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San Diego International Beer Festival winners

May 2

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…

Gold Medals

  • AleSmith Brewing Old Numbskull, Barley Wine
  • AleSmith Brewing Private Stock Ale, British-style Strong Ale
  • Bagby Beer Sweet Ride, Pilsener
  • Bagby Beer Three Beagles Brown, English-style Brown Ale
  • Barrel Harbor Brewing Rungnir, Belgian-style Dark Ale
  • Belching Beaver Brewery (Oceanside) Here Comes Mango! IPA, Fruit Beer
  • Burgeon Beer Taking the Biscuit, Bitter
  • Council Brewing Magic Factory Lickable Staves, Brett and Other Sour Beer
  • Dos Desperados Brewery Blonde Kolsch, German-style Ale
  • Duck Foot Brewing Black Leprechaun, Specialty Stout
  • Duck Foot Brewing London Calling, Porter
  • Eppig Brewing Kottbusser, American Wheat Ale
  • Finest Made Ales Imperial Red Ale, Imperial Red Ale
  • Karl Strauss Brewing Mosaic Session IPA, Session Beer
  • Mason Ale Works Charley Hustle, American-style Amber/Red Ale
  • Mike Hess Brewing Umbix, Imperial Stout
  • Mother Earth Brew Co. Renown Brown, American-style Brown Ale
  • North Park Beer Covington Cream Ale, Golden or Blonde Beer
  • Pizza Port (Carlsbad) Z Man, Bold Stout
  • Pizza Port (Ocean Beach) Junk In Da Trunkel Dunkel, German-style Weiss
  • Prohibition Brewing Hop Chronicles, American-style Strong Pale Ale
  • Resident Brewing Golden Kiss, French- and Belgian-style Ale
  • Rip Current Brewing Java Storm Coffee Imperial Stout, Coffee Porter and Stout

Silver Medals

  • AleSmith Brewing Wee Heavy, British-style Strong Ale
  • 2kids Brewing Incredulous Ordinary Bitter, Bitter
  • Breakwater Brewing Rye Dawn, Rye Beer
  • Burning Beard Get Thee to a Nunnery, Belgian-style Pale Ale
  • Coronado Brewing Coastwise, Session Beer
  • Eppig Brewing Glitz and Glam, Fruit Beer
  • Intergalactic Brewing Shut Up Wesley Wheat, American Wheat Ale
  • Karl Strauss Brewing Windansea Wheat, German-style Weiss
  • The Lost Abbey Serpent’s Stout, Imperial Stout
  • The Lost Abbey Veritas 018, Brett and Other Sour Beer
  • Mason Ale Works Gunnar Noir, American-style India Black Ale
  • Mikkeller San Diego Forste Fodselsdag, Specialty Beer
  • Pizza Port (Bressi Ranch) Sharkbite Red Ale, American-style Amber/Red Ale
  • Pizza Port (Carlsbad) Kickflip Kolsch, German-style Ale
  • Pizza Port (Carlsbad) Today Was a Good Day, Australian/International-style Pale Ale
  • Pure Project Brewing Sensei, Pilsener
  • Rip Current Brewing Breakline Bock, German-style Bock
  • San Diego Brewing Biere Welter Wit, Belgian-style Wit or White Ale
  • Second Chance Beer Mulligan Irish Red, Irish-style Red Ale
  • South Park Brewing Grassmarket, Scottish-style Ale
  • Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station Cimmerian Portal, Bold Stout

