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Sampler Flight: January San Diego Beer Events

Jan 3

Some set aside January as a time of counteractive restraint following a month or more of holiday-strength indulgence, but that doesn’t stop local breweries and bars from offering tons of temptation and darn good reasons to brush that angel off one’s shoulder and enjoy exceptional ales and lagers. Check out the quintet of extraordinary examples, then head to our events page for even more early-2018 fun.

January 13 | Second Saturday: Every month, Hamilton’s Tavern salutes a brewing company (and its patrons), by offering a wide array of that business’ brews, including numerous specialties. Few, if any, are as stocked with great and varied offerings as January’s spotlighted interest, Pizza Port. From SD-style hop monsters to dark coffee behemoths and everything in between, treats abound! | Hamilton’s Tavern, 1521 30th Street, South Park, 5 p.m.

January 15 | Five-Course Beer-Pairing Dinner: The Good Seed Food Company, a new Miralani Makers District biz from a former Urge Gastropub chef, will pair its local-and-organic-focused cuisine with culinary-minded beers at Pariah Brewing Company’s tasting room. Try an uni-infused stout with a fresh oyster, spicy pecan pie with a blonde coffee stout and much, much more (MMM). | Pariah Brewing, 3052 El Cajon Boulevard (inside CRAFT by Brewery Igniter), North Park, 6 p.m

January 20 | One-Year Anniversary: It might be the business’ first birthday, but Burgeon Beer Co.‘s approaching its celebration like time-tested veterans, with live music, an octet of beer-and-food pairings courtesy of multiple food trucks, and even more beer beyond that, including first-run cans of a Northeast-style double IPA dubbed Can’t Stop Juicin’. | Burgeon Beer Co., 6350 Yarrow Drive, Suite C, Carlsbad, 12 p.m

January 27 | Anniversary Party: Despite having one of the county’s smallest tasting rooms, Pure Project Brewing has a big day planned in celebration of two successful years in business. They’ll be converting their parking lot into a beer garden, and offering cellared and otherwise rare brews, plus two aluminum-clad anniversary collaboration beers (a triple IPA and imperial pastry stout)! | Pure Project Brewing, 9030 Kenamar Drive, #308, Miramar, 1 p.m

January 27 | Changing of the Barrels: To mark a whopping 29 years in the beer industry (the most of any San Diego brewery), Karl Strauss Brewing will hold a party at its PB headquarters fueled by a plethora of specialty beers, including this year’s barrel-aged anniversary saison and the non-oaked beer that will be siphoned into wooden receptacles and later used to toast the big three-zero. | Karl Strauss Brewing, 5985 Santa Fe Street, Pacific Beach, 5 p.m

January 30 | Supper Club: Small Bar regularly collaborates with breweries on food-and-beer events, but with an owner who is also a veteran chef, this event with Bay Ho’s Bitter Brothers Brewing figures to be a slam dunk for lovers of good eats and local ales. Go off that January diet two days early and have a fun and delicious time tossing aside that resolution in the interest of a life well lived. | Small Bar, 4628 Park Boulevard, University Heights, 6:30 p.m

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Brightest Beer Futures: South San Diego County

Nov 8

An artist’s rendering of the upper-deck at upcoming University Heights brewpub, Kairoa Brewing

Twice a year, I assess the work-in-progress brewing-company-owned projects throughout San Diego County and offer my thoughts on those that appear to have the most promise. This is the first post in a series of four, broken down by geography. This time around we’ll start with the southern part of the county, which for the first time since I began this bi-annual practice, is home to the most interesting trio of under-development venues anywhere.

TapRoom Beer Company | 2000 El Cajon Boulevard, North Park: The brothers behind Pacific Beach craft-beer-bar stalwart SD TapRoom will go from procuring and slinging ales and lagers to manufacturing them once their two-story North Park brewpub is constructed. That structure will have a fully visible brewhouse as well as a wealth of outdoor seating, but what gives it its best shot at instant success is the fact Bill Batten, a veteran of AleSmith Brewing Company and Mikkeller Brewing San Diego, will be in charge of beermaking operations.

Coronado Brewing Company | 535 Florence Street, Imperial Beach: As if acquiring Monkey Paw Brewing, helping its ex-head brewer launch SouthNorte Brewing and installing a kitchen at its Bay Park headquarters weren’t enough irons to have in the proverbial fire, CBC is constructing a brewpub within its half of IB’s Bikeway Village development. Proven brewing prowess and a prime location that will turn the heads of local and tourist pedestrians and bike-riders are big positives this veteran brewery operation should be able to build on.

Kairoa Brewing | 4601 Park Boulevard, University Heights: The team of New Zealanders behind Red House Pizza has taken over a neighboring building on the corner of Park and Madison Avenue and is in the process of converting it to a two-story brewpub that will serve a wide range of beer styles alongside cuisine with Kiwi appeal (think meat pies and sausage rolls) plus vegetarian and vegan fare. Though home to numerous watering holes, this will be University Heights’ first source for beer made within the neighborhood.

