When I was in elementary school, I paddled into the ocean with a bunch of friends. We went further out than we probably should have, but the extra energy expended would surely be worth the reward of a longer, faster, better ride to shore on our boogie-boards. Or so I thought. Upon spying a great wave to get us back in, we positioned ourselves to catch it. From there, I proceeded to watch all of my friends zoom on in while I, positioned furthest to the left in the formation, somehow strangely stayed in the same place. The closer they got to shore, the more I found myself drifting further out to sea. No matter how hard I paddled and kicked, I was unable to make any progress. Pretty soon, I found myself completely exhausted and really scared. Had I known what a rip current was and how best to get out of one, I wouldn’t have had to go through that nor the embarrassment of a lifeguard-rescue, so I’m a big supporter of Rip Current Awareness Week (which, not coincidentally is this week).
Not surprisingly, the folks at Rip Current Brewing Company (1325 Grand Avenue, #100, San Marcos; 4101 30th Street, North Park) are as well. Not only do they back this educational period, but they use it as an opportunity to add a riff to the offerings at their pair of tasting rooms. From now through Sunday, customers can purchase a beer in a special take-home glass. All refills purchased and poured into said glassware will be $2 off throughout Rip Current Awareness Week. That discount also applies to patrons in possession of glassware from the first anniversary of Rip Current’s North Park tasting room. A total of 100 glasses are available at each tasting room.
Additionally, Rip Current—the reigning best Very Small Brewing Company in the country—will tap a number of specialty beers throughout the week, including some small-batch sour creations, Coffee No Hope For Rescue “double imperial” stout (18.2% alcohol-by-volume…wise to wait several hours before any ocean-swimming with this one) and the award-winning Black Lagoon Scottish strong ale siphoned from the barrel owners Paul Sangster and Guy Shobe deem the finest of Rip Current’s oak stock. Special-edition “sunrise” shirts will also be handed out to customers whose total order comes out to more than $50 while supplies last. I think $50 worth of beer is just about enough to help me forget that harrowing experience from my youth, and replace my thoughts about rip currents with far better memories.
From the Beer Writer: I remember them when they were just two really great homebrewers. OK, that’s an understatement. Paul Sangster and Guy Shobe were more than great. One of them was named the best homebrewer in the country in 2011, for crying out loud. Then they banded together to go pro with their San Marcos-based Rip Current Brewing Company, which has since spawned a really cool satellite tasting room on 30th Street in North Park. But even more has happened since then to bolster the already-stellar reputations of these fermentationists. Last month, Rip Current was named the Best Very Small Brewery of the Year at the Great American Beer Festival, the country’s most prestigious brewing competition. That award came after Sangster’s and Shobe’s German-style bock and Scotch ale (a bourbon barrel-aged version of the latter recently went up for sale online) won a gold and silver medal, respectively. Still, the duo remains down-to-earth and simply proud to have four active hands in helping San Diego County maintain its status as a top-notch brewing region. Part of the way they do that is by giving back to the community. This beer, a rye-infused imperial red with plenty of hop presence on the nose and palate, was brewed to support a charity benefiting the Lupus Foundation of Southern California.
From the Brewer: “Deep Crimson Imperial Rye Red is Rip Current’s contribution to the Beer to the Rescue campaign to further research in lupus. We thought an imperial-sized red-colored beer which featured complex hop aromas and flavors plus background spice-like notes from the rye would be something not often seen in San Diego. The malt portion of the recipe was constructed to target a dark amber color and achieve roughly mid-eight percent alcohol-by-volume. This required use of darker Crystal malts that impart the desired color in the beer plus provide a rich, complex, caramel-like background flavor. The base malts are varieties of Pale malted barley from both the U.S. and England, and they provide a bready, toasty foundation for the beer. Thirteen percent of the grains were Cararye malt to provide the rye character and add color for the beer. Finally, we used several specialty malts to increase the malt complexity. On the hop side, we were anxious to hit this beer hard enough that the hops would shine through the significant malt backbone. To provide complex citrus- and pine-like hop aroma and flavor, we added Citra, Simcoe and Amarillo hops late in the boil, and the same hops again after fermentation—dry-hopping—for extra aroma.—Paul Sangster, Brewmaster, Rip Current Brewing Co.
