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Posts Tagged World Beer Cup

Q&A: Kevin Hopkins

Oct 11

10487318_741238272592657_3340137752325525778_nVice President, Mother Earth Brew Co.

What started as a tiny single-suite nano-brewery producing insanely tiny batches of beers using stock-pots over Butane burners has evolved into a Hop Highway success story. Vista-based Mother Earth Brew Co. has gone on to take-over most of the business campus it calls home, while adding a spacious tasting-room in the heart of the city’s old-town area. And over the weekend, they opened the doors to the tasting-room at its second, large-scale production facility in Nampa, Idaho. Mother Earth vice president Kevin Hopkins stopped by en route to the Great American Beer Festival, where the company’s ESB (extra special bitter) medaled. It’s exciting times for the little brewery that could (and did), and the perfect time to get an update straight from source.

What has been the impact of the Nampa facility going online?
Nampa went into full-rate production in August and currently services five-and-a-half states—Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and the northern portion of California. Its initial impact has been the ability to launch full-state distribution in Washington and Oregon with many more states to come. Last weekend’s tasting-room opening had representation of staff from both of our breweries and a great line-up of beers for people to experience.

What is Mother Earth’s organizational structure like with multiple breweries in multiple states?
Head brewer Chris Baker permanently relocated to Idaho and oversees operations there. Lead brewer Jeff Hueneman took over Vista operations and works collaboratively with Chris on items that concern both facilities. Production-scheduling and overall operations are managed corporately from here in Vista by our CFO/COO and our logistics team. We also have “beer traffic coordinators” located at both breweries to provide continuity.

What are details of expansion efforts at the original Vista brewery?
Vista started out as a 2,200-square-foot brewery and has expanded to approximately 28,000 square feet of production-space producing over 30,000 barrels of beer each year. Part of our master-plan included infrastructure investment to take Vista out to 40,000 barrels with the addition of fermentation and brite tanks to reach that capacity. Infrastructure is in place and tanks are being added as needed. Our next “stand-up” will be new nitro vessels to accommodate and expand our extremely successful NITRO programs.

What new beers are on the horizon for Mother Earth?
Mother Earth has always had a pilot-program to bring new and expanded offerings to market. Boo Koo Mosaic IPA, Born Blonde and our World Beer Cup, Great American Beer Festival and San Diego International Beer Festival award-winning ESB are all examples of that. 2016 was our pilot-year for our quarterly rotating can program featuring classics such as Kismet Nelson IPA and Hop Diggity Double IPA. The rotating program now falls under the “Resinator Hop Series.” Look for these beers on shelves, draft and included in “Love Packs”, 12- and 24-can variety packs featuring fan favorites and seasonal or rotating beers. One of those beers will be our Sin Tax Imperial Peanut Butter Stout. We’re also adding a full-time barrel-aged draft offering—our super-popular Quit Stalin Barrel-Aged Russian Imperial Stout.

As a former San Diego Brewers Guild president, what are your thoughts on the direction of that trade organization?
It was an honor to represent our local breweries. Now, as president emeritus, I have the pleasure of watching Jillian Davidson move us forward and working with an engaged board of directors that has nothing but the best interests of our industry and local beer brethren at heart. The board has been working very hard on future planning and 2017 is certain to hold some new initiatives, updates and an expansion of how we can best service our membership and the industry at-large. Working directly with the California Craft Brewers Association on important legislative and regulatory issues is chief amongst these, as well as continuing the focus on quality marketing, communications and events that bring education and awareness to the public and provide legitimacy to our members who work hard each and every day with passion and perseverance.

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Beer of the Week: New English Bourbon Barrel-Aged Brewer’s Special Brown Ale

Jun 3
New English Bourbon Barrel-Aged Brewers Special Brown Ale

New English Bourbon Barrel-Aged Brewers Special Brown Ale (Photo by Paul Body)

