Brazil’s Wäls Brewing first landed on our radar at the 2014 World Beer Cup in Denver. There, Tiago Carneiro and José Felipe Carneiro were two of the more rambunctious award winners, jumping onto the stage with zeal, hooting and hollering in their native Portuguese. Fast forward to late February 2015, and news broke that Wäls had been acquired by AmBev, a subsidiary of Belgium-based Anheuser-Busch InBev.
Now, Wäls’ “satellite brewery” (according to a DRAFT Magazine article) is opening in Chula Vista under the name NOVO Brazil Brewing Co. Representatives told WC that the two businesses have some shared business partners, but that they should be viewed as two distinct breweries. In mid-March, NOVO began producing the first of its 14 planned beer styles. So far, they’ve made Session Cacau IPA, Rio IPA with Simcoe hops, and a Trippel. Their tasting room is set to open this month (their Facebook page reports potentially the 18th).
Connections between San Diego and Brazil go back even further.
In 1995, San Diego and Campinas (two hours northwest of São Paulo) became sister cities, poised to engage culturally and commercially. In Campinas, the creator of Brazil’s RateBeer equivalent opened Bar Brejas, serving beers from all over the world.
Back in San Diego, censuses show nearly 4,000 Brazilians reside in the county. “Brazilian Day” is a popular and growing event, returning to Pacific Beach in September.
Locals Green Flash have an especially cool connection to Brazil. During SDBW 2013, Green Flash packaging supervisor Chris Weber (whose wife is Brazilian), hosted employees from Porto Alegre’s Seasons Craft Brewing. Earlier in the year, Weber had travelled to Brazil and collaborated on a hop-heavy IPA.
Seasons’ Founder Leo Sewald told us they visited plenty of spots here in SD: Green Flash, Stone, Alesmith, Ballast Point Home Brew Mart, Port/Lost Abbey, Belching Beaver, Amplified Ale Works, Pacific Beach Ale House, Neighborhood, White Labs, The Tap Room, Crazee Burger, Keg and Bottle, The Homebrewer, and Latitude 32 Pub.
As for beers, the group took to Stone Ruination IPA, Green Flash Green Bullet, Ballast Point Sculpin IPA, and AleSmith Double Hammerhead. They also got their hands on a barrel-aged Rare Form from Amplified Ale Works thanks to brewer Cy Henley.
San Diego’s craft beer scene has come full circle before Arsalun Tafazoli’s eyes.
When Tafazoli opened Neighborhood Ale House in 2006, he didn’t want it to be another bar in Downtown where shiny-shirts came to get hammered. Instead, the 25-year-old San Diego native wanted a place where beer would be appreciated for having substance.
“When we were starting out, young brewers would come in and tell stories about how they mortgaged their houses—put everything on the line to get their product out there,” says Tafazoli. “There was so much passion behind it. It was incredible to me that it didn’t have the same credibility as wine.”
Tafazoli made moves. His staff of mostly women were pros on the ins and outs of beer styles and food pairings. He regularly hosted meet-the-brewer nights―with out of towners like the venerable Dogfish Head and Allagash. Lee Chase (Blind Lady Ale House, Automatic Brewing Co., Tiger! Tiger!) was hired as Neighborhood’s first beverage manager.
“If Lee’s behind the bar pouring you a beer—to this day—he’ll get you behind it. It’s amazing to watch,” says Tafazoli of Chase, a mad beer scientist of sorts who worked as head brewer at Stone for nearly 10 years until 2006. “That got really hip; people would come in to taste more stuff. We’d get letters saying ‘I didn’t know what good beer was before.’ We really built a community one person at a time.”
Around the time of the housing market crash, there was a boom of creativity among brewers, says Tafazoli. And newly-broke winos took note. This is when Neighborhood took off, and gave rise to a new order of local establishments.
“San Diego is littered with gastro pubs now,” Tafazoli says. “Nowadays, the word “craft,” the term “farm to table”—it’s all been commodified. It’s a trend that people exploit. You see these banners hanging in front of places everywhere say “craft beer.” It’s more than getting a tap system installed; that’s just one component in the context of this bigger picture. You have to make sure the whole story makes sense or else it doesn’t work.”
Having grown from 33 breweries in 2007 to 88 at time of print, some of the craft beer scene’s original players are wary of its sustainability.
“It used to be that there was this young guy starting a brewery, and you’d want to support it. And now every day it’s someone else. It’s great for the proliferation of the culture, but I think some people are getting into the business for the wrong reasons.”