Fall arrives with the promise of brats and lederhosen, but there’s more to October than its namesake festing period. Don’t believe us, then read on and see for yourself the plethora of ale- and lager-fueled events that so admirably fill the period in-between Oktoberfest and next month’s San Diego Beer Week. Still not enough for you? Consult our events page for even more fun.
October | Oktoberfest Celebrations: Everyone is embracing German culture (and beer) to varying degrees, from ‘hoods like Carlsbad, El Cajon, La Jolla, La Mesa and Ocean Beach, to local breweries including AleSmith Brewing Co., Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits, Green Flash Brewing Co. and 24-7-365 Germanic Lightning Brewery. Consult our events page and brewery websites for more deets. | Various Locations, Dates & Times Vary
October | Beer to the Rescue Releases: It’s another big month of one-time-only beer releases for this charity effort benefiting the Lupus Foundation of Southern California. Half Door Brewing Co. will debut its extra special bitter (Oct. 12, East Village), followed by 32 North Brewing Co.‘s dry-hopped Irish-American red ale (Oct. 22 in Miramar) and Rip Current Brewing Co.’s red rye imperial IPA (Oct. 28 in North Park). | Various Locations, Times Vary
October 10 | Birdies & Beers: It’s the official unofficial sporting pastime enjoyed by just about every pro brewery in the Greater San Diego area. That’s right…disc golf? Go figure, but the only thing San Diego’s fermentation specialists seem to love more than ales and lagers is a good fling. Get in on a great day on the greens that includes beer, food, music and helping out a good cause. | Sun Valley Golf Course, 5080 Memorial Drive, La Mesa, 11 a.m.
October 18 | Pour It Black: As autumn sets in and the temperature “falls” from 85 degrees to a chilly 82, the time for darker, heartier beers presents itself and Stone Brewing Co. is more than prepared. With more than 100 different brown-to-onyx hued sour ales, porters, stouts, IPAs and barrel-aged brews, quantity, quality and variety are all well represented at this annual fest. | Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, 1999 Citracado Parkway, Escondido, 10 a.m.
October 21 | Drinkabout!: Yes, this event happens every month, but having the fun and value of taking part in free transport to a handful of standout imbibing strongholds offering special deals and beers within San Diego’s sudsier neighborhoods can’t be understated. Get on the bus and get in on a good time. | Various Locations; Normal Heights, North Park, South Park, University Heights; 7 p.m.
After several years in which San Diego County breweries had strong, but annually declining performances at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF), the 2015 edition of the country’s largest and most prestigious brewing competition saw a whopping 19 medals awarded to San Diego breweries (20 if you count the silver to San Diego-based Karl Strauss Brewing Company’s Costa Mesa brewpub for its Singularity American-style black ale).
Held each year in Denver, Colorado, GABF takes place at the Colorado Convention Center and gets bigger each time out. This year, 242 judges from 15 countries judged more than 6,000 beers from 1,552 brewing companies, vying for gold, silver and bronze medals in 92 beer style categories. Each brewery that received the opportunity to enter the competition was allowed five entries per brewery-equipped location.
Each of Pizza Port’s four San Diego County brewpubs won at least one award. San Diego breweries nearly swept the Coffee Beer category altogether. And first-time winners abounded. But no rookie win was more unexpected or prestigious than that of Santee-based BNS Brewing and Distilling Co., which shocked the industry by beating out 335 other India pale ales to win the competition’s most highly contested category—IPA. As big a deal as that was, one brewery did even better. San Marcos’ Rip Current Brewing Co. was named the “Very Small Brewery of the Year” for 2015 behind gold and silver medals earned in the Bock and Scotch Ale categories, respectively.
The following is a list of all of the San Diego County winners from the 2015 GABF competition.
