San Diego’s brewing scene is booming these days, and we in North County are lucky enough to experience the best of the boom right here in our own communities. Craft breweries, also known as microbreweries, are independently owned and produce small amounts of beer, allowing for higher quality and greater individualization than traditional breweries. Perhaps nowhere is this industry growing faster than in San Diego, which has become a beer-drinker’s dream destination – and not just for the beaches any more. Local breweries have been stepping into the international spotlight with their award-winning beers. The industry’s exhilarating growth shows no sign of slowing down. In celebration of the 6th Annual San Diego Beer Week last month, we’re excited to offer an insider’s look at the best breweries North County has to offer. The craft brewers we speak to have a huge variety of differences in technique and taste, but they all share a deep-rooted passion for their products. We invite you to read along and see what the buzz is all about.
IN THIS FEATURE:
• Local Beer Tasting Cheat Sheet
• Brewery Profiles
• San Diego Beer Industry Facts
• North County Brewery & Tap Room Directory
The Cork and Craft
Have you ever been intimidated while beer or wine tasting because you’re surrounded by snooty “experts” who make you feel inferior? 92127’s Abnormal Company has built their business around dismantling that attitude. Co-Owners Matthew DeLoach, James Malone, and Elvin Lai, friends and fellow Poway High School graduates, have made their urban brew and wine industry business – which now includes a new beer brewery, restaurant, and expanded winery – approachable, friendly, and fun!
The owners are especially excited about their newly opened restaurant, The Cork & Craft. James shared, “We all love good food, and there’s nothing quite like a delicious meal paired with a glass of wine or craft beer. We are so excited that this adventure has now led us into the action-packed craft beer and restaurant worlds!”
Abnormal Company is also proud to soon bring its customers in-house produced beers focused on drinkability in addition to the extensive tap and bottle list they currently have. Their glass-enclosed brewery is expected to be up and running by the end of the year. Abnormal Company intends to brew during restaurant hours to provide customers with a sense of artistry and display of their craft. According to Co-Owner Matthew, the company’s beer will be “gluten-reduced, flavorful enough to sit gently on the palate, and will pair perfectly with fare offered by The Cork & Craft.” As The Cork & Craft’s mission is to elevate the concept of comfort food to a gourmet experience, this new brewery will encourage customers to think a little more about what they are drinking, try out new beer and food pairings, and dare to step out into the abnormal.
For more information visit www.thecorkandcraft.com.
Urge American Gastropub
Brothers Nate and Zak Higson and their longtime friend Grant Tondro founded Urge American Gastropub after the swift success of their first restaurant, The Barrel Room. With two popular RB eateries under their belt, the guys realized they had a knack for the restaurant business. So they quit their day jobs and threw themselves head-first into being restaurateurs – their most recent venture being Brothers Provisions. Together, this trio has helped to transform the RB restaurant scene into the diverse, vibrant foodie haven that it is today.
The guys all grew up in Rancho Bernardo and still have strong ties to the community. “While we each came and went during our college years,” they explained, “as we each settled down, got married and had kids, we began to appreciate this part of town more.”
“Frankly, neither of us had a ton of restaurant experience… it took a lot of time and hard work to get going,” Zak admitted. But after The Barrel Room started thriving, the guys knew it was time to expand. “We really wanted to do something different,” explained Nate. “The idea of burgers and beer just kind of seemed obvious,” added Grant. Urge opened in July 2010, and has since shone as an American reinterpretation of the classic English pub, with an emphasis on local products and great service.
They enjoy being able to give back locally. “We’ve donated over $100,000 to local charities,” shared Grant. “We all try to be as active as we can in the community.”
Urge Gastropub is located at 16761 Bernardo Center Dr., in Rancho Bernardo. For more information visit www.urgegastropub.com or call 858-673-8743.
Stumblefoot Brewing Company
Stumblefoot Brewery founders Bill Randolph and Pat Horton began as home brewers in 2001. To honor their experience in those beginning years, Bill and Pat chose the name Stumblefoot to pay tribute to both their failures and successes, and most importantly, to their continued willingness to experiment. As an integral part of the North County brewing community today, Stumblefoot takes pride in their continued dedication to learning and sharing information with their fellow brewers and friends. Together the founders participate in many of San Diego’s home brewing clubs, from the Society of Barley Engineers to QUAFF Brewing Club, North County Home Brewers Association, and Mash Heads homebrew club.