Tafazoli’s approach to success has launched what is today one of San Diego’s most ambitious and talked about hospitality brands, Consortium Holdings (CH). In 2008 he joined forces with Nate Stanton (El Dorado), when both of their businesses were gaining momentum in the up and coming East Village. Since, the two have undeniably elevated drinking and dining culture in San Diego with eight successful concepts and counting.
It doesn’t hurt to have a dream team behind their backs, with two-star Michelin Chef, Jason McLeod, helming kitchen operations for all the projects, and highly reputed bartenders like Erick Castro (Polite Provisions) and Anthony Schmidt (formerly of Noble Experiment, now headed to new project Rare Form). Then there’s local designer Paul Basile, whose past projects include Bankers Hill Restaurant + Bar and Acme Southern Kitchen.
Just last year, CH won national praise for two of its projects. The speakeasy Noble Experiment (designed by Mauricio Couturier) made Esquire Magazine’s top 100 bars list and Polite Provisions won Imbibe Magazine’s Cocktail Bar of the Year. The James Beard Foundation also loved Erick Castro’s Mayan Concubine cocktail at Polite, naming it one of their favorites of 2013, from a spot that opened the same year, no less.
“We want our spaces to promote our core values. It’s why we don’t do vodka or shit beer, and think about every aspect of a space—because it’s a reflection of who we are and what we want to perpetuate to our community,” says Tafazoli. “It was the Greg Kochs [Stone CEO] and the Lee Chases who reaffirmed what I thought. At first, people were coming in to Neighborhood and not getting it, and sticking to our identity and not watering it down—back when everything was on the line—that’s what made us.”
CH’s first all-out culinary endeavor, Ironside Oyster, has been packed since opening in early May. In the works are North Park’s Underbelly, an East Village juice bar, and Rare Form, a Jewish Deli that will share space with a Stone tasting room in the historic Simon Levi building next to Petco Park.
Tafazoli says of the perceived “seasonal” neighborhood, “The stadium has shaped the cultural geography of East Village, and not in a good way. Too many businesses cater to the stadium crowd. It’s not about walk-by traffic for us, it’s about the great community of people who live there,” he says. “We’ll create a synergy there with the two different businesses. The idea is that our core values are very much alike. Stone knows who they are, they stuck to it, and it’s been effective. They paved the way for a lot of people. You have to respect it.”
No one could have predicted the force that craft beer would play in the trajectory of Tafazoli’s businesses, let alone its tremendous impact on the local economy. Tafazoli points out that the proof lies in a craft beer newspaper like West Coaster—something most people wouldn’t have looked twice at a decade ago.
Still, Tafazoli remains cautiously optimistic about San Diego’s brewing future.
“A lot of brewing companies have popped up without understanding the soul and economics of the business. Unfortunately, I don’t think a lot of these guys will be able to sustain,” he says. “In the end, I want everyone in the community to be successful, but unfortunately capitalism is harsh. I think there is a lot of local talent sitting on the sidelines, waiting to see how things play out. I see them stepping up as other people phase out. Then, we’re going to experience a stronger renaissance.”
Meet AleSmith‘s head brewers as they pull out a few special variations of Speedway Stout for a mini trio flight at Neighborhood in the East Village starting at 6 p.m. $15 per flight includes the 5 oz. tastings of the original Speedway, Italian Roast Speedway, and Kopi Luwak Speedway, which features coffee berries eaten and excreted by the Asian Palm Civet, a small jungle mammal that picks the most plump berries for flavor-fortifying fermentation in its digestive tract.
Tasters of bourbon barrel-aged Old Numbskull Barleywine, bourbon barrel-aged Wee Heavy and 2012 Decadence will also be available, in addition to more great AleSmith taps: Grand Cru, Robust Porter, AleSmith IPA, Horny Devil and AleSmith ESB.
Happy San Diego Beer Week eve! As of this posting, there’s 363 events on SDBW.org. I’ve picked just one event for each day – which was pretty difficult. Please note that this list is VERY SUBJECTIVE and you should choose your own adventure for SDBW 2012. However, if you were curious as what/where I’d be drinking – here you go.
Friday, November 2
Grand Unveiling of Amplified Ale Works @ California Kebab PB
Cali-Kebab’s menu is solid with fresh Mediterranean-esque food, a fine tap list and a beer garden that overlooks the ocean. After some hiccups, the in-house brewery Amplified Ale Works officially launches this day with two house drafts and a cask. Mayor Sanders will tap the cask at 6PM.
