More than 20 of our local craft breweries plan to brew a beer in support of lupus research and awareness in 2015, thanks to an initiative established by journalist Brandon Hernández.
On January 31, the Beer to the Rescue campaign kicks off at Benchmark Brewing with the release of Hildegard, a triple IPA.
“Most people have heard of lupus or know someone suffering from it, but few know anything beyond the name of this autoimmune disease — what it is, its effect on those who have it or the fact that it is severely under-researched. This needs to change,” says Hernández, who was diagnosed with lupus in 2014 after years of suffering. Proceeds from Beer to the Rescue benefit the Lupus Foundation of Southern California (LFSC).
In a press release, Hernández noted that in San Diego, Imperial and Riverside Counties alone, more than 20,000 people are suffering from lupus. That number is even considered a low estimate, because most people with lupus are never diagnosed with this autoimmune disease, which negatively impacts victims via myriad painful symptoms, causes irreparable damage to vital organs and can be fatal.
“The LFSC has been in operation for 20 years, and because no one really talks about lupus — even people who have lupus — it’s hard to get people involved with our organization,” says LFSC Executive Director Hollaine Hopkins. “The Beer to the Rescue campaign will tap into the very large and passionate craft beer fan base that already exists in San Diego and help raise awareness for lupus and our organization.”
In addition to the Benchmark beer mentioned above, other Beer to the Rescue brews include a Belgian-style quadrupel from Nickel Beer Co., a dry-hopped Belgian- style single brewed with rhubarb from Monkey Paw Pub & Brewery, an imperial milk stout infused with chocolate, orange and spicy chilies from Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits, a sour ale brewed with blueberries and fermented using wild yeast from Toolbox Brewing Company, a black saison brewed with dried currants and orange peel from Lightning Brewery, and an experimentally dry-hopped wheat and passion fruit-infused Brett IPA from Green Flash Brewing Company.
More San Diego breweries plan to participate, although not all of them will be creating beers for the campaign. Some, due to brewing capacity restraints, will instead donate to the cause, host special events, and/or make LFSC a featured charity at their venues. Those breweries include 32 North, AleSmith, Amplified Ale Works, Aztec, Bagby Beer, Bolt, Coronado, Council, Intergalactic, Iron Fist, Mike Hess, Mother Earth, New English, Pizza Port Solana Beach, Port/The Lost Abbey/The Hop Concept, Rip Current, Societe, Stone (Escondido), Stone (Liberty Station), Toolbox, and URBN St.
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
Dan Love is co-owner of Mother Earth Brew Co. in Vista.
Mother Earth and Pizza Port Solana Beach head brewer Devon Randall are introducing a collaboration IPA today at Pizza Port Bressi Ranch. What brought you together?
We were at the Bressi Ranch soft launch and (Mother Earth co-owner) Kamron (Khannakhjavani) mentioned to Vince (Marsaglia) that we’d love to do a collaboration to help them produce beer as they get up and running. It’s called The Cru — named for the two crews who brewed it and Pizza Port’s yeast, which is called La Cruda. We used a combination of Columbus, Cascade, Amarillo and Chinook. On the nose it’s like a punch in the mouth full of grapefruit, but it’s very refined. It doesn’t have a harsh bite to it. It’s smooth. And the wheat malt gives it body and nice lacing on the glass.
Vista is now the largest beer city per capita in the U.S. What is it about this North County city that is so appealing to brewers?
We have a great relationship with the city and its willingness to reach out to brewery business and say, “You’re welcome here.” They support us in their planning department, in their permitting department, they do it in a lot of different ways. Now, if we could just eliminate some of the red tape from the ABC (California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control), we would be able to do a lot more creative things to introduce people to craft beer.
There isn’t much love lost between many breweries and the ABC? What’s your beef?
The ABC is so antiquated in dealing with laws that are so old that they just can’t get out of their own way. When you get your license to open a brewery, the ABC doesn’t tell you anything that’s related to the law. When you ask for a manual of do’s and don’ts, they say they will never provide one because they’re worried that someone will interpret it differently than the way it should be interpreted and they might get sued. It’s ridiculous. They should be getting on board with this great industry that has generated $22 billion in revenue for California and 20,000 employees. Stop slowing it down.
