From the Beer Writer: Saisons are my favorite beer style and I, like many a San Diegan, adore hops. So you can imagine my excitement when encountering a farmhouse-style ale given a punch of botanical goodness care of a “super” infusion of lupulin-laced greenery. Adding to my excitement was the rare chance to taste a beer with Home Brewing Company roots outside its enclave within North Park shop The Homebrewer. This opportunity came care of 32 North Brewing Company, which invited Home’s crew to their Miramar home to create this beer, Sharks with Blazers. Described as “an aggressively hoppy super saison,” it comes in at 7% alcohol-by-volume with plenty of grapefruit and orange notes. Bold yet refreshing, it’s an awesome summer beer that I’ve found myself reaching for with great regularity. The hops make themselves known in the bouquet, and their flavors meld perfectly with yeast-borne esters. It’s impossible to tell where the fruitiness from one ends and the other begins, which is a wonderful testament to outstanding ingredient selection and recipe development.
From the Brewers: “Brewing with friends is what beer is all about. George and everyone at The Homebrewer, past and present, are amazing. It was fun to combine our knowledge of the
craft to come up with this beer was fun. A mix of San Diegan hop-forward [character] and a distinct saison yeast strain make for a unique, hoppy, super saison. I love the fact we canned this beer and would love to brew it again”—Nick Ceniceros, Head Brewer, 32 North Brewing Company
“Sharks with Lasers was a recipe developed by Shawn Manriquez, HBC’s previous head brewer. Designed to be a super-juicy IPA it has been one of the most popular beers we make. To develop the 32 North collaboration version we took a growler of original Sharks with Lasers and a bunch of commercial saisons and white IPAs to do some experimenting. With a bunch of taster glasses we went through the saisons we liked and then mixed them in varying proportions with Sharks to come up with a basic idea of a flavor profile for a saison-IPA for the collab version. With the basic idea in mind we then built an entirely new recipe from scratch and went straight to the full batch size at 32 North. The brew days were pretty straightforward. It wasn’t until dry-hop day that the real fun started. Nick blasted this beer with 11 pounds of Mosaic LupuLN2 powder, a sticky, soft hop extract that does not pour easily from a bag. He spent over an hour on a ladder hand-scooping this stuff into the fermenter using a screwdriver to drive it through the funnel. Talk about commitment! I personally learned a lot working with Nick, Jeff and Collier up there and am really happy with the end result.”—Jacob Bauch, Head Brewer, Home Brewing Company
Before Ballast Point Brewing was a company capable of commanding decuple figures, before it grew into San Diego County’s largest brewery and one of the biggest beer-producers in the country, before there even was a brewery called Ballast Point, there was Home Brew Mart (HBM). That Linda Vista hobby shop—one of the first to grace America’s Finest City—opened quietly in 1992 and, over the following quarter-century, has ignited a fire for recreational fermentation within a great many ale-and-lager neophytes. That includes individuals who now own breweries and brew professionally. Some of that contingent even worked for HBM in its early days. In celebration of the big two-five, Ballast Point is creating Family Reunion collaboration beers with those ex-employees as well as former BP brewers, an impressive assemblage of well-known, award-winning talent.
Several of the beers have already been released, while others are scheduled to be brewed in time for them to all be on-tap at HBM’s 25th anniversary event on September 24. The following is a breakdown of the collaborators, their creations and their past.
In an effort to increase its current employee base’s knowledge on the history of BP and its eldest venue, vice president Colby Chandler asked each collaborator to speak to present-day brewers about their time with the company, how it was then and how it prepared them to venture out on their own. Many said that making beer at such a fast-growing brewing company provided them wide-ranging experience as well as reference points for overcoming myriad obstacles. According to Chandler, many brewery owners, in particular, felt their time with BP made it much easier once they were working for themselves.
In addition to the HBM anniversary event, BP is also holding a series of beer-pairing dinners incorporating the aforementioned collaboration brews at HBM. The next will take place on August 24 and include five courses served with Swemiceros, Bay to Bay, Scripps Tease and various other BP beers. Chandler, Tweet, Stephens, LeBlanc and Ceniceros will all be in attendance.
There are plenty of positive things to appreciate about San Diego’s brewing community. Ales and lagers take the spotlight, but perhaps even more impactful and important is when breweries’ reach goes beyond taps, bottles and cans, and increases the quality of life for people in need. It’s something that happens with great regularity in our county. The first instance of such brewery humanitarian efforts will take place Thursday when 32 North Brewing Company (8655 Production Avenue, Miramar) releases a special beer called “Julia’s Grand Cru”.
This dark Belgian-style ale will go on-sale in 32 North’s tasting room on January 5 from 5 to 8 p.m. Its Candi-sugar sweetness matches that of the individual that proceeds from sales of this beer will benefit: Julia Davidson. In June of 2015, little Julia (then just six years old) was diagnosed with Stage IV Neuroblastoma. This particularly aggressive form of cancer attacked her bone-marrow and compressed her spine, but after a year-and-a-half filled with multiple rounds of chemotherapy and trips to specialists around the country, she is in remission. This is a wonderful outcome, but the extensive treatment steps undertaken to beat this disease were costly to say the least. This is where 32 North is so graciously coming into the picture.
Head brewer Nick Ceniceros and brewer Jeff Swem got together to develop the recipe for Julia’s Grand Cru. In their words, it’s “a special beer for a special girl,” and proceeds from sales at the event as well as kegs sold to accounts will go straight to the Davidson family. Additionally, the food offered at the beer-release will be sold in exchange for donations. It’s a heartfelt undertaking marked by a hearty beer benefiting a strong, brave, resilient girl with immeasurable heart.
Though small and not widely known just yet, 32 North Brewing Company (8655 Production Avenue, Miramar) is looking to push above its below-the-radar position in the San Diego brewing scene. The company has steadily upped its draft accounts over the past several months and, in May, debuted a satellite tasting-bar inside Liberty Station’s new Moniker General collective. But owner Steve Peterson wasn’t done there. In the past week, he picked up two known industry vets like an NBA GM sifting through the free-agent market.
First came Mike Mellow, a long-time local beer-sales force who recently left his post at North Park’s Fall Brewing Company. A mutual friend reached out to Peterson to tell him of Mellow’s availability. Over a four-day span, the pair hammered out an employment agreement. During those negotiations, Mellow shared with Peterson that Fall’s head brewer, Nick Ceniceros, was on the lookout for new opportunities as well. A meeting was scheduled and now Ceniceros will be in charge of 32 North’s brewing program.
Mellow is a San Diego veteran who held lead sales roles for Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits, Mission Brewery, Saint Archer Brewery and Mike Hess Brewing Company prior to Fall. Prior to Fall, Ceniceros worked as an assistant brewer with Green Flash Brewing Company after getting his start on the bottling line at Ballast Point. He will step onto a brew-deck vacated by former head-brewer Will Gallaspy, who took over for original 32 North brewer John Hunter, who is now with Bay Ho’s Bitter Brothers Brewing Company.
Additional fermentation tanks are currently on order as 32 North poises itself for increased production. Peterson is also readying for the introduction of three beers in 12-ounce cans. Those aluminum receptacles will be filled via a recently purchased in-house canning line.