From the Beer Writer: The majority of beers given the bourbon barrel-aging treatment are stouts of the imperial ilk. Robust and high in alcohol, they are ideally suited for prolonged aging in whiskey-soaked wooden vessels. Their notes of roast go well with the toast of the oak while their sweetness matches the caramel and vanilla notes imparted by the liquor. But those big beers can sometimes mask the whiskey notes a bit and those 10-12% alcohol-by-volume (ABV) stouts are the type of high-octane, viscous brews that require beer-geek assistance when attempting to get through a 750-millilitre bottle. This is not the case with this week’s featured beer, New English Brewing Company‘s Bourbon Barrel-Aged Brewers Special Brown Ale. The base beer is Britain-born brewmaster Simon Lacey‘s 6.5% ABV English-style brown, an archetypal ale that took a bronze in the World Beer Cup earlier this month. After being spending several months in wet Woodford Reserve bourbon barrels, it comes out with a huge, vanilla-rich nose and a flavor that’s akin to whiskey on the rocks. Except, instead of watery former ice-cubes, the dilution effect is provided by the nutty, caramely flavors of the brown ale. And thanks to the beer’s lighter body, this comes across as a rare, highly quaffable barrel-aged beer.

From the Brewer: “Based on the multi-award winning Brewers Special Brown Ale, the bourbon barrel-aged version of this smooth, rich and malty English-style beer has been resting in Woodford Reserve bourbon barrels for six-to-nine months. In order to create a perfectly balanced final-product, we blend ale from first- and second-use barrels. The freshly dumped first-use barrels contain discernible amounts of liquid when they arrive at the brewery, the wood has also soaked up a significant quantity of the whiskey at barrel-strength over the years at the distillery, and all this flavor and aroma is transferred to the beer. Beer from the second-use barrels yields a complex mix of wood, tannins and vanilla flavor from the American white oak, which, when blended with the beer from the first-use barrels, melds into a seamlessly delicious and enthralling elixir that is warming without heat and as aromatic as it is flavorful. The current version is the sixth batch produced and is the second to be bottled. A limited release is available at the best local bottle shops, and can also be purchased at the brewery.”—Simon Lacey, Brewmaster, New English Brewing Company


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Societe holding the (other) Olympics of Beer

May 25

societe4For as congenial and laden with heartfelt camaraderie as the brewing industry is, it is also extremely competitive. Proof of that is provided in the form of the World Beer Cup and other professional brewing competitions. Dubbed the “Olympics of Beer”, the World Beer Cup pits breweries from across the globe against each other for bragging rights where to-style brewing prowess is concerned. It’s one of the few times you really see brewers tense up in their open and fervent yen for recognition. Rather than subject their colleagues to this intense brand of stress, Societe Brewing Company (8262 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard, Kearny Mesa) is getting brewers together in a much more fun environment as part of its annual anniversary festivities. Enter, Societe Four.

Scheduled for noon on Saturday, June 11, Societe Four will feature teams of brewers from a variety of local and far-off craft breweries competing in a septet of beer-themed events. Confirmed teams thus include “ale-theletes” from AleSmith Brewing Company, Benchmark Brewing Company, Bitter Brothers Brewing Company, Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company, Mikkeller Brewing San Diego, Modern Times Beer Company, Pizza Port, The Rare Barrel and Second Chance Beer Company. The events they will participate in are as follows:

  • societe4mugStein Hold: A test of strength and will to see who can hold up a one-liter stein the longest.
  • Stein Chug: A test of fortitude to see who can consume the beer in that one-liter stein the fastest.
  • Yeast Water Balloon Toss: Coordination will be key when the ale-theletes toss and catch balloons filled with active yeast at continually expanding distances.
  • Wine Barrel Toss: Who can toss a used oak storage vessel the furthest? Let’s find out!
  • Washers: Described as “the traditional washer-toss brewer’s game.”
  • Tri-Clamp Puzzle Challenge: Brewers will use equipment provided to assemble a rig to see who can move water from one point to another the fastest.
  • Malt Pallet Down-Stack and Re-Stack plus Nut-Roll Eating Challenge: Teams of two will destack and restack a pallet of malt then consume one nut-roll each.

Gold, silver and bronze medals will be presented to winners in each event. All are welcomed to attend the event. Tickets can be purchased online, and include anniversary glassware. Every tap line at Societe’s tasting room will have a different beer pouring out of it and, while no beer was brewed specifically for the company’s anniversary, guests can expect some sudsy surprises to go with a day of outlandish (and no doubt very fun) competition.