In 2012, Stumblefoot started their commercial adventure in San Marcos. At their tasting room on La Costa Meadows Dr., you can learn about their award-winning Imperial Dragon Kiss Stout, which recently earned a silver medal at the California State Fair. Or kick back and try their Schwarz Be With You Black Lager which won a gold medal at the 2013 San Diego County Fair International Beer Festival. Many of their brews have been honored for superior quality and taste, so whatever your preference in beer, you’re certain to find something you like. To discover more and see a list of the beers on tap visit www.stumblefoot.com.
Culture Brewing Coompany
Culture Brewing Company views their beer as classic done beautifully. They aim high with each batch of brew, yet maintain a simplicity that truly gives their beer its distinct personality. Owners John Niedernhofer, Brewmaster Steve Ragan, and Dennis Williams, opened the brewery in February 2013 in Solana Beach after years of brewing together. The owners remained steadfast to the goal that they would create more than great beer, and with that they have gained serious respect in the craft beer scene. Culture’s beer is both accessible and flavorful.
Culture Brewing Company’s Solana Beach microbrewery is set in a modern facility with rustic touches. The on-site brew house is equipped with a ten-barrel premier stainless system, including a boil kettle, mash tun, five fermenters, and three brite/serving tanks. The brewery offers an unforgettable experience for beer enthusiasts touring the location to see where, and sometimes how, their beer is made. As for Culture’s tasting room, there’s plenty of space both indoors and out to relax and try a new brew. Settle in and feel the cool ocean breeze against your face as you peruse the tasting room’s twenty-tap serving system and local artwork displayed on the walls.
Culture Brewing Company opened their satellite tasting room in Ocean Beach in November 2014. The Ocean Beach tasting room resembles the look and feel of their location in Solana Beach, just nearly twice the size. Visit www.culturebrewingco.com for more information.
Green Flash Brewing Company
With the right conditions before sunset or sunrise, a green flash can be seen on the horizon. It’s said that the green flash makes the perfect ending to the perfect day. It is this perfection and uniqueness that formed the inspiration behind Green Flash Brewing Company. Green Flash Brewing Company started from modest beginnings in 2002 when it was established by Mike and Lisa Hinkley. Today, the duo leads a talented team of like-minded craft beer enthusiasts, who have crafted a number of award-winning beers available on draft and bottled. Every batch of beer at the Green Flash Brewing Company is a labor of love and is a true Green Flash collaboration.
The brewing company is most well known for their game changing West Coast IPA, however they also offer a wide assortment of specialty craft ales that are all uniquely Green Flash. With their esteemed Brewmaster Chuck Silva and his talented brewing team, new, experimental, limited-edition and seasonal offerings are constantly developed in addition to their long list of favorite brews.
Green Flash Brewing Company’s award-winning beers are available throughout the United States in bars, restaurants, and retail outlets. Visit www.greenflashbrew.com for more information.
White Labs Inc. and Tasting Room
White Labs Inc. Pure Yeast and Fermentation team members have been an active part of the craft brewing movements in America and worldwide since the 1980s. The company was founded by Chris White in 1995 and currently has offices in both California and Colorado, providing a variety of services to brewers, winemakers, distillers, and other businesses involved with the fermentation industry. White Labs provides services ranging from propagating yeast to consultation advice on quality control and other related issues. The company also offers a tasting room, located at 9495 Candida St. in Mira Mesa, which features beer on-site, showcasing experiments, educational demonstrations, and more with over thirty beers on tap and three on cask. The beer line-up changes frequently and features new beer brewed with different brewing and fermentation techniques. For more information about White Labs and the services they provide visit www.whitelabs.com.
DID YOU KNOW?
In 2011, brewers and brewpubs generated a $299.5 million direct economic impact in San Diego County.
The economic contribution of craft brewers is more than 1 ½ times greater than the economic impact of Comic-Con International,
San Diego’s largest annual convention.
Since 2011, the total number of craft breweries in the region has more than doubled.
The largest craft brewing event in the region is San Diego Beer Week, which features more than 500 events and lasts from early to mid-November. Beer Week brings more than 20,000 participants to San Diego County.
Sources: National University System Institute for Policy Research and the Brewers Association