Last year, personal differences led to long-time friends and Pacific Brewing Company co-founders Andrew Heino and Chris Chalmers shutting down their business and heading their separate ways. At that time, Heino shared his interest in picking up the pieces and building a new brewery. It wasn’t long before he set out on that mission and, now, his Align Brewing Company is an estimated month or two away from making its debut at Pacific’s former home in Miramar. We summoned him from the construction-site long enough to ask about his phoenix-from-the-ashes interest.
West Coaster: What motivated you to start work on Align so soon after closing Pacific Brewing?
Andrew Heino: I’ve been trying to open a brewery since 2008. All four of my first attempts were with brewer-partners. The fact that Pacific opened was only because I had learned so much from the first three tries and never gave up. Unfortunately, it was short lived, but I still view Pacific as a success and huge learning experience. Partnerships are very difficult especially as time goes by and people change. It’s not uncommon for partnerships to end poorly. But I picked myself up, held my head high, directed all my focus on a fifth brewery attempt and here we are now, close to opening Align. I could not have done it without the support of my wife, family and friends. And if brewery number five doesn’t work out, I’ll probably try to open another one.
WC: Tell me about the team behind Align.
AH: I’ve been working in the brewing industry and homebrewing non-stop for 10 years. I started out as a volunteer at Oceanside Ale Works, then got hired on at Stone Brewing as, I believe, their first assistant brewer. I worked in various positions there, learning every day and becoming more and more knowledgeable. I decided to start my own brewery about eight years ago and I’ve never looked back. I am mainly doing everything myself at Align, and am extremely fortunate and very grateful for having some amazingly talented and generous people in my life who have helped me in many ways throughout the rebuilding process; from making my logo-art, to some plumbing and electrical, and a number of other areas.
WC: How will Align differ from Pacific Brewing?
AH: Since it’s just me now, I can make whatever I want whenever I want. I have total creative freedom and I’m excited to try making some exceptional beers…and maybe a few weird and wacky beers. You’ll be seeing a lot of experimental beers as well as seasonal recipes, and we are planning to do a lot of collaborations with other brewers. More emphasis will be focused on expansion of the company and distributing these amazing beers to more people. On the brewery-side, every piece been changed and upgraded to a seven-barrel system. The brewhouse kettle is a new, innovative system that no one else in San Diego has. The only parts of that location that are the same are the cold-box and the bar-top that I built in 2013. Everything else has been revamped for the better.
WC: What styles of beer will Align offer?
AH: Our year-round core beers will be well-rounded to accommodate all tastes, and will most likely include a cerveza-style Pilsner, stout, pale ale and many IPAs. The seasonal brews will be the higher-ABV styles and weird-addition types. Because we’re not a niche or specialty brewery, we are not going to be focusing mainly on one style. That said, we are true hop-heads and consider IPA to be the pinnacle of beer in many ways. So, we will certainly be offering many new and unique IPAs and hop-forward beers over time.
WC: What will the tasting room be like and when will it open to the public?
AH: The tasting room will feature sacred geometry, interesting lighting, local art, ocean, stars and comfortable chairs. It will be very clean and streamlined, and feel more like a brewery than a restaurant. We’re currently waiting on the final government OK to start brewing, then we’ll brew nonstop for about three weeks until we have our core-beers. Provided all goes well, the soft-opening will be followed by our grand-opening. It’s hard to say a specific date, but I think April is a good possibility.
For a number of years, two breweries—Oceanside Ale Works and Breakwater Brewing Company—called the City of Oceanside home. Then, seemingly overnight, the North County coastal community found itself in the midst of a food-and-drink revolution. Adventurous restaurants began opening at a rapid clip, and with them have come numerous brewing operations (Bagby Beer Company, Legacy Brewing Company, Belching Beaver Brewery, Midnight Jack Brewing Company, Urge Gastropub’s Mason Ale Works and the open-and-soon-shut Beer Brewing Company), as well as the county’s only meadery, Golden Coast Mead. Last month, O-side welcomed another into its suddenly sudsy scene, Oceanside Brewing Company (312 Via Del Norte, Oceanside).
Though the latest addition, this project goes back further than any of the others. Master brewer Greg Distefano (who has been brewing for 25 years, served as master brewer for Stuffed Pizza—now Oggi’s—and founded local homebrew club San Diego Brew Techs) purchased the name Oceanside Brewing Company 15 years ago with the dream of starting a world-class brewery. Now, he and co-founder/head brewer Tomas Bryant have brought it to life in a 2,100-square-foot space with a three-and-a-half-barrel brewhouse and 1,900-square-foot outdoor patio. Both share a love of Oceanside’s diverse population and hometown feel, and hope to contribute something of quality to the community. One thing’s for sure, they’ve certainly brought quantity with 18 taps, all pumping out different and widely varied beer styles.