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Coronado Brewing rolling out revised look

Nov 11

coronado_glassLast month, West Coaster took readers inside Coronado Brewing Company’s fast-expanding Bay Park headquarters, which now includes three buildings taking up nearly an entire half of a cul-de-sac. The first building that campus began with remains the largest. It is in the process of being tweaked and fine-tuned for efficiency and an enhanced customer experience. But that’s not the only thing CBC is tweaking. While the brew crew reconfigures the manufacturing process and the service staff mulls the future addition of an on-site food component, the marketing department and executive team have been hard at work tightening up the company’s look where logo and packaging are concerned. And they’re ready to share.

coronado_cansIn debuting designs for CBC’s upcoming aluminum cans (the first of which will focus on core brands including Islander IPA and Orange Avenue Wit), company representatives want to make it clear that this is not a re-brand. After nearly 20 years in business, CBC remains a family-run business at its core, and that group remains happy with the trademark mermaid that has served as the focal point of its aesthetic over the company’s lifespan. They are also fans of incorporating the similarly iconic crimson spires of the Hotel Del Coronado. But as CBC evolves into national and international beer-makers, they realize the need to tone down the local aspect of their namesake island home to some extent. That said, conveying the San Diego lifestyle was still important.

coronado_tagCBC’s new tagline is “Stay Coastal.” A new color scheme—navy blue, ocean blue and white (minus that Hotel Del red)—helps incorporate that sentiment. As displayed above, CBC’s mermaid has been moved to the background, shifting from full-color to a slightly darker shade of the blue that will set the company’s cans apart from more standard aluminum beer hues such as white, black or silver. A new typeface helps provide a cleaner look that will also be applied to bottled beer. New bottles should debut in the marketplace in February when CBC releases a collaboration with Cloverdale’s Bear Republic Brewing Company. Cans will follow in March or April.

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Chuck Silva Resigns from Green Flash Brewing Co.

Sep 28
Brewmaster Chuck Silva

Brewmaster Chuck Silva

There are local brewers whose names are synonymous with the companies they work for. You hear Tomme Arthur and you think The Lost Abbey. You hear Yuseff Cherney and you think Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits. You hear Chuck Silva and you think of Green Flash Brewing Co.’s spiky, fluorescent green half-sun logo. Time to ditch that last correlation, because today Silva resigned from Green Flash after 11 years of guiding the company, and the design and manufacture of its decidedly West Coast-style, hop-driven beers.

Green Flash owners Mike and Lisa Hinkley brought Silva on in 2004 when the company was struggling to make an impact with the craft crowd. The difference following Silva’s arrival was night and day. Free to brew the hop-heavy recipes his personal tastes gravitated toward, he scored home runs with beers like his West Coast IPA and Hop Head Red before taking on a variety of Belgian-inspired ales, barrel-aged and Brettanomyces-stoked beers. Consumer demand grew, translating to sales, a move to a larger brewery in San Diego’s Mira Mesa community, the opening of a satellite brewing and barrel-aging facility called Cellar 3 in Poway, and construction of an East Coast brewery slated to open in Virginia Beach, Va. next year. As of the close of 2014, Green Flash had grown to become the 48th largest brewery (by production) in the United States.

Given Green Flash’s astronomical growth and Silva’s achievements while there—including plenty of medals from the World Beer Cup, Great American Beer Festival (including a gold medal for his Belgo-American Le Freak collected at Saturday’s GABF) and other prestigious brewing competitions—one has to wonder what would motivate him to make this move, especially at such a key period of growth for Green Flash. While it seems out of the blue, this is actually something Silva has contemplated for a long time, ever since falling in love with the idea of establishing his own brewing company. Effective immediately, that is what he’ll be devoting 100% of his time and energy to.

Adding to the passion behind the future Silva Brewing Company is the fact he will be working on the project with his wife, Mary Jo, and building it in California’s Central Coast region from which he hails. He’s targeted San Luis Obispo County, where many of his family and friends reside.

“It’s been so fulfilling to play such a major role in the accomplishment of so many goals at Green Flash. Together, we’ve come further and grown larger than I could have ever foreseen. I couldn’t have done it alone and I thank every member of the craft community that helped me along the way,” said Silva. “But it’s always been my dream and personal long-term goal to brew on my own terms. Now is the time to go for it.”

Update: Green Flash has promoted Head Brewer Erik Jensen to the position of Brewmaster

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