Bronze Medals

  • Abnormal Beer Tummy Cuddles, Chocolate and Chili Beer
  • Amplified Ale Works Barrel-Aged Nyctophobia, Wood and Barrel Aged Strong Stout
  • Ballast Point Brewing Piper Down, Irish-style Red Ale
  • Belching Beaver Brewery Tavern & Grill Thizz Is What It Is, Imperial India Pale Ale
  • Burning Beard Brewing Circle of Hops, American-style Pale Ale
  • Coronado Brewing Seacoast Pilsner, American-style Lager
  • Council Brewing Magic Factory Broken Wand with Raspberries, Brett and Other Sour Beer
  • Culver Beer Tiger Ride, Belgian-style Pale Ale
  • Eppig Brewery Natural Bridge Baltic Porter, Porter
  • Eppig Brewing Sinister Path, Bold Stout
  • Fall Brewing Plenty for All, Pilsener
  • Indian Joe Brewing Pineapple Passionfruit Gose, German-style Weiss
  • The Lost Abbey Carnevale Ale, French- and Belgian-style Ale
  • Mike Hess Brewing Deceptio, American-style India Black Ale
  • New English Brewing Barleywine, Barley Wine
  • Nickel Beer Devil’s Copper, Rye Beer
  • Novo Brazil Brewing Mulata, American-style Amber/Red Ale
  • Pizza Port (Ocean Beach) Eyelashes, Belgian-style Pale Strong Ale
  • Rip Current Brewing Delaminator Doppelbock, German-style Bock
  • Rip Current Brewing Rescue Buoy Russian Imperial Stout, Imperial Stout
  • Societe Brewing The Harlot, Hybrid Belgian-style Ale
  • South Park Brewing 2 Griffs, Bitter
  • South Park Brewing Here N Gone, German-style Ale
  • Stone Brewing Delicious IPA, American-style India Pale Ale

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.

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Battlemage Brewing set to open in Vista

Apr 27

You can scarcely throw a 100-sided die in Vista without hitting a brewery, and come the weekend of May 6, two guys used to utilizing that role-playing game tool will debut the latest entrant into that sudsy community—Battlemage Brewing Company (2870 Scott Street, Suite 102, Vista). Best friends and fermentationists Ryan Sather and Chris Barry named their interest after a hybrid class from a game they’ve been playing for the past 20 years: D&D (Dungeons and Dragons, non-RPGers). Sather has spent the three years working at Home Brew Mart. Barry’s Ballast Point Brewing experience is a bit shorter—he’s been there the past year after moving on from managing Mother Earth Brew Co.’s homebrew shop. In opening Battlemage, they are going from advising people on brewing to doing it themselves on a professional scale.

As far as the beers they brew on their five-barrel system, they’re not limiting themselves. Both have medaled in a plethora of categories as homebrewers—IPAs and wide-ranging American, Belgian, English and German styles. The duo expects to offer traditional styles as well as classic styles given twists that make then “truly magical.” A white ale that comes across as a light-hopped blonde ale with the drinkability of a lager will share beer-board space with a aromatically hoppy American amber and a variety of IPAs because, as Sather says, it wouldn’t be San Diego without them. When Battlemage’s doors open, 8 to 10 beers will be on tap. Initial kettle sours will give way to future barrel-aged sour ales, as well. They hope to have a bottle release or two at some point and can once they have the funds to do so, but for now, draft is the name of their game.

The tasting room is designed so customers feel as if they are entering a medieval castle. Weapons and mystical creatures will grace the walls in the smallish space. Sather says he and Barry intend to embrace their nerdy side by putting on a variety of different gaming nights, ranging from fantasy to classic D&D. An event where the comic-book artist who developed Battlemage’s logo teaches patrons how to draw dragons and other graphic delights is under development. Also in the works is a collaboration with the distillery two doors down, Henebery Spirits, where Battlemage will age beers in used barrels, while the distillers will age whiskey in those same barrels once the beer is drained from them.

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Iron Fist Brewing has investor, plans for growth

Nov 29

ironfist_logoOver the past seven years, Iron Fist Brewing Company has grown into one of the most steady-running breweries in Vista, second only to Mother Earth Brew Co. in size and visibility. The brewery-rich municipality’s second-oldest brewing interest (to Backstreet Brewery), it now includes a satellite tasting-room in San Diego’s Logan Heights community, but according to founding co-owner Eve Siemenski, there’s more on the horizon for the family-run, combination Belgian-inspired and West Coast hopped op.

Recently, the Siemenskis invited on new investors, Wayne and Cindy Seltzer. The Seltzers bring diverse backgrounds in the food-and-beverage distribution and manufacturing industries. The couple sold its 30-year-old nutritional solutions interest business, Seltzer Companies, to Glanbia PLC in 2006 for $105 million. The Seltzers are involved in other business interests in the county, most notably the San Diego Padres ownership group.

Siemenski says welcoming the Seltzers aboard will position Iron Fist for future growth financially, and also enhance its business operations, sales, marketing and manufacturing capabilities. “We feel we are better positioned to implement our long-range strategies for growth in the highly competitive craft beverage industry,” she says.