Very Small Brewery of the Year: Rip Current Brewing Co., San Marcos
Coffee Beer: Gold—Zumbar Chocolate Coffee Imperial Stout, New English Brewing Co., Sorrento Valley; Bronze—Bacon & Eggs, Pizza Port, Ocean Beach
India Pale Ale: Gold—Revolver IPA, BNS Brewing & Distilling Co., Santee
Session India Pale Ale: Gold—The Coachman, Societe Brewing Co., Kearny Mesa
Wood & Barrel-Aged Sour Beer: Gold—Veritas 015, The Lost Abbey, San Marcos
American-Belgo-Style Ale: Gold—Le Freak, Green Flash Brewing Co., Mira Mesa
Bock: Gold—Break Line Bock, Rip Current Brewing Co., San Marcos
Scotch Ale: Silver—Black Lagoon Scottish Strong, Rip Current Brewing Co., San Marcos
Oatmeal Stout: Silver—Scripps Pier Stout, South Park Brewing Co., South Park
Session Beer: Bronze—Guillaume, Pizza Port, Ocean Beach
International-Style Pale Ale: Bronze—San Diego-style IPA, Karl Strauss Brewing Co., La Jolla
Imperial India Pale Ale: Bronze—Teahupo’o, Breakwater Brewing Co., Oceanside
American-Style Amber/Red Ale: Bronze—Shark Bite Red, Pizza Port Bressi Ranch, Carlsbad
Double Red Ale: Bronze—GRAMBO, Pizza Port, Solana Beach
French- & Belgian-Style Saison: Bronze—Saison, URBN St. Brewing Co., El Cajon
Other Belgian-Style Ale: Bronze—Witty Moron, Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, Liberty Station
Export Stout: Bronze—Z-Man Stout, Pizza Port, Carlsbad
South German-Style Hefeweizen: Bronze—Windansea Wheat, Karl Strauss Brewing Co., Pacific Beach
Chile Beer: Bronze—Serrano Pale Ale, Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits, Scripps Ranch
San Diego County brewers brought home six gold medals, two silvers and 11 bronzes, with 10 of the awards going to breweries located within the actual City of San Diego. Nearly San Diegan neighbors that also won include Aftershock Brewing Company, which took bronze for its oatmeal cookie-flavored porter in the Herb and Spice Beer category, and Garage Brewing Company, which won gold for its Bucket Seat Blonde in the Munich-style Helles category. Both companies are based in Temecula, California. A full list of every winner can be found on the Brewers Association‘s website.
Last week, we kicked off a four-part series exploring the most intriguing and promising work-in-progress brewery-owned venues in San Diego County. In this, the second installment, we affix our horizon-trained line of sight below Interstate 8. (In case you missed it, click the following link for a list of the most intriguing brewing projects from North County.)
North Park Beer Co., North Park: This project was the talk of the town for years, even before headman and homebrewing all-star Kelsey McNair had located a place to house his community-labeled commercial brewery. Now that he has that space, a former gymnasium on University Avenue, anticipation is reaching a fever pitch. But there’s a little more waiting to do, as grand scale renovations that will include a two-story tasting room experience and subterranean barrel cellar will take some time. The waiting should be worth it, however, as McNair’s award-winning Hop Fu! IPA will finally be available to more than just the beer judges who regularly award it gold in high-profile homebrewing competitions.
Brewery Igniter, North Park: Like many, developer H.G. Fenton recognizes the impact of the local brewing industry and the potential to profit from it by providing resources to its member companies. As such, it is installing two brew-ready business park suites in the Beeramar area. Those fermentoriums have been snatched up by Amplified Ale Works and newcomer Pure Project Brewing, encouraging H.G. Fenton to build another Brewery Igniter campus in another beer-dazzled San Diego neighborhood—North Park. Details are scarce on this project, but leasing facilities offering full brewing capabilities right off the bat seems a sound business model that should help new and established brewing companies make their dreams come true.
ChuckAlek Independent Brewers, North Park: Perhaps this piece should have been titled Best Beer Futures: North Park, for it would seem this already beery part of town will continue to get even beerier. Already home to three satellite tasting rooms (Belching Beaver Brewery, Modern Times Beer, Rip Current Brewing Co.), North Park will welcome one of the hardest-to-visit breweries in the county, Ramona-based ChuckAlek Independent Brewers. The easterly mom-and-pop raised its visibility by winning the 2014 edition of Boston Beer Co.’s Brewing the American Dream competition, and looks poised to keep its star on the rise with this bold expansion into the urban core.
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.