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Posts Tagged Saison

URBN St. Brewing calls it quits

Feb 1

urbn-st-logoEntrepreneurs looking to get some only-slightly-used brewery equipment are advised to contact the URBN Restaurant Group. The company has ceased brewing operations at its El Cajon brewpub, URBN St. Brewing Co., with no intentions to resume. That means everything from its 15-barrel brewhouse to its fermentation vessels and other appurtenant apparatuses are up for sale.

The decision to shut down was not made based on beer quality. Brewmaster Callaway Ryan and assistant brewer Ben Accord made good beer—URBN St. Saison was exceptional enough to earn a medal at last year’s Great American Beer Festival. It was an inevitable business decision following a lack of proper calculation when URBN decided to get into the brewing business by taking over the former site of the El Cajon Brewing Company back in 2014.

According to URBN Restaurant Group representatives, a primary investor was not aware how capital-intensive it would be to open a brewery. Because of this, the brewery opened lacking adequate funding. Selling beer became problematic because the beer could not be sold at a price that would sustain the operation. Eventually the decision was made to cut losses and stop funding the part of the operation that was losing money.

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Beer of the Week: AleSmith District 6 Session Saison

Nov 13
AleSmith District 6 Session Saison

AleSmith District 6 Session Saison

From the Beer Writer: The impact of the local brewing industry is resonating at City Hall, where visionary public servants are seeing the job creation and fiscal boost craft beer brings to America’s Finest City. Particularly bullish on local brewers and working to do all he can to advocate on behalf of the craftspeople within his constituency is Chris Cate, City councilmember for District 6. Encompassing Miramar, Mira Mesa, Sorrento Mesa and Kearny Mesa, D6 is home to more breweries than any other district—or any municipality in San Diego County—with 21 (and more on the way in the form of Amplified Ale Works, Pure Project Brewing and Mikkeller San Diego). In celebration of San Diego Beer Week, Cate wanted a local brewery to craft a specialty beer to represent the region, and reached out to AleSmith Brewing Company CEO and brewmaster Peter Zien to do the honors. The result is this 4.2% alcohol-by-volume (ABV), session-strength Belgian-style saison. It’s the only farmhouse ale AleSmith has brewed in its 20 years of operation, making this a first for the company, the District and the City.

From the Brewer: “After 20 happy years of calling San Diego home, the brewers at AleSmith decided to conjure something special for one of the biggest champions of the local beer scene to come out of City Hall, District 6 councilmember Chris Cates. A unique ale style from the farmlands of Belgium known as “saison” was our choice to honor San Diego’s brewery-rich Sixth District. District 6 Session Saison is a light copper-colored ale with a relatively low ABV. Mildly hoppy with a tantalizing combination of spices, the aroma and flavor contain hints of lemon, citrus fruit and mild pepper. Designed for easy drinking with a complexity generated from European hops, spices and a Belgian yeast strain procured from our District 6 neighbors at White Labs, this saison pays tribute to our councilmember, our district and all of our fellow brewers within it.”—Peter Zien, CEO & Brewmaster, AleSmith Brewing Co.

NOTE: In addition to his work as Editor-at-Large for West Coaster, Brandon Hernández is also the Marketing Manager for AleSmith Brewing Co.

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Beer of the Week: URBN St. I Am Gruit

Oct 2
URBN St. Brewing's I Am Gruit

URBN St. Brewing’s I Am Gruit

From the Beer Writer: In collaborating with the team at URBN St. Brewing Co. as part of the Beer to the Rescue charity campaign raising funds and awareness for the Lupus Foundation of Southern California, I had the favorable opportunity to reunite with two cherished cohorts from my days at Stone Brewing Co.—brewmaster Callaway Ryan and co-founder Alex Carballo. Both kindly jumped into the funds-for-fermented-fluids fray (now that’s some alliterative poetry), which was very kind. I am a huge fan of URBN St.’s flagship farmhouse ale, so I was happy to hear Ryan would be employing the use of his house saison yeast. After we determined the time frame for the release of URBN St.’s Beer to the Rescue offering, he and I decided it would be good to bring in some honey and herbs to convey a somewhat autumnal flavor palate. Ryan took that and ran with it in a big way, eschewing dry-hopping in favor of heavy spicing in the style of ancient brewsters. The result is a big, Gruit-style ale evocative of something one might have come across in Germany as far back as a century ago.

