From the Beer Writer: Though this week’s featured beer was produced just north of San Diego in San Clemente, it has plenty of ties to our community. It was produced by Left Coast Brewing, the brewery arm of the Oggi’s—a brewpub and restaurant chain that was founded in San Diego County—and is available at all of its local locations. Additionally, it incorporates java from STACHE Coffee Company, a roaster headquartered in Oceanside. But most importantly, to myself and other San Diegans living with lupus, it was crafted to raise money for the Beer to the Rescue campaign established to help victims of this autoimmune disease. While most of Beer to the Rescue’s beers debuted in May, this one came on a little later, but its humanitarian mission is every bit as real as the pleasant notes of roasted beans and cocoa coming off this otherwise traditional American-style cream ale. Those scents segue to an agreeable flavor-profile that is purposefully light, allowing subdued coffee and zingy, lemony acidity to come through. At 4.7% alcohol-by-volume, it’s a session beer, but the impact it’s already had on this charity campaign is imperial.
From the Brewer: “With this beer, we set out to produce a light-bodied ale with a coffee aroma, something your everyday coffee drinkers could appreciate. We teamed up with STACHE Coffee Company to make sure the coffee we used was top-shelf and fresh. We chose Stache’s Guatemala Antigua Kapeu coffee for its unique taste. In total, we used about 60 pounds of coffee in this beer. We ground up the coffee the morning of the brew day, and pumped it into the tank where it sat for one week. The result is a golden-colored beer with a coffee, milk chocolate and hazelnut aroma.”—Tommy Hadjis, Brewing Manager, Left Coast Brewing Company
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.
From the Beer Writer: There are some beers that just stick with you. I started drinking in the late-nineties. Back then, the landscape for local beer was much different. Most of today’s drinkers wouldn’t even recognize an India pale ale (IPA) of that era against one from present-day (except Stone or Swami’s IPA). Back then, I was more about the malt and easily gravitated to one of the first deep, dark stouts I tried, Black Magic Stout from Oggi’s. It’s a very traditional beer that gives a stout fan everything they want—roasted, chocolate, nutty and coffee flavors—along with a low viscosity that makes for a pleasant and prolonged imbibing experience. Recently, I hit up the newest Oggi’s location in Vista and was pleased to see a barrel-aged version of this classic on tap. I ordered it up and got lost in memories that were just as rapturous and enjoyable as this beer, which comes in at 7.7% alcohol-by-volume with added flavors of vanilla and dried fruits (think raisins or dates) as a result of its spirit-barrel rest. It felt good saying hello to an old friend. In terms of beer, we had both done a bit of maturing, but it remained way smoother than I’ll ever be.
From the Brewer: “This is a version of Oggi’s Black Magic Stout aged in new American oak bourbon-style barrels. The beer pours black with a tannish head. The aroma is filled with vanilla, figs, cookie-dough and Tootsie Rolls. It has a chocolate, coffee, raisin and toasted coconut flavor and delivers a good, warming sensation, finishing dry with some fruity notes. This is a solid beer with a nice, smooth flavor.”—Randal Dilibero, Master Brewer, Left Coast Brewing Company
Santee-based Twisted Manzanita Ales & Spirits is closing down its tasting room in Pacific Beach. Located at 4652 Mission Boulevard, the 1,400-square-foot satellite, non-brewing facility was opened in 2014 as a coastal yang to the yin that is the company’s easterly inland headquarters. This is the third brewery-owned venue closure in the past 30 days, following URBN Restaurant Group shutting down the brewing component of its El Cajon brewpub and Stone Brewing Co. deciding to pull the plug on Stone Farms. But there’s more to this closure than the others, says employees and former staff at Twisted Manzanita.
According to several internal sources, Twisted Manzanita’s ownership informed employees of the Pacific Beach tasting room that they were closing it temporarily in order to remodel the venue. While they were away, the draft system was disassembled. (The photos here show the state of things when an employee arrived unannounced last Sunday evening.)
According to Twisted Manzanita employees and witnesses at a neighboring business, last Monday night ownership ordered staff from Santee to come to PB to clear out the tasting room. Items were loaded into a truck and trailer and hauled away. An internal email later confirmed the business was not being remodeled but, in fact, being closed.
Twisted Manzanita is in the process of working with a group of separate investors to try to open an Oggi’s-style ale house in North Park, but there is no guarantee that, if that comes to fruition, the company’s PB employees will be offered jobs at that location.
The information in this article was offered and corroborated by multiple Twisted Manzanita employees who wished to share this information anonymously. A number of them stated that, as of press-time, the PB tasting room employees still had no idea their workplace was being closed down, making this a particularly bitter bit of news to deliver. (Editor’s Note: Outside of the employees interviewed for this article, Twisted Manzanita Ales could not be reached for comment.)
We are wrapping up our four-part series citing some of the most intriguing work-in-progress breweries and brewery-owned venues in San Diego County. Over the past month, we’ve outlined standouts in North County, the best of the West and gems from South of Interstate 8. Today, we’re scouring East County to see what the future has in store for the inland communities.
Depot Springs Beer Company, La Mesa: It’s been in the works for some time, but that’s understandable considering a brewery, distillery and restaurant comprise this complex 20,000-square-foot project. Much of the anticipation is fueled by the pedigree of master distiller Phillip Soto Mares, whose two decades of spirit-conjuring experience lend clout to the entire operation. Meanwhile, the beer will be the charge of a GABF medal winner whose résumé includes stints at Port Brewing Co. / The Lost Abbey and Silver Moon Brewing. Strategically sited, it will be in close proximity to La Mesa’s popular Grossmont Center shopping mall as well as the municipality’s only other two breweries, Bolt Brewery and Helix Brewing Company.
Karl Strauss Brewing Company, Santee: Uncle Karl’s crew likes to stay busy. Over the past few years, the business has taken a break from opening new restaurants, instead focusing on expanding distribution of its packaged beer. Now, San Diego’s longest continually operating post-Prohibition Era brewing company is shifting its attention back to the home front and working to bring its latest brewery-restaurant to Santee, where it will fall right in with nearby breweries including Twisted Manzanita Ales, Butchers Brewing, Pacific Islander Beer Co., BNS Brewing and Distilling Co. and Karl Strauss’ most directly comparable competitor, Oggi’s.
Knox Corners Brewing Company, Lakeside: Originally slated to touch down in El Cajon until City regulations and red tape inspired its founders to move the project elsewhere, this project makes the list primarily because it will bring craft beer to a community that currently has very little and none produced within its geographic limits. El Cajon’s loss will be Lakeside’s gain and expose a town dense with macrobeer drinkers to something hand-crafted and a local business citizens can proudly support. That’s potential that goes beyond what’s in the glass based solely on what’s in the glass.
NOTE: The items above have been selected from a list of public projects. There are a number of projects that are quite exciting throughout San Diego, but cannot be disclosed as they are confidential in nature and must be kept under wraps by request of the business owners.