In the near-term, Iron Fist’s upcoming projects include the release of six-packs of three of its beers in bottles—Renegade Blonde Ale, Nelson the ImPALEr and Counter Strike IPA. Further down the road, the company hopes to construct additional tasting rooms. Siemenski cites reaching greatly differing demographics at its Vista and Logan Heights locations as a great advantage to operating multiple venues. There is also the possibility of opening a brewpub and moving into a larger production headquarters.

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Q&A: Kevin Hopkins

Oct 11

10487318_741238272592657_3340137752325525778_nVice President, Mother Earth Brew Co.

What started as a tiny single-suite nano-brewery producing insanely tiny batches of beers using stock-pots over Butane burners has evolved into a Hop Highway success story. Vista-based Mother Earth Brew Co. has gone on to take-over most of the business campus it calls home, while adding a spacious tasting-room in the heart of the city’s old-town area. And over the weekend, they opened the doors to the tasting-room at its second, large-scale production facility in Nampa, Idaho. Mother Earth vice president Kevin Hopkins stopped by en route to the Great American Beer Festival, where the company’s ESB (extra special bitter) medaled. It’s exciting times for the little brewery that could (and did), and the perfect time to get an update straight from source.

What has been the impact of the Nampa facility going online?
Nampa went into full-rate production in August and currently services five-and-a-half states—Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and the northern portion of California. Its initial impact has been the ability to launch full-state distribution in Washington and Oregon with many more states to come. Last weekend’s tasting-room opening had representation of staff from both of our breweries and a great line-up of beers for people to experience.

What is Mother Earth’s organizational structure like with multiple breweries in multiple states?
Head brewer Chris Baker permanently relocated to Idaho and oversees operations there. Lead brewer Jeff Hueneman took over Vista operations and works collaboratively with Chris on items that concern both facilities. Production-scheduling and overall operations are managed corporately from here in Vista by our CFO/COO and our logistics team. We also have “beer traffic coordinators” located at both breweries to provide continuity.

What are details of expansion efforts at the original Vista brewery?
Vista started out as a 2,200-square-foot brewery and has expanded to approximately 28,000 square feet of production-space producing over 30,000 barrels of beer each year. Part of our master-plan included infrastructure investment to take Vista out to 40,000 barrels with the addition of fermentation and brite tanks to reach that capacity. Infrastructure is in place and tanks are being added as needed. Our next “stand-up” will be new nitro vessels to accommodate and expand our extremely successful NITRO programs.

What new beers are on the horizon for Mother Earth?
Mother Earth has always had a pilot-program to bring new and expanded offerings to market. Boo Koo Mosaic IPA, Born Blonde and our World Beer Cup, Great American Beer Festival and San Diego International Beer Festival award-winning ESB are all examples of that. 2016 was our pilot-year for our quarterly rotating can program featuring classics such as Kismet Nelson IPA and Hop Diggity Double IPA. The rotating program now falls under the “Resinator Hop Series.” Look for these beers on shelves, draft and included in “Love Packs”, 12- and 24-can variety packs featuring fan favorites and seasonal or rotating beers. One of those beers will be our Sin Tax Imperial Peanut Butter Stout. We’re also adding a full-time barrel-aged draft offering—our super-popular Quit Stalin Barrel-Aged Russian Imperial Stout.

As a former San Diego Brewers Guild president, what are your thoughts on the direction of that trade organization?
It was an honor to represent our local breweries. Now, as president emeritus, I have the pleasure of watching Jillian Davidson move us forward and working with an engaged board of directors that has nothing but the best interests of our industry and local beer brethren at heart. The board has been working very hard on future planning and 2017 is certain to hold some new initiatives, updates and an expansion of how we can best service our membership and the industry at-large. Working directly with the California Craft Brewers Association on important legislative and regulatory issues is chief amongst these, as well as continuing the focus on quality marketing, communications and events that bring education and awareness to the public and provide legitimacy to our members who work hard each and every day with passion and perseverance.