From the Brewer: “I’ve wanted to brew a Gruit-style beer since I started seriously studying beer. There are so many different flavors one could put in a beer other than hops to balance out the malt. It’s an extremely old style, but at 9% alcohol-by-volume, this beer is definitely a modern interpretation. We brewed the base beer with floor-malted Bohemian Pilsner malt, Summer hops, a good deal of honey and our house saison yeast. After fermentation, I flavored the beer with tarragon, oregano, sage and ginger. We used more tarragon than anything, as its anise-like flavor plays really well with our yeast’s phenols. I’m really happy with how the beer turned out, and brewing it for a good cause only makes it better.”—Callaway Ryan, Brewmaster, URBN St. Brewing Co.

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SD Brewers Kill It at 2015 Great American Beer Festival

Sep 26

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.

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Beer of the Week: Council Imperial Beatitude Tart Saison

Sep 18

botw_b2trbeatitudeFrom the Beer Writer: The Lupus Foundation of Southern California (LFSC) has been blown away by the massive outpour of support provided by nearly 30 different San Diego County breweries via the Beer to the Rescue campaign. Thanks to these companies crafting beers for big release events benefitting the charity, its visibility has been propelled to new heights and a significant amount of money has been raised to help with the many victim assistance efforts and the research it helps support. So, it was an honor for executive director Hollaine Hopkins and numerous Beer to the Rescue volunteers, myself included, to get to assist in the making of this beer, an amped-up version of Council Brewing Company’s popular tart saison flavored with California-grown peaches and nectarines. Council owners Curtis and Liz Chism invited us to clean, break-down and puree the stone fruits one Friday afternoon, giving those directly touched by the charity a behind-the-scenes glance at all that’s gone into the production of the beers that have made 2015 such a great year for the LFSC. Click here to pre-order a bottle of this beer.

From the Brewer: “When we were approached by our good friend, Brandon, to be a part of the Beer to the Rescue charity campaign, we knew we wanted to do something big to help raise awareness and funds to support the LFSC. In an effort to create a truly unique and memorable beer, this special release is a higher alcohol version of our popular Tart Saison series of beers, which we are calling Imperial Beatitude. We partnered with a local beer aficionado to bring us hand-picked, organic peaches and nectarines from Masumoto Family Farms located in California’s Central Valley. These fruits are absolutely delicious and lend their juicy character and natural tartness to the beer. When combined with our house culture of Saccharomyces, Brettanomyces and Lactobacillus, they create an incredible beer that tastes like you’re biting into a peach or nectarine. The heavy use of flaked rye and the Brett funk create a creamy, cheesy flavor that pairs very well with this beer. We hope you’ll enjoy this beer as much as we do.”—Curtis & Liz Chism, Co-owners, Council Brewing Co.

From the Bottle: We’ve gone big with our Beatitude Tart Saison in the name of charity, brewing an imperial edition of our Brettanomyces and Lactobacillus-stoked flagship sour ale for Beer to the Rescue (@BeerToTheRescue), a charity benefiting the Lupus Foundation of Southern California. French oak and sumptuous, freshly harvested organic nectarines and peaches from Masumoto Family Farms bring nuances of creamy, tangy cheese and stone fruit preserves that marry beautifully with spiciness from Belgian yeast. Enjoy this complexly delicious beer knowing a portion of proceeds will improve quality of life for sufferers of lupus, a chronic auto-immune disease affecting one-in-forty-five people throughout Southern California.

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