Mother Earth is known for its hop-forward beers such as Kismet IPA and Hop Diggity DIPA, but Cali’ Creamin’, a vanilla cream ale, is your second-best selling beer. What do your customers love about it?
It’s very approachable. It’s light, refreshing and low in alcohol. Plus it has a friendly name and the bottle has a classic surf logo. You won’t taste this beer and make a face.
You are planning to produce 5,000 barrels this year, a far cry from when Mother Earth first started back in 2010. What’s in your future?
I remember when my wife, Errin, asked what my vision was when we first started, and I couldn’t answer her because I didn’t know where we were going. But the help we received from Lee Chase, Tomme Arthur and so many other people made us realize where we fit in in this industry. And once we started bottling and the great feedback we received, the light bulb went off and we realized this wasn’t just a hobby anymore. We have a 20-barrel system now and we’ll do 5,000 barrels this year and next year will be at 11,000. In 2015 we’re planning on 16,000. We’re also considering a canning line to go along with our bottling line. All of this was unfathomable when we first started. But the bus is moving fast right now and we have everyone in the right seat.
Words and photos by Dr. Q and Jerry from CraftBeerTasters.com
Google the phrase “women in beer” and it will autocomplete to “women in beer commercials.” Dig deeper and you will see that the women in these commercials are either used as props to entice male fans in an effort to relate beers to sex, or as comic relief, oftentimes showing traditional male/female role reversals done so for the sake of comedy. In either case, it is clear that women are not the intended customer, nor are they to be taken seriously in regard to beer. These ideas of women in beer, however, are quite out of touch with the reality of women’s taste. A 2012 Gallup Poll asserted that 23% of women preferred beer over liquor or wine. Moreover, the misconceptions and marginalized depictions of women’s role in beer is disjointed from the social and economic position of women in the United States. The gains women have made in terms of educational attainment have significantly outpaced those of men over the last 40 years. Because of this increase in educational attainment, the participation of women in the workforce has risen dramatically from the early 1970’s through today.
Yet in the beer industry, where there are 100,000+ jobs in the U.S., women account for only 10%.
The lack of women in brewing has not always been the case though. Once upon a time the role of brewing and selling beer was that of a woman. But as time went on commerce overtook the art, taxes took their share, and women were excluded. Over the years, memories of the past faded and the perception of beer brewing and drinking became more and more tightly bound to masculinity.
When researching women in San Diego’s craft beer scene, for example, it took several industry insiders quite a while to list more than 10 women who play pivotal roles in the San Diego craft beer brewing community, four of which are brewers. Only four women brewers in a county with 60+ breweries boasting literally hundreds of brewers? There is something inherently wrong with that picture. I pressed further and asked if any of these four women brewers were brewmasters or head brewers. Only one: Devon Randall. Randall was recently named Head Brewer of Pizza Port Solana Beach, which is where we caught up with her over a pint of Ponto Pale Ale.
At age 10 brewing wasn’t even a thought in young Randall’s mind. She had her sights set on veterinary school. Many years later, while attending UC Berkeley, Randall found herself in need of work. Raleigh’s, a staple in the Berkeley craft beer scene, was a fortunate part of her path. It was at this bar at age 21 that Randall got her first exposure to craft beer. The beer? Moose Drool. Why this beer? The logo on the bottle and the name enticed her, but the flavor led her to become a fan of brown ales. The flavors intrigued her; prior to this, she’d only bought the cheap, macro stuff. But at Raleigh’s she was working with 20 solid handles hosting the likes of Anchor, Sierra Nevada, and Russian River. Moreover, the management was keen on the idea of teaching staff about the beer brewing process and the history of beer styles. The more she learned, the more she loved the stories behind the beers. Randall reveled in this job until she graduated with her Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication.
With a mother and grandmother who were both career real estate moguls, Randall returned to her hometown of L.A. with a freshly minted B.A. and a job in real estate marketing. Finding the job to be lacking in challenges or creativity, with a leadership lacking in these categories as well, Randall got bored and continued her education in an effort to become a real estate agent. Though this path was in her blood, it just wasn’t the right fit for her personality.
