap into the very large and passionate craft beer fan base that already exists in San Diego and help raise awareness for lupus and our organization.”

In addition to the Benchmark beer mentioned above, other Beer to the Rescue brews include a Belgian-style quadrupel from Nickel Beer Co., a dry-hopped Belgian- style single brewed with rhubarb from Monkey Paw Pub & Brewery, an imperial milk stout infused with chocolate, orange and spicy chilies from Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits, a sour ale brewed with blueberries and fermented using wild yeast from Toolbox Brewing Company, a black saison brewed with dried currants and orange peel from Lightning Brewery, and an experimentally dry-hopped wheat and passion fruit-infused Brett IPA from Green Flash Brewing Company.

More San Diego breweries plan to participate, although not all of them will be creating beers for the campaign. Some, due to brewing capacity restraints, will instead donate to the cause, host special events, and/or make LFSC a featured charity at their venues. Those breweries include 32 North, AleSmith, Amplified Ale Works, Aztec, Bagby Beer, Bolt, Coronado, Council, Intergalactic, Iron Fist, Mike Hess, Mother Earth, New English, Pizza Port Solana Beach, Port/The Lost Abbey/The Hop Concept, Rip Current, Societe, Stone (Escondido), Stone (Liberty Station), Toolbox, and URBN St.

Keep up with the campaign by subscribing to Beer to the Rescue social channels: (Facebook | Twitter)

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