Core beers include an American pale ale, India pale ale (IPA), amber ale, cream ale, hefeweizen and English-style porter. Those share space beside a pineapple-infused IPA, double IPA, black IPA (or Cascadian dark ale, as they prefer to refer to it), barley-wine, tropical hefe, imperial stout, Belgian-style strong ale and witbier. Honey-wines and braggots are also something they will produce with great regularity. Distefano and Bryant utilize more than 20 yeast strains from nearby Real Brewer’s Yeast to ferment these and their other beers.
What might look like a beer-board populated by randomly landing spitballs actually has quite a bit of reason behind it. Distefano and Bryant are self-proclaimed historical brewers, and say each beer has a historical reason for being on-tap, calling their style “classic-meets-innovation”. They are enthused that this is the only time in the history of the world that literally every beer ingredient known to mankind is at brewers’ disposal, cautiously adding that this may not always be the case. While it is, they intend to take advantage of the current state of the fermentation arts.
Oceanside’s rapid renaissance as a center for artisanal food and drink has been remarkable. From exotic eateries to boutique shops and craft breweries, the county’s northernmost coastal municipality has a lot going for it and more going in all the time. Come this fall, Midnight Jack Brewing Company figures to come into the Oside fold when it opens the doors to its inland facility.
Last week, founder and brewmaster John Scheri signed off on a lease for an industrial space at 3801 Oceanic Drive. If that address sounds familiar, it’s because it’s one number different from the site that housed the community’s first brewery, Oceanside Ale Works. Scheri actually got his first taste of pro brewing volunteering on brew days at that interest. This came after years of homebrewing during which he collected some awards, including making the top three of the western regionals for the Samuel Adams LongShot American Homebrew Competition with his IPA in 2008.
After OAW, Scheri (an automotive technician by trade) landed the head brewer job at Murrieta’s BullDog Brewery, where he kept up on production of roughly 15 varied house beers. The beer line-up figures to be just as diverse at Midnight Jack, where Scheri will utilize a 15-barrel, direct-fire system to produce a number of India pale ales, lagers, stouts, brown ales and more. He is particularly proud of his toasted coconut porter and looking forward to taking on barrel-aging and sour beer at some point. If all goes as planned, Midnight Jack will produce 1,100 barrels of beer in Year One and double that the following year. Unlike many new breweries, Scheri and company will start out packaging beer, beginning with 22-ounce bottles.
When asked why he chose to build his business in Oceanside, Scheri gives the same answer as he does when asked why he chose to live there, saying it reminds he and his wife, Kathy (the marketing and business development arm of Midnight Jack), of their previous digs on the Jersey Shore. Everything they or their customers could want—restaurants, bars, shopping, the beach—is just five short minutes away. They are excited to be a part of such a booming area, and appreciate that their facility will allow them to grow when the time to expand comes.
Scheri intends to outfit Midnight Jack’s tasting room with reclaimed wood while keeping it true to its manufacturing roots, describing the projected motif as “modern light industrial meets vintage warehouse.” Once open, he hopes to also use the sampling area as a classroom for homebrew instructional sessions, so anyone interested in learning about brewing can catch the bug that ultimately fueled his career change.
San Diegan brewers earned fourteen medals at the 2013 Great American Beer Festival; 5 gold medals, 3 silver medals and 6 bronze medals overall.