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Sampler Flight: October Events

Oct 3

The approach of All Hallow’s Eve certainly isn’t scaring local breweries away from holding a freakishly large number of events throughout San Diego County in the coming months. There are far too many to illustrate the full breadth in a short-list of four, so start with the hand-picked happenings below, then proceed to the full list on our events page.

October 8 | Oktoberfest Celebration: At this point, you’ve likely indulged in multiple O-festivities, and there’s no reason not to stop now. Hit Green Flash Brewing Company’s German-themed celebration to taste three special beers, including In der Mitte Märzenfestbier and a zwickel version of Sea to Sea Lager. | Green Flash Brewing Company, 6550 Mira Mesa Boulevard, Mira Mesa, 12 p.m.

October 13 | Blahktoberfest: Don’t pack those lederhosen up just yet. Blind Lady Ale House is having the eighth annual running of its Oktoberfest celebration with keeper pints (that you can fill with their Autobefest beer) and a unique house-made offering—bratwurst pizza. | Blind Lady Ale House, 3416 Adams Avenue, Normal Heights, 11 a.m.

October 21 | BagbyFest II: Even one of the most award-winning brewers of all times knows there’s more to the beverage world than just beer. Bagby Beer Company will section its expansive brewpub into zones celebrating wine, spirits, cocktails (and, yes, beer) from numerous regions of the world along with foods to go with them. | Bagby Beer Company, 601 South Coast Highway, Oceanside, 12 p.m.

October 21 | Anniversary Events: It seems October’s a fertile month. Three breweries are celebrating birthdays on the same day: Belching Beaver Brewing (5 years, special beers galore), Iron Fist Brewing Company (7 years, special beer and live music) and Legacy Brewing Company (4 years, Oktoberfest shindig). | Belching Beaver Brewery, 1334 Rocky Point Drive, Oceanside, 3 p.m.; Iron Fist Brewing Company, 1305 Hot Springs Way, Suite 101, Vista, 12 p.m.; Legacy Brewing Company, 363 Airport Road, Oceanside, 1 p.m.

October 21 | Ye Scallywag: Kickass beer and kickass punk rock will share space on the San Diego Bayfront when 100 beers are tapped against the backdrop of live performances from Pennywise and a motley crew of musical acts including The Vandals, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes and more). | Waterfront Park, 1 Park Boulevard, Downtown San Diego, 12 p.m.

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Long Cloud shape-shifts into Kairoa Brewing

Sep 5

A rendering of the rooftop portion of the Kairoa Brewing Company brewpub planned for University Heights

Those who’ve taken notice of the notice on the old Mueller building at the corner of Park Boulevard and Madison Avenue in University Heights have attempted to learn more about a work-in-progress brewing interest by the name of Long Cloud Brewing. For the most part, such fact-finding missions have been fruitless. There’s a good reason. There is no Long Cloud Brewing. There is, however, Kairoa Brewing Company. Turns out there was a business out there with a moniker similar enough that the team of family and friends behind Kairoa opted to rename their brewpub project while staying entirely true to their original vision.

In addition to all residing in University Heights, every member of Kairoa’s ownership hails from New Zealand. The Long Cloud name referred to the Maori (the country’s indigenous people) word for New Zealand, Aotearoa, which translates to “land of the long white cloud.” The new handle combines the names of two small towns on the country’s South Island: Kaikoura and Akaroa. But that’s not the only way they intend to sprinkle some of their shared heritage into the business. Ingredients native to New Zealand will be used in both the brewing (numerous hops and Manuka wood-smoked malt) and kitchen (lamb, green-lip mussels) operations.

A rendering of the interior of the ground floor of Kairoa brewpub

Planned as a brewpub that will cater to families as well as beer enthusiast “without cramping eithers’ style,” the 4,500-square-foot, two-story venue will be outfitted with ground-level and rooftop bars. The latter will include a game area. Both will offer house beers from Kairoa’s 10-barrel brewhouse as well as its one-barrel pilot system. Those setups will be manned by Joe Peach, who has been brewing for 10 years and has local experience at Lightning Brewery and Bitter Brothers Brewing Company.

Beers brewed on the larger system will be mostly to-style, while small-batch creations will be more experimental. “New Zealand-inspired” takes on Pilsners, pale ales, smoked stouts and brown ales are part of the game plan, as are India pale ales, barrel-aged stouts and quality versions of lesser-appreciated styles. The Kairoa team projects it will produce between 400 and 600 barrels of beer in its first year, with most being sold across their own counters plus limited self-distribution.

Oliver Peach, who heads culinary operations at the group’s original business directly next-door, Red House Pizza, will also oversee the kitchen at Kairoa. His aim is to elevate standard bar food, including Kiwi classics such as meat pies, sausage rolls, and fish and chips. Realizing the diverse dietary needs of locals, he plans to make vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options available as well.

The Kairoa team is excited to bring a family- and community-friendly concept to a historic site that has seen better days. They are currently awaiting approval of their plans from the City of San Diego, but if all goes as planned, they expect to open sometime in mid-2018.

