Earlier today, the City of San Diego invited local brewers to take part in a ceremony honoring them and their organizational backbone, the San Diego Brewers Guild, when District 6 Councilmember Chris Cate officially declared November 7, 2017 as “20th Anniversary of the Brewers Guild Day” in San Diego. Receiving a City of San Diego proclamation is a celebratory event; a moment where the City pauses to recognize the positive work of influential organizations like the San Diego Brewers Guild.
“In its 20-year history, the San Diego Brewers Guild has played a crucial role in elevating and promoting San Diego’s craft-beer industry to become America’s capital of craft,” says Ian Clampett, deputy chief of staff and policy director for councilmember Cate. “By creating a platform to bring awareness and attention to all local craft breweries, the Guild has helped the industry expand to new heights with now 130 breweries operating county-wide and generating nearly one billion dollars in economic impact in 2016. The Guild has also been effective in advocating for legislation that protects this local manufacturing industry and ensures its ability to continue creating good-paying jobs for San Diegans.”
Cate and his staff have been a long-time supporter of local brewing companies. Though the majority of his work with local breweries is with those within his district, which includes Kearny Mesa, Miramar, Mira Mesa and Sorrento Valley, he is aware of the positive economic and job-creation impact breweries throughout the city and the rest of the county.
“Local breweries have created places of gathering and community throughout District 6, revitalizing areas traditionally seen as solely commercial or industrial,” says Clampett. “The Miramar neighborhood has been nicknamed ‘Beeramar’ and is now a regional and global attraction given [its] large number of world-class, award-winning breweries. With more than 30 breweries located in District 6—the highest concentration in the City of San Diego—craft beer has become an intrinsic part of the community fabric that makes this area of San Diego truly special.”
The timing of the proclamation was planned to coincide with San Diego Beer Week, a ten-day span during which hundreds of beer-related events and promotions take place throughout the county. Beer Week runs throughout Sunday, November 12.
“The Guild’s Beer Week is the largest annual event and attracts thousands of visitors from across the globe to sample San Diego’s thriving craft-beer scene. Through this event, local brewers are provided the unique opportunity to expand their reach and showcase their products to San Diegans and visitors alike,” says Clampett. “Furthermore, the Guild is fulfilling its mission to be a community partner by currently working with Councilmember Cate and the University of California, San Diego to explore opportunities to repurpose spent grain as a renewable energy source that can help the City of San Diego reach its climate action goals and eliminate landfill waste.”
Says the councilmember’s communications manager Rebecca Kelley, “The proclamation is an official City document signed by the Mayor and full City Council. It means that the Brewers Guild is part of San Diego’s history.”
This place looks familiar, I thought as we turned into a business park I’d been to numerous times. The Carlsbad campus is home to two small breweries, Arcana Brewing Company and On-The-Tracks Brewery. This, despite being off the city’s commercial center. It’s almost inconceivable that these operations have managed to find success here (particularly with the questionable beers being produced at one of them), but lo and behold, they’re still there, and so is another interest that went in a few doors down from OTT last year, Guadalupe Brewery (5674 El Camino Real, Carlsbad). That was when I first wrote about owner Raul Deju, a brewer with experience south-of-the-border, who decided to kill his killer commute and give suds-making a go on his side of the border. Since then I’ve tasted a number of his beers, but that’s not why I was visiting the brewery on this day. Good thing—since trying house-beers isn’t allowed at Guadalupe.
Did that last sentence inspire a raise of your eyebrow? A brewery where customers aren’t able to taste the beers—that’s a new one on me. This factoid is made additionally confounding by the fact Deju and his wife Lisa have constructed a full tasting room behind the homebrew shop in which their nano-brewery is installed, Carlsbad Brew Supply. In it, a bar with comfy stools and a large mounted flat-screen await the sampling sect. All they need now is clearance from the City of Carlsbad to share the labors of their love with visitors. For now, all they are allowed to do is sell growlers of beer to-go, which requires a bit of a leap of faith without the ability to taste-test. So, by the time I got to Guadalupe, I’d already tasted through some beers with the Dejus off-site, and found them rather nice.
