This is the third in a series of four posts taking a look at some of the most promising brewing venues currently in the works around San Diego County. The first two examined spots in the eastern and western communities. Today, we switch our attention to North County and the Hops Highway.
Wild Barrel Brewing Co., San Marcos: Two ex-Stone Brewing employees are teaming up to produce a wide variety of beers steps from Stone’s original brewery (now home to Port Brewing and The Lost Abbey). Renowned beer-expect Bill Sysak is leading the charge while Bill Sobieski (formerly of Anaheim’s Hoparazzi) will do the brewing using a brewhouse procured from El Cajon’s since-closed URBN St. Brewing Co.
Click here to read more about this project
Horus Aged Ales, Oceanside: Creating a portfolio made up exclusively of barrel-aged beers is no easy feat, but it’s one Kyle Harrop is eager to attempt. And he’ll do it with a little help from his friends, namely brewers from all over the country, including local interests such as Abnormal Beer Co., Rip Current Brewing and fellow North County work-in-progress White Fence Brewing. This is a boutique brewery if there’s ever been one.
Click here to read more about this project
Ebullition Brew Works, Vista: While information on the beers that this long-time work-in-progress will debut are hard to come by, details uncovered about the environment they’ll be consumed within are promising. A stylish tasting room with plenty of bar space and a special beer-delivery system in which glasses are placed onto pop-up taps and filled from the bottom up will provide a pretty cool differentiator that doesn’t exist in any brewery in the county.
From the Beer Writer: You know that feeling when you arrive at a bar or a friend’s house and, before you can even say a word, you’re handed a beverage that you hastily take a sip of and instantly find yourself completely blown away by? Of course you do. It’s one of those magic moments beer-lovers live for: the exciting discovery of something brand new and exquisite. That happened to me last weekend at Dos Desperados Brewery. I arrived at that San Marcos establishment to help staff one of my Beer to the Rescue fundraising events and was greeted by a full pour of a lovely golden beer with a fluffy white head, Dos Desperados Nelson Lager. Happy to be there and off State Route 78, I dove right in…and fell in love. It was the perfect beer for the sunny day I was in the midst of—light in body yet big on hop and lager-yeast character in the nose and on the palate. The limestone and floral notes from the yeast dovetailed beautifully with vinous flavors from the Nelson Sauvin making up the beer’s entire hop-bill. It was simple yet special, so much that I could have spent hours drinking pint after pint, something that wouldn’t have been too tough given the beer’s 4.9% alcohol-by-volume stat. The recipe for this all-day pleaser (which, as good as it was, is only in its R&D phase) was developed with fellow San Marcos operation, Prodigy Brewing Company, with assistance from a noted lager expert at Mission Valley’s Gordon Biersch brewpub. I’m glad to report it will be on-tap and helping Beer to the Rescue tomorrow, and soon become a staple in Dos Desperados’ year-round portfolio.
From the Brewer: “Our Nelson Lager is a Prodigy Brewing, Gordon Biersch and Dos Desperados Brewery collaboration for Beer to the Rescue that benefits the Lupus Foundation of Southern California. A special thanks goes out to Dean Rouleau and Doug Hasker for this Czech-style lager with rich, crisp maltiness and freshly crushed gooseberry flavor—think Sauvignon Blanc grapes from New Zealand, which come care of the Nelson Sauvin hops we used.”—Steve Munson, Owner & Brewmaster, Dos Desperados Brewery
From the Beer Writer: Over the past two years or so, with the rising popularity of goses, salt-infused sour ales originating in the Goslar region of Germany, beers with added salinity have become more common and given way to multiple breweries’ attempts at ales brewed to taste like Margaritas. Most of these beers fall far short of the promise of a brightly citrusy, salty quaff that comes anywhere close to resembling Mexico’s tequila-laced flagship cocktail. But when San Marcos’ The Lost Abbey announced it had tried its hand at a Margarita beer, I felt pangs of hope. Their attempt, The Lost Abbey Madonna and Son, was more involved than others’ attempts, a blend of beers aged in tequila barrels with lime and salt added. It certainly sounds like a logical go at a Margarita beer, but like most, if not all, it’s a fail at mimicking that tipple. But that doesn’t mean this beer isn’t interesting as all get out. Dark brown and muddy in appearance, it’s rich with oak and spirit notes, but uplifted by intense lime tartness. The salt is all in the finish and, even then, its very faint. Unlike any beer anywhere, it’s an anomaly that tests the limits of one’s palate. It’s not a Margarita, but it is a step toward a brewery’s growing understanding of the most rangy and unpredictable type of barrels around.
From the Brewer: “Madonna and Child is a beer we have been wanting to create for some time now. A base agave-ale spiked with lime and salt, and aged in resposado Tequila barrels, it’s our take on the flavors of a Margarita, which is a staple in our world. While it did take close to 30 different blends to get to the finished product, thanks to the patience exhibited by [our director of brewery production and quality assurance] Gwen Conley and her crew of blenders, we’re extremely happy with how Madonna and Child turned out. This is the second Tequila barrel-aged beer The Lost Abbey has released, Agave Maria being the first, and with how well we think it came out, it has us excited to create another!”—Tomme Arthur, Director of Brewery Operations, The Lost Abbey/Port Brewing Co./The Hop Concept
Every six months, I like to take a step back and assess the work-in-progress breweries and brewer-owned venues throughout San Diego County, and expound on those I believe show the most promise. This is not to say those not listed below don’t have solid potential—but based on what I know about these businesses, I think they have the best shot. This time around, I’m splitting my selections into two geographic regions, north and south, and starting with the former. Check back next week for another group of breweries-to-be.
SR76 Beer Works, Valley Center: Constructed within Harrah’s Southern California Resort, this will be the first tribe-owned brewery and the first beer-manufacturing facility within a hotel. With a rare brewery-construction project where funds are plentiful, getting a solid brewer to helm the project represented the biggest challenge and it would seem they chose wisely, going with Brian Scott, a veteran of reigning Mid-Size US Brewery of the Year Karl Strauss Brewing Company and Mission Brewery. His beers will be served in spacious, lush tasting-room that will add a much appreciated new element to casino-going craft fans.
Indian Joe Brewing, Vista: The county’s first Native American-owned brewery stands to do well when it opens later this year. After all, it gained a hardy following from 2013-2015, and that was using a tiny brewing system in a tucked-away industrial suite in south Vista. Now the company has a brand-new 15-barrel system, a robust cellar and a stock of oak-barrels inside its new 18,000-square-foot facility, which is fully visible off State Route 78. Add in a two-story tasting room with an outdoor patio and fans who’ve been waiting for Indian Joe’s return figure to be pretty happy with Version 2.0.
Burgeon Beer Company, Carlsbad: In most cases, when judging how promising a future brewery will be, it comes down to experience. That’s what my assessment of this upcoming North County brewery is all about, and the experience lies in brewer Anthony Tallman, the current head of fermentation at Vista’s Backstreet Brewery, who came there after meaningful stints at Stone Brewing and Rough Draft Brewing Company. Being in charge of a brewpub, he stands a good chance of juggling the multiple styles he aims to produce.
Julian Brewing Company, Julian: Julian has a brewery, one which was built when the former co-owner of Julian Brewing ventured out on his own. This OG local beer spot was later closed by its current parent-company, Pizza Port, and is in the process of being rebranded. Knowing what its former shortcomings were, plus business experience and a stable of quality brewers to ensure good beer pours forth from its second-coming provide a basis for hope in the reimagined brewpub this venue becomes.