Link to this event
Saturday, November 3
San Diego Brewers Guild Festival @ The Port Pavilion, Broadway Pier
Much effort has been spent in rectifying the problems from this festival in 2011. A new and larger venue has been secured and emphasis on crowd control was made a priority after last year’s beer lines stretched far. In addition, the San Diego Brewers Guild hired paid staff to organize this year’s festival (previously, this was a volunteer-organized event). All the pieces are in place and I’m betting this is going to be the best Guild Fest yet.
Link to this event
Sunday, November 4
Firestone Walker 16th Anniversary Release Party @ Stone Brewing Co.
Into the Brew columnist and Firestone Walker brewer Sam Tierney will be at Stone’s bistro outside bar serving ~12 Firestone specialties. If you have ever dreamed of getting into professional brewing, you should talk to Sam.
Link to this event
Monday, November 5
The Five Chef Societe @ The Handlery Hotel
I’m a big fan of every event the team at Handlery puts out. For this event, five local chefs pair five Societe Brewing Co. beers with five courses. Much thought has been put into this beer pairing dinner; while the ticket price is high at $80, this won’t be a light meal in portion nor flavor.
Link to this event
Tuesday, November 6
Lost Abbey Beer Pairing Dinner w/ Tomme Arthur @ Chuchill’s Pub
I’ve got high hopes for this one because Churchill’s and Lost Abbey are bringing their A-game. Five course meal with two food and beer pairings per course.
Link to this event
Wednesday, November 7
4th Fling Frisbee Golf Tournament
3rd Fling was my favorite event of SDBW 2011. Breakfast at Morley Field’s disk golf course and followed by a shotgun tournament. Afterwards, you visit Hamilton’s where there’s nonstop food and beer. I’m not going to say any more because it’s sold out, but if you are reading this and want to go – mark your calendar for next year.
Link to this event
Honorable mention (because the above event is sold out): Big Wednesday @ Toronado
Thursday, November 8
Dogfish Head Tap Takeover @ Neighborhood
There’s going to be a few DFH beers that I really enjoy on draft, such as Midas Touch and 120 Minute. In addition, it’s been a while since I’ve been to Neighborhood. I’m looking for this day to be a “relaxed” beer day.
Link to this event
Friday, November 9
Phil’s BBQ & Beer Fest w/ Monkey Paw, Manzanita & Societe
We teamed up with Phil’s BBQ for this one. For $25, there’s 6 five ounce beer samples and 6 BBQ tasters. This is being held in Phil’s Event Center (across the parking lot of their Point Loma location). We designed this event to promote San Diego beer to newbies, and with Phil’s seating ~3,000 daily we figured we might win a few converts. Keep the taster glass and win some raffle prizes while enjoying beer from some of SD’s best new breweries.
Link to this event
Saturday, November 10
Best Damn Sour Fest 2 @ The Beer Co.
If you love sour beer, look no further. Best Damn Beer Shop and Bine and Vine Bottleshop have raided their respective reserves and assembled a mighty list of beers to be poured. Cost is $55 for ten 3-4oz pours (tickets here).
Link to this event
Sunday, November 11
The Beer Garden @ The Lodge at Torrey Pines
The official closing event of SDBW. Unlimited beer and food from San Diego’s finest chefs and brewers paired together overlooking Torrey Pines Golf Course. If you are on the fence, take a look at the lineup, below.
Link to this event
San Diego Beer Week is also very special for us at West Coaster. Our very first issue was published for SDBW 2010. I wanted to give a big THANK YOU to all of our readers, supporters and friends for helping us get here. If you haven’t already, check out our November 2012 issue.
We’ve got a big, wild weekend coming up in San Diego beer. Below you’ll find plenty of anniversary celebrations, plus an array of other beer-y events all around the county.
El Cajon Brewing Company (1)
Two special releases, Quatro Cajones Quad IPA and French oak bourbon barrel-aged BreakOut 11 Stout, will be released at the East County brewery’s anniversary party that goes from 6 – 11 p.m. The cover charge is $18 for food, including a whole smoked pig, plus two house beers (but not the special releases).
