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. With the recent celebration of the 6th Annual San Diego Beer Week, 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
For Ph.D-level Biochemist Jim Crute, science is second nature – and so is brewing beer. When he made the switch in his professional life to start up Lightning Brewery it seemed like a natural transition. The brewery was founded as a small artisanal brewery and remains that way today, only now with its beers available in over 300 local restaurants, shops, and grocery stores.
His science background inspires him to discover innovative brewing methods. “Our flagship beer Thunderweizen Ale is crafted with a very time-consuming and very hard-to-emulate process of decoction mashing,” said Jim. “This method enhances the body of the finished beer, dramatically improving taste, impression, and enjoyment.” Methods like this are what make Lightning Brewery so unique. “We are the first, and, to my knowledge the only brewery in San Diego County that uses this process,” he noted.
Lightning Brewery has earned dozens of regional and national awards. “In 2012 our seasonal beer Old Tempestuous Ale won the Best of Show award at the California State Fair,” shared Jim. “We take that award as having the best beer in California that year.”
Lightning Brewery is located at 13200 Kirkham Way in Poway. For more information visit www.lightningbrewery.com or call 858-513-8070.
The Cork & 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.
Bruski Burgers & Brew
Bruce Nguyen, Owner and Founder of Bruski Burgers & Brew, is proud to offer some of the best burgers and craft beer in North County, but is even prouder of how he serves them. He designed Bruski as a spot where Scripps Ranch residents can feel at home. “When you enter our restaurant, you will be greeted with a smile and treated like family,” said Bruce. As a longtime Scripps Ranch resident himself, he found a sense of belonging in the welcoming community, and he works to promote that sense of belonging through his restaurant.
“Our approach is to use the freshest ingredients available,” shared Bruce. “We are strong supporters of ‘buy local.’ Our beer lineup is proof of our strong relationship with local breweries.” He includes larger local breweries like Ballast Point and Stone Brewing Co. as well as supporting smaller, newer breweries.
The Bruski tap list is also tailored to suit San Diegan tastes. “IPA is king in San Diego, so we feature as many IPAs as possible,” explained Bruce. “On any given day, we will have at least a third of our taps pouring an IPA or an IPA variant like a red IPA, black IPA, or double IPA.” The lineup updates constantly to provide the perfect combination of new choices and old favorites.
Bruski’s local involvement extends beyond the tap. As Bruce said, “It makes us feel good to be able to give back to our community. We support our local schools, sport teams, and organizations through sponsorships, donations, and fundraisers.” He has provided mentoring opportunities to guide students pursuing hospitality management degrees, as well as hiring local students and sponsoring fundraisers for local organizations.
Learn more about Bruski Burgers & Brew at www.bruskiburgersandbrew.com, and look forward to the opening of Bruski’s second location in Poway, scheduled for spring 2015.
Intergalactic Brewing Company
Established in 2013 by Rancho Peñasquitos resident Alex Van Horne, Intergalactic Brewing Company has quickly set itself apart as an artisanal small batch brewing company. According to Alex, the brewing company has crafted well over eighty varieties of beer in just their first eighteen months alone. It is this innovation, along with the company’s “never give up and never surrender” attitude and motto “to boldly brew,” that’s greatly benefited their craft. With signature brews such as their award-winning Coconut Porter, That’s No Moon Triple IPA, and their most popular beer, Andromeda IPA – their fruity and citrusy twist of a San Diego IPA – the brewing company is not afraid to experiment with new ingredients and recipes. “Our uniqueness comes from our dedication to exploring flavors and new styles,” explained Alex.
Intergalactic Brewing Company is constantly experimenting with new flavors; however one thing is certain not to waver: their involvement with their community. “We [maintain this by] brewing small batches of passionately crafted beer for our community and getting involved with local beer festivals that are put on by nonprofit organizations,” shared Alex. Discover more at www.intergalacticbrew.com.
O’Sullivan Bros. Brewing Co.
Ed O’Sullivan credits his family’s Irish heritage and Californian creativity for the success of O’Sullivan Bros. Brewing Co. He and his brothers – Rob, Charlie, Jon, and Paul – formed the company in the spring of 2013. Ed, coming from a background in the biotech and finance industries, earned a professional brewer’s certificate at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) to prepare for running a brewery that combines science and artistry. “Our approach is to create thoughtful and cleverly constructed artisan craft ales and lagers that stimulate the palate and arouse the senses,” said Ed. “We will use science to control, monitor, and make intelligent decisions about our recipes and brewing process. We will respect tradition but pursue innovation and keep our thoughts and processes open to creativity.”
“We currently offer six beers, a wonderful refreshing West Coast pale ale, a nice delicate amber ale, a new-to-San Diego brown porter, a smoked porter, and a sweet stout,” he explained. “We are also planning to produce a red ale and an imperial stout, which will be available in January.” Further ahead, the brewery is also planning a number of special bottle releases for St. Patrick’s Day.
When asked the overall philosophy behind O’Sullivan Bros. Brewing Co., Ed had only one answer: “Quality, quality, quality. In everything we do.” That quality is the result of caring and commitment from everyone involved with the company. “All our employees are part time and are passionate about brewing,” shared Ed. “Almost all of them are in the UCSD professional brewing certificate program.”
O’Sullivan Bros. Brewing Co. is located at 9879 Hibert St. Suite F, San Diego, CA 92131. Visit www.osullivan-brothers.com to learn more.
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