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Urge rolling out unique anniversary beers

Jul 28
AleSmith/Urge Velvet Echo, Toolbox Pinkies Up and Mother Earth Very Bad Things will be served during Urge Gastropub's anniversary weekend, July 29-31 in Rancho Bernardo

AleSmith/Urge Velvet Echo, Toolbox Pinkies Up and Mother Earth Very Bad Things will be served during Urge Gastropub’s anniversary weekend, July 29-31 in Rancho Bernardo

There’s something that happens when a beer-centric business owner and their suds devotee staffers not only order beer, but forge relationships with the individuals who brew them. And not just in a handshake-and-a-chat way. I’m talking cramming a bunch of key personnel into an RV and driving around the country to visit breweries and secure some of their finest wares for special tappings back home. That is the level of nth-degree beer-geekism that makes it possible for attendees of Urge Gastropub’s (16761 Bernardo Center Drive, Rancho Bernardo) annual anniversary weekends to choose from such a varied list of next-level specialty beers, some of the best of which are concoctions brewed especially for the North County establishment by members of the local brewing community.

This year’s festivities will take place tomorrow through Sunday, July 31, and feature over a half-dozen venue-specific beers from AleSmith Brewing Company, Mother Earth Brew Co., Pure Project Brewing, Rip Current Brewing Company, Saint Archer Brewery (in collaboration with Urge-owned Mason Ale Works in Oceanside) and Toolbox Brewing Company. They are as follows:

  • AleSmith/Urge Pappy Speedway Barrel-Aged Coffee Imperial Stout
  • AleSmith/Urge Velvet Echo Barrel-Aged Coffee Imperial Stout
  • Mother Earth Very Bad Things Bourbon Barrel-Aged Scotch Ale served on Nitro
  • Pure Project Oni Triple IPA
  • Rip Current sURGEing Currents Session IPA
  • Saint Archer/Mason Your Goat Tart Saison with Peaches
  • Toolbox Pinkies Up Sour Saison with Plum, Lemongrass & Kaffir Lime Leaves

A pre-anniversary tasting of some of the above beers proved a no-brainer, AleSmith/Urge Velvet Speedway and its new variants still taste exquisite. Velvet Speedway was originally brewed for Urge last year. Building off AleSmith’s venerable Speedway Stout, it was brewed with coffee and aged in 23-year-old Evan Williams bourbon barrels, then dosed with a rye whiskey-infused Madagascar vanilla bean tincture and given extra java punch care of bourbon barrel-aged Jamaican Blue Mountain cold-brew from local roasters, Mostra Coffee. This year’s Velvet Echo (the same recipe aged in the same barrels used for the original Velvet Speedway) and Pappy Speedway (aged 15 months in a 20-year Pappy Van Winkle barrel from Kentucky’s Buffalo Trace Distillery, then dosed with Kona coffee) offer new riffs on this complicated but not convoluted concept. But reveler cannot live on 12% sippers alone. To that end, there are a number of more sessionable and normal-strength beers on this list, which was built by Urge manager Bri Kling.

Going back to personal relationships, hers helped her score a number of harder-to-procure treats such as a milk chocolate porter from Stone Brewing aged in a combination of reposado tequila, red wine and bourbon barrels; and Knotty Sparkles, a double IPA from Three Weavers Brewing Company made extra glam with the addition of edible gold sparkles. It’s a lily-gilding technique Kling first saw Three Weavers head brewer Alexandra Nowell employ at a Brewbies festival. After forming a friendship with Nowell over several beers, Kling pleaded for the sparkle-treatment and, as a result, this is the “first and last time” one of Three Weavers’ beer will feature this form of bling outside of the breast-cancer festival arena.

Then there’s Pinkies Up, which Kling had a big hand in. A drinking buddy of Toolbox owner Spencer Peters and friend of the company’s head brewer Ehren Schmidt, she approached them about brewing a beer for Urge’s anniversary. Through many a conversation over many a beer, they decided to brew a pair of rustic saisons and oak age them with wild yeast starins dosed in at different percentages over four- and six-month periods, respectively. Kling helped dispatch 350 pounds of plums for this recipe, which also extracted flavor from lemongrass and Kaffir lime leaves. The result is a bracingly sour, yet highly drinkable beer that smells like a verdant Life-Saver and tastes like some electrified version of pink lemonade.

There will be 51 total beers on-tap over the weekend, with a few being subbed out on different days. When asked about some of the more interesting selections on the list, Kling points to a version of Intergalactic Brewing Company’s coffee cream ale, The Cake is a Lie, brewed with a twist to bring forth a peanut-brittle character; Knotty Sparkles; and a key lime-flavored Kolsch called Killbox from Washougal, Washington-based Doomsday Brewing Company. You know, your everyday types of beers…at least for one enchanted weekend.

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