If you are a fan of Mother Earth Brew Co.’s ubiquitous Cali-Creamin’, a vanilla-infused cream ale, it’s a safe bet you’ll enjoy Guadalupe’s El Vanillo. It has slightly more body to it, but is comparable to Cali, which has proven so popular it accounts for roughly half of the MEBC’s total output. I could see this taking on a similar flagship role for Guadalupe. Many of Deju’s beers are augmented by familiar edibles. The addition of watermelon to a saison takes it from a traditional farmhouse flavor to something more akin to a Belgian-style tripel. He also brews a blood orange pale ale and a hazelnut porter. The latter is pretty straightforward and in keeping with its English roots, while the pale was probably the least impressive of the beers I tried—something tasted a little off there. The most striking beer of the bunch was an IPA by the name of Tepache. Brewed with Mosaic hops, it came on strong with bright notes of pineapple and mango followed by a bittersweet finish. It didn’t necessarily come across as an India pale ale—especially not in the San Diego definition of that style—but it had plenty of hoppy merit.
On the specialty-beer front, Deju also has a line of barrel-aged and sour beers. I tasted one by the name of Xokok, which he infuses with various fruits. At last year’s San Diego Brewers Guild Festival during San Diego Beer Week, I tasted a version flavored with blueberries and liked it so much I went back for seconds. This time around, the beer’s featured ingredient was tamarind. I am not a fan of that sour fruit, but in the beer, it works. That said, Xokok Tamarindo had nothing on its blueberry predecessor. But either are worth a try…as soon as you’re able to try them (which should be relatively soon). For now…beer beer everywhere and not a drop to drink.
The second stop on our #southbayuprising brewery tour proved the saying “all that glitters isn’t gold.” The shiniest stainless steel in the county resides at Novo Brazil Brewing Company (901 Lane Avenue, Chula Vista), but what’s inside is dull and spotty…assuming we’re referring to one of the many large fermentation tanks that actually has beer in it, that is. Many of them were empty at the time. But, dang, the place looks good.
There’s actually a lot to be said for the lengths brewery owners go to when it comes to providing an inviting and comfortable environment for their customers. At Novo Brazil there’s a lovely tasting room with plenty of seating, TVs broadcasting soccer matches, colorful wall-hangings, and even a help-yourself popcorn machine. A bevy of stacked barrels greets guests en route to a rather spacious sampling space with many beers to choose from, including some unearthed from those very vessels.
My party and I were greeted into the consumption phase of our stop at Novo Brazil by the scent of movie theater popcorn. No, it wasn’t coming from the aforementioned machine—it was rising from the non-existent head of a Pilsner. Aside from this obvious sign of diacetyl, the beer didn’t exhibit any characteristics of a classic Pilsner—straw-gold appearance, tightly bubbled white head, sharp back-end bitterness. I’d have mistaken it for a blonde ale or a flat pale if forced to venture a guess.
Another of the subpar offerings included a dry stout that tasted like it been filtered through a Randall filled with ash-tray residue, probably from the improper use of really dark grain, or scorching the wort. We also weren’t fans of the Belgian-style quadrupel. I’d had a barrel-aged version of the quad during last year’s San Diego Beer Week. Back then I picked up some sourness, which is highly uncharacteristic of a big, malty Belgian dark strong ale aged in oak. I had hoped the problem was with the barrel, but the base beer had a weird pomegranate-like fruitiness, as well as burnt caramel bitterness and an off-putting cloying sweetness.
Novo Brazil’s Russian imperial stout was better than the aforementioned dry stout, but still had too much bitterness in the finish. A Belgian-style tripel was low on aroma and big on banana and honey sweetness, but was again too bitter at the end.
The brewery’s hoppier offerings fared better with the group. The English India pale ale we tried had no noticeable hop aroma, but its IBUs (international bittering units) were spot-on for a UK-style IPA. The Otay IPA was under-carbonated, but it did have a nice citrusy nose with flavors to match thanks to the use of Amarillo, Centennial, Citra and Simcoe hops. A second IPA, Copacabana, had a lemony scent but was pretty one-note on the palate…that note being bitter.
Our last stop of the day was the oldest of the South Bay’s three fermentation interests, Border X Brewing Company, which awaited us in Barrio Logan. Check in tomorrow for that report.
Disclosure: In his day job, Brandon works as the marketing manager for Miramar’s AleSmith.
While roaming Broadway Pier’s Port Pavilion during San Diego Beer Week’s inaugural VIP Brewer Takeover, I came across Fallbrook Brewing Company’s table and walked away with even more than the pair of tasty saisons owner Chuck McLaughlin was serving. Namely, a tasty informational tidbit. FBC as applied for a Type 23 duplicate license for use at a building roughly a mile south of the company’s brewery and tasting room with the intention to team with another Fallbrook interest, The Rib Shack, to open a bar and restaurant.
