Many know Ryan Brooks for his work as brewmaster at Coronado Brewing Company. During his tenure, that interest has won numerous awards, including Champion Mid-Size Brewing Company at the 2014 World Beer Cup. That’s dream-come-true territory, but Brooks isn’t finished dreaming. He’s about to realize another long-held aspiration—opening his own brewery. The name of that business will be SouthNorte Beer Company, and it’s scheduled to debut this summer.
Brooks will get by with a little help from his friends, most ostensibly his family at Coronado Brewing. That company’s founders, brothers Ron and Rick Chapman, are key investors and that’s where the initial brewing of SouthNorte’s beers will be done (the search is on for a separate facility to house the business). But he’ll also garner inspiration from friends he’s made spending a great deal of time exploring the craft-brewing culture south of the border. As the name implies, SouthNorte will combine elements of Mexico’s burgeoning beer scene with the craft culture here in San Diego. A press release describes the business as “an American brewery that blends the rustic flair of Mexico with the art of San Diego craft brewing.” Brooks sees pulling from two cultures as a way to extract the best from both and end up with the finest end-result.
In the course of my reporting on the San Diego brewing industry, I have met a number of brewers from Baja locales including Tijuana, Ensenada and Mexicali. Nearly all of them have mentioned receiving assistance, tutelage or encouragement from Brooks. He is something of a cult figure down there who has forged many legitimate friendships during innumerable cross-border visits. Few would be better suited to bring this intercultural vision to life and it should be exciting to watch…and taste.
Held over two sessions during last week’s Craft Brewers Conference, trade show BrewExpo America offered beer industry members a chance to shop for products and services from more than 250 vendors. Like kids in a candy store, conference attendees shuffled through several aisles inside the Grand Hall as well as the Big Tent outside, checking out glassware, ingredients, brew systems, and more.
BOTTLING — Coronado’s shiny new GAI 3003A BIER bottling line was on display, capable of rinsing, deaerating, filling and capping nearly 3,000 12 oz. bottles per hour, or a little less for 22 oz. bombers. The line was delivered on Saturday to Coronado’s yet-to-open Knoxville St. facility in Linda Vista. If it looks familiar to you, it’s because you’ve seen the exact same model behind the bar at AleSmith’s tasting room — owner Peter Zien was at the trade show and said that he had invited Coronado’s owner Ron Chapman to check out the machine when it arrived, and they placed an order that day. Also, Iron Fist’s brewmaster Brandon Sieminski told us that within two to three months their GAI 1005 line will arrive. Check out a video of the GAI 3003A at work here.
CANNING — There’d been a friendly race between San Diego breweries as to who would can their beer first. Hess Brewing looked to be in pole position but Monkey Paw Pub & Brewery surprised everyone by soliciting mobile canning company The Can Van to package 100 cases each of their Oatmeal Pale Ale, Sweet Georgia Brown and Rich Man’s IIPA right before the Craft Brewers Conference, and just in time to crash Blind Lady Ale House’s “Can Diego” event on May 2. Two days later, Hess Brewing’s 4-head automated filler from Wild Goose Canning Technologies, the MC250, was featured at the show; it too was delivered on Saturday. The line is capable of churning out around 32 16 oz. cans of beer per minute, depending on operator speed. And in another interesting local twist, CBO (Chief Brewing Officer) Mike Hess knew Wild Goose had another MC250 in tow, and suggested they go down to Monkey Paw to check things out; owner Scot Blair was impressed with what he saw, and wrote the check for the new line on the spot. Check out a video of the MC250 in action here, and view more pictures here.
The debate continues between cans and bottles. Last month, Lagunitas Brewing’s owner Tony Magee sounded off on the environmental impact of bauxite mining. Locals Latitude 33 simply asked followers their opinion on the matter. What do you think of cans vs. bottles?