Category 12 (Session Beer)
Gold: Beer Hunter, Pizza Port Ocean Beach, San Diego
Category 19 (American Style Sour ale)
Bronze: Red Poppy, The Lost Abbey, San Marcos
Category 51 (American-Style Strong Pale Ale)
Gold: Bonobos, Monkey Paw Pub & Brewery, San Diego
Bronze: Kung Fu Elvis, Pizza Port Ocean Beach, San Diego
Category 55 (Imperial Red Ale)
Silver: Rhino Chaser, Pizza Port Ocean Beach, San Diego
Category 60 (Irish-Style Red Ale)
Gold: Red Trolley, Karl Strauss Brewing Co., San Diego
Bronze: Ragtop Red, Rock Bottom La Jolla
Category 61 (English-Style Brown Ale)
Bronze: Longboard Brown, Rock Bottom La Jolla, La Jolla
Category 63 (American-Style Black Ale)
Silver: Black Sails, Coronado Brewing Co., Coronado
Bronze: Oxymoron, Oceanside Ale Works, Oceanside
Category 72 (Belgian-Style Abbey Ale)
Silver: Decadence 2012 Quadrupel, AleSmith Brewing Co., Miramar
Category 75 (Robust Porter)
Gold: Moonlight Porter, Rock Bottom La Jolla, La Jolla
Category 80 (Oatmeal Stout)
Bronze: Oats., Pizza Port Solana Beach, Solana Beach
Category 84 (Barley Wine-Style Ale)
Gold: Old Numbskull, AleSmith Brewing Co., Miramar
Here are the next week’s event highlights. Check out our Event Calendar for more.
10/5 Wednesday, 5P — Sierra Nevada and Friends Night @ Urge Gastropub
A fantastical feature presentation of the many fine brews produced by such breweries as Sierra Nevada, Widmer, Oceanside Aleworks, and Hangar 24. With 22 beers from Sierra Nevada alone, URGE will roll out some of your old favorites plus a few new goodies to satisfy your craft beer craving.
10/6 Thursday, 7 – 8:30P — Taste Thursdays w/ Merchant Du Vin @ 98 Bottles
98 Bottles was one of our “5 places to check out” in the October issue as each Thursday they hold a beer, wine or sake educational pairing event. This week try beers from Samuel Smith, Ayinger and Orval Trappist Monastery paired with six food dishes. $25 if you RSVP by calling (619) 255-7885, $30 at the door. There will be special deals on retail packages featuring the event’s beers.
10/7 Friday, 5P — Firkin Friday @ Hamilton’s w/ AleSmith Evil Dead Red
This beer is really, really good. I’ll just grab the description from the website: “About this beer: Halloween is time for our annual Evil Dead Red specialty brew (available on draft only). Vivid mahogany color, good head formation and retention. Rich, chewy, toasty, malty flavors perfectly balanced by a moderate hoppy bitterness. Qualities: The aroma starts with a pleasant hop aroma followed by a nice malty sweetness. Well-rounded and well-balanced. Smooth, medium-bodied. Lush and rich on the palate with a semi-dry finish.” This beer is really, really good.
10/8 Saturday, 11am – 4pm — Taste of North Park
This hip, one-day event presented by North Park Main Street (the uptown neighborhood’s Business Improvement District) costs $30 for tastes from 36 restaurants as well as craft beer from various galleries & boutiques. Designated bike parking will be available at 30th & Upas. Tickets go up to $35 the day of the event. For more info visit, tastenorthpark.com
10/9 Sunday, 11am — Sunday Funday @ Stone w/ 2006 Double Bastard Ale (in bottles)
Every Sunday Stone “raids their cellars” to find some great beer for you, and this week is no exception with 2006 Double Bastard Ale.
10/10 Monday, Game time! — Monday Night Football with Anchor Brewing @ Hamilton’s
For five weeks Hamilton’s is celebrating America with Anchor Brewing, MNF and our Troops! $.50 wings, $1 dogs & $2 baja dogs, with $5 glass/$3.50 refills of Anchor Humming; $1 of each Humming served will go to Wounded Warriors Project!
10/11 Tuesday, 7 – 9pm — Beer & Cheese: Black and Blue @ Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens
Join Certified Cicerone and Stone Beverage Coordinator “Dr.” Bill Sysak as he guides you through “an evening of unexpected and exquisite flavor combinations” as this popular cheese pairing event returns. Find out how extraordinary the partnership can be between bleu cheese and dark beers. Pairings: Fourme d’ Ambert with 8 Wired iStout, Bleu d’Auvergne with Stone Smoked Porter, Rogue Creamery Echo Mountain Blue with Xbeeriment Black Force One, Roquefort Papillon with Port Older Viscosity, Queso de Cabrales with Stone 15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA, and Stilton with De Molen Cease & Desist. More info/tix here.
Looks like there are no events specifically for 10/12, but there are some great events that go down weekly. La Jolla’s La Valencia Hotel has a burger & beer pairing special every Wednesday for $15, beer-centric Wednesday specials are available at Sessions Public, and $3 pints (not including specialties) are being poured at KnB Wine Cellars, Breakwater Brewing Co., and La Jolla Brew House.
Do you want to have your event listed in this weekly event post? Submit your event to our calendar so we’ll be able to review it.