Many were those who felt for Tom Garcia when he announced he was closing his business, Offbeat Brewing Company, last March. The Escondido shuttered following one last hurrah on St. Patrick’s Day after five years of presenting mostly English-inspired ales along with art from local creators. A former employee at nearby Stone Brewing before going out on his own, Garcia has been absent from the brewing scene since closing Offbeat, but he is making his return. Today, Iron Fist Brewing announced they have hired Garcia to serve as brewing production manager at its Vista headquarters.
“I’m very excited to have been given the opportunity to work with Iron Fist,” said Garcia in a press release. “We have great beer with a high potential for growth and innovation. I’m looking forward to helping push the boundaries of deliciousness with [the company].”
This addition comes nine months after Iron Fist brought on a new investor with ties to San Diego Padres ownership. This infusion of capital has allowed the company to look forward rather than tread water. It has also provided added visibility in the marketplace, most notably at Petco Park, where Iron Fist’s beers are readily available via multiple venues and dedicated, branded carts.
Since opening for business in 2007, Mission Brewery (1441 L Street, East Village) had never executed an official launch-event for one of its beers, until this week when it held a coming-out party for its latest India pale ale, Plunder IPA. Taster-glasses, plastic doubloons, finger-foods and branded party favors were everywhere, along with posters and other visual elements displaying the beer’s skull and stacked gold-coin logo. It was an effort both complete and entertaining, and it coincided with something else owner Dan Selis and company wanted to show off, The Cellar and Loft by Mission Brewery—a brand-new, 4,500-square-foot, two-story public area that’s ready to receive.
Mission Brewery’s headquarters is built within the historic red-brick building that once housed a Wonder Bread factory. Sited across the street from Petco Park’s Tailgate Lot, it’s in a prime location (unless the Chargers’ recently unveiled downtown stadium plan is executed, which would seem to make Mission’s future in its current facility a bit cloudier). And now it has even more to offer thanks to the new addition, which is accessible from 14th Street as well as a segue at the merchandise store on the southern end of the main tasting room.
The ground-level is equipped with a bar with a dozen taps (bringing the total tap-count at Mission to 66) dispensing various Mission beers, including Plunder, which came across to me as a modern IPA (not over-aggressive in its bitterness, with flavors and aromas of mango and peach) with old-school East-Coast appeal (touches of caramel and toasty malt in the finish). There are a few high-top tables and chairs near the bar, plus two raised round booths bathed in natural light from a pair of skylights on the second floor.
The top-story’s footprint matches the downstairs in area, minus the two circular cut-outs letting the sunshine filter from the skylights. Outfitted in diagonally affixed reclaimed-wood on one wall and historic red-brick on the other, with floor-to-ceiling glass on the west wall giving way to an unobstructed view of Petco Park, it is quite an event space, and can be rented out for private soirees of all kinds.
All I all, the new space is well thought-out and nicely executed. It’s good to see a company that’s been around awhile and quietly gone about its business make some waves. Next up, a portfolio-wide packaging re-brand that will clarify the brand and bring a lot more color into the mix. Look for new bottles to hit shelves over the course of the next few months.
Thank God for the Internet. Thank God for WordPress. Well…thank God for the Internet, anyway. Were it not for the real-time publishing capabilities of the web, I wouldn’t have been able to turn on a dime and provide you a sneak-peek of Amplified Ale Works’ new Miramar brewery-tasting room facility (9030 Kenamar Drive, Suite 309, Miramar). All necessary governmental agency red-tape was finally sliced through yesterday, allowing the business to open at 3 p.m. TODAY.
Fans of Amplified’s live-music thematic will appreciate that the almighty Marshall amp is as respected as ever. Future tap-handles will come in the form of Marshall stacks with Amplified’s iconic “A” logo on top, and a giant Marshall amp façade frames the flat-screen beer-board, which features a dozen different offerings, including standards like Electrocution IPA, Electro-Lite session IPA, Bearded Guard Belian-style biere de garde and Sellout light lager. Also on tap is a new American wheat ale called Whammy Bar Wheat, which will debut right along with the new spot, and Centerpointe, a 4% alcohol-by-volume Belgian pale ale brewed collaboratively with next-door neighbors, Pure Project Brewing. And head brewer Cy Henley is now brewing with newly-hired director of brewery operations and Rip Current Brewing Company alum, Jeff Campbell.
Amplified and Pure Project’s facilities are mirror-images of each other, separated only by their interior design. Such is the concept behind H.G. Fenton’s Brewery Igniter model, which leases ready-to-brew spaces equipped with brewhouses, cellars, cold-storage and customizable tasting rooms. Amplified further brings in its musical devotion with guitar-shaped taster-flight holders, vintage concert posters, black-and-white photos of rock-and-roll acts, and a projector that will play live music performances as well as the occasional Padres game (or Chargers for as long as we have them).