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City shuts down Small Bar patio indefinitely

Sep 6
Small Bar owner Karen Barnett

Small Bar owner Karen Barnett

As its name suggests, popular local watering hole Small Bar (4628 Park Boulevard, University Heights) is, well…small. But al fresco relief from a tightly packed but enjoyably raucous interior is available on the outdoor patio. Or at least it used to be. Though the venue has offered patio-space to patrons since opening seven years ago, the City of San Diego has seen fit to have owner Karen Barnett shut it down completely, stating it was never permitted—despite City officials having conducted numerous inspections of the property before and after Small Bar opened and failing to note this. Adding to the oddity of it all, the City inspector who brought the patio-issue to light wasn’t even there to address this issue; they came to investigate an issue with the restaurant’s exhaust system after a neighbor complained about a wafting hamburger scent. That issue has since been fixed. Barnett wishes correcting the permitting issue was as easy, but despite her efforts to expeditiously submit permit applications, the City is requiring a hearing that they have yet to set a date for, and requiring the patio be closed until said hearing and approval. Many regular patrons and casual fans of Small Bar find this excessive and unreasonable. Supporters of Barnett and her business have gone so far as to launch an online petition to reopen the patio via and a crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe to help with permitting fees and fines. To find out more about this complicated development, we sat down with Barnett to get her side of the issue.

What has the City required of you and what is the time-table for this issue being resolved?
Karen Barnett: The supervisor of the main contact for the case called me last Monday saying that neighbors were emailing photos of people on the patio, which was against their Civil Penalty Notice that I was issued in late-June. I was, apparently, incurring daily fines for staying open and not immediately shutting down, and in less than 75 days had accrued $30,000 in fines. That number would scare anyone, and I instructed the staff to shut the patio down. Friday morning I received an email from Code Enforcement informing me that a hearing is being scheduled, but no date has been set. I have no idea how drawn-out this process will be, but I hope to have all that is required of me [including permits and an initial deposit of roughly $3,000] submitted to the City this week.

What sort of permitting are you applying for?
KB: There are a couple of different things I’m going for. A “Sidewalk Café Permit” will simply allow customers to occupy the patio. I’m also seeking a “Neighborhood Use Permit”, which would allow customers to smoke on the patio, just as they’ve been doing for years. My ultimate goal is to expand into the space behind the building, creating a larger patio area with a second bar, allowing smokers and dogs. If I can accomplish that, then I will prohibit smoking on the front-patio to appease those who don’t like to walk past smokers or allow smoke to waft into the main bar.

What about this do you deem excessive or hurtful to your business?
KB: When you set out to build or construct anything, it is absolutely your responsibility to ensure you are up-to-code and following all rules. This patio was built at least five-to-seven years before I occupied the space. It was used by two businesses prior to Small Bar. Nobody goes into a home or business purchase, looks around and says, “Hey, I should call a City official to see if I owe them some money.” That’s crazy. Further, when you open a business, an inspector already has to come out to walk the site and make sure you are OK to open. So, with Small Bar and the previous business, at least two different inspectors could have looked at the site then and said, “Hey, there’s no permit on file for this patio.” We would have made sure we were in code from the get-go. Now, we’ve built this business over the years where regulars who live in the neighborhood visit my patio every day. It might sound silly to say they’re suffering because their local bar lost their patio, but they are. And I employ 30 people. With the patio down, I lose business. If I lose business that means the bar is slower and I need to cut shifts early, including kitchen hours. Therefore, staff across-the-board is losing money. We all have rent, some have children and families to support, and it’s a financial burden to us all. This is a huge hit to us all.

You’ve been outspoken about this development on social media. What exactly are you looking for from the City?
KB: All I’m asking for from the City is to be reasonable with our situation. They weren’t called out to Small Bar because someone fell of the patio or was injured due to poor construction or installation. They came out because some anonymous person who is hiding behind their telephone and computer can’t come meet with me like an adult and give me the chance to address their concerns. I should be allowed to operate just as I have for the past seven years, and go through all the paperwork and plan drawings, and pay fees to get in code. It should be noted that when I contacted the woman who is handling my case in Code Enforcement, who sent me the list of things I needed to correct, she flat-out refused to help me. I had questions about paperwork and what applied to my situation—some of the paperwork asks for names of contractors who performed the work and when it was worked on…which I have zero way of knowing—and her response was that it was not her job to understand it, just to ensure I turned it all in and adhered to their demands. She literally directed me to the website I had just told her I read and needed help with. It’s quite clear that the City does not care about me or my staff. They just want money. I pay my taxes. The entire situation is so disheartening.

On a more positive note, how has it been to have so much unsolicited support from the public?
KB: The support received has been absolutely overwhelming. While I have a Small Bar’s manager, Louis Mello, for operations support, I go home to an empty house and struggle alone with the challenges that a small-business owner faces every day. This entire situation has had me stressed out and full of anxiety. Reading the supportive comments on the petition, GoFundMe and Facebook pages from friends, people I’ve never even met, local business competitors, people from all over the world who have visited my little business, has brought me to tears multiple times. A thank-you doesn’t seem like enough.

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