Pre-sale tickets are sold out, and that shouldn’t surprise you. This event boasts some amazing beers, including several from the “five godfathers” of SD brewing: Stone Brewing Co. (Belong to Where You’re From – a blend of 2011 Stone Old Guardian Belgo Barley Wine, Stone 16th Anniversary IPA, Stone Levitation Ale, Dogfish Head / Victory / Stone Saison du BUFF, Stone Cali-Belgique IPA, Stone Pale Ale, fresh ginger and orange peel), Ballast Point (Black Scorpion – a blend of Black Marlin Porter and Sculpin IPA), Port/Lost Abbey (pouring a cocktail-inspired barrel-aged beer), Green Flash (5-year old barrel-aged barley wine, plus their Oktoberfest beer and Silva Stout) and AleSmith (Little Devil with Lavender, plus a special batch of Speedway Stout with Mocha Java coffee). $10 for four half-pint tasters on 8th Ave between Market & G Streets from 1 – 6 p.m. on Saturday.
Hamilton’s Tavern (6)
Hamilton’s higher-ups have dedicated their tap list to staff requests, and in addition there will be six cask beers tapped over the course of this weekend. On Friday it’s Alpine Pure Hoppiness and Sweet Georgia Brown root beer style; Saturday features Hamilton’s 6th Anniversary IPA (brewed by Green Flash) and AleSmith Evil Dead Red starting at 5 p.m. along with a delicious feast of food Second Saturday-style. On Sunday beginning at 10 a.m. taste oak-aged Ballast Point Dorado IIPA and Marin White Knuckle IIPA casks.
Live Wire (20)
A classic San Diego beer bar celebrates two decades this weekend. On Friday wear a Live Wire shirt for $3 throw-back-pricing beers with an “alumni” staff of bartenders. Saturday the crew celebrates with a sold-out show at the Lafayette Hotel, and on Sunday there’s a bicycle bar tour that starts at noon. In case you’re too hungover, Live Wire owners have rented a bus for those who’d rather sit than pedal.
From 1 – 6 p.m. on Saturday Hess Brewing Company is throwing a party. Taste the return of the German Dusseldorf Altbier Festivus, plus Claritas Kolsch and many others. Traditional German folk music will be going all afternoon, and Ranchwood BBQ is bringing brats and sauerkraut. For those who want to stick to Southern California fare, Casanova Fish Tacos will be serving too.
Two beer releases are the highlight of the day at Aztec. Barrel-aged Noche and barrel-aged Sacrifice will be on tap, and you’re invited to dress up in traditional German attire for a costume contest. Local caterer Oscar Meat Pie will be in attendance serving brats. The party goes from 12 – 7 p.m. in Vista.
The Lost Abbey’s “Ultimate Box Set” series is close to completion, with Track 10 of 12 debuting at 10:30 a.m. Saturday morning. Having started as Serpent Stout, Track 10 was infused with coffee and cacao in four specially-selected bourbon barrels before bottling. Don’t expect to take one home with you, though; each 375mL bottle must be consumed on site, same day.
Wet Hop Beer Festival
Now in its tenth year running, the O’Brien’s Wet Hop Fest is always a huge hit. This year, owner Tom Nickel has rounded up 31 different beers with many never seen at the event before. It’s also his biggest haul of out-of-state beers, ever. All the local and California beers go on tap Saturday, while of the non-CA brews go on this Sunday. Check out our “Wet Hop Beer Watch” page for the full list of beers.
Beginner Homebrew Class
If you’ve ever wanted to homebrew, but don’t know how to get started, visit All About Brewing this Saturday at 9 a.m. Store owner James Nunnally is hosting a malt extract brewing demonstration in front of the store, and he’s one of the most personable guys in the business. The class will be over by 11:30 a.m. so you can check out the weekend’s other events.
Beer and Fundraising
The High Dive in Bay Park is stepping up to support the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure on Saturday. A portion of beer sales, plus the money raised from the silent auction that includes Chargers and Aztec tickets, will go to the cause. The event goes from 5 – 9 p.m. at 1801 Morena Boulevard.
Beer and Music
Held in downtown Vista, this new festival features tons of local breweries, including Mother Earth, Belching Beaver (set to soft open next week), Latitude 33, Backstreet, Indian Joe, Pizza Port, Stone, Oggi’s, San Marcos, Fezziwig’s, AleSmith, Breakwater, Offbeat and Oceanside Ale Works. Regional breweries Left Coast, Ironfire, Maui, Hangar 24 and Golden Road complete the list. Tasters are five for $20 or ten for $30 at vistabluesandbrews.com.