From the Beer Writer: Today marks the start of the ninth annual San Diego Beer Week. Taking place from November 3-12 throughout the county, it’s a little idea that’s grown to gargantuan status. I remember the first meeting I had with a San Diego Brewers Guild member where they introduced the idea to me. It seemed like a fantastic idea, but I wondered how much noise our smattering of, then, around 25 or 30 breweries would be able to make. Turns out, a whole lot. So much, that by the second and third editions of SDBW, ours was among the best regional beer weeks in the country. And it all stemmed from the heavy lifting of those industry veterans, the example they set in year one and continue to set with each run of this ten-day celebration of locally produced ales and lagers. The 100-plus new breweries that have debuted since have happily and zealously picked up the torch and endeavored to help put on promotions that push the envelope and go beyond everyday events and festivals; individually and in unison. For the latter efforts, the Guild remains the prime mechanism for planning and execution. That organization is celebrating its 20th year of operation this Beer Week. In recognition of that milestone, Guild member breweries that have been operating for 20 years or more (AleSmith Brewing, Coronado Brewing, Karl Strauss Brewing, Oggi’s, Pizza Port, San Marcos Brewery and Stone Brewing) got together to conceive the recipe for a special IPA that will make its official debut at the official opening event of SDBW, tonight’s Guild Fest VIP Brewer Takeover at downtown’s Broadway Pier. Brewed with Vic Secret, Idaho 7 and Motueka hops donated by BSG CraftBrewing plus whole-cone Cascade hops from Star B Ranch and Hop Farm, as well as San Diego Super Ale yeast from Miramar institution White Labs, the beer comes in at 7% alcohol-by-volume. To give all Guild members a hand in the beer, breweries were encouraged to submit potential names for it. Those monikers were later voted on by the membership, resulting in the apt handle Capital of Craft IPA. Kegs of this limited-edition brew will be distributed to events and accounts throughout San Diego County, and a portion of profits from the beer (which was brewed at Coronado Brewing’s Bay Park facility on a day that saw dozens of local brewers venture there to participate) will go to the Guild to aid its ongoing efforts to raise awareness about its members and the importance of supporting local, independent craft brewing companies.
From the Veteran Brewery Owners: “What an awesome opportunity for all of us here in the San Diego brewing community to get together and make this incredible beer! Some of us have been around for 20-plus years and some for just a few. It was great to see all the brewers and Guild members who came out, old and new, to brew this beer. It really shows how far our industry has come and that we have a really bright future ahead of us. By the way, did I mention that the beer turned out epic?”—Rick Chapman, Co-owner, Coronado Brewing Company
“When the San Diego Brewers Guild was founded, I was lucky to be a part of a very small, informal group of people who casually met up once a month. Everyone present had a common goal to unite and share ideas to promote our passion for craft beer. Although that hasn’t changed, the explosive brewery growth in San Diego has allowed so much experience over the years for us to grow the Guild into such an amazing, organized resource. Many thanks to many people. Cheers!”—Gina Marsaglia, Co-owner, Pizza Port
One of the reasons San Diego brewers enjoy the camaraderie and success they do is the 1997 establishment of the San Diego Brewers Guild (SDBG). Back then, there were far fewer brewing companies in San Diego County, but visionaries from some of those veteran operations realized that strength in numbers would be key for development and promotion of the local industry. This year, the SDBG will celebrate its 20th year of collective success. In doing so, it will gather its longest-tenured while drawing off the innovation of all of its 100-plus members.
Later this month, Coronado Brewing Company will host a collaboration brew day during which brewers from SDBG member breweries will be invited to participate in the brewing of a special beer to commemorate the big two-zero. The recipe for that beer, a fittingly San Diego-style India pale ale (IPA), was developed by brewers at Coronado, Karl Strauss Brewing Company, Pizza Port, Stone Brewing, San Diego Brewing Company, AleSmith Brewing Company and San Marcos Brewery and Grill.
The beer will come in around 7% alcohol-by-volume and be double-dry-hopped with Idaho 7, Motueka and Vic Secret hops. Additional hops will be donated by Fallbrook’s Star B Ranch and Hop Farm. Yeast was donated by Miramar-based White Labs while remaining ingredients were provided by BSG CraftBrewing. Additionally, El Cajon’s Taylor Guitars is partnering to provide old ebony fret boards from its African mill. That reclaimed wood will be fashioned into tap handles branded with the SDBG logo for this celebratory IPA.
Kegs from the 60-barrel batch will debut during San Diego Beer Week, which will take place from November 3 to 12. Coronado will also take the lead getting the beer out via its distribution partner, Crest Beverage. The beer will be available at retail accounts throughout the county, and make its official debut on November 3 during Guild Fest’s VIP Brewer Takeover at the Port Pavilion on downtown’s Broadway Pier. Proceeds from the beer will be donated to the Guild by Coronado once the beer sells through.
While Coronado is the hub this time around, the SDBG hopes to create collaboration beers on an annual basis and rotate the brewery at which they are produced each time. To get everyone involved during this inaugural brew, SDBG members were asked to submit suggested names for the beer, a short-list of which will be voted on by the membership this month.
From the Beer Writer: There was a time when pretty much the only way I was going to get my hands on prime Pizza Port beers like Swami’s, Chronic or Kook, was by going to one of that storied chain’s brewpubs. Having lived my entire life in inland San Diego, that constituted a special (and always well-worth-it) trip. So, it was a good day, indeed, when Pizza Port’s Bressi Ranch started canning those beers and distributing them all over San Diego County. More recently, the company has started developing new beers specifically for canning, and the latest is perhaps my new favorite canned offering—Pizza Port Graveyard’s Pale Ale. A “strong pale ale,” it comes in at 6.2% alcohol-by-volume and comes on strong up-front fruitiness from Mosaic, Ella, Vic Secret, Super Pride and Amarillo hops. But for me, Graveyard’s real beauty and differentiating factor is its balancing and complex maltiness, the product of a blend of Munich and CaraRed—which presents itself courtesy of toasty, biscuit undertones. Each sip smacks not only of San Diego brewing sensibilities, but Pizza Port’s specific and unmistakable trademark combination of flavor and drinkability. It’s the kind of pale ale I could spend the day drinking pint after pint of at an indoor picnic bench while consuming a basket of Beer Buddies…were I not gratefully able to do all that sipping from the comfort of my own (inland) backyard.
From the Brewer: “Graveyard’s is the first limited-release can to come out of our Bressi Ranch brewery. We decided to go with a stronger pale ale, a style that we all drink a lot of in the pubs and was currently missing from our portfolio. This year, we were lucky to get a healthy amount of Mosaic and Australian hops on contract, and those hops are a perfect fit with each other and for that style of beer. When fermenting it, we blended California Ale yeast with our house La Cruda straing. The Cal-Ale accentuates the hops, while La Cruda showcases the malt. We had also been talking with long-time regular and distinguished surf photographer Steve Sherman on using his photography on a can. All these things came together at the right time for Graveyard’s to get done. The name and label comes from Steve’s shot of the Oceanside break with the same name. It was an empty lot where surfers used to bury their broken boards in the ground, making it look like a graveyard. The photo is from October 2001, during a once-in-a-lifetime south swell.”—Sean Farrell, Director of Brewing, Pizza Port Brewing Company