Luckily she found an outlet for her creative energy at Pacific Gravity, a Los Angeles-based homebrew club. Here she learned more about the process of brewing and created an amber ale which she viewed, at the time and even now, as boring, but drinkable. This boring beer, however, was the catalyst for change in her life. After the first batch Randall began to brew more and more, to the point where every week she was either brewing or packaging. This lasted for a solid three or four months when, on a fateful friday night, her girlfriends asked her to go out on the town. Shunning the fun-filled promises of a Friday night in L.A. Randall chose to stay home and bottle her beers. That’s when it clicked. She was in a job she didn’t like and in an apartment she couldn’t afford, but she had a passion inside of her. A passion for beer. It was at this time when Randall first approached different breweries she had become familiar with in the hope of landing any role that would allow her to learn more about brewing. Randall was given many “no” responses for various reasons. It was at this time that Randall realized a change of scenery was likely in order.
Randall, relying on the kindness of a good friend in San Diego, began looking for real estate jobs in America’s Finest City. She knew the real estate industry here was promising, but she also knew that the craft beer industry was flourishing. Again, Randall visited many breweries in the hope of finding something, anything. She eventually arrived at The Lost Abbey in heels, a skirt, and a blouse: formal real estate business attire. She made her pitch to volunteer her time and help in any way that she could. They told her to come back at 6 a.m. the next day in steel toe boots. She immediately went to Wal-Mart and bought her boots, and called her friend with the hope of securing a place on her couch. She spent several months on that couch while volunteering at The Lost Abbey and tending bar part time at Pizza Port Solana Beach.
“Day 1 I took out the trash and swept the floor because I knew I could do that,” said Randall. The job may sound menial and the gesture may seem simple, but the initiative shown displayed to those in the brewery that this person was here to work. Slowly but surely brewery workers, cellarmen, and brewers taught her more and more skills, eventually leading Randall to transition from volunteer to employee. She worked in the warehouse where, in time, she began bottling and labeling.
Though appreciative of the role, Randall felt far away from brewing and soon saw her days in the warehouse growing from a 9-5 job to being a 9-5 and then a 6-12 midnight gig. This was all in an effort to work under the tutelage of The Lost Abbey’s night shift brewer. In fact, Randall even slept in the brewery on bags of grain from time to time, purely out of necessity. It was her can-do spirit that, fittingly, led to a pivotal Labor Day in her life. At the time The Lost Abbey didn’t have paid holidays, and Labor Day was no exception; however, the powers that be said anyone that wanted to work on Labor Day could. Randall was the only “grunt” who came in on that day, and it paid off.
“They taught us how to clean a brite tank properly, so, from that day on I had the opportunity to step up and utilize my newfound skills whenever needed,” Randall stated. This led to her being involved more and more in all aspects of production until one day she was entrusted with The Lost Abbey’s barrel program. She had her chance to be challenged, utilize her creativity, implement an organizational structure of her own design and partake in tastings with Tomme Arthur and Gwen Conley, the Director of Brewery Operations and Quality Assurance Director, respectively.
But, despite this opportunity, she still wanted to be by the brewhouse. “How could I properly do my job managing the barrel program if I had not mastered how to brew what goes into those barrels?” she asked herself. It was then that Yiga Miyashiro, former Pizza Port OB Head Brewer who is now heading up their upcoming Bressi Ranch location, tipped Randall off that Pizza Port Solana Beach, the first of the bunch, was looking for a new Head Brewer and that she might fit the bill.
Randall understood the implications. “As a Head Brewer you get to see the birth of the beer and watch it grow into its full potential. In the case of Pizza Port, you are allowed to be exponentially creative. Whether barrel aging beers, using coffees, spices, the brewers are trusted to be innovative.”
That innovation is not just on the brewing side. “Brewers take great pride in their beers, but you have to try them in various settings to see how they stand up. Fresh. Weeks later. From growlers. To get a true sense of the beer, how it really is, you have to drink it how others might drink it.”
I remind Randall that by virtue of being a female brewer, let alone Head Brewer, she is, by nature, an innovation in this day and age. When asked about being a woman brewer in San Diego she confidently shared this thought: “I have never had the feeling of someone trying to prevent me from entering the brewing industry, but I certainly had to work hard for it.”
Randall is an example of what can be accomplished with hard work and effort. Yet she recognizes that there are few female industry professionals and no overt outreach in our community. When asked what she’d tell a woman that is scared to brew professionally, Randall asserted, “If women are intimidated about getting into the brewing industry, they shouldn’t be.”
For a more in-depth analysis of women in the industry please visit CraftBeerTasters.com