The primary reason Amplified ownership invested in the Brewery Igniter space was to up the amount of beer it has to sell at its Pacific Beach brewpub and increase the amount of beer it can distribute to outside accounts. Fortunately, the Amplified put plenty of thought into this space as an outlet for reaching people and providing comfort as well as a taste of a taste of its beers. There is plenty of seating along the bar and each wall, plus a long, high-table in the center of the room. It’s more seating than I’d have thought the space would afford. See for yourself starting this afternoon!
Amplified Ale Work’s Miramar tasting room will be open Monday-Thursday from 3 to 9 p.m., Friday-Saturday from noon to 10 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 8 p.m. An official grand-opening event is planned for May 13.
Summer is fast coming to a close (but not before some record-breaking mercury spikes). Soon, session ales and lighter golden liquid fare will give way to pumpkin- and spice-laced concoctions of a more amberish hue, but not before local beer interests send another wet hot American summer out in style. Check out some of these premier happenings then refer to our full list of local craft beer events.
September 4 | Padres Beerfest: Much as the great-on-paper San Diego Padres have yet to demonstrate mastery of the diamond, this fest isn’t perfect (tasters are 12 ounces, essentially a full-pour), but stocked with local MVPs, the brewery roster is star-studded. And by the time this game rolls around, the Friars may be in the midst of a playoff run. (A lifelong fan can dream.) | Petco Park, 100 Park Boulevard, East Village, 5 p.m.
September 12 | Carlsbad Brewfest: Rotary clubs aren’t what many people look to for a hoppin’ good time, but it appears two such groups in Carlsbad definitely know how to party, and will be proving it via this second annual suds gathering, featuring more than 30 craft breweries including local interests, Arcana Brewing Co., Guadalupe Brewery and Pizza Port. | Holiday Park, 3400 Pio Pico Drive, Carlsbad, 12 p.m.
September 12 | Peter Reeves Memorial Sour Fest: Any day at Churchill’s Pub and Grille promises a solid array of 50-plus beers, but one weekend each year they break out a tap list dealing exclusively in the tart arts. It’s a six-year tradition honoring a fallen friend celebrated with rarities from the likes of Cascade Brewery, The Lost Abbey and Russian River Brewing Co. | Churchill’s Pub & Grille, 887 West San Marcos Boulevard, San Marcos, 11 a.m.
September 18 | San Diego Festival of Beer: San Diego County’s longest-running beer festival is now old enough to drink. And like a headstrong young-yet-legal 21-year-old, it’s going as strong as ever. One-hundred-percent volunteer-driven and fortified by plenty of ales and lagers plus numerous live music acts, it’s the fest that inspired the many, many others that sprouted up after it. | Port Pavilion on Broadway Pier, 1000 North Harbor Drive, Downtown, 6 p.m.
September 26 | Tour de Fat: It’s almost that time of year again, when New Belgium Brewing comes rolling into town in all its outlandish, traveling-circus glory, all in the name of beer-fueled (responsible) biking and support of a smaller carbon footprint. A costumed bike parade through South Park will close out in Golden Hill with entertainment, games and, of course, beer! | Golden Hill Park, 2590-2596 Golden Hill Drive, Golden Hill, 10 a.m.
Nowadays, it’s common to find craft beer at Petco Park. (And let’s face it, this season the Padres are giving us—and Friars GM A.J. Preller—plenty of cause to resort to the consumption of adult beverages.) Even with beer-specific kiosks set up to offer a wide array of ales and lagers from multiple breweries spanning San Diego County, most of the smaller companies are still unrepresented. But there is one local entity that, in scoring a storefront at Petco Park, has made it their mission to bring along some of their lesser-known friends in the beer biz with them.
This season, The Patio Group installed a sized-down version of its full-scale restaurant concepts in Pacific Beach (The Patio on Lamont) and Mission Hills (The Patio on Goldfinch) called The Patio in Leftfield in Section 128, mere steps from the Padres’ bullpen. For those who venture beyond the main service counter and over to The Point, a small, living wall-equipped bar area bordering the Western Metal Building, a trio of beers from three craft breweries that aren’t available anywhere else in the stadium await.
Procured by Kelly Legan, The Patio Group’s resident Cicerone, that trio currently consists of Loudspeaker IPA, a rye India pale ale from North Park’s Fall Brewing Company, Up The Hill Backwards, a dry-hopped pale ale from nearby Monkey Paw Pub and Brewery in the East Village (the name references the drive from Monkey Paw to its sister brewpub, South Park Brewing Company) and Benchmark Brewing Company’s Table Beer. Because of the unpredictability of the ballpark crowd, it’s impossible to say when that line-up will change, but eventually, Fall will switch out Loudspeaker for its Spirit of 77 IPA and Monkey Paw will trade in its pale ale for Prima Donna Table Beer. (Who ever thought there’d be a day when Petco Park featured two Belgian singels?)
And for those whose brew preferences veer toward the java realm, cold-brewed coffee from Mission Beach’s Swell Coffee Roasting Company is also on tap, though that tap will eventually be switched out for beer from Ballast Point Brewing and Spirits as an extension of that company’s relationship with The Patio in Leftfield, which prepares all the food for BP’s Beer Garden in Section 228.