Texas-style barbecue—brisket, pulled pork, ribs, chicken and stick-to-your-ribs sides—will be provided by The Rib Shack, and FBC will provide the majority of the suds. In addition to their hometown ales, McLaughlin will work to procure beers from brewers with ties to Fallbrook. That list is surprisingly large and includes Bolt Brewery, Coronado Brewing Company, Ironfire Brewing Co., Duck Foot Brewing Co., Iron Fist Brewing Co., Mission Brewery and even Paso Robles-based Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
The 2,200-square-foot building that will house this collaborative business formerly housed a welding shop that doubled as the muster location for the Fallbrook bucket brigade, adding local lore to the mix along with a decorative fire truck out front. In addition to the ribs, brisket, pulled pork, chicken and stick-to-your-ribs sides The Rib Shack is known for, the restaurant’s staff is working on a bar menu that figures to include beer-battered onion rings and “dirty fries” topped with pulled pork and other toppings. The new business, which includes a pair of separate outdoor patios, is located at 1019 South Main Avenue and McLaughlin hopes to have it up and running by year’s end, licensing willing.
When perusing the latest issue of West Coaster, I saw that publisher Mike Shess had taken time to outline the manner in which he would choose to spend San Diego Beer Week (Nov. 6-15). It got me to thinking: How would I spend my Beer Week if I had the unlimited funds, ability to teleport, ungodly hepatic fortitude and lack of dietary qualms (and two full-time jobs) necessary to stay at it for 10 whole days? The following is the result of this exercise in pint-in-the-sky dreaming with the events Mr. Shess and I agree on bolded.
Friday, Nov. 6
– Rare Beer Breakfast, Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, Escondido
– 3-Year Anniversary Party, Amplified Ale Works, Pacific Beach
– Guild Fest: VIP Brewer Takeover, Broadway Pier, Downtown
Saturday, Nov. 7
– San Diego Brewers Guild Festival, Broadway Pier, Downtown
– Everyone’s Out to Get You Mother Pucker, O’Brien’s Pub, Kearny Mesa
– Barrel Night, The Lost Abbey, San Marcos
Sunday, Nov. 8
– Nomad Donuts Beer Pairing, Thorn St. Brewery, North Park
– Ultimate Beer & Chocolate, Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, Escondido
– Wine Country Beer vs. Wine with Almanac Brewing, Bankers Hill Bar + Restaurant, Bankers Hill
Monday, Nov. 9
– Fishing with the Brewers, Fathom Bistro, Point Loma
– Seven-Course Rip Current Brewing Beer Dinner, Slater’s 50/50, San Marcos
– Brews, Views & Chews, Tom Ham’s Lighthouse, Harbor Island
Tuesday, Nov. 10
– Full Table, Benchmark Brewing Co., Grantville
– Pizza Port Family Tap Takeover, Pizza Port, Ocean Beach
– Green Flash Cellar 3 Dinner, Churchill’s Pub & Grille, San Marcos
Wednesday, Nov. 11
– Sour Beer Tap Takeover, Rip Current Brewing Co. Tasting Room, North Park
– Three-Day Speedway Stout Grand Prix, AleSmith Brewing Co., Miramar
– Fall Brewing Beer Dinner, Waypoint Public, North Park
Thursday, Nov. 12
– 7th Annual Disc Golf Fling, Hamilton’s Tavern, South Park
– Barrel-Aged Beer & Single-Barrel Whiskey Pairing, Seven Grand, North Park
– Port Brewing/The Lost Abbey Rare Beer Dinner, Churchill’s Pub & Grille, San Marcos
Friday, Nov. 13
– Battle of the Guilds, Toronado, North Park
– Beer to the Rescue Swell Coffee Pale Ale Collaboration Release, Bay City Brewing Co., Point Loma
– Beer without Borders, Machete Beer House, National City
Saturday, Nov. 14
– San Diego Cheese & Beer Festival, Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, Liberty Station
– Barrel-Aged Speedway Stout & Hawaiian Speedway Stout Release Party, AleSmith Brewing Co., Miramar
– Three Amigos (Bagby Beer, Nickel Beer, Port Brewing/The Lost Abbey), O’Brien’s Pub, Kearny Mesa
Sun., Nov. 15
– Ballast Point Victory at Sea Bonanza, Hamilton’s Tavern
– Beer Garden, The Lodge at Torrey Pines
– The Lost Abbey Tasting with Gwen Conley, O’Brien’s Pub, Kearny Mesa